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Thursday, July 5, 2007

To Cogitate and Solve

One of my favorite PBS series of all time was Square One, a sketch comedy show devoted to making math fun. The highlight of the show was Mathnet, a parody of Dragnet in which Detective Monday and his partner solve crimes using their mathematical knowledge.

At the time, I thought it was just a funny show. Now I realize that it isn't far from the truth.

Experts in mathematics are regularly employed by all branches of law enforcement. Much of this occurs behind the scenes, but can be absolutely essential. Many cases hinge on purely mathematical evidence. But how exactly has this trend affected our justice system? The adversarial legal model that we brought with us from merry old England didn't exactly have a place for what we would today consider "expert testimony." A new book from the author of The Math Gene seeks to tackle that question.

Keith Devlin and Gary Lorden, the Caltech professor who serves as adviser for the hit CBS series Numb3rs, are co-authoring entitled The Numbers behind Numb3rs: Solving Crimes with Mathematics. Judging from what I know of the works of both authors, this should make for a fascinating read.

1 comment:

Math Act said...

I'd forgotten about Square One. I'm so glad you brought it up. I'll have to see if it's out on DVD anywhere. Also, did you know Numbers has a web site of activies related to each episode? They're a little advanced for my 8th graders most of the time, but there are some great ideas. The address is
I enjoy your site, keep up the good work.