Friday, July 19, 2013

1307.5040 (S. Kazemi et al.)

Robust Radio Interferometric Calibration Using the t-Distribution    [PDF]

S. Kazemi, S. Yatawatta
A major stage of radio interferometric data processing is calibration or the estimation of systematic errors in the data and the correction for such errors. A stochastic error (noise) model is assumed, and in most cases, this underlying model is assumed to be Gaussian. However, outliers in the data due to interference or due to errors in the sky model would have adverse effects on processing based on a Gaussian noise model. Most of the shortcomings of calibration such as the loss in flux or coherence, and the appearance of spurious sources, could be attributed to the deviations of the underlying noise model. In this paper, we propose to improve the robustness of calibration by using a noise model based on Student's t distribution. Student's t noise is a special case of Gaussian noise when the variance is unknown. Unlike Gaussian noise model based calibration, traditional least squares minimization would not directly extend to a case when we have a Student's t noise model. Therefore, we use a variant of the Expectation Maximization (EM) algorithm, called the Expectation-Conditional Maximization Either (ECME) algorithm when we have a Student's t noise model and use the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm in the maximization step. We give simulation results to show the robustness of the proposed calibration method as opposed to traditional Gaussian noise model based calibration, especially in preserving the flux of weaker sources that are not included in the calibration model.
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