Astronomers Speak Statistics: Statistical Challenges in the Formation of the Milky Way

Jo Bovy Speaker
University of Toronto
Monday, Aug 7: 9:00 AM - 9:25 AM
Introductory Overview Lectures 
Metro Toronto Convention Centre 
The Milky Way is one of the best laboratories for understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies over cosmic time, because we can obtain detailed information for large samples of individual stars. Much progress has been made in understanding the spatial, dynamical, and chemical structure of the Milky Way using large survey data sets. Many statistical challenges exist in this field, including how to deal with the significant selection biases in various quantities, heteroskedastic uncertainties that are not always well understood, and how to efficiently fit complex models to data sets consisting of millions to billions of stars while treating the data properly. I will describe some of these challenges and illustrate them with examples from our work on the chemo-dynamical structure of the Milky Way.