The Indian Institute of Astrophysics and the Center for Astrostatistics, Pennsylvania State University (USA) jointly organised a school in fundamental statistical inference as applicable to astrophysical problems for practising astrophysicists during 22-29 July, 2013. This was the fourth school in the series.
Given that empirical astrophysics is an observational science, the importance of rigorous application of statistical methods to astrophysical data analysis cannot be overstated. Moreover, empirical astrophysics research has seen a paradigm shift in recent years in that it routinely involves data mining of large multiwavelength data sets, requiring complex automated processes that must invoke a very diverse set of statistical techniques. Our Astrostatistics Schools are designed to meet this new challenge by providing a strong conceptual foundation in modern statistics as well as a repertoire of state-of-the-art statistical tools applicable to astrophysical problems.
The school was designed for all levels of practising astrophysicists wishing to enhance their grasp of the application of statistics to their research. The content of the school broadly followed the pattern of the earlier schools. In addition to lectures, there was a heavy emphasis on hands-on tutorials using software tools implemented in the public-domain multi-platform R computing environment, which, besides being open-source, is the current standard in research-level statistical computation. There were opportunities for participants to brainstorm with the faculty of the school on their research problems which involved the application of statisticial methods. Problems that were part of work in progress of individual participants were also discussed.
The Indian Institute of Astrophysics, located in Bangalore, is a premier institution devoted to research in astrophysics and other allied areas in physics. The Center for Astrostatistics, Pennsylvania State University (USA), is an interdisciplinary research centre at the interface of astrophysics and statistics, where researchers from both disciplines collaborate to share and develop methodologies in order to meet the modern challenges of empirical astrophysics.