Last Updated: 2011feb17

Workshop on Solar Statistics

Feature Recognition, Thermal Structure, Numerical Computation, Massive Data Streams

Feb 16-17, 2012

Pratt Conference Room and Phillips Auditorium, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
60 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138
| Description | Registration | Directions | Schedule | Participants | Contacts | changelog |


We will host an interdisciplinary two-day workshop on Solar Astronomy and Statistical inference at the CfA on Feb 16-17, 2012. Solar data present unique challenges of analysis. Current methods and algorithms generally fall short in dealing with the vast dynamic ranges in the properties of solar features, combined with the extraordinary detail and cadence at which they are observed. This workshop aims to bring together solar astronomers and statisticians in order to set up collaborative efforts to develop techniques and algorithms for feature recognition, thermal structure inference, and numerical computation that can deal with massive data streams that are originating from the current generation of solar telescopes.

Format: On the first day of the workshop, we will have two tutorial sessions, one describing solar data for statisticians and the other describing statistics methods for astronomers. The second day will have talks and discussions on the major themes of the workshop, in 4 sessions of 1 1/2 hours each. In each session we intend to have a brief overview by an astronomer or a statistician, followed by a commentary by someone from the complementary field, followed by open discussions. During the discussion period, participants are encouraged to make their points using a slide that they can show via a high-definition (HD) display. (Solar astronomers will recognize this format as similar to that used at SHINE conferences.) We will also have room for a limited number of ePosters.

Webcast: The Workshop sessions will be webcast and presentation slides and recordings will be made available here after the workshop. Note that due to technical limitations, there is no provision for the tutorials to be webcast. The webcast can be viewed with RealPlayer (, QuickTime (, or VLC ( The webcast URL is rtsp://

Abstracts and Registration

Registration: To register, fill out the online form at There is a $25 non-refundable fee dedicated to covering coffee and cookies during the Workshop. Please note that the number of slots available for the Tutorials sections is limited, and you must explicitly indicate which tutorial you plan to attend.

Abstracts: Submit abstracts for ePoster contributions at the Abstract Submission page. Timed slots will be allocated to presenters to show slides or movies via their laptops on a HD display during breaks during the Workshop on Friday. Because these slots are limited, please register and submit your abstract as soon as possible.

Accomodation, Directions, Parking

Accomodations: There is no recommended hotel reserved for attendees, but the CfA has compiled a list of places where people can stay. See .

Directions: The workshop will take place at Pratt Conference Room and the Phillips Auditorium of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It is an easy walk from Harvard Square and Porter Square T stations to the CfA. There are also a number of MBTA bus lines that are accessible from the CfA. Directions to the 60 Garden St. campus are at .

Area eateries: There are a number of delis and restaurants nearby. In addition, there are many restaurants and fast food joints less than a km away on Mass Ave.

The tutorials will be held at Pratt on Thursday, and the workshop at Phillips on Friday. A floor plan showing their locations in the CfA is available as a pdf file.

Parking: Most on-street parking in Cambridge requires a Cambridge parking permit, available only to vehicles registered in Cambridge, though limited free street parking is availabe on Huron St. near the CfA. All cars parked in Observatory lots at 60 Garden St. during business hours (8:30am-5pm) must display a parking permit. The Harvard College Observatory's Administrative Office, located in B-115 at the CfA, has 8-, 4-, and 2-hour permits (subject to availability) for $12, $8, and $4 respectively. These permits cannot be purchased online or ahead of time. Parking permits for 160 Concord are not available during the course of this workshop. An online parking service with Harvard University is also available to register and prepay parking fees at Harvard University's Parking Office. You will need to contact the Harvard University Parking Services directly, either online, or via email, phone (617-495-3772), or in corpore at Holyoke Center 8th Floor, 1350 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138.


The schedule is structured to encourage questions and discussion. Each session will have solicited talks and commentaries, and will be followed by open discussion. If you have slides you wish to display during these sessions, either to make an additional point or to bring up a particular issue, please contact one of the organizers.

Thursday, Feb 16 (Pratt)

2:00pm - 3:45pm : Tutorial: Statistical Tools and Techniques for Solar Astronomers - Nathan M. Stein (HU) and Alex Blocker (HU)
Presentation slides [.pdf]
Download the tutorial scripts and datasets from the anon-ftp site
* Download the R software package from and install it on your laptop before the tutorial begins.
- A useful tutorial on R for astronomers [.pdf] is available from Alex Storer based on a class given at the Wolbach Library at the CfA.
- A primer on using R in astronomy from Alastair Sanderson.

