Presentations 

Katy McKeough (HU) 2019 Sep 03 (contd.) 2019 Sep 10 SciCen 706 
 Defining Regions that Contain Complex Astronomical Structures
 Abstract: Astronomers are interested in
delineating boundaries of extended sources in noisy images. An
example is finding outlines of a jet in a distant quasar. This
is particularly difficult for jets in high redshift, Xray
images where there are a limited number of pixel counts. Using
Lowcounts Image Reconstruction and Analysis (LIRA), McKeough
2016 and Stein 2015 propose and apply a method where jets are
detected using previously defined regions of interest (ROI).
LIRA, a Bayesian multiscale image reconstruction, has been
tremendously successful in analyzing low count images and
extracting noisy structure. However, we do not always have
supplementary information to predetermine ROI and the size and
shape can greatly affect flux/luminosity. LIRA is also unaware
of correlations that may exist between adjacent pixels in the
real image. In order to group similar pixels, we impose a
successor or postmodel on the output of LIRA. We adopt the
Ising model as a prior on assigning the pixels to either the
background or the ROI. The final boundary and uncertainty are
informed by the posterior draws of these assignments. This
method has been applied to the jet data as well as simulations
and appears to be capable of picking out meaningful ROIs.
 jit.si/CHASC1993 [webcast url] (connect with desktop browser [Chrome works best] or dedicated mobile app)
 Presentation slides [.pdf]
 [animated gif]


Javiera Astudillo (IACS) and Pavlos Protopapas (SEAS/HU) 2019 Oct 01 SciCen 706 
 An Information Theory Approach on Deciding Spectroscopic Follow Ups
 Abstract:
Classification and characterization of variable phenomena and
transient phenomena are critical for astrophysics and
cosmology. These objects are commonly studied using
photometric time series or spectroscopic data. Given that many
ongoing and future surveys are in timedomain and given that
adding spectra provide further insights but requires more
observational resources, it would be valuable to know which
objects should we prioritize to have spectrum in addition to
time series. We propose a methodology in a probabilistic
setting that determines apriory which objects are worth
taking spectrum so that classification prediction is improved.
Objects for which we query spectrum are reclassified using
their full spectrum information. We first train two
classifiers, one that uses photometric data and another that
uses photometric and spectroscopic data together. Then for
each photometric object we estimate the probability of each
possible spectrum outcome. We combine these models in various
probabilistic frameworks (strategies) which are used to guide
the selection of follow up observations. The best strategy
depends on the intended use. For a given number of objects
(127, equal to $5\%$ of the dataset) to be observed, we
improve 37\% (47) class prediction accuracy as opposed to 20%
(25) of a nonnaive (nonrandom) best baseline strategy.
Further, we improve the ground truth probability 1.18 times as
much as the best baseline strategy. Our approach provides a
general framework for followup strategies and can be extended
beyond classification and to include other forms of followups
beyond spectroscopy.
 jit.si/CHASC19101 [webcast url] (connect with desktop browser [Chrome works best] or dedicated mobile app)
 Presentation slides:
gdrive [ppt]
download [pdf]


Andreas Zezas (CfA, Crete) 2019 Oct 08 SciCen 706 
 Projects of RISEAstroStat II
 Abstract: Current challenges in the analysis of
astronomical data include the development of efficient source
detection algorithms. This includes images, as well as, multi
dimensional data with spectral and/or timing information.
Although major progress has been made in these directions over
the past years, significant work is needed in order to apply
these method to the next generation of Xray, and
multiwavelength data. I will present some of these challenges
and how they are linked to the ASTROSTATII project, a network
of European, US, and Canadian Astronomy and/or Statistics
institutes.
 Presentation slides [.pdf]


Josh Speagle (HU) 2019 Oct 22 SciCen 706 
 The Devil's in the Details: Photometric Biases in Modern Surveys
 Abstract: Many modern surveys use
maximumlikelihood estimates (MLEs) for positions, fluxes, and
other parameters for stars, galaxies, and other astrophysical
phenomena from 2D images. These MLEs are then used to make
catalogs used in the vast majority of astronomical analyses. I
will provide an overview of the basic ingredients present when
modeling these images, and illustrate how the MLE behaves in
various cases. I will then present results from recent work
showing that the MLE systematically overestimates the flux as
a function of the signaltonoise ratio (SNR) and the number
of parameters involved in the fit. I will then examine how
this bias behaves when fitting multiple images at once, which
are necessary to estimate the "colors" of astronomical
objects. We find that common "forced" photometry approaches
(where the position is sometimes fixed) actually compound the
above bias in derived colors, while more rigorous "joint"
photometry approaches (where all images are modeled
simultaneously) actually distribute the bias between all the
images. We find our bias is present when examining data from
idealized simulations, fake object pipeline tests, and real
astronomical datasets, implying it is widespread among most
datasets in use today. I will also discuss secondorder
effects relating to error estimation.
 Presentation Slides [.pdf]
 See also: arXiv:1902.02374 [url]


