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Communications of the ACM

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Computer Scientists Aid in Major Astronomical Discovery


Peering more deeply into the infinite.

University of California, Merced researchers developed data-processing tools that enabled astronomers to determine they were observing an unprecedented event when they saw two neutron stars colliding. The UC Merced team developed data-processing tools that enabled astronomers to determine they were indeed observing an unprecedented event.

Credit: Abigail Malate/American Institute of Physics

Researchers at the University of California, Merced (UC Merced) recently helped to make a major advance in astronomy, as scientists announced last month they observed two neutron stars colliding.

The UC Merced team developed data-processing tools that enabled astronomers to determine they were indeed observing an unprecedented event.

The database techniques--the array similarity joint operator and views over arrays--enable scientists to rapidly compare huge amounts of array data across multiple databases by minimizing data transfer, thus reducing network congestion and eliminating redundant processing.

"Our techniques let astronomers assess far more candidate images than would otherwise be possible," says UC Merced professor Florin Rusu.

The researchers note the new database techniques are broadly applicable, and could be used in a variety of fields, from astronomy to genetics.

The database techniques were first described in papers presented at the 2016 and 2017 ACM Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD) conferences.

From University of California, Merced
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