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ASTR 5540 Reports and Presentations
Grade
20% of your grade in this course will come from
a combination of a report and an associated 510 minute presentation.
Report
For your report, you will submit an answer to ONE
of the four problems on Differential Equations,
and write a report on ONE of the five
(or six) papers on Probability and Statistics.
Your writing should be clear, concise, and correct.
Part of the grade on your report will be based on the quality of the writing.
Presentation
For your presentation,
you will make a 510 minute presentation, in class, on EITHER
the Differential Equation problem,
OR the Probability and Statistics paper.
You should prepare your presentation on overhead transparencies.
I would imagine that 3 transparencies would be entirely adequate,
but there is no hard and fast rule.
No more than TWO people may make a presentation on the same problem or paper.
You may reserve a topic,
and I will post reservations of presentation topics on this webpage.
If you have a preference,
then obviously
it is in your interest to reserve a problem or paper as early as possible.
Reservations

Solitary waves problem (#1)  Erika Barth & Thomas Herrle

Polytrope problem (#2)  Shannon Pelkey & Wilfried Meindl

Chaos problem (#3)  Galina Chirokova & Kelly Cline

Cordes J. M., Lazio T. J. W. & Sagan C. (1997)
``ScintillationInduced Intermittency in SETI'',
ApJ 487, 782808
 Seth Redfield

Raup & Sepkoski,
``Periodicity of extinctions in the geologic past''
 Corinne Krauss

Cochran et al.,
``The Discovery of HalleySized Kuiper Belt Objects using the
Hubble Space Telescope''
 Chris White
Deadlines

Reports are due
on Thur 12 Nov.
You are welcome to submit your report before the deadline.

Presentations will be made in class on Thur 12 Nov,
with any overflow going to Thur 19 Nov.
Problems in Differential Equations
Please write up your solution in words as well as equations,
as if you were writing a solution set for publication.
Your solution may be either handwritten or TeX'd.
Many thanks to Ellen Zweibel for making available this suite of problems.
Reports on Papers on Probability and Statistics
Your report here should be in two parts:
a description, and a critique.
The first part, the description,
should describe succinctly the principal arguments and results of the paper.
The second part, the critique,
should be in the style of a ``referee's report'',
and should bring out the merits and faults of the paper.
You should imagine that the author(s) will read the report.
Therefore you should be polite but factual at all times.
If you make general criticisms,
you should back these up with detailed specifics.
As referee, it is your responsibility to go through the paper with a fine
toothcomb to check for errors, unclear statements, and misprints.
If you like, you can mark up a copy of the paper,
but this should not take the place of your report.
I would imagine that your report might fill 3 typed pages,
but there is no hard and fast rule.
Below are the 5 recommended papers on probability and statistics,
plus the option of a paper of your choice.
For two of the papers, I have added references to
subsequent critical or rebuttal papers.
In these cases your job is to review and critique the first paper only,
but you may care to look at the subsequent papers to help you in your
assessment.

David M. Raup & J. John Sepkoski, Jr. (1984)
``Periodicity of extinctions in the geologic past'',
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 81, 801805.
See also David M. Raup & J. John Sepkoski, Jr. (1986)
``Periodic Extinction of Families and Genera'',
Science 231, 833836.
The first of these papers set off a minor furore in its claimed discovery
of a 26 Myr periodicity in mass extinctions of species on Earth.
The paper was criticized by
Antoni Hoffman (1985)
``Patterns of family extinction depend on definition and geological
timescale''
Nature 315, 659662,
provoking a heated exchange of letters
in Nature 321, 533536.
Thanks to Larry Esposito for suggesting this.

William H. Press (1996)
``Understanding Data Better with Bayesian and Global Statistical Methods'',
astroph/9604126.
A didactic and typically Pressian paper,
which takes the measurement of the Hubble constant as an illustrative example.
Thanks to Mike Nowak for suggesting this one.

Anita L. Cochran, Harold F. Levison, S. Alan Stern
& Martin J. Duncan (1995)
``The Discovery of HalleySized Kuiper Belt Objects using the
Hubble Space Telescope'',
Ap J, 455, 342346.
This paper reports the discovery in deep HST WFPC2 images
of a statistical excess of faint, high proper motion objects,
which the authors interpret as Kuiper belt objects.
The paper was criticized by
Michael E. Brown, Shrinivas R. Kulkarni & Timothy J. Liggett (1997)
``An Analysis of the Statistics of the Hubble Space Telescope Kuiper
Belt Object Search'',
Ap J Letters, 490, L119L122,
and a rebuttal has recently appeared by
Anita L. Cochran, Harold F. Levison, Peter Tamblyn, S. Alan Stern
& Martin J. Duncan (1998)
``The Calibration of the HST Kuiper Belt Object Search:
Setting the Record Straight'',
astroph/9806210.
Thanks to Nick Schneider for suggesting this.

Stella Seitz, Peter Schneider & Matthias Bartelmann (1998)
``Entropyregularized MaximumLikelihood cluster mass reconstruction'',
astroph/9803038.
Maximum likelihood and maximum entropy all at the same time?
Thanks to Peter Schneider for this reference.

Max Tegmark (1996)
``Comparing and Combining Cosmic Microwave Background Datasets'',
astroph/9809001.
A short but packed paper.
I always find Max's papers highly educational,
although it can sometimes take me an entire day to arrive at a proper
understanding of just one of his equations.
Can you figure out what his `nullbuster' is?

A research paper of your choice
dealing with Probability and Statistics,
perhaps in your own special field of interest.
p" ASTR 5540 Homepage
Updated 5 Nov 1998