A statistical approach to aid examiners in the forensic analysis of handwriting

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Crawford, Amy M.
Ommen, Danica M.
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Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Carriquiry, Alicia
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The Department of Statistics seeks to teach students in the theory and methodology of statistics and statistical analysis, preparing its students for entry-level work in business, industry, commerce, government, or academia.

The Department of Statistics was formed in 1948, emerging from the functions performed at the Statistics Laboratory. Originally included in the College of Sciences and Humanities, in 1971 it became co-directed with the College of Agriculture.

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Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence
The Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE) carries out research on the scientific foundations of forensic methods, develops novel statistical methods and transfers knowledge and technological innovations to the forensic science community. We collaborate with more than 80 researchers and across six universities to drive solutions to support our forensic community partners with accessible tools, open-source databases and educational opportunities.
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We develop a statistical approach to model handwriting that accommodates all styles of writing (cursive, print, connected print). The goal is to compute a posterior probability of writership of a questioned document given a closed set of candidate writers. Such probabilistic statements can support examiner conclusions and enable a quantitative forensic evaluation of handwritten documents. Writing is treated as a sequence of disjoint graphical structures, which are extracted using an automated and open-source process. The graphs are grouped based on the similarity of their shapes through a K-means clustering template. A person's writing pattern can be characterized by the rate at which graphs are emitted to each cluster. The cluster memberships serve as data for a Bayesian hierarchical model with a mixture component. The rate of mixing between two parameters in the hierarchy indicates writing style.
This article is published as Crawford AM, Ommen DM, Carriquiry AL. A statistical approach to aid examiners in the forensic analysis of handwriting. J Forensic Sci. 2023;68:1768–79. https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.15337. © 2023 The Authors. Posted with permission of CSAFE.

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