Using machine learning to auto-tune chi-squared tests for gravitational wave searches

Connor McIsaac, Ian Harry

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The sensitivity of gravitational wave searches is reduced by the presence of non-Gaussian noise in the detector data. These non-Gaussianities often match well with the template waveforms used in matched filter searches, and require signal-consistency tests to distinguish them from astrophysical signals. However, empirically tuning these tests for maximum efficacy is time consuming and limits the complexity of these tests. In this work we demonstrate a framework to use machine-learning techniques to automatically tune signal-consistency tests. We implement a new χ2 signal-consistency test targeting the large population of noise found in searches for intermediate mass black hole binaries, training the new test using the framework set out in this paper. We find that this method effectively trains a complex model to downweight the noise, while leaving the signal population relatively unaffected. This improves the sensitivity of the search by ∼11% for signals with masses >300  M. In the future this framework could be used to implement new tests in any of the commonly used matched-filter search algorithms, further improving the sensitivity of our searches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104056
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2022


  • UKRI
  • STFC
  • ST/ T000333/1
  • ST/V005715/1


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