Crime-Fighting Computer Code from Cambridge Police and MIT

A computer algorithm may be the key to solving notoriously difficult home break-ins. (Matthew S. Gunby/AP)

A computer algorithm may be the key to solving notoriously challenging home break-ins. (Matthew S. Gunby/AP)

Could a computer algorithm help police catch a thief? Police in Cambridge are hoping the answer is yes.

The challenge are common crimes like home break-ins. They’re difficult to solve because there are usually no witnesses, thieves are clever and their victims are usually away from home. Nationally, police end up solving only 13 percent of them.

But what if they could get instant access to all the information about similar crimes — when, where and how they took place? That might allow them to focus their attention on a particular neighborhood — maybe even lead them to suspects before they robbed again.

That’s the aim of a new partnership between an MIT mathematician and the Cambridge police.


Cynthia Rudin, Associate Professor of Statistics,  MIT Sloan School of Management.

Daniel Wagner, Lieutenant in the Crime Analysis Unit, Cambridge Police Department.

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