skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 239048 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Application of Machine Learning to Toolmarks: Statistically Based Methods for Impression Pattern Comparisons
Author(s): Nicholas D. K. Petraco, Ph.D.; Helen Chan, B.A.; Peter R. De Forest, D.Crim.; Peter Diaczuk, M.S.; Carol Gambino, M.S.; James Hamby, Ph.D.; Frani L. Kammerman, M.S.; Brooke W. Kammrath, M.A., M.S.; Thomas A. Kubic, M.S.,J.D., Ph.D.; Loretta Kuo M.S.; Patrick McLaughlin; Gerard Petillo B.A.; Nicholas Petraco, M.S.; Elizabeth W. Phelps, M.S.; Peter A. Pizzola, Ph.D.; Dale K. Purcell, M.S.; Peter Shenkin, Ph.D.
Date Published: 2012
Page Count: 99
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Grant Number: 2009-DN-BX-K041
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document; Document (Online)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This project’s goal was to provide a scientific basis for the reliability and validity of impression evidence, specifically impressions made by tools and firearms, by laying down, testing, and publishing methodological statistical foundations for toolmark impression pattern recognition and comparison.
Abstract: The study focused on striation patterns left by tools and on cartridge casings from firearms. Since all impressions made by tools and firearms can be viewed as mathematical patterns composed of features, this study used the mathematics of multivariate statistical analysis in order to recognize variations in these patterns. In the context of computational pattern recognition, this is called “machine learning." The mathematical details of machine learning can yield what Moran calls “…the quantitative difference between an identification and non-identification” (Moran 2002). Mathematical details also enable the estimation of extrapolated identification error rates and, in some case, the calculation of rigorous, universal random-match probabilities. The current project was divided into three main tasks. First, toolmark pattern collection and archiving was conducted. Second, database and Web interface were constructed for the distribution of toolmark data, accompanied by related software development. Third, multivariate machine-learning methods relevant to the analysis of collected toolmarks were identified and used. This research succeeded in composing a set of objective and testable methods for associating toolmark impression evidence with the tools and firearms that produced them. Three-dimensional confocal microscopy, surface metrology, and multivariate statistical method are the core of the approach presented. 59 figures, 1 table, and 89 references
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Evidence collection; Evidence identification; Forensic sciences; Investigative techniques; NIJ final report; Toolmark identification
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.