Commission B3 Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics

Scientific Objectives

In most of the 20th century, astronomers investigated cosmic phenomena by carefully studying individual objects or small samples of planets, stars, galaxies, and diffuse media. Datasets were often modest in size with zero (photometry), one (spectra, light curves), or two (images) dimensions. In 21st century astronomy, the roles of advanced computation and data analysis have grown precipitously. Many new telescopes and instruments, particularly wide-field multi-epoch surveys and radio interferometers, yield high volumes of data, arriving at high velocity, and displaying a variety of structure. The uptake of Machine Learning has been phenomenal. In addition to the growing tasks of data reduction, science analysis is becoming more complex.

IAU Commission B3 focuses on the statistical, computational, and methodological challenges arising in the various fields of astronomy. The Commission encourages liaison with professional communities in statistics, applied mathematics, computer science, and informatics, and with private enterprises. The field of informatics has also been growing in other sciences, and the Commission pushes to explore methodology transfer with different groups, particularly in Earth-, Biological-, and Medical Sciences.

The growth in adoption of techniques for astroinformatics and astrostatistics, coupled with the accessibility of implementations and examples through code-sharing platforms such as GitHub, means that more institutions and organisations are developing up-to-date hands-on and virtual training material. The Commission wishes to contribute to the growth of skills in the field by ensuring that awareness of such training material is shared with the whole astronomical community.

The number of activities and groups within organizations like the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the American Statistical Association (ASA), the International Astrostatistics Association (IAA), International AstroInformatics Association (IAIA), the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA), and many other national organizations is flourishing. IAU Commission B3 aims at establishing bridges to all these initiatives and help build a united and visible community on Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics. The International Astrostatistics Association and the IAU Commission B3 are organizing a series of online seminars focused on statistical analysis and data mining of astronomical data.

The Commission sponsors meetings, webinars and discussions to promote advanced methodologies, to seek the best scientific insights from the growing flow of data, and wishes to see more astroinformatics and astrostatistics IAU Symposia.

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