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Math Science

Statisticians Uncover the Mathematics of a Serial Killer 164

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Andrei Chikatilo, 'The Butcher of Rostov,' was one of the most prolific serial killers in modern history committing at least 52 murders between 1978 and 1990 before he was caught, tried, and executed. The pattern of his murders, though, was irregular with long periods of no activity, interrupted by several murders within a short period of time. Hoping to gain insight into serial killings to prevent similar murders, Mikhail Simkin and Vwani Roychowdhury at UCLA built a mathematical model of the time pattern of the activity of Chikatilo and found the distribution of the intervals between murders follows a power law with the exponent of 1.4. The basis of their analysis is the hypothesis that 'similar to epileptic seizures, the psychotic affects, causing a serial killer to commit murder, arise from simultaneous firing of large number of neurons in the brain.' In modeling the behavior the authors didn't find that 'the killer commits murder right at the moment when neural excitation reaches a certain threshold. He needs time to plan and prepare his crime' so they built delay into their model. The killings eventually have a sedative effect, pushing the neuronal activity below the 'killing threshold' – which is why there are large intervals of time between groups of murders. 'There is at least qualitative agreement between theory and observation [PDF],' conclude the authors. 'Stats can't tell you who the perp is, but they're getting better and better at figuring out where and when the next crime might happen,' writes criminal lawyer Nathaniel Burney adding that 'catching a serial killer by focusing resources based on when and where he's likely to strike next is a hell of a lot better than relying on the junk science of behavioral profiling.'"
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Statisticians Uncover the Mathematics of a Serial Killer

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:44AM (#38722358)

    different people are... different?

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @05:17AM (#38722472) Homepage Journal
    Um, did you read anything on this guy? He couldn't get it up apparently, and that is what supposedly sent him into a rage. Dude was married, so ostensibly he had access to a woman, but if he couldn't get it up he couldn't get it up.....Not to mention you have killers like Ted Bundy who are incredibly charming(Bundy had something like 3 girlfriends at a time at some points in his life, dude even had women fawning over him AFTER they had learned he was a serial killer), but kill anyway......
  • by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @05:46AM (#38722574) Journal

    Many of us have torrents and like Us crime dramas without ads.:) (probably)

    Buy Sky+ then. Oh, sorry, I forgot this is slashdot so we're entitled to anything we can get our hands on and believe that films and TV shows magically get made at no cost.

    Yeah, blah blah "Intellectual property" doesn't really exist, it's only copying not stealing, whatever.

  • by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @07:11AM (#38722860) Homepage

    The General Practitioner, however, does serve a purpose. He / She has general knowledge of a multitude of diseases, forming a kind of filter, that if he can't treat a disease, he can generally point you in the right direction (refer you to a specialist who may have better equipment / knowledge for a better diagnosis). If medical specialists are encyclopedic albums, then the General Practitioner typically serves the role of the index.

    You don't want to be treated by a dermatologist if you need an oncologist.

    And yes, profiling is a "junk science." The saying "You would not have seen, if you had not believed" applies here -> the number of laws on the books right now are sufficient to charge anyone with a crime, misdemeanor or felony. You give me a week, with some information about a person, I can find a law to have them put away for a few years. Open a phone book, pick a name at random from the White Pages, and through no artifice, I will find a way to have them charged.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @07:57AM (#38723016) Journal
    Yeah, blah blah "Intellectual property" doesn't really exist, it's only copying not stealing, whatever.

    Unfortunate that you got modded troll, because you make a good point.

    I have to ask, though - At what point do you consider time and/or format shifting as "piracy", for ethical purposes?

    If I watch live TV, no piracy, ostensibly because we see the ads that "pay" for it. But I can (and back before TiVo, most people did) use commercials as food/bathroom breaks, or just flip channels during them, so even in the bad-ol'-days, no one really watched them.

    If I buy the season on DVD, no piracy, because I've actually directly paid for the content.

    If I download the same show from a torrent, most of us would agree that violates the spirit of copyright, even if we don't particularly care and do it anyway.

    If I rent the DVD and rip it, I think most would consider that piracy.

    And of course, we have the DVR, where I can time and format shift it to watch wherever and whenever I want, which IMO most people have come to accept as not piracy.

    But - How does ripping or torrenting differ from the DVR case, either functionally or in terms of compensation? Whether I "rip" a show from broadcast TV or rip it from a DVD, it makes absolutely no difference to the producer. Whether I download it from a torrent or "download" it from my TiVo To Go, it makes absolutely no difference to the producer. Whether I watch it live and promise to completely ignore the commercials, or watch a torrented 4th-hand fansubbed unlocked-PSP version, it makes absolutely no difference to the producer.

    Basically, once the producer has "given it away" by broadcasting it to the world, how can any use of that content really fall into the same box as "stealing"?
  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @08:58AM (#38723328)

    Exactly. This whole hypothesis is based on one data point alone. There were more than one serial killers, why did they try their hypothesis on just this one? Or was he the only one who fit in the equation?

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford