(Received 8 July 1986; accepted 17 November 1986)
Published Online: September
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It is recognized that the unique definition of a complex pattern in terms of a numerical descriptor is an unrealistic objective; yet the need exists for an efficient means of handling such information in a variety of fields. A simple procedure is described for abstraction of the essential characteristics of a pattern into a format suitable for automated searching of large reference collections, and potentially, for the interlaboratory exchange of this information. The index developed embodies two distinct aspects of a pattern: “intrinsic” information content (I) and “hierarchical” information (H), calculated on up to 15 of the pattern's elements; the descriptors relate respectively to weighted relative magnitudes and arrangement of elements within the pattern. Significantly, the index is designed to be immune from variability in longitudinal dimensions, both absolute and relative, and to provide for versatile and intelligent searching of a data base.
Forensic scientist, Home Office Forensic Science Laboratory, Chorley, Lancashire
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