The Indian Institute of Astrophysics and the Center for Astrostatistics, Pennsylvania State University (USA) jointly organised an 8-day school in fundamental statistical inference as applicable to astrophysical problems for practising astrophysicists. This was the third 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 schools are 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 previous schools (2007, 2008). 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 involves the application of statisticial methods. There was be a session where papers from the astrophysics literature were 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.
The school was held on the picturesque campus of the Vainu Bappu Observatory (VBO), a field station of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA). This campus is located near the village of Kavalur in the Javadi Hills in Tamil Nadu. The nearest train stations are Vaniambadi and Jolarpettai, from where road transport to the Observatory was arranged by IIA. The Observatory campus is about a three-and-a-half hour drive from the IIA-Bangalore campus, from where also, road transport to VBO was arranged by IIA.
Board, lodging and transport from Bangalore or the nearest train stations to the Observatory was covered by the school for all the participants. Participants were required to find their own travel funds to travel to Bangalore or these train stations. However, some limited travel funds were given to deserving participants from institutions within India, especially from the university sector.
Participation in the school was open to practising astrophysicists at all levels. Applications had to be made using an online form. The number of participants was 30. on-line and this is the strongly preferred method. If there are difficulties with this, applications filled in the prescribed downloadable form (MS_Word/OpenOffice/Text/pdf), Particular attention was asked to be paid to demonstrating the relevance of the school to the applicant's research. Those that participated in the first or second IIA-PennState Astrostatistics schools (2007 or 2008) were discouraged from applying for the 3rd school.
The School received partial support from the Department of Science & Technology,
Government of India.