Design overview

Our basic objective is, given some data, to be able to constrain the parameter space of a model, and/or to compare the plausibility of different models. IMAGINE was designed to allow that different groups working on different models could be to constrain them through easy access a range of datasets and the required statistical machinery. Likewise, observers can quickly check the consequences and interpret their new data by seeing the impact on different models and toy models.

In order to be able to do this systematically and rigorously, the basic design of IMAGINE first breaks the problem into two abstractions: Fields, which represent models of physical fields, and Observables, which represent both observational and mock data.

New observational data are included in IMAGINE using the Datasets, which help effortlessly adjusting the format of the data to the standard specifications (and are internally easily converted into Observables) Also, a collection of Datasets contributed by the community can be found in the Consortium’s dedicated Dataset repository.

The connection between a theory and reality is done by one of the Simulators. Each of these corresponds to a mapping from a set of model Fields into a mock Observables. The available simulators, importantly, include Hammurabi, which can compute Faraday rotation measure and diffuse synchrotron and thermal dust emission.

Each of these IMAGINE Components (Fields, Observables, Datasets, Simulators) are represented by a Python class in IMAGINE. Therefore, in order to extend IMAGINE with a specific new field or including a new observational dataset, one needs to create a subclass of one of IMAGINE’s base classes. This subclass will, very often, be a wrapper around already existing code or scripts. To preserve the modularity and flexibility of IMAGINE, one should try to use (as far as possible) only the provided base classes.

The IMAGINE pipeline

Fig. 1 The structure of the IMAGINE pipeline.

Fig. 1 describes the typical workflow of IMAGINE and introduces other key base classes. Mock and measured data, in the form of Observables, are used to compute a likelihood through a Likelihoods class. This, supplemented by Priors, allows a Pipeline object to sample the parameter space and compute posterior distributions and Bayesian evidences for the models. The generation of different realisations of each Field is managed by the corresponding Field Factories class. Likewise, Observable Dictionaries help one organising and manipulating Observables.