Probabilistic cosmic web classification using fast-generated training data

Brandon Buncher, Matias Carrasco Kind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a novel method of robust probabilistic cosmic web particle classification in three dimensions using a supervised machine learning algorithm. Training data were generated using a simplified ΛCDM toy model with pre-determined algorithms for generating haloes, filaments, and voids. While this framework is not constrained by physical modelling, it can be generated substantially more quickly than an N-body simulation without loss in classification accuracy. For each particle in this data set, measurements were taken of the local density field magnitude and directionality. These measurements were used to train a random forest algorithm, which was used to assign class probabilities to each particle in a ΛCDM, dark matter-only N-body simulation with 2563 particles, as well as on another toy model data set. By comparing the trends in the ROC curves and other statistical metrics of the classes assigned to particles in each data set using different feature sets, we demonstrate that the combination of measurements of the local density field magnitude and directionality enables accurate and consistent classification of halo, filament, and void particles in varied environments. We also show that this combination of training features ensures that the construction of our toy model does not affect classification. The use of a fully supervised algorithm allows greater control over the information deemed important for classification, preventing issues arising from arbitrary hyperparameters and mode collapse in deep learning models. Due to the speed of training data generation, our method is highly scalable, making it particularly suited for classifying large data sets, including observed data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5041-5060
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • dark matter
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: haloes
  • large-scale structure of Universe
  • methods: data analysis
  • methods: statistical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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