Archive for the ‘News’ category

Fingerprints Shouldn’t Be Used In Court

March 27, 2009

I’m sure everyone has seen some Law and Order or CSI type show where finding a suspect’s fingerprints at a crime scene seals the case.

However, it appears scientists, including members of the National Academy of Sciences are questioning the validity of fingerprints, especially partial fingerprints that have been smudged. From the LA Times:

In 2007, a Maryland judge threw out fingerprint evidence in a death penalty case, calling it “a subjective, untested, unverifiable identification procedure that purports to be infallible.”

The ruling sided with the scientists, law professors and defense lawyers who for a decade had been noting the dearth of research into the reliability of fingerprinting. Their lonely crusade for sound science in the courtroom has often been ignored by the courts, but last month it was endorsed by the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

The question is not whether fingerprints are unique — most scientists agree they probably are, though that assumption remains largely unstudied. The issue is whether the blurry partial prints often found at crime scenes — what Faulds called “smudges” — are sufficient to identify someone with any reliability.

The answer: No one knows. There are no national standards for declaring a fingerprint “match.” As a result, fingerprint identifications are largely subjective.

I will say if someone has to go to jail for the rest of their lives over evidence with no scientific credibility this is a bad thing. I’m not going to be able to watch these crime shows now without thinking “man, I wish I could be the defense attorney.”


Finally Learned MPI

March 18, 2009

I have used several codes that use MPI but not written one from scratch. I have only added to codes others have done the MPI work for. To be honest, I had a hard time reading the online documentation. However, a post doc showed me a code (below) that opened opened my eyes to what is going on. I am posting it in case it could be of some help to others:

To compile run:
mpicc testmpi.c

To run type:
mpirun -np 4 ./a.out

The trick is to understand each of the 4 processors runs the whole code but is assigned a rank. As you can see in the for loop and print statement, a conditional on rank causes the processor to know which code is “its” job. First you have to Init and assign a rank and size which comes from the -np 4 passed above. The MPI_Barrier command pauses the program until all the processors have caught up with the others, and the MPI_Reduce command takes all the values each processor has computed and feeds them back to the master processor. As you can see I am taking each sum and “MPI_SUM”ing them together as “MPI_DOUBLE”s and feeding my master processor “0” the sum into the value Sum.

I then make the master processor print the total Sum.

#include “mpi.h”

int main(int argc, char** argv)
int rank, size;
int i;
double sum=0, Sum;

MPI_Status status;
MPI_Init(&argc, &argv);
MPI_Comm_rank(MPI_COMM_WORLD, &rank);
MPI_Comm_size(MPI_COMM_WORLD, &size);

for (i = rank*1000000000/size; i < (rank + 1)*1000000000/size; i++) {
sum += 1.0;
printf(“%d gets sum = %g\n”,rank,sum);


if (rank == 0)
printf(“Total sum %g\n!”,Sum);


Finally Picked Up My Masters Degree

March 10, 2009

As some readers may know, I am a PhD Candidate in physics at UC Irvine.  However, last September I was awarded a masters degree in physics since I automatically qualified.  Today I finally went into the registrars office to pick it up, so now I have a shiny new diploma to hang on a wall. 🙂  In a few years I will hopefully have another.