Crime-Fighting Computer - The Game's Afoot 24x7

Computer scientists in Chicago have created the Classification System for Serial Criminal Patterns (CSSCP), a computer system that uses pattern-recognition software to sift through case records to find the link (and the perpetrator) connecting different crimes. The computer system is able to work on crime-stopping twenty-four hours per day, all week long.

In a lab trial using three years of data on armed robbery, the system spotted ten times as many patterns as a team of detectives given acess to the same data. Creators Tom Muscarello and Kamal Dahbur at DePaul University use a neural network called a Kohonen network to find patterns in input data without human intervention.

We propose the use of neural networks as the main tool for identifying patterns in robbery records. The approach we are using to solving the problem of discovering serial criminal patterns in a crime database, is an integrated approach that uses a hybrid system of multiple Kohonen neural networks to classify a group of data attributes. We then use rule based expert system to finalize such classifications. We call this approach HYKONES (short for HYbrid KOhonen Networks with an Expert System).

The Kohonen feature map is the essential part of the network, a neuron layer where neurons organize themselves according to input values. This approach is shown below in output from an applet that seeks a solution to the Travelling Salesman problem in three dimensions for up to 50 cities in real time - a remarkable accomplishment (use the link to see the applet).

(From Kohonen feature map solution in 3D)

In a remarkable prediction of CSSCP, science fiction author Harry Harrison, and artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky, teamed up in 1992 to write The Turing Option. In the story, a computer scientist is shot in the head; he returns to consciousness and memory thanks to being interfaced with a large external memory that helps him to remember the parts of his life and memory that are lost. He continues with his work, inventing Sven, an artificially intelligent computer that is developed to solve the murder of an associate. Sven takes in large amounts of disparate data, looking for patterns that will help solve the crime, just like CSSCP. In the following quote, Sven uncovers a vital piece of evidence from seemingly unrelated data.

"There is a correlation that I do not see mentioned anywhere in the investigation. I think it highly relevant and suggest that it be looked into" [said Sven]."
"What is it?"
"In the course of compiling the recent material I filed all the building, planning and permission forms, licenses, records and materials for all construction at the plant. Do you not think it relevant that that work on the research laboratory at DigiTech began in December 2022?"
"No, I don't."
"Would you find it relevant that the concrete floor for that laboratory was poured in February 9th of last year?"
"...Yes, That floor was poured the day after the robbery!"

Science fiction has other computer detectives, of course - see the entry for R. Daneel Olivaw, from Isaac Asimov's 1953 novel Caves of Steel. Earlier this year, there was an interesting story about RobotCop III, a robotic police officer being tested in Hong Kong.

See an online applet that shows how a Kohonen neural net can work its way through a solution to the classic Traveling Salesman Problem, trying to find the shortest path between a certain number of cities without going through one city twice. See the original story at Cyber detective links up crimes.

Thanks to Ifor Evans for the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/6/2004)

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