XiaoLi Meng (HU), Aneta Siemiginowska (CfA), Vinay Kashyap (CfA) 2019 Oct 29 12:30pm1:30pm EDT Room 101, Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering, 610 Commonwealth Ave, Boston 
 Astrostatistics: The Intersection of Statistics and Outer Space
 In observation of World Statistics Day, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and the first images of a black hole, the BU Student Chapter of the American Statistical Association is hosting a seminar featuring scientists from the Center for Astrophysics  Harvard and Smithsonian. The presenters will discuss general statistical issues in Xray analysis and then focus on data issues specific to calibration in spectral and image data.
 Cosponsors:
Boston Chapter of the American Statistical Association
BU Spark! & the Hariri Institute for Computing
 Live stream at https://bostonu.zoom.us/j/422150563 [zoom]

 Presentation slides:
Aneta Siemiginowska [.key]
Vinay Kashyap [.pdf]
XiaoLi Meng [.pdf]


Paolo Bonfini (Crete) 2019 Nov 5 Crete 
 Automated characterization of galaxy morphologies
 Abstract: The morphological appearance of a galaxy is one of the most direct indicators of its evolutionary history. This is why morphological classification labelling and parametrisation are fundamental information to account for when constructing a galaxy sample. Incoming surveys performed via LSST and EUCLID will yield data for unprecedented sample sizes: it is therefore vital to automate classification procedures.
One common and simple approach to classify morphologies in large samples is to summarize a galaxy's appearance via parametric fitting.
Moving to smaller scales, we are interested in the detection/characterization of morphological substructures of galaxies. We present our preliminary pipeline for the automated detection and parametrization of galaxymerger features such as tidal tails and shells.
 Presentation slides [.pdf]


Chun Liu (IIT) 2019 Nov 12 SciCen 706 
 Mapping, Transport and Diffusion: A Energetic Variational Approach
 Abstract:
In this talk, I will introduce some analytical techniques to study the dynamics and equilibrium of complicated systems, such as those in transport and diffusion. The main ingredient is to introduce a unified energetic variational approach in order to capture various couplings and constraints.
 Presentation slides [.pdf]


Hans Moritz Guenther (MIT) 2019 Nov 19 SciCen 706 
 Inferring the ACIS subpixel grade distribution
 Abstract:
The active layer in the CCD detectors consists of silicon. When an Xray
photon is absorbed in that silicon layer, it causes a cloud of free
electrons. While this electron cloud drifts towards the gate electrodes,
it spreads. In the CCD detectors on Chandra, the electron cloud is
typically big enough to span several pixels when it reaches the "bottom"
of the silicon layer. Thus, every detected event does not only give us
an integer pixel location, but the signal in a number of pixels. The
"grade" is a way to encode this spatial pattern into a single number. If
a photon hits the center of a pixel, the electron cloud might fit
entirely into that pixel, but if it hits near the corner, the electron
cloud is likely to overlap multiple pixels.
In order to perform accurate simulations of Chandra data, we need to know
the probability distribution of grades, given a subpixel location and
energy. In this talk, I will introduce the problem, and lay out my idea
for an approach to reconstruct that distribution from observed data and
show some initial (not satisfying) fits. I am asking for advice on
better methods to reconstruct the subpixel grade distribution.
In principle, a solution to this problem could also improve our
understanding of pileup, a long standing problem in Chandra data analysis.
 Presentation slides [.pdf]


Julio Castrillon (BU) 2019 Dec 17 SciCen 706 
 Large Scale Kriging: A High Performance MultiLevel Computational Mathematics Approach
 Abstract:
Large scale kriging problems usually become numerically expensive and
unstable to solve as the number of observations are increased. In this
talk we introduce techniques from Computational Applied Mathematics
(CAM), Partial Differential Equations (PDEs), and High Performance
Computing (HPC) to efficiently estimate the covariance function
parameters and compute the best unbiased predictor with high
accuracy. Our approach is based on multilevel spaces that have been
successful in solving PDEs. The first advantage is that the estimation
problem is decoupled and the covariance parameters are efficiently and
accurately solved. In addition, the covariance matrix of the
multilevel spaces exhibit fast decay and is significantly better conditioned
than the original covariance matrix. Furthermore, we show that the
prediction problem can be remapped into a numerically stable form
without any loss of accuracy. We demonstrate our approach on test
problems of up to 512,000 observations with a Matern covariance
function and flexible placements of the observations on a single CPU core.
Many of these test examples are numerically unstable and hard to solve.
 Presentation slides [.pdf]


