Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category.

[Book] The Physicists

I was reading Lehmann’s memoir on his friends and colleagues who influence a great deal on establishing his career. I’m happy to know that his meeting Landau, Courant, and Evans led him to be a statistician; otherwise, we, including astronomers, would have had very different textbooks and statistical thinking would have been different. On the other hand, I was surprised to know that he chose statistics over physics due to his experience from Cambridge (UK). I thought becoming a physicist is more preferred than becoming a statistician during the first half of the 20th century. At least I felt that way, probably it’s because more general science books in physics and physics related historic events were well exposed so that I became to think that physicists are more cooler than other type scientists. Continue reading ‘[Book] The Physicists’ »

July Workshop on Bayesian & Maximum Entropy Methods

The 29th International Workshop on Bayesian and Maximum Entropy Methods in Science and Engineering will be held 5-10 July at the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”), in the quaint university town of Oxford, MS. The organizing committee is currently accepting submissions of abstracts for both oral and poster presentations. Visit the MaxEnt 2009 web site for more detailed information.

I’m on the organizing committee and I’m excited about this year’s meeting. It is covering a broad range of areas with some exciting speakers. Topics include straightforward applications of parametric Bayesian methods, nonparametric methods, Bayesian computation (including the nested sampling algorithm currently making an impact in cosmology), experimental design, statistical mechanics, foundations of statistics, and even some talks by leaders in the areas of the foundations of statistical mechanics and the interpretation of quantum mechanics. I’m very much looking forward to this year’s meeting, and I urge any interested AstroStat Slog readers to submit an abstract (the deadline is imminent, but if it takes you a couple days longer to come up with something, do send it).

For those new to Bayesian methods, note that the workshop begins with a full day of tutorial lectures.

[MADS] Chernoff face

I cannot remember when I first met Chernoff face but it hooked me up instantly. I always hoped for confronting multivariate data from astronomy applicable to this charming EDA method. Then, somewhat such eager faded, without realizing what’s happening. Tragically, this was mainly due to my absent mind. Continue reading ‘[MADS] Chernoff face’ »

DOE Petascale Data Analysis Program

Woncheol Jang pointed me to the following web site describing a proposal opportunity at DOE that may be of interest to readers of this list:

Mathematics for Analysis of Petascale Data

The Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) of the Office of Science (SC), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), hereby announces its interest in receiving grant applications for research addressing the mathematical challenges involved in extracting insights from extremely large datasets (“petascale data”) and investigating fundamental issues in finding key features and understanding the relationships between those features.

All applications should address the potential for advances in mathematical methods or numerical algorithms and not just the application of methods and algorithms to a specific science problem, no matter how challenging.

This solicitation seeks applications for basic research in mathematical models, methods and tools for the representation, analysis, and understanding of petascale data.

They specifically mention data from physics simulations and observational data from cosmology as examples in the description.

Letters of Intent (required) are due 15 April, proposals are due 29 May. $4M is available for FY09; awards may be for up to 3 yr.

[Announce] Heidelberg Summer School

From Christian Fendt comes this announcement:

First Announcement and Call for Applications

The “International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy & Cosmic Physics at the University of Heidelberg” (IMPRS-HD)

announces the

— 4th Heidelberg Summer School:

— Statistical Inferences from Astrophysical Data

— August 10-14, 2009

Continue reading ‘[Announce] Heidelberg Summer School’ »

[Announce] AstroStat Summer School at Penn State

From Jogesh Babu comes this announcement:

Summer School in Statistics for Astronomers V
June 1-6, 2009
Penn State University

Continue reading ‘[Announce] AstroStat Summer School at Penn State’ »

iFish in the archive

The iPhone App Store has a couple of apps that make life significantly easier for those of us inundated and overwhelmed by the stream of daily arXiv preprints. These are and, both providing a means to browse and search the arXiv preprint database and both selling for 99c with the first selling for 99c and the second free. Check them out! The former even lets you save papers for off-line reading.

