How Are Mathematics Used in Forensics?

Written by kelly banaski-sons
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How Are Mathematics Used in Forensics?
Mathematical equations are used in many areas of forensics (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Forensics is the study of crime scene evidence. Every part of a crime scene is scrutinised during a criminal investigation by forensic experts in any number of scientific industries and fields. These experts perform equations and apply strategic methodology to evidence to answer legal questions. Mathematical principles are used in investigations to help in DNA testing, ballistics, fingerprinting and car crash investigations.


Statistics and probabilities are used in DNA testing to help determine the likelihood of the owner. Basic math is also used to determine the amount of chromosomes and which group the chromosomes belong to. Data from the basic math calculations and chemical testing will be considered with the statistical information to form the results of the DNA test. DNA analysis is a chemical process that incorporates mathematical processes and theories to find its conclusion.


Ballistics refers to what happens to a bullet during the process of being shot from a gun. Internal ballistics is what happens inside the gun from the point of ignition to the exit from the gun. Terminal ballistics is what happens once the bullet hits the target. External ballistics is what happens to the bullet from the muzzle of the gun to the target. Trigonometry is used in ballistics to calculate the distance and direction of travel of an object or fluid. It can be used to tell both which direction a bullet was fired from and in what manner blood dripped from a wound. The calculation used is called the ballistics trajectory and details the path of the bullet from point A to point B.


Determining if a certain set of prints belongs to an specific person requires a latent print examination. Before computer recognition software was developed math was used to count matching points on two sets of fingerprints. More than three sets of matches could be considered a positive identification. Since the advent of automated fingerprint identification systems, fingerprint matches are determined by the systems distance method algorithms or mathematical patterns.

Car Accidents

Crime scene investigators use math to take measurements at every crime scene. Measurements of skid marks, of distances between bodies and other objects, of trajectory of debris and of the distance between the point of impact and the final stopping point are all essential to any car wreck investigation. Calculating the impact is an important part of reconstructing the crime scene and apprehending a criminal.

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