Getting A Clearer Picture Of Crime Literally

California mathematicians and computer scientists are rescuing criminals from obscurity. Leonid Rudin, a founder of Cognitech Inc. in Santa Monica, used complex equations to clean up fuzzy footage of Reginald Denny's beating during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He says his company will release a software package called Police Video Workstation late this year so local police departments can do their own scrutinizing.

The software teases out video details hidden by distortion, blurring, and low light. Other video-enhancement techniques rely on simpler linear equations--the kind used to calculate building strength and heat transfer. Partial differential equations, commonly used to design airplane wings or analyze the flow of blood in the heart, look at more variables and thus can decipher more detail in images. Police departments and insurance companies have expressed interest in the software. Meanwhile, Rudin is off to analyze film of the B-52 bomber crash in Washington state in June.

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