2014 Summer School in Statistics for Astronomers, June 2-13, 2014

Project: Research project

Project Details


2014 Decennial Summer School in Statistics for Astronomers; June 2-13 2014; Pennsylvania State University, University Park, State College, PA

Penn State's very popular astrostatistics summer school has trained over 575 total participants since its inauguration in 2005. If maintained at a steady state, this activity will train about 10% of the nation's young astronomers, providing critical skills to the US scientific workforce. Oriented towards graduate students and young researchers, participants receive an intense immersion in statistical methodology taught by highly skilled instructors. The three-pronged curriculum provides instruction in the underlying principles of modern statistics, exposure to advanced methodologies useful in astronomy, and hands-on training in statistical software. Attendees come away with a much heightened expertise in statistics and its applications to their science, a better understanding of how to teach this material to others, and a fine appreciation for the value and meaning of statistics in science. The instructors have devoted considerable effort to adapting the course material to their audience, and the curriculum continues to evolve. The formal textbook based on this curriculum was published in 2012.

Astronomical research often involves imaging, photometric and spectroscopic surveys of the sky that produce tera- and peta-byte databases and billion-object catalogs. Survey science is the astronomy of the near future, with a new generation of formidable telescopes and the federation of diverse astronomical datasets. While the promise is great, achieving the scientific goals depends critically on extraction of useful knowledge using statistical inference, and especially the use of advanced statistical methods. Observational astronomers are thus confronting a wider range of statistical challenges than ever before, while unfortunately most U.S. astronomers are not well trained in statistics, learning only elementary methods through books written by and for physical scientists. Such volumes usually treat only a narrow range of problems, providing inadequate conceptual foundations in mathematical statistics and little guidance in advanced applied statistics. Statistics is an available technology that must be tapped to advance the needs of astronomy and astrophysics.

The 2014 Summer School in statistical inference for young astronomers will present concepts and methodologies at an intermediate level, using experienced instructors and an innovative curriculum. This being the decennial offering, and based on comments from the past school participants, the 2014 school covers a two-week extended period of instruction, divided into three independent modules: the regular statistical inference course for astronomers in the first week, a two-day supplement on 'Statistical modeling of cosmic populations', and a three-day school on 'High-Performance Computing for Astronomical Data Analysis & Bayesian Computing'. The Penn State Research Computing & Cyberinfrastructure Group, and its Institute for CyberScience, are providing technical manpower and partially supporting the high-performance computing.

Effective start/end date4/15/143/31/16


  • National Science Foundation: $48,013.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.