Spring 2006: Program on Astrostatistics – Opening Workshop and Tutorials

The Opening Tutorials for the SAMSI program on Astrostatistics was held Wednesday-Sunday, January 18-22, 2006, at SAMSI. These were designed to expose astronomers to modern methodologies in statistics and applied mathematics and familiarize statisticians with current trends in astronomy.

The Opening Workshop for the program was held January 23-25, 2006 at the Radisson Hotel RTP in Research Triangle Park, NC. This workshop focused on setting the scientific agenda for the program. Programmatic perspectives and necessary research directions were provided by invited speakers and moderators who focused  the discussion among the attendees. To stimulate engagement of all participants, attendees were encouraged to participate in the discussions during the sessions, breaks, and periods of time devoted to the constitution of working groups. This provided additional perspectives regarding symbiotic research directions to be pursued within the program.

The tutorials and workshop were joint activities with the Center for Astrostatistics at Penn State University.

Scientific Committee

G. J. Babu (Penn State University) – Chair, Alanna Connors (Eureka Scientific), Tom Loredo (Cornell University), and Larry Wasserman (Carnegie-Mellon University); Jim Berger (SAMSI – Directorate Liaison); Peter Bickel (Berkeley – National Advisory Committee Liaison)


The tutorials and workshop were open to all who are interested in the interfaces between astronomy, physics and statistics. New researchers (graduate students, postdocs, and faculty in the early stages of their careers) and members of underrepresented groups were especially encouraged to apply.

Schedule and Supporting Media

Tutorial 1. Bayesian Astrostatistics

January 18-20, 2006
NISS/SAMSI building
Leader: Tom Loredo, Cornell

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Time Description Speaker Slides Videos
9:00-9:15 Welcome
9:15-10:30 Fundamentals Tom Loredo pdf
10:45-12:00 Basic counting and Point Process Models Tom Loredo pdf
12:00-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:45 Probability and Frequency Tom Loredo pdf

Thursday, January 19

Time Description Speaker Slides Videos
9:15-10:30 Models with Gaussian Uncertainties I Phil Gregory pdf
10:45-12:00 Models with Gaussian Uncertainties II Phil Gregory pdf
12:00-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:45 Basic Bayesian Computation Tom Loredo pdf
3:00-5:00 Statistical Computing with Python
Python programs and examples
Tom Loredo pdf

Friday, January 20

Time Description Speaker Slides Videos
9:15-10:30 Intro to Markov Chain Monte Carlo, with R
R Programs: Normal MCMC-Gibbs, Normal MCMC MH, and Poisson SN.
Bill Jefferys pdf
10:45-12:00 Hierarchical Bayesian Modeling, with R
R Program: Normal Hierarchical
Bill Jefferys pdf
12:00-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:45 Model Selection & Model Averaging, with R
R Program: Hypothesis
Bill Jefferys pdf
3:00-4:15 Parallel Chain MCMC, with Mathematica Phil Gregory pdf
4:15-4:30 Distribute/Fill Feedback Forms
4:30-5:30 Bayesian Miscellany Tom Loredo pdf

Tutorial 2. Nonparametric Inference

January 21-22, 2006
NISS/SAMSI building
Leader: Chad Schafer and Larry Wasserman, Carnegie-Mellon

The tutorial introduced the fundamentals of modern nonparametric inference. Participants will be shown how to utilize these nonparametric methods.

See this web site for details about topics and computer programs that will be used during the practicums.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Time Description Speaker Slides Videos
10:00-12:00 Part 1
Nonparametric Inference with R
12:00-2:00 Lunch
2:00-4:00 Part 2
Regression Trees in R

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Time Description Speaker Slides Videos
10:00-12:00 Lecture/Practicum 3
12:00-2:00 Lunch
2:00-4:00 Lecture/Practicum 4

Tutorial 3. Astronomy for Statisticians

(given concurrently with Tutorial 3)

January 21-22, 2006
NISS/SAMSI building, Room 203
Leader: William Jefferys, UTexas
Eric Feigelson, Penn State

In this tutorial, the modern understanding of our universe was reviewed spanning planetary systems, stars, the Milky Way Galaxy, extragalactic astronomy and cosmology. Statistical issues underlying the astronomical studies were emphasized and discussed.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Time Description Speaker Slides Videos
9:00-10:00 a.m. Movie and Understading Our Universe – Overview Bill Jefferys pdf
10:00-11:00 Our Solar System Bill Jefferys pdf
11:00-11:30 Break
11:30-12:00 Exoplanets Eric Feigelson pdf
12:00-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:00 Star Formation 1
Star Formation 2
Planet Formation
Eric Feigelson pdf
2:00-3:00 Stellar Physics and HR Diagram Bill Jefferys pdf
3:00-3:30 Break
3:30-4:30 Stellar Evolution Bill Jefferys pdf

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Time Description Speaker Slides Videos
9:00-10:00 a.m. Multiwavelength Telescopes and Surveys Eric Feigelson pdf
10:00-10:45 Milky Way & Stellar Populations Bill Jefferys pdf
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:00 Galaxies: including clustering and AGN Eric Feigelson pdf
12:00-1:30 Lunch
1:30-3:00 Classical, and Recent Developments, in Cosmology Eric Feigelson pdf
3:00-3:15 Break
3:15-3:45 Discussion Bill Jefferys & Eric Feigelson
3:45-4:30 Statistical Challenges in Modern Astronomy Eric Feigelson pdf

