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ASAIP editors' blog: October 2014

This blog covers the Cosmostatistics Inititive (COIN), the new Astrostatistics Interest Group in the American Statistical Association, job listings, meeting listings, and advice on finding research topics on ASAIP.

Dear ASAIP members,

We have been delinquent in updating you about affairs in astrostatistics and astroinformatics that are recorded in our ASAIP Portal.  The fields seem to be constantly growing with new activities, new (sub)organizations, and new gatherings.  There are even new efforts to develop methodology and associated public domain software for astronomical research.  

The Cosmostatistics Initiative (COIN) 

A funny thing happened at the June 2014 IAU Symposium #306  on statistical cosmology.   Rafael de Souza (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest HU) gathered participants interested in developing methodology and software for observational cosmology.  Nicknamed the Cosmostatistics Initiative (COIN), the group met again in Lisbon and quickly grew to several dozen members.  The first project is completed: estimating galaxy photometric redshifts using generalized linear modeling.  Two papers are submitted to the journal Astronomy & Computing, CRAN package Cosmophotoz has been added to the R software system, and a Python package CosmoPhotoz has been added to PyPI. 

Several other COIN projects are underway.  Approximate Bayesian Computation is used to estimate cosmology parameters via galaxy cluster abundances.  General Linear Modeling is being applied to additional astronomical problems.  Gaussian Mixture Models is being applied to Galactic globular clusters, and more.  New ideas and participants are most  welcome … you can contact Rafael through the ASAIP Member page.  

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New astrostatistics organization

The August 2014 Joint Statistical Meeting in Boston had three sessions on astrostatistics.  They covered:  the discovery of exoplanets using times eries from NASA's Kepler mission, Bayesian methodology in astronomy, and treatments of astronomical Big Data problems.  This was the most extensive coverage of astrostatistics at any statistics meeting in history. 

It was thus the perfect moment to announce the formation of an Astrostatistics Interest Group within the American Statistical Association.  Jessi Cisewski (Carnegie Mellon University). David Van Dyk (Imperial College London), and Thomas C. M. Lee (University of California, Davis) convened the group.  This makes the 4th major professional society to focus on our field, joining the Intl Astro Uunion, Amer Astro Soc, and Intl Stat Institute.  

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Job listings

The Jobs page under the ASAIP Resources tab is now populated with dozens of postdoctoral and faculty positions that highlight high performance computation or computational astrophysics.  These are mostly drawn from the AAS Jobs Register, but some are contributed by ASAIP members.  We have seen a remarkable growth in these positions since ASAIP started in 2012; in addition to positions specifically devoted to informatics, universities now often include advanced computation along with observational and theoretical astrophysics when seeking general faculty members.  Many universities have cross-disciplinary cyberscience institutes and on-campus high-performance computers. 

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Meeting listings

The ASAIP Meetings page lists about 40 conferences and workshops each year.  Some are specialized gatherings for statistical and computational astronomy, while others are large meetings where astronomy plays a small role or is not yet present.  The organizations affiliated with ASAIP are sponsoring astrostatistics sessions at the 225th American Astronomical Society meeting (January 2015, Seattle), 60th World Statistics Congress (July 2015, Rio de Janeiro), the Statistics and Exoplanets meeting at the IAU General Assembly (August 2015, Honolulu).  

Specialized gatherings include a one-day workshop in Astrostatistics (December 2014, London UK),  Bayesian astrophysics (November 2014, Tenerife ES), Biomedical and Astronomical Signal Processing workshop (January 2015, Villars-sur-Ollon CH),   Tools for Astronomical Big Data (March 2015, Tucson AZ USA), Hot-wiring the Transient Universe IV (May 2015, Santa Barbara CA USA), and the Local Group astrostatistics conference (June 2015, Ann Arbor MI USA).   

But there are also interesting conferences rarely attended by astronomers: 7th International Conference on Computational and Methodological Statistics (December 2014, Pisa IT), 6th International Conference on High Performance Scientific Computing (March 2015, Hanoi VN), 2015 SIAM International Conference on Data Mining (April 2015, Vancouver CA), and a 5-month program on statistical inference for Big Data (Jan-June 2015, Toronto CA).  

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How to find recent research on ASAIP

ASAIP has a wealth of material, much of it growing.  But when you are not interested in random surfing, it is often valuable to use the Search box at the upper-right corner of all ASAIP pages.  You can search for a topic: `compressive sensing', for example, gives abstracts of four recent papers and a blog entry.  Th combination `Bayesian imaging' gives 16 abstracts, and a conference.  Type in your own name to see if any of your papers are included.  And when you find some missing, please add them!  Click on the Submit a Paper button under the Recent Papers tab.   

Your editors,

Eric Feigelson & Joe Hilbe