A Fast Method For Bounding The CMB Power Spectrum Likelihood Function

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics

Scientific paper

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7 pages LaTEX, 3 postscript figures

Scientific paper

As the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation is observed to higher and higher angular resolution the size of the resulting datasets becomes a serious constraint on their analysis. In particular current algorithms to determine the location of, and curvature at, the peak of the power spectrum likelihood function from a general $N_{p}$-pixel CMB sky map scale as $O(N_{p}^{3})$. Moreover the current best algorithm --- the quadratic estimator --- is a Newton-Raphson iterative scheme and so requires a `sufficiently good' starting point to guarantee convergence to the true maximum. Here we present an algorithm to calculate bounds on the likelihood function at any point in parameter space using Gaussian quadrature and show that, judiciously applied, it scales as only $O(N_{p}^{7/3})$. Although it provides no direct curvature information we show how this approach is well-suited both to estimating cosmological parameters directly and to providing a coarse map of the power spectrum likelihood function from which to select the starting point for more refined techniques.

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