Opening Workshop

January 23-25, 2006
Radisson Hotel, 3rd Floor, Room H

Monday, January 23, 2006

Time Description Speaker Slides Videos
9:00-9:10 a.m. Welcome and Introductions Jim Berger, SAMSI
G. Jogesh Babu, Penn State University
9:10-11:55 Session on Source Detection Chair:
David van Dyk, Univ. of California-Irvine
9:10-9:55 Detection of Gamma Ray Sources Brenda Dingus, Los Alamos National Laboratory pdf
9:55-10:40 Star Counts and Galaxy Properties from Surveys: Past, Current and Future Trends Martin Weinberg, Univ. of Massachusetts pdf
10:40-11:10 Break
11:10-11:55 Panel/group discussion David van Dyk, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Brenda Dingus, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Martin Weinberg, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Vinay Kashyap, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Rebecca Willett, Duke University
11:55-12:30 Introductions to Evening Posters
12:30-1:30 PM Lunch
1:30-3:45 Session on Exoplanets Chair:
Bill Jefferys, Univ. of Texas and Univ. of Vermont
1:30-2:15 Extrasolar planet detection: a view from the trenches Alex Wolszczan, Penn State University pdf
2:15-3:00 Analysis of Radial Velocity and Astrometric Signals in the Detection of Multi-Planet Extrasolar Planetary Systems Barbara McArthur, Univ. of Texas pdf
3:00-3:45 Panel/group discussion Bill Jefferys,
Alex Wolszczan,
Barbara McArthur, and
Michael Lavine, Duke University
3:45-4:15 Break
4:15-5:15 5-Minute Madness:
Anyone who wishes can give a 5-minute TALK describing their research and interests, an interesting problem, or whatever! Transparencies or slides are limited to four, and slides must be put into the session computer over the Break.
Jeff Scargle, NASA-AMES
Vinay Kashyap, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Rebecca Willett, Duke University
Jiashun Jin, Purdue University
Ruth-Stella Berrara-Rojas, U. Nacional de Columbia
6:30-8:30 Poster Session and Reception at the Radisson Hotel, 2nd Floor

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Time Description Speaker Slides Videos
9:00-11:45 a.m. Session on Surveys Chair:
Tom Loredo, Cornell University
9:10-9:55 Large Optical Surveys
LSST Strong Lensing Movie
David Wittman, UC Davis pdf
9:45-10:30 Censoring and truncation in astronomical surveys
SGR_time Movie, SGR_flyaround Movie
Eric Feigelson, Penn State pdf
10:30-11:00 Break
11:00-11:45 Panel/group discussion Tom Loredo,
David Wittman,
Eric Feigelson and
Larry Wasserman, Carnegie Mellon University
11:45-12:15 Introduction to Particle Physics Louis Lyons, Oxford University
12:15-1:15 Lunch
1:15-3:30 Session on Particle Physics Chair:
Louis Lyons, Oxford University
1:15-2:00 Bayesians Inside the Gate: A View from Particle Physics Harrison Prosper, Florida State University pdf
2:00-2:45 Some Current Statistical Considerations in Particle Physics Byron Roe, Univ. of Michigan pdf
2:45-3:30 Panel/group discussion Louis Lyons,
Harrison Prosper,
Byron Roe and
Peter Bickel, Univ. of California-Berkeley
3:30-4:00 Break
4:00-5:15 New Researchers Session
Statistics for Astronomy: Inference about the Population of Quasars
An Approach to Detecting Non-Gaussianity in the Cosmic Microwave Background
Measuring Clustering of Absorbers
Statistical Modeling of Sunspot Cycles
Angie Snyder-Hugeback, Univ. of Chicago
Kristofer Jennings, Purdue University
Ji Meng Loh, Columbia University
Yaming Yu, Univ. of California-Irvine

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Time Description Speaker Slides Videos
9:00-11:45 Session on Gravitational Lensing Chair:
Arlie Petters, Duke University
9:00-9:45 Stochastic Gravitational Lensing and the Nature of Dark Matter Charles Keeton, Rutgers University pdf
9:45-10:30 Gravitational Lensing: Mass Reconstruction Methods and Results Liliya Williams, Univ. of Minnesota pdf
10:30-11:00 Break
11:00-11:45 Panel/group discussion Arlie Petters,
Charles Keeton,
Liliya Williams and
Zhengyuan Zhu, UNC-Chapel Hill
11:45-1:30 Formation of Discussion Groups, and Discussion over Lunch
1:30-3:45 Session on Other Topics Chair:
Alana Connors, Eureka Scientific
1:30-2:15 Needles in Haystacks: Are There Any? How Many Are There? Where Are They? John Rice, UC-Berkeley pdf
2:15-3:00 Nonparametric Inference in Astrophysics and Cosmology: Biases and Variants Christopher Genovese, Carnegie Mellon pdf
3:00-3:45 Panel/group discussion Alana Connors,
John Rice,
Chris Genovese and
Keith Arnaud, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
3:45-4:15 Break
4:15-5:15 Discussion Group Reports and Working Group Formation