Over the past few months, while I have been sadly neglecting the Data Mining for Astronomy website (apologies for that), I have been working in collaboration with my friend Mark McGettrick and the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) to develop an iPhone app for Variable Stars, and other data-centric iPhone apps.
As we all know, in the past 10 years, the ubiquitous availability of data repositories, and the commensurate opportunities for statistical analysis and data-mining has transformed both astronomical and biomedical research. Our idea was to develop a reusable application framework that would enable us to “mobilize” datasets on to the Apple iOS platform. The underlying framework allows us, as developers, to define the meta-data content of a given dataset, and then to rapidly transform this into an iPhone app, giving users the ability to:
- query the data
- sort results, and
- view the details of individual records.
So you describe the content of the dataset, and certain interfaces are generating automatically including filter / query controls and sorting criteria. Presenting the details of a particular record does still require a certain degree of customization in order to render object attributes in a manner that a domain-expert would expect. But we are hoping to develop, as part of the framework, certain pre-defined templates that will further reduce the coding effort involved. As this is an astronomical application, we have also developed specific extensions to support object visibility based on the observer’s geographical location and date/time. Going forward, we plan to make it possible to generate correlation plots, bar charts, and other visualizations, and to generate various types of statistical analyses, all towards the broader goal of creating a mobile data-mining framework for astronomical and biomedical applications. So far, reviews of the app have been very positive!
Details of a particular star