Locating Criminals with Geo-Profiling

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Geoprofiling is a technique that has been used to locate criminals (with small success) or shark attacks, created by Kim Rossmo. It is based on two assumptions: the criminal does not commit crimes in a "buffer zone" close to his home, and he does not travel too far to find a new victim. Locators show the locations of crimes or shark attacks and the regions in red are the regions where the criminal's or shark's home is most likely to be.

Contributed by: Enrique Zeleny (January 2014)
Based on a program by: Jeremy Kun
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



The formula used to find the probability of the criminal's residence is


where the sum is over crime locations and


Here is a point in the grid and is the distance to a crime location with a choosen metric, either the Manhattan or Euclidean distance. The "buffer zone" is the area where the criminal does not commit crimes; is its radius. The powers and affect the decay of the curve.

[1] J. Kun. "Hunting Serial Killers." (Jul 20, 2011) jeremykun.com/2011/07/20/serial-killers.

[2] R. A. Martin, D. K. Rossmo, and N. Hammerschlag, "Hunting Patterns and Geographic Profiling of White Shark Predation," Journal of Zoology, 279(2), 2009 pp. 111–118. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00586.x

[3] SuperJustimagine. Geo-profiling on Numb3rs [Video]. (Aug 15, 2010) www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUub-ch_ULM.

[4] "The Math behind Numb3rs: Pilot Episode." (2007) numb3rs.wolfram.com/season1.html.

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