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Paper: CANFAR+Skytree: A Cloud Computing and Data Mining System for Astronomy
Volume: 475, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXII
Page: 311
Authors: Ball, N. M.
Abstract: To-date, computing systems have allowed either sophisticated analysis of small datasets, as exemplified by most astronomy software, or simple analysis of large datasets, such as database queries. At the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre, we have combined our cloud computing system, the Canadian Advanced Network for Astronomical Research (CANFAR), with the world's most advanced machine learning software, Skytree, to create the world's first cloud computing system for data mining in astronomy. CANFAR provides a generic environment for the storage and processing of large datasets, removing the requirement for an individual or project to set up and maintain a computing system when implementing an extensive undertaking such as a survey pipeline. 500 processor cores and several hundred terabytes of persistent storage are currently available to users, and both the storage and processing infrastructure are expandable. The storage is implemented via the International Virtual Observatory Alliance's VOSpace protocol, and is available as a mounted filesystem accessible both interactively, and to all processing jobs. The user interacts with CANFAR by utilizing virtual machines, which appear to them as equivalent to a desktop. Each machine is replicated as desired to perform large-scale parallel processing. Such an arrangement enables the user to immediately install and run the same astronomy code that they already utilize, in the same way as on a desktop. In addition, unlike many cloud systems, batch job scheduling is handled for the user on multiple virtual machines by the Condor job queueing system. Skytree is installed and run just as any other software on the system, and thus acts as a library of command line data mining functions that can be integrated into one's wider analysis. Thus we have created a generic environment for large-scale analysis by data mining, in the same way that CANFAR itself has done for storage and processing. Because Skytree scales to large data in linear runtime, this allows the full sophistication of the huge fields of data mining and machine learning to be applied to the hundreds of millions of objects that make up current large datasets. We demonstrate the utility of the CANFAR+Skytree system by showing science results obtained, including assigning photometric redshifts to the MegaPipe reductions of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Legacy Wide and Deep surveys. This project involves producing, handling, and running data mining on, a catalog of over 13 billion object instances. This is comparable in size to those expected from next-generation surveys, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. The CANFAR+Skytree system is open for use by any interested member of the astronomical community.
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