“Big Data in Astronomy” Opens Doors for Honours Student
Ms Lisa Dayaram, an Honours student in Computer Science on the Westville campus spent a study week at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in June. The visit was funded by the Swiss-South Africa bilateral agreement. The main objective of her visit was to address the theme Big Data in Astronomy, more specifically the challenges of big data in the HIRAX radio telescope project. Institutions involved in this collaboration include the ETH Zurich, the University of Geneva and a consortium of South African universities led by UKZN.
Dayaram is currently completing her Honours’ research project on deep learning for radio telescope system design, which evaluates the effectiveness of deep learning techniques to separate the cosmological signal from the foreground contaminants, in the context of 21cm observations.
With the strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research at UKZN, the need for the development of domain-specific machine learning techniques has grown and HIRAX has given impetus to explorations into both deep space and deep learning. Research collaborations between the astronomy and computer science disciplines are exploring the effectiveness of implementing deep learning in areas of cosmology.
Dayaram enjoyed the experience of both the campus and city life and the trip provided an excellent opportunity to engage with other researchers in cosmology and computer science. She thanked her supervisors, Drs Devin Crichton and Anban Pillay; and Ms Khanyisile Gwamanda and Professors Alexandre Refregier and Kavilan Moodley.
Words: Anban Pillay