An investigation on the factors affecting machine learning classifications in gamma-ray astronomy

Shengda Luo, Alex P. Leung, C. Y. Hui, K. L. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


We have investigated a number of factors that can have significant impacts on the classification performance of gamma-ray sources detected by Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) with machine learning techniques. We show that a framework of automatic feature selection can construct a simple model with a small set of features that yields better performance over previous results. Secondly, because of the small sample size of the training/test sets of certain classes in gamma-ray, nested re-sampling and cross-validations are suggested for quantifying the statistical fluctuations of the quoted accuracy. We have also constructed a test set by crossmatching the identified active galactic nuclei (AGNs) and the pulsars (PSRs) in the Fermi- LAT 8-yr point source catalogue (4FGL) with those unidentified sources in the previous 3rd Fermi-LAT Source Catalog (3FGL). Using this cross-matched set, we show that some features used for building classification model with the identified source can suffer from the problem of covariate shift, which can be a result of various observational effects. This can possibly hamper the actual performance when one applies such model in classifying unidentified sources. Using our framework, both AGN/PSR and young pulsar (YNG)/millisecond pulsar (MSP) classifiers are automatically updated with the new features and the enlarged training samples in 4FGL catalogue incorporated. Using a two-layer model with these updated classifiers, we have selected 20 promising MSP candidates with confidence scores > 98 per cent from the unidentified sources in 4FGL catalogue that can provide inputs for a multiwavelength identification campaign.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5377-5390
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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