In the era of large astronomical surveys that are grappling with unsolved methodological and data challenges, transforming Data into Science is a huge, and exciting, problem.
With surveys and instruments such as Planck, Pan-STARRS1, DES, VST KiDS, LSST, Gaia, EUCLID, JPAS, SKA, wide-field spectroscopic surveys and the large and interconnected databases of archival material coming online, a special scientific focus on cosmological inference is of great interest. Without this focus there is no guarantee that the best possible Science will be the outcome of this data-flood. But transforming data into knowledge is still a largely unsolved problem; a problem, that must be tackled by cross-disciplinary efforts.
During the recent years there has been a resumption of the dialogue between astronomers and statisticians, led by the Penn State conferences organized by Professors Jogesh Babu and Eric Feigelson. This dialogue has been fruitful and has been at the origin of a new Astrostatistics discipline. Since 2009 this discipline has a committee under the International Statistical Institute, (roughly) the counterpart of the IAU, and later, in 2012 an IAU Working Group in Astrostatistics and Astroinformatics was created.
It is thus timely to hold a first IAU Symposium devoted to Astrostatistics. A Symposium with a
cross-disciplinary nature, reflected in the inclusion of themes and speakers from the Astronomy and from
the Statistics communities – from data processing to methods and model selection. A Symposium that will
help to keep building bridges, establishing fruitful collaborations and providing a natural discussion forum
for both communities. And mainly,
an IAU Symposium that today, may enable tomorrows unravelling of our Universe.