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The Champion

May 2018 , Page 58 

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What Does Software Engineering Have to Do with DNA?

By Nathaniel Adams

Probabilistic genotyping (PG) software is a class of computer programs designed to interpret complex DNA mixtures. It is quickly taking hold in U.S. crime labs. One PG software developer claims that, as of October 2016, 44 percent of U.S. forensic DNA testing labs had adopted the program his company sells. This is up from a handful of labs using PG software five years ago. Scientific concerns1 and legal concerns2 should be expected with any new development in forensic science.

However, the disciplines of forensic biology and software engineering have traditionally had little overlap. With the high stakes inherent to the criminal justice system and the complexity of PG software, the adoption of probabilistic genotyping systems prompts further questions about algorithmic transparency and software quality assurance. These issues have been insufficiently discussed and might not be well-understood by many forensic DNA scientists or courts.

This article provides background on software engineer

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