Katy McKeough (Harvard) 2020 Jan 21 12:30pm EST M240, 160 Concord 
 LIRA/Ising Updates


Floor Broekgaarden (CfA) 2020 Jan 28 SciCen 706 
 STROOPWAFEL: a Dutch cookie and an adaptive sampling algorithm to simulate rare outcomes from astrophysical populations
 Abstract:
Gravitationalwave observations of binary black hole mergers are rapidly providing new insights into the physics of massive stars and the evolution of binary systems. Making the most of expected nearfuture observations for understanding stellar physics will rely on comparisons with binary population synthesis models. However, the vast majority of simulated binaries never produce binary black hole mergers, which makes calculating such populations computationally inefficient.
In this meeting I will present our adaptive importance sampling algorithm, STROOPWAFEL, that we wrote to improve the computational sampling efficiency of population studies of rare events. I will present its performance compared to traditional Monte Carlo sampling from the birth distributions and will discuss the similarities of the code with playing the board game battleships.
At the end of the presentation I will discuss some statistical challenges that we are currently facing in our effort to further optimize the STROOPWAFEL code, for which I would love to get some input from the audience. Stroopwafels will be provided.
 Broekgaarden et al. 2019, MNRAS 490, 5228 [ADS]
 data [zenodo]
 code [github]
 Presentation slides: [.pdf] ; [github] ; [.pptx]


Maximilian Autenrieth (Imperial) 2020 Feb 25 Imperial 
 Domain Adaptation and Covariate Shift  A Literature Review
 Abstract: In supervised statistical machine learning tasks, learning algorithms are trained on categorized training objects with the aim of generalizing the classification by making predictions on unlabeled target objects. If the labeled training data is not an accurate representation of the target data distribution, learning algorithms will not predict the unlabeled samples well.
In this talk, I will present a review of general methods proposed in the machine learning community to overcome this issue  known as domain adaptation, transfer learning, covariate shift and sample selection bias.
The review will then be extended to domain adaptation methods applied to astronomical data. One particular case of selection bias in supervised training on astronomical sources is the photometric classification of supernovae type Ia, based on spectroscopically confirmed training samples. Propensity scores, a wellestablished methodology in causal inference, have successfully been proposed and will be reviewed in this context.
I would like to conclude with a discussion about extensions of the methods to related fields, e.g. active learning, semisupervised learning and further potential applications on astronomical data sources.
 Presentation slides [.pdf]


Giovanni Motta (Columbia U) 2020 Mar 03 SciCen 706 
 Adaptive Methods for TimeModulated Stars
 Abstract:
In this paper we focus on Long Period Variable (LPV) and
Blazhko stars, both characterized by slowly timevarying (or
simply timemodulated) parameters: mean, amplitude, period and
phase. Miras are a typical example of LPV stars, with an
average mean period ranging from 100 to 1,000 days and large
amplitudes of light variation of more than 2.5 magnitudes
visually and more than 1 magnitude in the 5 infrared
wavelengths. The period of these stars is a very useful
indicator of their size and luminosity as well as their age,
mode of pulsation and their overall evolution. Previous
research has revealed some important correlations between the
period and other parameters such as amplitude, mass loss and
IR excess due to dust surrounding the star. The magnitude of
LPV exhibits a (possibly quadratic) timevarying mean, as well
as timevarying amplitude and period. The Blazhko effect,
which is sometimes called longperiod modulation, is a
variation in period, amplitude or phase in RR Lyrae type
variable stars. The amplitudemodulated pulsation of RR Lyrae
stars has a strong periodic component with an often observed
variation on a longer time scale. The amplitude variation is
accompanied by phase changes of the same period. The
modulation period can be anywhere between 10 and 700 days,
without any correlation with the fundamental period. The
Blazhko effect is a periodic amplitude and/or phase modulation
shown by some 2030% of the galactic RRab stars. Our goals are
modeling and forecasting these light curves. In our approach
we allow for a smooth timevarying trend, as well as for
smooth timevarying coefficients describing the local (in
time) amplitudes of the cosine and sine waves. Our approach is
flexible because it avoids assumptions about the functional
form of trend and amplitudes. More precisely, we propose a
semiparametric model where only part of the model is
timevarying. The estimation of our timevarying curves
translates into the estimation of timeinvariant parameters
that can be performed by ordinary leastsquares, with the
following two advantages: modeling and forecasting can be
implemented in a parametric fashion, and we are able to cope
with missing observations.
 Presentation slides [.pdf]


