Astroinformatics 2013 – Day One Morning, December 9

I am in Marsfield, near Sydney, Australia for the Astroinformatics 2013 meeting, hosted  by CSIRO. This annual meeting discusses advances in data processing, manipulation and management – crucial topics in modern astronomy given the acceleration in the growth of data sets. You can see the agenda here, presentations will I understand be posted through the week, and you can follow on Twitter with the hashtag #astroinfo.  The meeting is being broadcast on YouTube at

Brian Schmidt began proceedings with a talk on “Discovering the Unexpected in large surveys.”  He emphasized the need for broad exploration – that is, the need to provide unique datasets, supported by an invested community, that enable discovery and research. He cited the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, with 5,600 published papers, as a prime example of this. He also emphasized the need for building scalable, toolkits shared with astronomers who can plug them together to accelerate their research.

Among other topics, Tony Hey (Microsoft) gave a brief, fascinating history of Open Access publishing, and about the growth in size and complexity of data and the need for specialists in managing, analyzing and curating them (“Data Scientists”). He described how data are properly characterized by volume, variety and velocity rather than simply by volume (“Big Data.’).

Thijs van der Hulst spoke about  “TARGET: spinning off from astronomy,” a project for combining information from multiple astronomy databases in the Netherlands that is finding applicability in other fields, such as medicine.

Vanessa Moss and Aidan Hotan spoke about arXiver , a service for presenting an easy to read digest of the content of papers in astro-ph. The digest includes the abstract, and three figures selected for inclusion according to Fourier transform techniques.

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