The National Science Agenda has awarded a 5 million euro grant to CORTEX – the Center for Optimal, Real-Time Machine Studies of the Explosive Universe. The CORTEX consortium of 12 partners from academia, industry and society will make self-learning machines faster, to figure out how massive cosmic explosions work, and to innovative systems that benefit our society. CWI will contribute to this project by developing new self-learning algorithms.
Machine learning has rapidly become an integral part of our lives. It is now commonly used for speech recognition and information retrieval. This is also true in science, for detecting patterns in nature and the Universe. But the need is growing rapidly for such machines to respond quickly, for example in self-driving cars and for responsive manufacturing. On a more fundamental level, self-learning machines help us unveil a dynamical Universe we did not know existed up until recently. Bright explosions appear all over the radio and gravitational-wave sky. Many citizens and scientists are curious to understand where these come from.
“In CORTEX we aim to solve these open problems by bridging fundamental research to society,“ says Dr. Joeri van Leeuwen (ASTRON), the project lead. “We can only reach these ambitious goals if academic, applied, public and industry partners work together.”
CWI’s Computational Imaging (CI) group is involved in this project with the aim of developing new self-learning algorithms. Joost Batenburg, group leader CI, says: “We look forward to using our expertise in order to develop new algorithms that will process large amounts of telescope image observations from the universe. These algorithms will help us to improve images by learning to focus, just like the autofocus of the camera of a mobile phone.” These clearer images will eventually provide us with information necessary for the search for the origin of our universe. The algorithms can be used for other application areas as well. For example, they will be used for investigating museum collection objects from our research partner Rijksmuseum in the search for clues about how the object was made many centuries ago, such as toolmarks or fingerprints of the artist.