For me at least, the hardest part of going through the arXiv emails every day was to pick out the interesting papers in the deluge of text. These apps do the right thing and segregate the categories and highlight the titles. Fitts’ Law in action — suddenly the daily ritual is orders of magnitude more pleasant!

systematic errors

Ah ha~ Once I questioned, “what is systematic error?” (see [Q] systematic error.) Thanks to L. Lyons’ work discussed in [ArXiv] Particle Physics, I found this paper, titled Systematic Errors describing the concept and statistical inference related to systematic errors in the field of particle physics. It, gladly, shares lots of similarity with high energy astrophysics. Continue reading ‘systematic errors’ »

Correlation is not causation

What XKCD says:
xkcd on correlation: I used to think correlation implied causation - Then I took a statistics class.  Now I dont - Sounds like the class helped.  Well, maybe.

The mouseover text on the original says “Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there’.”

It is a bad habit, hard to break, the temptation is great.

Circumspect frequentist

The first issue of this year’s IMS bulletin has an obituary, from which the following is quoted. Continue reading ‘Circumspect frequentist’ »


The year 2009 is the Darwin bicentennial and the sesquicentennial of the publication of the Origin of Species, but, um, even more importantly, it is the International Year of Astronomy, celebrating 400 orbits since Galileo started to look through a telescope.


We have seen the word “bipartisan” often during the election and during the on-going recession period. Sometimes, I think that the bipartisanship is not driven by politicians but it’s driven by media, commentator, and interpreters. Continue reading ‘Bipartisanship’ »


I do not rely much on my cell phone. It functions as a tool for confronting emergencies. On the other hand, it seems like people do lots of things with their smart phones and I like to add one thing to your “what I do with my phone.” Continue reading ‘Wapedia’ »


MADS stands for “Missing in ADS.” Every astronomer, I believe, knows what ADS is. As we have [EotW] series and used to have [ArXiv] series, creating a new series for semi-periodic postings under the well known name ADS seems interesting. Continue reading ‘[MADS] HMM’ »

Meet at January AAS meeting to organize a white paper for Astro2010

Hello Sloggers,

Every decade, the National Research Council (under the auspices of the National Academies) convenes a panel to survey the state of astronomy and astrophysics, and to recommend plans and funding priorities for the subsequent decade. The resulting Decadal Survey document has a profound influence on funding of astronomy research at every level. The process for the 2010 decadal survey has begun; Roger Blandford will discuss it at the January 2009 AAS meeting (AAS decadal survey session, Tues, 6 Jan, 8:30am). The National Academies web site hosts a page for the Astro2010 Decadal Survey with more information.

White papers authored by individuals and groups in the astronomical community are a major source of input for the review panel. I would like to lead the effort on a collaborative white paper urging explicit, targeted support for (interdisciplinary) astrostatistics research (perhaps broadened to “astroinformatics” or “astronomical data analysis”). I would like to meet with any of you who would like to co-sign such a white paper, and help author it (as your resources allow). I think the AAS meeting offers a great opportunity for us to meet in person to start fleshing out ideas for the white paper, to be subsequently fleshed out via online interaction.

Here I’d like to discuss when to meet at AAS. Note that some Sloggers are participating in an astrostatistics special session, “Meaning from Surveys and Population Studies”, Monday, 2-3:30pm. In principle, since some of us will already be gathered there, it could make sense to meet afterward somewhere; but there are important prize lectures right afterward that I, for one, would like to hear. Other possibilities include lunch or dinner that day (Monday), or perhaps lunch or dinner the next day, after we’ve all heard Roger Blandford’s presentation on how the survey will work this year.

I have some concrete ideas for the white paper, and I’m sure some of you do, too. But here and now, let’s not get into content; let’s just organize a meeting at AAS.

With that, the floor is open for suggestions on a good meeting time/venue.