3:45pm - 4:15pm : Coffee break

4:15pm - 6:00pm : Tutorial: Solar Data -- where to get, how to analyze - Patrick McCauley (CfA) and Sean McKillop (CfA)
Presentation slides [.pptx]
Download the tutorial scripts and datasets from the anon-ftp site
* This tutorial relies on SolarSoftWare (SSW), which is a suite of IDL programs. If you do not already have IDL installed, you may download an executable from ITT/Exelis if you register for the Workshop by Feb 8.
1. Download SSW from
- be sure to install the following packages at a minimum: aia, hmi, xrt, ontology, vso, binaries
2. Download IDL to your laptop via the ITT/Exelis website. This will require registration and a check for ITAR compliance by the company.
- You will first need to register for the software (in addition to registering for the Workshop) at
- After you have registered, you will receive two emails. The first will ask you to complete and verify your registration. The second will let you know that your registration has been approved. (Allow a day to get the second one.) Follow the link provided to download the version of IDL appropriate for your system.
- IDL requires a license key to operate. This will be provided during the Workshop and will unlock the executable for a limited time.
- You can test the installation even without a license. IDL will run in a 7-minute demo mode. If you are installing the UNIX version, note that you may run into problems if you install it at a non-standard location.

Friday, Feb 17 (Phillips)

The schedule below lists some speakers and commenters who will lead off the sessions. Attendees are encouraged to bring slides to show during the discussions.

9:00am - 10:30am : Session 2A: Feature Recognition Chair: Vinay Kashyap (SAO)
Content-based Image Retrieval for Solar Physics -- Petrus Martens (MSU)
Active Region Identification and Tracking -- Mike Turmon (JPL)
Commentary -- David Stenning (UCI)
Open Discussion

10:30am - 11:00am : Coffee break/ePosters

11:00am - 12:30pm : Session 2B: Thermal Structure Chair: Mark Weber (CfA)
Newly Discovered Global Temperature Structures in the Quiet Sun at Solar Minimum -- Rich Frazin (Michigan)
Commentary -- Alanna Connors (EurekaSci)
Quality of DEM Reconstructions -- Paola Testa (SAO)
Open Discussion

12:30pm - 2:00pm : Lunch break

2:00pm - 3:30pm : Session 2C: Multi-dimensional Joint Analysis Chair: Alex Young (ADNET/GSFC)
Finding oscillating regions in SDO/AIA data -- Jack Ireland (GSFC)
Commentary -- Becca Willet (Duke)
Open Discussion
drop slides into anon-ftp site.

3:30pm - 4:00pm : Coffee break/ePosters

4:00pm - 5:30pm : Session 2D: Massive Data Streams Chair: Alisdair Davey (CfA)
Massive solar data streams -- Alisdair Davey (CfA)
Fast Algorithms -- Alexander Gray (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Commentary -- Tom Loredo (Cornell)
Open Discussion
drop slides into anon-ftp site.

5:30pm - 6:00pm : Closing Discussions

Automatic Classification and Tracking of Solar Features
Stenning, David (Department of Statistics, University of California, Irvine); Kashyap, Vinay (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory); Lee, Thomas (Department of Statistics, University of California, Davis); van Dyk, David (Statistics Section, Imperial College London); Young, C. Alex (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
Flare detection in Hinode XRT lightcurves
Posson-Brown, Jennifer (SAO); Kashyap, Vinay (SAO); Grigis, Paolo (SAO)
Fast DEMs for AIA
Plowman, Joseph (Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA); Kankelborg, Charles (Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA); Martens, Petrus (Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA); Ritchie, Miriam (University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK); Scott, Jason (Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA); Sharma, Rahul (Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Rajasthan, India)




Vinay Kashyap (vkashyap @ cfa . harvard . edu)
Mark Weber (mweber @ cfa . harvard . edu)
Alex Young (c.a.young @ nasa . gov)
Jennifer Posson-Brown (jpbrown @ head . cfa . harvard . edu)


Michelle Henson
Aldo Solares
Lisa Paton
Wendy Roberts
Jennifer Posson-Brown
Mark Weber
Sean McKillop
Patrick McCauley
Alisdair Davey
Vinay Kashyap


2012-feb-02: added speakers and commenters; started changelog.
2012-feb-04: cosmetic changes; updated attendees list.
2012-feb-06: added ePoster section.
2012-feb-13: added link to anon-ftp site where slides may be dropped off to show during Open Discussion periods; floor plan to Pratt and Phillips; added talk titles; updated solar tutorial info.
2012-feb-14: updated IDL info for solar tutorial.
2012-feb-15: added schedule pdf; added link to nearby restaurants; added Solar Tutorial anon-ftp repository link
2012-feb-16: added Stats Tutorial anon-ftp repository link; added IDL license to Solar Tutorial ftp site; added stats and solar tutorial slides; added webcast URL
2012-feb-17: added slides for session 1, 2, 3, 4


SolStat 2012

Abstract Submission
1A: Stats
1B: Solar
2A: Features
2B: Thermal
2C: MultiD
2D: Massive Data

This workshop is supported by CHASC at CfA, the Solar & Stellar X-ray Group, SDO/AIA, and ADNET.