LRP2020: Astrostatistics in Canada

10/19/2019
by   Gwendolyn Eadie, et al.
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(Abridged from Executive Summary) This white paper focuses on the interdisciplinary fields of astrostatistics and astroinformatics, in which modern statistical and computational methods are applied to and developed for astronomical data. Astrostatistics and astroinformatics have grown dramatically in the past ten years, with international organizations, societies, conferences, workshops, and summer schools becoming the norm. Canada's formal role in astrostatistics and astroinformatics has been relatively limited, but there is a great opportunity and necessity for growth in this area. We conducted a survey of astronomers in Canada to gain information on the training mechanisms through which we learn statistical methods and to identify areas for improvement. In general, the results of our survey indicate that while astronomers see statistical methods as critically important for their research, they lack focused training in this area and wish they had received more formal training during all stages of education and professional development. These findings inform our recommendations for the LRP2020 on how to increase interdisciplinary connections between astronomy and statistics at the institutional, national, and international levels over the next ten years. We recommend specific, actionable ways to increase these connections, and discuss how interdisciplinary work can benefit not only research but also astronomy's role in training Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) in Canada.

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