optimization is the worst

After the incredibly valuable Milky Way Group Meeting discussion of the spectrophotometric parallaxes, Eilers (MPIA) and I simplified our model, re-factored the code, and re-ran. And, despite the fact that the new model is provably better than the old model, everything failed. The reason is: Our objective isn't convex. Not only that, but there is an enormously high-dimensional degenerate bad optimum that is hard to avoid. That sent us back to the books: Optimization is hard!

The trick we settled on (and you are allowed to do many, many tricks here) is to take the very highest signal-to-noise stars (in terms of Gaia parallax) to optimize an initialization and then do our final optimization with all stars, but starting off from that initialization. That is, we burn in to the optimum using the best stars first. It's a hack but it worked, and now the better model is performing the way it should be. That's good! Because it is discouraging when you refactor your code and everything goes worse.

A MPIA Galaxy Coffee, Wolfgang Brandner (MPIA) described the new GRAVITY results on the perihelion passage of S2 at the Galactic Center. The perihelion passage shows gravitational and transverse-Doppler redshifts and puts an amazingly strong constraint on the geometry and kinematics of the Galactic Center.

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