Penn Science Café: ‘Big Data and Algorithms: Can They Be Fair and Accurate at the Same Time?’

Gina Bryan | | 215-898-8721
Michele Berger | | 215-898-6751
Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Richard Berk
Professor of Criminology and Statistics
Department of Criminology
School of Arts & Sciences
​​​​​​​University of Pennsylvania    


Penn Science Café: “Big Data and Algorithms: Can They Be Fair and Accurate at the Same Time?”


Tuesday, March 21, 6-7 p.m. 


World Cafe Live Upstairs, 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia

Working with Penn colleagues in statistics and computer science, Richard Berk develops and deploys algorithms that assist in criminal-justice decision making. His computer software is used to help inform whether a prison inmate is released on parole and the kind of supervision provided to those on probation. He is currently working on projects regarding release decisions at arraignment and police handling of incidents of intimate-partner violence. In each application, the goal is to improve current practice. But these tools can be controversial because of errors and potential unfairness for the people affected. Are there tradeoffs between accurate forecasts of criminal behavior and fairness, and what about the consequences for potential crime victims?

The talk is part of the Penn Science Café free public-lecture series presented by Penn Arts & Sciences and the Office of University Communications that takes science out of the lab for a night on the town. Professor Berk’s presentation will be followed by an audience Q&A. Café events are free and open to the public. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Seating is limited. RSVPs are encouraged. To RSVP or for more information or directions: Gina Bryan at 215-898-8721 or