Title

Studies in Astronomical Time Series Analysis. VI. Bayesian Block Representations

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-20-2013

Abstract

This paper addresses the problem of detecting and characterizing local variability in time series and other forms of sequential data. The goal is to identify and characterize statistically significant variations, at the same time suppressing the inevitable corrupting observational errors. We present a simple nonparametric modeling technique and an algorithm implementing it—an improved and generalized version of Bayesian Blocks—that finds the optimal segmentation of the data in the observation interval. The structure of the algorithm allows it to be used in either a real-time trigger mode, or a retrospective mode. Maximum likelihood or marginal posterior functions to measure model fitness are presented for events, binned counts, and measurements at arbitrary times with known error distributions. Problems addressed include those connected with data gaps, variable exposure, extension to piecewise linear and piecewise exponential representations, multivariate time series data, analysis of variance, data on the circle, other data modes, and dispersed data. Simulations provide evidence that the detection efficiency for weak signals is close to a theoretical asymptotic limit derived by Arias-Castro et al. In the spirit of Reproducible Research all of the code and data necessary to reproduce all of the figures in this paper are included as supplementary material.