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Artificial brain may speed up cosmology

Friday, July 17, 2009 08:33:00 AM, ANI

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Melbourne: University of Durham cosmologists have come up with a novel technique, based on how brain neurons behave, which can dramatically speed up computer simulations of the universe.


Lead researcher and postgraduate student Cesario Almeida has developed an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) to accelerate the process of creating mock catalogues of galaxies.


ANN simulates the way brain neurons connect and compute information.


The scientists hope it can be used to solve a range of astronomy, mathematics and engineering problems.


During the study, Almeida and colleagues used the ANN to create their mock galactic catalogue in several wavelengths of light.


By comparing mock galactic catalogues with actual observations, such as the ATLAS sky survey currently being conducted by the Herschel space observatory, cosmoslogists can assess how well their models perform.


The study showed that ANN-derived universe matched previous, well-known models with an accuracy of between 80pct and 90pct.


Moreover, it was best at simulating galaxies in the near-infrared part of the spectrum.


"At all the wavelengths considered we find that the luminosity functions predicted by the ANN are in excellent agreement," ABC Online quoted the researchers as saying.


Associate Professor Andrew Hopkins of the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Sydney, says the technique could speed up research in the field of cosmology.


"It's certainly exciting that it can speed up this process. It opens up a new approach to try and attack these problems because it can work very quickly on a large number of simulated galaxies," he said.


"It's an important cog in a very large wheel and sidesteps a lot of messy detail," he added.



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