The overlooked potential of
Generalized Linear Models in astronomy I:
Revealing hidden patterns in astronomical data is often the path to fundamental scientific breakthroughs; meanwhile the complexity of scientific enquiry increases as more subtle relationships are sought. Contemporary data analysis problems often elude the capabilities of classical statistical techniques, suggesting the use of cutting edge statistical methods. In this light, astronomers have overlooked a whole family of statistical techniques for exploratory data analysis and robust regression, the so-called Generalized Linear Models (GLMs). In this paper-the first in a series aimed at illustrating the power of these methods in astronomical applications-we elucidate the potential of a particular class of GLMs for handling binary/binomial data, the so-called logit and probit regression techniques, from both a maximum likelihood and a Bayesian perspective. As a case in point, we present the use of these GLMs to explore the conditions of star formation activity and metal enrichment in primordial minihaloes from cosmological hydro-simulations including detailed chemistry, gas physics, and stellar feedback. Finally, we highlight the use of receiver operating characteristic curves as a diagnostic for binary classifiers, and ultimately we use these to demonstrate the competitive predictive performance of GLMs against the popular technique of artificial neural networks.
This project is a result from COIN Residence Program #1 – Lisbon, Portugal/2014.
Full citation: de Souza et al., 2015, Astronomy and Computing, Volume 12, p. 21-32
Rafael S. de Souza, U. North Carolina (USA) – project leader
Ewan Cameron, U. Oxford (UK)
Madhura Killedar, Burnet Institute (Australia)
Joseph M. Hilbe, Arizona State U. (USA)
Ricardo Vilalta, U. Houston (USA)
Umberto Maio, INAF/Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste (Italy)
Veronica Biffi, SISSA (Italy)
Benedetta Ciardi, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (Germany)
Jamie D. Riggs, Northwestern U. (USA)