Wednesday, February 25, 2009

XSPEC units for setplot wave

In v12.5 we switched the y-axis units under setplot wave to per Hz instead of per Angstrom. Since this has not been universally popular we have added an initialization option to decide between the two cases. This is available as patch 12.5.0t. That and other recent patches can be obtained from the usual place and are summarized below

12.5.0r Fix needed for all etable model calculations. Our thanks to Roderick Johnstone for pointing this out. Report added on Feb 12, 2009.

12.5.0s When the both the absori and pexriv models are loaded during the same XSPEC session, whichever model is loaded second will not work properly. Note: this bug originated in version 12.5.0. Report added on Feb 13, 2009.

12.5.0t This adds an option for choosing Y-axis units when plotting in setplot wave mode. The selection is made by the WAVE_PLOT_UNITS entry, which has been added to the new version of the Xspec.init file. The units may now be specified in Hz (the default for version 12.5.0), or angstroms as they were prior to 12.5.0. This applies to plots of data, counts, and all variants of model and ufspec plots. Report added on Feb 19, 2009.

12.5.0u Minor code changes mostly to clean up the messages reported when running XSPEC under the valgrind software tool. Report added on Feb 19, 2009.

12.5.0v Multiplicative model components which are created with the mdefine command should not be multiplied by the energy bin widths. Our thanks to Roderick Johnstone for pointing this out. Report added on Feb 19, 2009.

non-integer COUNTS column

Steve Snowden ran into a silent problem because he made spectrum files with non-integer COUNTS columns. This is in violation of the standard and many ftools will simply silently truncate the float value to the nearest integer. I've added checks in the low-level library routines to write warnings in this case.

Update on 5/7/09. It turns out that the RXTE s/w writes PHA files with a real COUNTS column although the values are integers. So, I've improved the checking so that no warnings are given if the values are integers even if the column is defined as real. If the values really are non-integer then a warning is written and the values truncated to integers.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gelman on statistics

I'm going to start linking to interesting blog posts by Andrew Gelman because they often have important points to remember. Today he talks about a couple of reviews of "The Black Swan" and includes the following note on Bayesian inference :

From a philosophical point of view, I think the most important point of confusion about Bayesian inference is the idea that it's about computing the probability that a model is true. In all the areas I've ever worked on, the model is never true. But what you can do is find out that certain important aspects of the data are highly unlikely to be captured by the fitted model, which can facilitate a "model shift" moment. This sort of falsification is why I believe Popper's philosophy of science to be a good fit to Bayesian data analysis.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Recent XSPEC bug fixes

The following are all available from the usual place.

12.5.0l This slightly modifies the state of newly untied parameters. When a parameter is untied, its frozen/unfrozen setting should retain the setting of the parameter(s) to which it was linked, rather than be restored to its original value. Our thanks to Phil Evans and Delphine Porquet for pointing this out. Report added on Jan 14, 2009.

12.5.0m When steppar is executed, it should not automatically run a fit at the end to place the parameters in their best-fit state. Instead it should restore the parameters to their pre-steppar values, regardless of the fit state. Our thanks to Tim Kallman for pointing this out. Report added on Jan 14, 2009.

12.5.0n Bug fix for a C-to-Fortran boolean conversion error, affecting the default setting for the thermal broadening flag of the bapec and bvapec models. Unless overridden by the APECTHERMAL setting, thermal broadening should be ON by default for bapec and bvapec. This bug has only been observed on Solaris platforms. Report added on Jan 15, 2009.

12.5.0o When a delcomp operation is performed on the unnamed (default) model and no spectra are loaded, the model calculation is not updated. Our thanks to Laura Brenneman for pointing this out. Report added on Jan 21, 2009.

12.5.0p This relaxes the OGIP requirement that spectral data files must contain a RESPFILE keyword, primarily to allow the loading of certain RXTE/PCA files. Our thanks to David Smith for pointing this out. Report added on Jan 30, 2009.

12.5.0q A new option has been added to the tclout command: tclout gain. See the online tclout manual entry for proper syntax and usage. Prior to this, it was not possible to retrieve the values of gain parameters from tclout. Our thanks to Frank Haberl for pointing this out. Report added on Feb 03, 2009.