Prof Sugata Kaviraj
“Curiosity driven research like space exploration is driving our society forward.”
Professor Sugata Kaviraj is a member of the Centre for Astrophysics Research and a lecturer within the School of Physics, Engineering and Computers Science (SPECS). He leads a research group that has developed cutting edge AI algorithms, which identify patterns to help classify huge amounts of data about space.
A new ground-based telescope in Chile working on the Legacy Survey of Space and Time, is set to gather data on around 10 billion galaxies, which if analysed manually would take 5,000 years. Sugata’s team have developed an algorithm that can compress these 10 billion galaxies into around 200 clusters that look and behave in the same way in just days, vastly improving the speed at which astronomers can analyse and understand important data about space. Algorithms like this can be applied to almost any kind of pattern recognition such as the detection of diseases, climate physics, or biometrics.
Sugata is driven by a curiosity about where we came from, what the universe contains and why we are here. But, more importantly, he says that astronomy is becoming data-rich much sooner than the rest of society, and, therefore, AI techniques we develop for understanding galaxies could lead to important breakthroughs in other areas of society, when they become as data-rich in the future, for example, medicine. In summary, Sugata says “we wouldn’t have WiFi if we hadn’t analysed black holes in space. Curiosity-driven research drives civilisation forward”.