CHILE January 2015 Chile - Harvard Innovative Learning Exchange


CHILE January 2015 Chile - Harvard Innovative Learning Exchange
CHILE January 2015
Chile - Harvard Innovative Learning Exchange
Two weeks in Chile
Two partners: IACS and CMM
Two cities: Santiago and La Serena
Two teams with members from two or more
● Problem based on a cutting-edge
astronomical endeavor
Goals of the Program
This innovative learning exchange will provide students
with the following opportunities:
Wrestle with a computationally challenging real-world problem
Apply classroom learning to messy, incomplete data sets
Follow data “end to end” (from collection to processing to analysis)
Visit the observatory and meet with scientists who are gathering the
data and conducting research
● Collaborate on intercultural and international teams
● Experience the Chilean culture, landscape, and attractions
Program Sponsors
Harvard University
● Institute for Applied Computational Science (IACS)
● Trip leader: Pavlos Protopapas (IACS Scientific Program Director)
Center for Mathematical Modeling (University of Chile)
● Eduardo Vera
University of Chile
● Pablo Estevez, Mario Hamuy
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
● Karim Pichara Baksai
Students enrolled at Harvard:
Seniors at Harvard College
Students in the final year of the AB/SM program
Master’s programs
Doctoral programs
Possess skills in at least one of the following areas:
Statistics and Machine Learning
Astronomical background not required! Moderate knowledge of the Spanish language helpful, but not
Research Problem
The expansion of the universe is speeding up
According to Einstein's theory of General Relativity, gravity should lead to a
slowing of the expansion
Two possibilities:
○ Either 75% of the universe exists in an exotic form, now called dark energy,
that exhibits a gravitational force opposite to the attractive gravity of
ordinary matter, or
○ General Relativity must be replaced by a new theory of gravity on cosmic
The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is designed to probe the origin of the
accelerating universe
Scientists from 23 institutions in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom,
Brazil, and Germany are working on the project
Research Problem
● Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory high in
the Chilean Andes
● Blanco 4-meter telescope
● DECam, an array of 74 CCDs - 570 Megapixels
● 400 images per night or approximately 1
Bonus: Empanadas!
Research Problem:
Event detection, early warning
Type Ia Supernovae. Type Ia supernovae are nearly
“standard candles.” Exploding stars of this type all have
nearly the same absolute brightness or luminosity when they
reach their brightest phase. Looking at the light curve (light
vs time) we can determine the distance and by looking at
redshift we can estimate the acceleration of the universe.
Early detection of such events
Inference of characteristics of the underlying physics
Model comparison using Bayesian inference
Research Problem:
Inverse problem
The number of galaxy clusters and mass is determined by
cosmology. The concept is to count the number of galaxy clusters of
a given mass within a given volume and determine how this quantity
has changed over time - this depends on the dark energy and how
the universe expands, and the interplay between dark energy and
The challenge is to count the clusters and their masses.
Infer masses through weak and strong gravitational lensing which
affects the shape of the luminous galaxies.
Inverse problem to infer masses
Bayesian inference for model comparison
Transferable Skills
Handling large data (~20 Terabyte)
Mathematical modeling
Machine learning and statistical analysis
● Event detection and prediction
● Classification
● Bayesian inference
Applications for fields beyond astronomy such as finance,
surveillance, social network applications, etc.
Program Schedule
Week Zero
December meeting to go over the data and additional background
information necessary for the project
Pre-trip reading of ~5 relevant articles
Week One
Saturday, Jan 3: Fly to La Serena, Chile (via Santiago)
Sunday, Jan 4: Arrival and Orientation in La Serena
Monday - Friday, Jan 5-9: Group work in La Serena, including one day tour
of observatory
Saturday, Jan 10: Exploration of La Serena
Program Schedule cont’d
Week Two
● Sunday, Jan 11: Travel to Santiago
● Monday - Friday, Jan 12 - 16: Work in teams;
final days of project work and
poster preparation in Santiago
● Saturday, Jan 17: Exploration of
Program Schedule cont’d
Week Three
● Sunday, Jan 18: Depart Santiago
● Monday, Jan 19: Arrive in U.S.
● Friday, Jan 23: Poster presentation at IACS’ Future of
Computation in Science and Engineering Symposium in
Trip Cost
Thanks to funding from IACS and CMM, student costs are minimal.
Harvard covers the following expenses:
○ Airfare to La Serena and Santiago, Chile
○ Visa and entry fees
○ Transportation for program activities within Chile
○ Lodging in hotels and dormitories (two students per room)
○ Meals
Students are responsible for the following expenses:
○ $300 program fee
○ Any additional expenses in Chile (meal costs exceeding per diem and
program meals, souvenirs, tourism expenses on “off” days)
Application Process
Application includes:
Google Form Application
Resume submission to Natasha Baker ([email protected])
Application Opens: Tuesday, October 14 at 9am
Application Deadline: Monday, October 27 at midnight
Applicants will be selected based on responses to the essay questions
and on the specific skills they bring to their team.
Application Process cont’d
● Notification: All applicants will be notified of their status by
Tuesday, November 4.
● We plan to accept 6 students, and place 4 students on the waitlist.
● A deposit of $150 is required upon acceptance of a place in the
program or on the waitlist. (Deposit is refundable for those on the
waitlist who do not go on the trip.)
Questions? Scope
Sheila Coveney
Pavlos Protopapas
Program Manager
Scientific Program Director
[email protected]
[email protected]