Some Mathematical Problems in the DNA Identification of Tsunami Victims

CH Brenner, Consulting in forensic mathematics, Oakland, California

Abstract

DNA is a major and essential identification tool for mass fatality incidents including the hundreds of thousands of victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Mathematical complications characteristic of this sort of mass fatality include prevalence of related victims, the many races represented among the victims, and various identification modalities in tandem with DNA. Four mathematical problems of interest, discussed in this paper, are: accounting for other quantifiable factors, like geography (žI); accounting for related victims when only one is found (confidence in the identity is depressed) (žII.A); accounting for related victims when several are found (identifications reinforce one another) (žII.B); accounting for the minor races that may be represented among the victims (mostly unnecessary) (žIII).

Keywords: DNA identification, Mass fatality, Kinship, Tsunami

pdf of the paper


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