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Press Release 10-029
Fighting Crime With Math

Sophisticated math models give insights on crime hotspots

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Why does police presence extinguish some crime surges, but just move others? Researchers teamed up with the LAPD to model the math behind spikes in crime--and what kind of policing works.

Credit: Elijah Bracero and Lisa Raffensperger, National Science Foundation; Image ęGetty Images


2-D simulation of Los Angeles burglary hotspots on left and spatial distribution of crimes on right.

Researchers at UCLA and University of California, Irvine say crime hotspots form in two ways--either when small spikes in crime grow and spread, or when a large spike in crime pulls offenders to a specific location. Shown here on the left is a two-dimensional discrete simulation of burglary hotspots in an 18 x 18 km. area of the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles. On the right is a spatial distribution of crimes. The researchers teamed up with the Los Angeles Police Department to analyze burglaries over the last 10 years. Model parameters are calibrated against housing density, and the models factor in true and simulated crime events.

Credit: UC Mathematical and Simulation Modeling of Crime Project

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