The Workshop: Goals, Scope, and Focus
Astrophysics has been a primary beneficiary of Moore’s law. Advances in computational infrastruc- ture have enabled both our capacity to record increasing amounts of information for an increasingly large number of objects in the universe, and our ability to numerically predict the full evolutionary history of the universe.
Although we have benefited from these advances, we have not fully utilized these rich data sources, and we observe an even greater disparity in our future. Certainly, we have made major discoveries with these datasets, and our theoretical predictions are the most sophisticated the field has ever seen. However, with the next generation of advanced computations and surveys, we find ourselves face-to-face with a “digital tsunami” of both simulated and observed data. It is clear that our 20th century interrogation techniques will be insufficient for the task at hand. The data is too large and rich to be simplified to basic equations and summary statistics – the classical way we test our predictions, or to be visualized naively without careful consideration of its scale.
Generously, the same revolution that gave us this great wealth of data can also provide the solution. Far from a fantasy of the future, modern computational power is enabling us to visualize and analyze the complex data sets we are predicting and observing. We just need to bring these modern visual and analysis techniques to these rich datasets; we need to bring together experts from both visualization and astronomy.
Why Now?Until relatively recently, we have been using traditional analytic and statistical methods to analyze the astronomy datasets. Typically the data were sufficiently simple that these techniques were adequate; this is no longer the case. For example, we now have very large quantities of high- dimensionality data, and by applying the same, old techniques to this data we are, necessarily, losing information. This information is hard-earned, either from years of surveying the sky or millions of hours of CPU computation time. In order to make the best use of this data, we must focus on novel methods of analysis and visualization.
Goals and ScopeWith this workshop, we aim to bring together members of the astronomical community and members of the visualization community with the goals of discussing:
- Datasets in astronomy in need of new approaches and methodologies – an opportunity for data-hungry visualization experts to apply visualization techniques to new datasets;
- Visualization techniques that have not been applied to astronomical datasets – an opportunity for astronomers to revolutionize their scientific work flow;
- Visualization techniques that can enhance the educational value of scientific datasets, making astronomical research results readily transferable to large public audiences, in partnership with Hayden Planetarium and California Academy of Sciences experts.