CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Information Systems (DCIS)

Department

College of Engineering and Computing

Advisor

Sumitra Mukherjee

Committee Member

Michael Laszlo

Committee Member

Francisco J. Mitropoulos

Abstract

Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars which emit a strong beam of energy through mechanisms that are not entirely clear to physicists. These very dense stars are used by astrophysicists to study many basic physical phenomena, such as the behavior of plasmas in extremely dense environments, behavior of pulsar-black hole pairs, and tests of general relativity. Many of these tasks require information to answer the scientific questions posed by physicists. In order to provide more pulsars to study, there are several large-scale pulsar surveys underway, which are generating a huge backlog of unprocessed data. Searching for pulsars is a very labor-intensive process, currently requiring skilled people to examine and interpret plots of data output by analysis programs. An automated system for screening the plots will speed up the search for pulsars by a very large factor. Research to date on using machine learning and pattern recognition has not yielded a completely satisfactory system, as systems with the desired near 100% recall have false positive rates that are higher than desired, causing more manual labor in the classification of pulsars. This work proposed to research, identify, propose and develop methods to overcome the barriers to building an improved classification system with a false positive rate of less than 1% and a recall of near 100% that will be useful for the current and next generation of large pulsar surveys. The results show that it is possible to generate classifiers that perform as needed from the available training data. While a false positive rate of 1% was not reached, recall of over 99% was achieved with a false positive rate of less than 2%. Methods of mitigating the imbalanced training and test data were explored and found to be highly effective in enhancing classification accuracy.

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