Workshop: Machine Learning and the Physical Sciences

De-noising non-Gaussian fields in cosmology with normalizing flows

Adam Rouhiainen · Moritz Münchmeyer


Fields in cosmology, such as the matter distribution, are observed by experiments up to experimental noise. The first step in cosmological data analysis is usually to de-noise the observed field using an analytic or simulation driven prior. On large enough scales, such fields are Gaussian, and the de-noising step is known as Wiener filtering. However, on smaller scales probed by upcoming experiments, a Gaussian prior is substantially sub-optimal because the true field distribution is very non-Gaussian. Using normalizing flows, it is possible to learn the non-Gaussian prior from simulations (or from more high-resolution observations), and use this knowledge to de-noise the data more effectively. We show that we can train a flow to represent the matter distribution of the universe, and evaluate how much signal-to-noise can be gained in idealized conditions, as a function of the experimental noise. We also introduce a patching method to reconstructing information on arbitrarily large images by dividing them up into small maps (where we reconstruct non-Gaussian features), and patching the small posterior maps together on large scales (where the field is Gaussian).

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