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Researchers used geotagging and math to reveal the identity of the street artist Banksy

banksy identity revealed math gunningham nyc
Image used with permission by copyright holder
It’s the perfect way to track serial killers, disease outbreaks, and of course, renowned yet highly secretive artists. A new report from researchers at Queen Mary University of London reveals that a common criminology method has been employed to unmask the mysterious artist Banksy, and now, science has determined that the man behind the magic is none other than one Robin Gunningham. This is not the first time Gunningham has been pinned as the elusive creative — in 2008, the Daily Mail also claimed that he was true identity of Banksy, and now, it would appear that research has validated this theory.

In order to draw their conclusions, the scientists relied on geographic profiling and math, so seriously guys, pay attention in school. Using a system known as Dirichlet process mixture modelling, Dr. Steve Le Comber of Queen Mary University and criminologist Kim Rossmo of Texas State University calculated the probability of a “given array of activity, and the way it is clustered [resulting] from any given source.” In the case of Banksy, the duo examined the geographic locations of 140 of his works throughout London and Bristol, and associated the peaks of this activity with none other than Robin Gunningham.

You can check out the full details of their work in this report published in the Journal of Spatial Science.

The technique has been proven quite successful in the past, with Dirichlet process mixture modelling successfully determining the home and workplace of two anti-Nazi activists who sent out postcards in Berlin during the mid 20th century.

“With no other serious ‘suspects’ to investigate, it is difficult to make conclusive statements about Banksy’s identity based on the analysis presented here, other than saying the peaks of the geoprofiles in both Bristol and London include addresses known to be associated with Robin Gunningham,” the researchers concluded. “However, this analysis does provide some support for the theory that he is Banksy.”

So there you have it, friends. When it comes to the big reveal, it all comes down to math.

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
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