GNU Astronomy Utilities

7.1 Statistics

The distribution of values in a dataset can provide valuable information about it. For example, in an image, if it is a positively skewed distribution, we can see that there is significant data in the image. If the distribution is roughly symmetric, we can tell that there is no significant data in the image. In a table, when we need to select a sample of objects, it is important to first get a general view of the whole sample.

On the other hand, you might need to know certain statistical parameters of the dataset. For example, if we have run a detection algorithm on an image, and we want to see how accurate it was, one method is to calculate the average of the undetected pixels and see how reasonable it is (if detection is done correctly, the average of undetected pixels should be approximately equal to the background value, see Sky value). In a table, you might have calculated the magnitudes of a certain class of objects and want to get some general characteristics of the distribution immediately on the command-line (very fast!), to possibly change some parameters. The Statistics program is designed for such situations.