[TDA_wg] Hotwired IV and taming complexity

Griffin, Elizabeth Elizabeth.Griffin at nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
Thu May 14 11:16:50 EDT 2015

Hi Rob,

Delighted to know that things are moving swimmingly at Hotwired IV.  The proposed TDA movements will certainly benefit with such an enthusiastic and energetic embryo.

Just one teeny point.  Mine might be a lone voice in the Hotwired community, but I do feel the need to whisper somewhere that transients are not quite the whole story behind TDA.  Of course, if you go to some "astronomy heritage" gathering you won't hear quite so much about transients and rather more about time-scales of 100 years or more and of different technologies required to interpret them.  We are all part of the same scene, and it is perhaps not a bad idea to keep in mind the essential breadth of that scene before one set - whichever - assumes that it is the majority one!

I hope the remaining 2 H/w days will be equally great!

Elizabeth Griffin
From: TDA_wg [tda_wg-bounces at timedomainastronomy.net] On Behalf Of Rob Seaman [seaman at noao.edu]
Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2015 10:50 AM
To: tda_wg at timedomainastronomy.net
Subject: [TDA_wg] Hotwired IV and taming complexity


We are halfway through Hotwired IV, with two days of excellent talks behind us and two yet to come!

Meanwhile the Time Domain working group mailing list has grown by 25% in the past few days to 124 people reading this.  We have the blessing of IAU Commission 5 (overseers of FITS, IVOA, etc.) to formalize the working group, and the encouragement of the IAU Exec to carry this forward past the General Assembly.

This WG is the Cheshire Cat’s smile that will remain when Hotwired IV is done.

Rachel and Eric hosted a rousing discussion session last evening after a solid VOEvent tutorial by John and Tim. Inherent in that word “rousing” is precisely the type of conversation that has to occur between astronomers from various disciplines on the one hand, and hardware and software engineers on the other.  Our hope is that tda_wg at timedomainastronomy.net will become the forum for such ongoing discussions.

For just one example, astronomers want a simple user interface overlaying complex time domain science. Andy presented an excellent outline of the various components of a complete system for the purpose. This is, in fact, the system many in attendance have been working to build over many years.  And it maps almost exactly to the purpose of Hot-wiring the Transient Universe :-)

The complexity is inherent in the astronomical community and in the many different flavors of time domain science.  I think several of the supernova talks yesterday demonstrated the resulting knotty problems remarkably well.  To tame the complexity requires data formats like VOEvent, software like Comet, and hardware like our remarkable telescopes, generously sprinkled with computers, robots and fiber optic links.  More than that it requires lots and lots of communication and community planning.

In short, the O/IR System discussed in the recent NRC report requires system engineering:


(Others can address funding.)

I am delighted at the many great presentations the past two days and look forward to many more.  We owe a debt of gratitude to LCOGT, especially Rachel, for hosting Hotwired IV.  Others can attest it ain’t easy!

Rob Seaman
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