Validation of software for calculating the likelihood ratio for parentage and kinship

Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2009 Mar;3(2):112-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2008.11.005. Epub 2008 Dec 24.


Although the likelihood ratio is a well-known statistical technique, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software products for its calculation are not sufficiently validated to suit general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories (EN/ISO/IEC 17025:2005 norm) per se. The software in question can be considered critical as it directly weighs the forensic evidence allowing judges to decide on guilt or innocence or to identify person or kin (i.e.: in mass fatalities). For these reasons, accredited laboratories shall validate likelihood ratio software in accordance with the above norm. To validate software for calculating the likelihood ratio in parentage/kinship scenarios I assessed available vendors, chose two programs (Paternity Index and familias) for testing, and finally validated them using tests derived from elaboration of the available guidelines for the field of forensics, biomedicine, and software engineering. MS Excel calculation using known likelihood ratio formulas or peer-reviewed results of difficult paternity cases were used as a reference. Using seven testing cases, it was found that both programs satisfied the requirements for basic paternity cases. However, only a combination of two software programs fulfills the criteria needed for our purpose in the whole spectrum of functions under validation with the exceptions of providing algebraic formulas in cases of mutation and/or silent allele.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Family*
  • Forensic Medicine / methods
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions*
  • Paternity*
  • Pedigree
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Software*