What is an Expert System?
Expert systems are computer programs that contain subject-specific knowledge. Guided by user-defined rules, expert systems can analyze a given set of data with the same skill as a human expert. In the forensic community, an expert system (once optimized and validated) can assist forensic DNA analysts with the routine processing of single source samples and can streamline sample processing workflow by alerting the analyst to those samples that require more thorough manual review as specified in the user defined rules. This enhances the expertise of the forensic analyst. Since some data will always require some manual review by the analyst, it is critical that forensic expert systems also provide an efficient and robust workflow for this process so that the analyst has the necessary tools to quickly analyze a wide range of data. This dramatically reduces the amount of time an analyst needs to spend on the entire DNA analysis workflow.
“Expert systems are software or a suite of software programs that are used to rapidly process DNA data and generate final DNA results. Expert systems have the potential to reduce or eliminate backlogs of unanalyzed data, thereby streamlining DNA analysis and increasing the number of profiles available for import into CODIS.” Marshall University Forensic Science Center
“With the advances made in higher throughput sample punches of convicted offender cards, robotic pipetting workstations, multicapillary instrumentation, and multiplex single amplification chemistry and the outsourcing of convicted offender samples, the bottleneck today has shifted from sample processing to sample data review for eventual upload into NDIS...The incorporation of expert systems into laboratory processes will lead to a reduction in time required for the data review process of convicted offender samples and submission to NDIS.”
Rhonda Roby NIJ Technical Consultant
“Expert systems in forensic DNA analysis will eventually become essential for every crime lab. It is the next step in the evolution of our field. Years from now we will wonder how we ever worked without one.”
Gary Shutler, Ph.D. DNA Technical Leader, Washington State Patrol, Crime Laboratory Division
Why use an expert system?
Laboratories facing increasing backlogs and expanding database legislation all over the world continually seek automated solutions that enable them to process and analyze an exponentially increasing number of samples with the same resources. Data review and analysis remains a significant time consuming activity for most forensic laboratories and the promise of expert system data review from a trusted manufacturer has the potential to tremendously impact the workflow of forensic laboratories. For this reason, forensic community experts have continued to define the role of expert system software for forensic data analysis over the last several years.
The most basic description of an expert system is a software program that can evaluate the quality of a sample according to a laboratory's established DNA interpretation guidelines. Based on the software's assessment, it then alerts users which samples require manual review and which do not. The results from the samples that DO NOT require manual review may be reported without any further review. Samples that require manual review may either be rejected or visually inspected. During visual inspection, the analyst may then reject the sample, edit the sample or manually accept (override) the sample. The goal of an expert system is to get data that requires manual review in front of the forensic analyst as quickly as possible to enhance their expertise.
- Allelic Ladder Quality Assessment: this feature eliminates the need to manually inspect allelic ladder samples
- Sample Level Quality Assessment
- Marker Level Quality Assessment
In addition to being able to meet the needs of the forensic community as an Expert System, GeneMapper® ID-X offers sophisticated tools to help users manage the data and separate those samples that require manual review from those that do not. This is accomplished through generation of the Analysis Summary. This automatic tool provides snapshots of allelic ladder, control and sample quality. Using an interactive window, users are able to link to desired groups of samples.