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Houston Matters

Using New Data Techniques To Estimate The Number Syrian Of War Dead

Rice University researchers are among those using data science and statistics to make a more accurate estimate of casualties in Syria.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows a man receiving treatment at a hospital in Damascus, Syria, Saturday, April. 7, 2018. State TV said Army of Islam fighters pelted several neighborhoods in Damascus with mortar shells killing six civilians and wounding more than 30. (SANA via AP)
AP
A man receiving treatment at a hospital in Damascus, Syria, Saturday, April. 7, 2018.

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The war in Syria has left many innocent civilians dead. But, due to the chaotic and dangerous nature of the conflict, knowing just how many casualties have been suffered has been extremely difficult to determine.

However, Rice University researchers are among those using data science and statistics to make a more accurate estimate for the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG). The researchers estimate there were 191,874 unique individuals killed from March 2011 to April 2014. The findings were published in the June issue of the Annals of Applied Statistics.

To learn how the estimate was made – and how data science is being used in other interesting ways – Houston Matters talks with Dr. Anshumali Shrivastava, a computer science professor, Rice University.