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ASAIP Editors' Blog: November 2015

This blog highlights job listings, IAU reorganization, developments with ASAIP-related organizations, astrostatistics on Facebook, astrostatistics/informatics at large meetings and forthcoming meetings.

To:  Members of the Astrostatistics & Astroinformatics Portal  (ASAIP)

Greetings,  Several months have passed since our last `blog’ as Editors of the Astrostatistics and Astroinformatics Portal (ASAIP).  The purpose of these blogs is to highlight recent additions to the ASAIP that we believe are of special interest, and that illustrate the wide range of activities in these new cross-disciplinary fields.  


The jobs listing under the Resources tab in ASAIP shows a continued growth in professional employment in Big Data and computational astrophysics, and related fields since it started in 2012.  Dozens of open positions, from tenure track faculty to postdoctoral fellows to technical positions are listed starting in 2016.  We welcome hearing from you to list positions we have missed.   

IAU reorganization 

The International Astronomical Union, the largest society in the field, has completed an internal restructuring that revealed a tremendous new interest in computational aspects of astronomical research.   Four new organizational entities were approved at the IAU General Assembly in August:  Commission B1 onComputational Astrophysics emphasizing large-scale theoretical computations (N-body, magnetohydrodynamics, etc); Commission B2 on Data and Documentation emphasizing data archiving and infrastructure; Commission B3 on Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics emphasizing data/science analysis methodology; and Working Group on Time Domain Astronomy emphasizing surveys of variable objects in the sky.  The 12000+ individual members of the IAU are encouraged to join one or more of these organizations.  Note that the American Astronomical Society has also recently formed a Working Group on Time Domain Astronomy (WGTDA).  


Developments with ASAIP-affiliated organizations 

Two entities seeking to advance computational methodology in astronomy are becoming more active.  These and other ASAIP-affiliated organizations (IAA/ISI, IAU/CommB3, AAS/WGAA, ASA/IGAs) always welcome new members.  

  • LSST/ISSC  The principal U.S. telescope project for the 2020s is the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope that will generate the largest datasets ever seen in astronomy.  The LSST Informatics & Statistics Science Collaboration has new leadership & new Web pages.  It is beginning to consult with the multifacetedLSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration and is participating in the forthcoming 2016-17 SAMSI program on astrostatistics.    
  • IEEE Astrominer TF  The Task Force on Mining Complex Astronomical Data under the Data Mining Technical Committee of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society seeks to improve exploitation of machine learning, data mining and computational intelligence approaches to Big Data in Astronomy.  It has members from several disciplines and is bring astronomical problems into the forthcoming 11th Workshop on Self-Organizing Maps.  


Astroinfo/stat on Facebook

While ASAIP is a rather traditional Web environment (it is a Plone site), a large fraction of humanity actively uses Facebook.  There are several Facebook sites in our field:

  • Astrostatistics Public Group is a place to talk about astrostatistics, statistics, data-mining, visualisation and programming.  Organized by Aaron Robotham (ICRAR, Australia) and very popular with 2300+ members, it has active discussions on methodology, R and Python.
  • AstroInformatics is a discussion forum that has been less active in recent years.  
  • ASAIP has its own Facebook page run by Emille Ishida.  It has ~600 `likes’, entries can `reach’ 300 people, and it generates an increasing fraction of ASAIP hits.  


Astrostatistics at large meetings

Astrostatistics has a continuing presence at high-attendance general meetings during summer 2015.  The ISI 60th World Statistics Congress in Rio de Janeiro had sessions on advances in astrostatistical research and multivariate investigations of star formation histories.  The 2015 Joint Statistical Meeting in Seattle has a session on high-dimensional inference in astrostatistics.  The 2015 General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Honolulu, in addition to creating several Commissions related to our interests, hosted a 3-day meeting Statistics and Exoplanets followed by a software Hack Day.  Topics include planet occurrence rates, analyzing data from NASA’s Kepler mission, and characterizing planetary atmospheres.  The meeting drew a large audience of 180 astronomers and four professors of statistics.  


Forthcoming meetings

While the summer season for conferences is over, the ASAIP Meetings listing is a convenient place to plan possible trips.  Meetings during the winter months have a wide range:  astronomy Web tools in Australia, solar astronomy informatics in New Jersey USA, time domain astronomy in Florida USA, Bayesian computation in Switzerland, machine learning methods in Texas USA, Big Data from European space missions in Spain, Python software in Seattle.  During summer 2016, keep in mind methodology summer schools in Greece and Pennsylvania USA, imaging and database conferences in New Mexico and California, and statistical cosmology in Greece.  Three meetings stand out in importance:


Let us know if you have any complaints or suggestions regarding ASAIP,

Eric Feigelson & Joe Hilbe