Pattern recognition techniques have been applied to the infrared (IR) spectral libraries of the Paint Data Query (PDQ) database to differentiate between nonidentical but similar IR spectra of automotive paints. To tackle the problem of library searching, search prefilters were developed to identify the vehicle make from IR spectra of the clear coat, surfacer–primer, and e-coat layers. To develop these search prefilters with the appropriate degree of accuracy, IR spectra from the PDQ database were preprocessed using the discrete wavelet transform to enhance subtle but significant features in the IR spectral data. Wavelet coefficients characteristic of vehicle make were identified using a genetic algorithm for pattern recognition and feature selection. Search prefilters to identify automotive manufacturer through IR spectra obtained from a paint chip recovered at a crime scene were developed using 1596 original manufacturer’s paint systems spanning six makes (General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota) within a limited production year range (2000–2006). Search prefilters for vehicle manufacturer that were developed as part of this study were successfully validated using IR spectra obtained directly from the PDQ database. Information obtained from these search prefilters can serve to quantify the discrimination power of original automotive paint encountered in casework and further efforts to succinctly communicate trace evidential significance to the courts.
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