BHI Colloquium


Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 1:30pm


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Lydia Patton (Philosophy) - Virginia Tech

Title: Population Synthesis in Gravitational-Wave Astrophysics

Abstract: Population synthesis in astrophysics “does not have direct analogues in other fields of science” (Popov and Prokhorov 2007). It allows for simulation of the initial and evolutionary parameters of the population under consideration, which is crucial for explanation and prediction. Population synthesis is crucial to the future of gravitational-wave astrophysics. Showing how the parameters of binary systems evolve (Broekgaarden et al. 2021, Hamers et al. 2021), how to distinguish systems from background radiation, estimating population size (Cieslar et al. 2021), how to use the parameters of binary systems as 'standard sirens' to estimate background radiation (Chen, Fishbach, & Holz 2018), and how to generate matched filtering templates appropriate to predictions of systems likely to be detected, all benefit from population synthesis. This paper will present the fundamentals of population synthesis in gravitational-wave astrophysics, with a view to explaining how it is used in template-based searches and parameter estimation. It will conclude with a brief analysis of challenges for building population synthesis methods that provide a robust framework for future research.

Bio: Lydia Patton is a professor of philosophy at Virginia Tech. Patton's work centers on theory testing, and on differential equations and their use in physical theories, especially fluid dynamics and gravitational wave astronomy, and has been published in journals including Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern PhysicsSyntheseThe MonistHistory and Philosophy of Logic, and Historia Mathematica, and in dozens of edited collections. She is the editor of HOPOS and, with Walter Ott, of the collection Laws of Nature.

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See also: Philosophy