Math on Trial
How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom
Publication Date: March 2013
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In the wrong hands, math can be deadly. In Math on Trial, mathematicians Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez tell the story of ten trials in which mathematical arguments were usedand disastrously misusedas evidence. Using a wide range of examples, from the Dreyfus Affair to the Amanda Knox murder trial, they show how the improper application of mathematical concepts can mean the difference between walking free and life in prison. A colorful narrative of mathematical abuse featuring such characters as Charles Ponzi, Alfred Dreyfus, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Math on Trial shows that legal expertise isn’t always enough to prove a person innocent.
Leila Schneps studied mathematics at Harvard University and now holds a research position at the University of Paris, France. She has taught mathematics for nearly 30 years. Schneps’s daughter, Coralie Colmez, graduated with a First in mathematics from Cambridge University. They both belong to the Bayes in Law Research Consortium, an international team devoted to improving the use of probability and statistics in criminal trials.