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Problem Title: Criminology

  Year: 2010      
  Student Level: Undergraduate      
  Source: MCM      
  Commentary: Yes (2)      
  Student Papers: Yes (6)      

In 1981 Peter Sutcliffe was convicted of thirteen murders and subjecting a number of other people to vicious attacks. One of the methods used to narrow the search for Mr. Sutcliffe was to find a "center of mass" of the locations of the attacks. In the end, the suspect happened to live in the same town predicted by this technique. Since that time, a number of more sophisticated techniques have been developed to determine the “geographical profile” of a suspected serial criminal based on the locations of the crimes.

Your team has been asked by a local police agency to develop a method to aid in their investigations of serial criminals. The approach that you develop should make use of at least two different schemes to generate a geographical profile. You should develop a technique to combine the results of the different schemes and generate a useful prediction for law enforcement officers. The prediction should provide some kind of estimate or guidance about possible locations of the next crime based on the time and locations of the past crime scenes. If you make use of any other evidence in your estimate, you must provide specific details about how you incorporate the extra information. Your method should also provide some kind of estimate about how reliable the estimate will be in a given situation, including appropriate warnings.

In addition to the required one-page summary, your report should include an additional two-page executive summary. The executive summary should provide a broad overview of the potential issues. It should provide an overview of your approach and describe situations when it is an appropriate tool and situations in which it is not an appropriate tool. The executive summary will be read by a chief of police and should include technical details appropriate to the intended audience.


Judges' Commentary: The Outstanding Geographic Profiling Papers

Marie Vanisko
Dept. of Mathematics, Engineering, and Computer Science
Carroll College


Judges' Commentary: The Fusaro Award for the Geographic Profiling Problem

Marie Vanisko
Dept. of Mathematics, Engineering, and Computer Science
Carroll College

Peter Anspach
National Security Agency

  Student Papers      

Team 7273: Tracking Serial Criminals with a Road Metric

University of Washington, WA


Team 7507: Centroids, Clusters and Crime: Anchoring the Geographic Profiles of Serial Criminals

University of Colorado - Boulder, CO


Team 7947: Predicting a Serial Criminal's Next Crime Location Using Geographical Profiling

Bucknell University, PA


Team 8362: Following the Trail of Data

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY


Team 8479: From Kills to Kilometers Using Centrographic Techniques and Rational Choice Theory for Geographical Profiling of Serial Killers

Tufts University, MA


Team 8449: The Hunt for Serial Criminals

Duke University, NC