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How often is math used in forensic science?

forensic science is interesting to me, but i really struggle with math sometimes and i wanted to know if that’s a huge part of a forensic science job.

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Luke’s Answer

Mathematics plays a significant role in forensic science, but the level of mathematical proficiency required can vary depending on the specific area of forensic science and the tasks involved. Here are some aspects of forensic science where math skills are commonly applied:

Crime Scene Reconstruction: Math is used to analyze and interpret physical evidence, such as blood spatter patterns, bullet trajectories, and accident reconstructions. Calculations and equations may be used to determine angles, distances, and speeds.
DNA Analysis: Statistics and probability are essential in DNA profiling, where mathematical models are used to calculate the likelihood of a DNA match or to estimate the frequency of a particular DNA profile in a population.
Toxicology and Drug Analysis: Quantitative analysis and calculations are used to determine the concentration of drugs or toxic substances in samples. Understanding mathematical concepts like ratios, dilutions, and concentrations is crucial in this area.
Ballistics and Firearms Analysis: Mathematical principles are employed in ballistics to analyze bullet trajectories, compare striations on fired bullets, and determine the velocity and energy of projectiles.
Digital Forensics: Digital forensics involves analyzing electronic devices and computer systems. Understanding mathematical algorithms, cryptography, and data recovery techniques can be beneficial in this field.
While a solid foundation in math is valuable for forensic science, it's important to note that not all areas of forensic science require advanced mathematical skills. Some aspects of math, such as algebra, basic statistics, and geometry, are commonly used and can often be learned and applied within the context of forensic science courses and training.

If you struggle with math, you can focus on improving your understanding of the mathematical concepts most relevant to forensic science. Seek additional support, such as tutoring or online resources, to strengthen your math skills. Additionally, collaborating with experts and colleagues who possess strong mathematical abilities can help compensate for any challenges you may face in this area.
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Ryan’s Answer

Hello, actual crime scene investigator here. Most math actually never comes up in day to day crime scene investigation. The important things to know are the trigonomic functions of Sine of an angle = opposite/ hypotenuse and Tangent of an angle =opposite side/adjacent side. But those are only used when you want to reconstruct the trajectory of a bullet or blood drop. Other than that math doesn’t come up much in crime scene work. If you work in a lab then math might come up more, but from what I understand they actually use computer programs to calculate the probabilistic value of evidence anyway. Although you will probably need to pass your math classes if you want to get a degree in forensic science.
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Michelle’s Answer

I agree with Ryan and Luke's answers. While math is not a day to day exercise when working crime scenes, as the equipment and tools used to perform the day to day processing gets more technical - then yes, math does come into play. However, most math used is very specific, usually equations that are known - and plugged into a calculator for the answer. Understanding the math helps, but doing the math in your head or on paper is not required. I too, do not like math, but have worked as a Crime Scene Investigator for over 15 years and did not have to do anything more than adding and subtracting.

The above answers from Ryan and Luke are correct in that if you go into the more scientific path of forensic science (working with DNA, bodily fluids , drugs and other areas of processing evidence from a scientific aspect) - you will use more math. But again, it will be equations used and calculated in a computer or on a calculator and not you having to obtain the answer from working the numbers yourself.

Basic math, geometry, trigonometry and statistics are what you will be dealing with. Understanding these areas of math are essential, but you will use them periodically. I hope this helps you figure out what you want to do. Math is in our lives daily, and the same is true of forensic science, but don't worry about it, you will get the hang of it. Best wishes on your future.
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