School on Gravitational Waves: from data to theory and back


Start time: August 3, 2015

Ends on:  August 11, 2015

Location: São Paulo, Brazil


Organizers / Lecturers:

  • Riccardo Sturani (IFT-UNESP / ICTP-SAIFR, Brazil): Match filtering methods in data analysis
  • Alberto Vecchio (U. Birmingham, UK)

Invited Lecturers:

  • Alessandra Buonanno (MPI Potsdam, Germany): Modeling gravitational waves: The analytical/numerical relativity interface
  • Stefano Foffa (U. Geneva, Italy): Effective field theory methods to model astrophysical binaries
  • Sergej Klimenko (U. Florida, USA): Detection of transient signals and coherent network algorithms in the gravitational waves data analysis
  • Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz (U. California-Santa Cruz, USA): The Astrophysics of Compact Binaries
  • Walter Del Pozzo (University of Birmingham, UK): Bayesian inference and gravitational wave observations

Invited Speakers:

  • Odylio D. Aguiar (INPE & IF-USP, Brazil ):  Gravitational wave detection: what is new
  • Rafael Porto (ICTP-SAIFR & IFT-UNESP, Brazil): The Kerr/EFT duality


This school will present the research field in gravitational waves (GWs) from a phenomenological perspective. After a theoretical introduction to the basic theory of GWs, an astrophysical overview of compact binary coalescences will be given. It will be explained how analytical source modeling is performed and how it is used to extract the highest possible physical content from detection. The basis of signal modeling, signal extraction from noisy data, and parameter estimation from the signals will be presented. The school is intended for all physicists, from master students to researchers, willing to acquire a working knowledge in the new exciting field of GW data analysis, physics and astrophysics. Young masters and PhD students are particularly encouraged to participate. This activity will be followed by the Workshop on Astrophysics and Relativity: Astro-GR 2015. Candidates may apply either for one or both activities. There is no registration fee and limited funds are available for local and travel support of participants.



List of Participants: Updated on July 30

School Program:

Satisfaction Survey



*Following the request of the lecturer, the video recordings of Buonanno´s lectures will not be available online.


Lectures Summary 

Alessandra Buonanno (MPI Potsdam): Modeling gravitational waves: The analytical/numerical relativity interface
An introductory overview will be given to the theory of gravitational waves, including linearization of the Einstein equations, the wave equation and the issue of the gauge degrees of freedom, the energy and the angular momentum of the GW. The emission of GWs from compact astrophysical sources will be treated with particular emphasis on the construction of analytical waveform describing the GW emitted during the full coalescence of a binary system.

Stefano Foffa (U. Geneva): Effective field theory methods to model astrophysical binaries
The mini-course will start with an introduction to effective Field Theory methods to model binaries and the post-Newtonian approximation. Specific applications will include the conservative dynamics of the General Relativity 2-body problem within up to the 2nd post-Newtonian order. In the exercise sessions, explicit analytic computations will be carried on in detail and the students will be guided to automatize such computations via symbolic manipulation within the Mathematica computer program.

Sergej Klimenko (U. Florida): Detection of transient signals and coherent network algorithms in the gravitational waves data analysis
In this lecture I give an overview of the searches for gravitational wave transients (bursts) and methods used in the analysis of data from the ground-base detectors. The purpose of the lecture is to describe how a worldwide network of GW detectors works, explain the burst signal processing techniques and reconstruction methods. While burst methods can be used for detection of any transient GW signals, I will focus on applications to the compact binary coalescence (CBC) sources.

The lecture is organized in three parts:

1) Short introduction into the burst CBC searches
2) Signal processing methods and their applications to the analysis of single detector data
3) Analysis of data from multiple GW detectors (coherent network analysis)

Part 2) and 3) are followed by practical exercises with actual search algorithms used in the GW data analysis. Prerequisites: Unix or MAC OS, Wavelet Analysis Tool C++ library

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz (U. California, Santa Cruz):  The Astrophysics of Compact Binaries
The topics that will be treated are: Compact Binary Formation Scenarios, Dynamical Stability of Close Binaries, Compact Object Mergers and Accretion Disk Assembly, Compact Binary Mergers as Sites for the rapid neutron capture-process, Electromagnetic Signatures and Galactic Hosts and Cosmological Setting.  A session with analytic exercises will follow the theory lectures, in which the students will be provided the most basic and direct connection between physics and the astrophysics of compact binaries.

Riccardo Sturani (IFT-UNESP / ICTP-SAIFR): Match filtering methods in data analysis
This mini-course intend to give an introduction to some general data analysis tools commonly used in gravitational wave data analysis, like matched-filtering, test of signal/model consistency and probability and statistics for parameter estimation. A session with analytic exercises will follow the theory lectures, analysis of simulated LIGO/Virgo data via LIGO computer libraries and data analysis software will be performed.

Walter Del Pozzo (U. Birmingham): Bayesian inference and gravitational wave observations
Basic concepts of Bayesian inference and relevant applications for GW observations will be presented, with emphasis on binary systems. The mini-course will include key conceptual aspects of the numerical techniques used to apply these methods to general problems in Bayesian inference, with specific examples for GW observations and software libraries used in the actual LIGO/Virgo analysis. The exercise sessions will be a hands-on session to design a simple stochastic sampler to measure the masses of binary compact objects and an actual analysis of LIGO/Virgo data with the standard LIGO library analysis tools to locate a source in the sky and provide information about the relevant astrophysical parameters.

Seminar Abstracts:

Odylio D. Aguiar (INPE & IF-USP, Brazil ):  Gravitational wave detection: what is new
The quest for gravitational wave detection has been one of the toughest technological challenges ever faced by experimental physicists and engineers. Despite the null results to date, after four decades of research, the community involved in this area is continuously growing. One of the main reasons for this is because the first gravitational wave detection and the regular observation of gravitational waves are among the most important scientific goals for the beginning of this millennium. They will test one of the foundations of physics, Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and will open a new window for the observation of the universe, which certainly will cause a revolution in our knowledge of physics and astrophysics. In this talk I will give an updated report about the status of some relevant detectors (interferometers, bars, spheres, radio-telescopes, and CMB experiments), in operation, going to an upgrading, under construction, or still as projects. In particular, I will give details about the Brazilian Schenberg detector and INPE’s participation in the LIGO project.

Rafael Porto (ICTP-SAIFR & IFT-UNESP, Brazil): The Kerr/EFT duality
I review a duality between (spinning) black holes in 3+1 dimensions and 0+1 field theory. We discuss how this can be used to compute absorption effects for rotating binary black holes.

Registration: ALL participants should register. The registration will be on August 3 at the institute from 8:45 to 9:30 am. You can find arrival instruction at

BOARDING PASS: All participants, whose travel has been provided or will be reimbursed by the institute, should bring the boarding pass upon registration, and collect an envelope to send the return boarding pass to the institute.

Accommodation: Participants whose accommodation has been provided by the institute will stay at The Universe Flat. Each participant whose accommodation has been provided by the institute has received the details on the accommodation individually by email.

Emergency number: 9 8233 8671 (from São Paulo city); +55 11 9 8233 8671 (from abroad), 11 9 8233 8671 (from outside São Paulo).

Ground transportation instructions: 

Ground transportation from Guarulhos Airport to The Universe Flat

Ground transportation from Congonhas Airport to the Universe Flat

Ground transportation from The Universe Flat to the institute