Counting and Confusion: Bayesian Rate Estimation With Multiple Populations

Will M. Farr, Ilya Mandel, Jonathan R. Gair, Curt Cutler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


We show how to obtain a Bayesian estimate of the rates or numbers of signal and background events from a set of events when the shapes of the signal and background distributions are known, can be estimated, or approximated; our method works well even if the foreground and background event distributions overlap significantly and the nature of any individual event cannot be determined with any certainty. We give examples of determining the rates of gravitational-wave events in the presence of background triggers from a template bank when noise parameters are known and/or can be fit from the trigger data. We also give an example of determining globular-cluster shape, location, and density from an observation of a stellar field that contains a non-uniform background density of stars superimposed on the cluster stars.
Original languageEnglish
Article number023005
Number of pages14
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2015


  • astro-ph.IM


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