Well, that’s embarrassing. A little tweak to my dark matter model resulted in a leaderboard score in the top 10. The only problem is that the contest closed about an hour ago.
I ran this final prediction earlier today but then simply forgot to go back to it and submit!! On the bright side, I learned a lot of really interesting things about gravitational lensing and had a tonne of fun doing it. I’ll probably write a post-mortem sometime in the next few days, but for now I’m just kicking myself.
The three benchmark algorithms for predicting the location of dark matter halos are, for the most part, all over the map. Most of the test skies look something like this:
There are, however, some skies with rather strong halo signals that get a decent amount of agreement:
The Lenstool MLE algorithm is the current state of the art. As such, it’s the algo to beat. As of this morning, there was only one entry on the leader board with a score topping this benchmark.
*cracks fingers* – Let’s see if we can give it a run for it’s money.
Some people like to do crossword puzzles. I like to do machine learning puzzles.
Lucky for me, a new contest was just posted yesterday on Kaggle. So naturally, my lazy Saturday was spent getting elbow deep into the data.
The training set consists of a series of ‘skies’, each containing a bunch of galaxies. Normally, these galaxies would exhibit random ellipticity. That is, if it weren’t for all that dark matter out there! The dark matter, while itself invisible (it is dark after all), tends to aggregate and do some pretty funky stuff. These aggregations of dark matter produce massive halos which bend the heck out of spacetime itself! The result is that any galaxies behind these halos (from our perspective here on earth) appear contorted around the halo.
The tricky bit is to distinguish between the background noise in the ellipticity of galaxies, and the regular effect of the dark matter halos. How hard could it be?
Step one, as always, is to have a look at what you’re working with using some visualization.
An example of the training data. This sky has 3 dark matter halos. I f you squint, you can kind of see the effect on the ellipticity of the surrounding galaxies.
If you want to try it yourself, I’ve posted the code here.
If you don’t feel like running it yourself, here are all 300 skies from the training set.
Now for the simple matter of the predictions. Looks like Sunday will be a fun day too! Stay tuned…