ephemeris, sampling

I fielded email today from various undergrads to whom I pitched (on Wednesday) a big project to build a precise probabilistic ephemeris for the Solar System. I am hoping to execute a huge project with a team of undergrads handling all the important parts.

At group meeting (before lunch), Iain Murray (Toronto, Edinburgh), who is one of our Bayesian consultants, gave a talk on sampling for inference, reviewing a few simple methods and then some hard pitfalls. A bit of an argument broke out about how you deal with well-separated maxima, with Roweis and me more on the side of "you never know if you have found the true maximum so you have to figure out how to do science without knowing that" and Scoccimarro and Blanton more on the side of "you have to keep working until you are sure".

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