Charles Brenner (mathematician)

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Charles H. Brenner
Born (1945-03-18) March 18, 1945 (age 78)
CitizenshipUnited States
Known for
  • APL implementation
  • Forensic mathematics
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley
ThesisAsymptotics of Partition Functions (1984)
Doctoral advisorsBasil Gordon[1]
Ernst Straus

Charles Hallam Brenner is an American mathematician who is the originator of forensic mathematics. His father Joel Lee Brenner was a professor of mathematics and his mother Frances Hallam Brenner was a city councilor and briefly mayor of Palo Alto, California. His uncle Charles Brenner, MD was a psychiatrist.

Brenner received a B.S. from Stanford University in 1967, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1984.[1][2]

Brenner participated in the implementation of APL\360 and APL\1130,[3] and implemented the transpose and rotate primitive functions.[4]

More recently, Brenner specializes in the use of mathematics in DNA analysis.[5] His principal areas of interest and achievement in the mathematics of forensic DNA are kinship, rare haplotype matching, and DNA mixtures. In a couple of Y haplotype papers, most recently,[6] he showed why Y haplotypes must be much rarer, and how much rarer, than their sample frequency in a reference population sample. Brenner’s Symbolic Kinship Program,[7] which can for example assess the identification evidence based on DNA profiles from an anonymous body and an arbitrary set of presumed relatives, has been widely used in mass victim identification projects, including identifying about 1/3 of the identified World Trade Center bodies.[8][9]

Brenner played a key role in the resolution of the Larry Hillblom inheritance case, resulting in four Amerasian children each receiving $50 million.[10]


  • Between 1968 and 1973, Brenner lived in London, U.K. and supported himself by playing contract bridge professionally.[5][11]
  • Brenner asked Gordon, his advisor, “How far can you get in mathematics without being smart?”
    “Quite far,” he said.[12]


  1. ^ a b Brenner, Charles Hallam (1984). Asymptotics of Partition Functions (Ph.D. thesis). UCLA.
  2. ^ Brenner, Charles H. (November 1986). "Asymptotic Analogs of the Rogers-Ramanujan Identities in Number Theory". Journal of Combinatorial Theory, Series A. 43 (2): 303–319. doi:10.1016/0097-3165(86)90069-5.
  3. ^ Breed, Lawrence M. (August 2006). "How We Got To APL\1130". Vector, Journal of the British APL Association. 22 (3). Archived from the original on 18 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  4. ^ McDonnell, Eugene E. (September 2000). "DNA Analysis in APL". Vector, Journal of the British APL Association. 17 (3). Archived from the original on 19 April 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b Dreifus, Claudia (8 August 2000). "A Math Sleuth Whose Secret Weapon Is Statistics". New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  6. ^ Brenner, Charles H. (January 2014). "Understanding Y Haplotype Matching Probability" (PDF). Forensic Science International: Genetics. 8 (1): 233–243. doi:10.1016/j.fsigen.2013.10.007. PMID 24315614. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  7. ^ Brenner, Charles H. (February 1997). "Symbolic Kinship Program" (PDF). Genetics. 145 (2): 535–42. doi:10.1093/genetics/145.2.535. PMC 1207816. PMID 9071605. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  8. ^ Smith, Matt (6 March 2002). "Truth Over Death". SF Weekly. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  9. ^ Whitfield, John (23 April 2003). "World Trade Centre Forensics Break New Ground". Nature. doi:10.1038/news030421-2. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  10. ^ Smith, Matt (5 April 2000). "Ca$h for Genes". SF Weekly. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  11. ^ Brenner, Charles H., Bridge Player 1968-1973 London, archived from the original on 15 March 2016, retrieved 6 April 2016
  12. ^ Brenner, Charles H. (3 February 1999), The Realm of Mathematics, archived from the original on 15 March 2016, retrieved 6 April 2016

External links[edit]

Official website