Catherine Zucker (CfA) 2020 Mar 10 SciCen 706 
 Modeling our Milky Way Galaxy using Astrostatistics, Big Data, and Data Visualization
 Abstract: Mapping our Milky Way is hindered by
the Sun's unfortunate vantage point inside its disk, and by
the challenges of converting 2D integrated "on the sky"
measurements into 3D views of our Galaxy. In this talk, I will
discuss how we can combine publicly available data on the
colors of stars with new stellar distance measurements from
Gaia to map the 3D distribution and properties of stars and
interstellar material ("dust") which forms them. Specifically,
I will discuss the Bayesian inference framework which
underpins our star and dust modeling, and compare the accuracy
of our approach to much more expensive techniques based on
radio observations. Finally, I will discuss how leveraging the
latest data visualization software in combination with our new
3D measurements has revealed the existence of a new
Galacticscale structural feature of our Milky Way Galaxy,
which takes the peculiar form of an undulating sine wave.
 Presentation slides: [.pdf] ; [.key]


Group (YC/HM/XW/XLM/JJD/VLK/etc) 24 Mar Skype 
 On Concordance
 Calibration concordance project discussion: status, extension.


Hyungsuk Tak (Penn State) 21 Apr Penn State 
 Time Delay Cosmography Toward the Hubble Constant Estimation: Past, Present, and Future.
 Abstract: The Hubble constant is a core cosmological parameter that represents the current expansion rate of the Universe. One way (out of many) to infer this quantity is to use strong gravitational lensing, i.e., an effect that multiple images of an astronomical object (e.g., a quasar) appear in the sky. This effect occurs when the trajectories of the light (from the object to the Earth) are bent by a strong gravitational field of an intervening galaxy. Strong gravitational lensing produces two types of the data; (i) multiple brightness time series data of the gravitationallylensed images and (ii) pixelwise image data of the lens and lensed object. The former is used to infer time delays between the arrival times of the multiplylensed images (arXiv 1602.01462) and the latter is used to estimate gravitational potential that the lensed images pass through (arXiv 1801.01506). These two components are used to infer the Hubble constant via physical equations. In this talk, I overview the project, explaining what we have done and what we want to do in the future.
 Presentation slides [.pdf]


Vinay Kashyap (CfA) Xufei Wang (Two Sigma) 19 May Remote 
 Flare Onset Evolution in Solar Active Regions
 Solar flares are known to be distributed as a powerlaw over several magnitudes of released energy in a process of flare release that is best described as a scalefree selforganized critical process. We explore variations and limitations in the powerlaw description over the solar cycle and identify a trend in how individual active regions evolve.
 Slides [.pdf]
 BAAS235 220.01 [iPoster]
 Power law analysis for total energy data
 The total energy of solar flare follows a distribution with unimodal density and obeys power law in a range which is on the right of the mode, yet the range is unknown and hence needs to be estimated. This poses a rather intriguing and unique estimation problem that apparently has not been studied in the statistical literature. The unique nature of this problem prompted us to use the underutilized maximum product of spacings method to fit the cumulative distribution function, which maximizes the product of the spacings.
 Slides [.pdf]


Jue Wang (UC Davis) 9 June Davis 
 Modeling the graph segmentation with Fourier descriptors and quantifying the uncertainty of segmented astronomical figures
 Abstract: This talk will report our ongoing work of quantifying the uncertainty of object boundaries obtained by image segmentation. To obtain a manageable and yet flexible representation of object boundaries, we first apply Fourier descriptors to the segmented object of interest. We then employ the bootstrap methodology to assess the variability produced by the segmentation. We will illustrate how our method can be used to test if objects in two images are statistically different.
This is joint work with Vinay Kashyap, Thomas Lee, and Andreas Zezas.


Xufei Wang (Two Sigma) Josh Ingram (New College of Florida and CfA) 7 July Remote 
 Maximum Product of Spacings: Powerlaw Distribution Point Estimation and Confidence Region
 Abstract: The presentation will recap the maximum product of spacings methodology, then discuss how to estimate the powerlaw region for solar flare data in detail. The talk will also share the recent work on how to build confidence region by treating product of spacings as the pivotal quantity, and illustrate the idea with a simple example.
 Maximum Product of Spacings: Powerlaw Characterizations of Solar Flares
 Abstract: Solar flare total energy, duration, and peak flux follow a powerlaw within an unknown region to the right of the mode of the distributions. The variations in the estimated distributions are compared across more than twenty years and two solar cycles using data from the GOES satellites. To fit the region, normalization constant, and exponent of the powerlaw distributions, the maximum product of spacings method is used.
 Presentation slides: Xufei Wang; Josh Ingram [.pdf]





