LIGO Mock Data Challenge

Mock Data Bulletin Board


In an effort to prepare for upcoming analysis of LIGO data, it is planned to create and analyze simulated LIGO data containing both realistic detector noise and one or more signals from astrophysical sources (known only to one or a few physicists sworn to secrecy).

LIGO physicists developing astrophysical source searching algorithms could then search for signals and report on their findings without knowing the "real answer". This mock data challenge is expected to stimulate analysis work and to serve as a valuable diagnostic on that work from which future, real LIGO analysis will benefit.

The mock data set will include simulated data from at least two of the three LIGO nterferometers and perhaps simulated data from other gravitational radiation detectors worldwide. Part of the effort will include generation of mock meta-database information similar to that planned for LIGO.

Near-Term Plans

As preparation for this planned challenge, data taken in November 1994 with the Caltech 40-meter prototype interferometer (without ) will be analyzed. Despite many drawbacks (e.g., no recycling or optical recombination and only a handful of DAQ channels recorded), this data set is valuable because it is real data from a LIGO-like suspended interferometer.

Its noise has many non-Gaussian components, including fast transient glitches. As a result, the data set presents a serious challenge to analyses that would search for astrophysical sources. It should serve as a hard-knocks training ground for LIGO algorithms.

The initial effort will concentrate upon detector characterization (e.g., power spectra, transient classification / identification, correlation identification, etc.). As the data set becomes better understood, it will be split into two or more segments, with the segments treated as if coincident in time. This will allow tests of coincidence algorithms and a direct measure of their false-alarm rates.

Finally, artificial astrophysical sources will be introduced into the data set and physicists challenged to find them, as described above.

Longer-Term Plans


This challenge has been initiated by the LIGO Laboratory, but will be carried out in close collaboration with the LSC. In particular, the LSC data analysis working groups (Astrophysical Source Identification and Signatures, Detector Characterization, and Detection Confidence and Statistical Analysis) will naturally play a strong role in the challenge. This challenge, however, is open to the gravitational wave community at large, which will be given free access to the November 1994 40-Meter data.

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