Search Results for Python

Everybody needs crampons

Sherpa is a fitting environment in which Chandra data (and really, X-ray data from any observatory) can be analyzed. It has just undergone a major update and now runs on python. Or allows python to run. Something like that. It is a very powerful tool, but I can never remember how to use it, and I have an amazing knack for not finding what I need in the documentation. So here is a little cheat sheet (which I will keep updating as and when if I learn more): …Continue reading»

some python modules

I was told to stay away from python and I’ve obeyed the order sincerely. However, I collected the following stuffs several months back at the instance of hearing about import inference and I hate to see them getting obsolete. At that time, collecting these modules and getting through them could help me complete the first step toward the quest Learning Python (the first posting of this slog). …Continue reading»

Do people use Fortran?

I’m very sure that Fortran is one of the major scientific programming languages. Many functions, modules, and libraries are written in this language. Without being aware of, these routines are ported into many script languages. However, I become curious whether Fortran is still the major force in astronomy or statistics, compared to say 20 years ago (10 seems too small). …Continue reading»

data analysis system and its documentation

So far, I didn’t complain much related to my “statistician learning astronomy” experience. Instead, I’ve been trying to emphasize how fascinating it is. I hope that more statisticians can join this adventure when statisticians’ insights are on demand more than ever. However, this positivity seems not working so far. In two years of this slog’s life, there’s no posting by a statistician, except one about BEHR. Statisticians are busy and well distracted by other fields with more tangible data sets. Or compared to other fields, too many obstacles and too high barriers exist in astronomy for statisticians to participate. I’d like to talk about these challenges from my ends.[1] …Continue reading»

  1. This is quite an overdue posting. Links and associated content can be outdated.[]

[Books] Bayesian Computations

A number of practical Bayesian data analysis books are available these days. Here, I’d like to introduce two that were relatively recently published. I like the fact that they are rather technical than theoretical. They have practical examples close to be related with astronomical data. They have R codes so that one can try algorithms on the fly instead of jamming probability theories. …Continue reading»

Where is ciao X ?

X={ primer, tutorial, cookbook, Introduction, guidebook, 101, for dummies, …}

I’ve heard many times about the lack of documentation of this extensive data analysis system, ciao. I saw people still using ciao 3.4 although the new version 4 has been available for many months. Although ciao is not the only tool for Chandra data analysis, it was specifically designed for it. Therefore, I expect it being used frequently with popularity. But the reality is against my expectation. Whatever (fierce) discussion I’ve heard, it has been irrelevant to me because ciao is not intended for statistical analysis. Then, out of sudden, after many months, a realization hit me. ciao is different from other data analysis systems and softwares. This difference has been a hampering factor of introducing ciao outside the Chandra scientist community and of gaining popularity. This difference was the reason I often got lost in finding suitable documentations. …Continue reading»

a century ago

Almost 100 years ago, A.S. Eddington stated in his book Stellar Movements (1914) that

…in calculating the mean error of a series of observations it is preferable to use the simple mean residual irrespective of sign rather than the mean square residual

Such eminent astronomer said already least absolute deviation over chi-square, if I match simple mean residual and mean square residual to relevant methodologies, in order. …Continue reading»

It bothers me.

The full description is given about “bayes” under sherpa/ciao[1]. Some sentences kept bothering me and here’s my account for the reason given outside of quotes. …Continue reading»

  1. Note that the current sherpa is beta under ciao 4.0 not under ciao 3.4 and a description about “bayes” from the most recent sherpa is not available yet, which means this post needs updates one new release is available[]


The first step of data analysis or applications is reading the data sets into a tool of choice. Recent years, I’ve been using R (see also Learning R) for that regard but I’ve enjoyed freedoms for the same purpose from these languages and tools: BASIC, fortran77/90/95, C/C++, IDL, IRAF, AIPS, mongo/supermongo, MATLAB, Maple, Mathematica, SAS, SPSS, Gauss, ARC, Minitab, and recently Python and ciao which I just began to learn. Many of them I lost the fluency of how to use it. Quick learning tends to be flash memory. Some will need brain defragmentation and recovering time for extensive scientific work. A few I don’t like to use at all. No matter what, I’m not a computer geek. I’m not good at new gadgets, new softwares, nor welcome new and allegedly versatile computing systems. But one must be if he/she want to handle data. Until recently I believed R has such versatility in the aspect of reading in data. Yet, there is nothing without exceptions. …Continue reading»


Astronomers tend to think in Bayesian way, but their Bayesian implementation is very limited. OpenBUGS, WinBUGS, GeoBUGS (BUGS for geostatistics; for example, modeling spatial distribution), R2WinBUGS (R BUGS wrapper) or PyBUGS (Python BUGS wrapper) could boost their Bayesian eagerness. Oh, by the way, BUGS stands for Bayesian inference Using Gibbs Sampling. …Continue reading»


PyIMSL is a collection of Python wrappers to the math and statistical algorithms in the IMSL C Numerical Library[1]. I recall the days of digging in IMSL (International Mathematics and Statistics Library) user manuals and learning Fortran and C to use this vast library (Splus was to slow at that time). Upon knowing that Python is very favored among astronomers (click here to see the slog posts about Python) and that limits exist in Numerical Recipes (I didn’t check the latest version published last year, though), probably IMSL is useful for mathematical and statistical analysis for astronomers.

To know more, …Continue reading»

  1. cited from[]

R-[{Perl,Python}] Interface

The brackets could be filled with other languages but two are introduced today: Perl ( and Python ( These two are widely used among astronomers and can be empowered by R ( …Continue reading»

Significance of 5 counts

We have talked about it many times. Now I have to work with the reality. My source shows only 5 counts in a short 5 ksec Chandra exposure. Is this a detection of the source? or is this a random fluctuation? Chandra background is low and data are intrinsically Poisson, so the problem should be easy to solve. Not really! There is no tool to calculate this :-) well, no actually it is! Tom A. and I found it by searching Google “Python gamma function” and came out with Tom Loredo’s Python functions ( that he translated from Numerical Recipes to Python. This is the working tool! We just needed to change “import Numeric” or “import Numarray” to “import numpy as N” and then it worked.

We calculated the significance of observing 5 counts given the expected background counts of 0.1 using spfunc.gammp(5,0.1) =8e-8. The detection is highly significant.

Any comments?

Learning Python

Both in astronomy and statistics, python is recognized as a versatile programming language. I asked python tutorials to Alanna. The following is her answer, which looks very useful for those who wish to learn python.
…Continue reading»