Along with Thomas Berger, the director of the Space Weather Technology, Research and Education Center, Professor Meiss assisted Professor Elizabeth Bradley from the Computer Science Department in better understanding solar flares and how to predict their occurrences. Professor Meiss began working with Professor Bradley in 2000, co-advising an Applied Math PhD thesis, and “have been collaborating in this area for many years,” Professor Meiss explained.
Professor Meiss elaborated on his role on the project:
“My part of the project is to provide mathematical background for computational topology: how does one compute “shape” from data … The basic idea is to use a notion of scale-dependent shape: each point in a data set, if you blur your eyes, becomes a ball. As the radii of the balls grow, the effective shape changes. For example, “holes” in the data are formed as neighboring balls begin to overlap and then later fill in as they merge. Holes that have long lifetimes are “persistent” and are viewed as being more important in characterizing the data … For this project, the data corresponds to a sequence of images of the magnetic field on the sun’s surface.”
To learn more about the project and those involved, read the original article. Image credit to the original article as well.