EPJ D Highlight – Estimating uncertainty in atomic spectroscopy

Many papers added to NIST databases mention atomic spectroscopy topics. Few of these include uncertainty estimates. Credit: A. Kramida (2024)

A numerical toolbox offers a robust way to evaluate uncertainty in atomic wavelength measurements.

If you repeat a measurement with the same or different instruments, you’ll get slightly different numbers each time. Estimating the uncertainties associated with these numbers turns them into an informative result. In a study published in EPJ D, Alexander Kramida, of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland, USA, now explains a new statistical approach for estimating the uncertainty associated with atomic spectroscopy measurements. He discusses how this approach can be applied both to measurements of spectral line wavelengths, and to other atomic properties that are indirectly determined from them.

Wavelength measurements of atomic spectral lines are intrinsically heterogeneous, even when using the same equipment and methods. Statistical recipes have long existed to describe the associated uncertainties. But no statistical approach fits all scenarios, and statistical theory developments in the last decade have led to more robust tools.

The new statistical approach that Kramida advocates is based on a concept known as dark uncertainties. It correctly singles out erroneous measurements as the culprit of disagreement between multiple results. The approach has been refined to allow for easy detection of abnormally deviating wavelengths, rather than suggesting which measurements should be reanalysed or removed. It can be used not only in direct comparisons of several measurements of the same spectral line, but also in comparisons between observed wavelengths and ones derived from transitions.

Kramida has developed a numerical toolbox that implements this statistical approach. He also describes methods to evaluate the accuracy of theoretical calculations of atomic properties which, he says, often differ by orders of magnitude. Comparing results obtained with different computational approaches can provide means for a robust estimation of uncertainties.

The new tools should encourage researchers to make and include uncertainty estimates in their publications.

Kramida, A. Evaluation of uncertainties in atomic data on spectral lines and transition probabilities. Eur. Phys. J. D 78, 36 (2024).

This was our first experience of publishing with EPJ Web of Conferences. We contacted the publisher in the middle of September, just one month prior to the Conference, but everything went through smoothly. We have had published MNPS Proceedings with different publishers in the past, and would like to tell that the EPJ Web of Conferences team was probably the best, very quick, helpful and interactive. Typically, we were getting responses from EPJ Web of Conferences team within less than an hour and have had help at every production stage.
We are very thankful to Solange Guenot, Web of Conferences Publishing Editor, and Isabelle Houlbert, Web of Conferences Production Editor, for their support. These ladies are top-level professionals, who made a great contribution to the success of this issue. We are fully satisfied with the publication of the Conference Proceedings and are looking forward to further cooperation. The publication was very fast, easy and of high quality. My colleagues and I strongly recommend EPJ Web of Conferences to anyone, who is interested in quick high-quality publication of conference proceedings.

On behalf of the Organizing and Program Committees and Editorial Team of MNPS-2019, Dr. Alexey B. Nadykto, Moscow State Technological University “STANKIN”, Moscow, Russia. EPJ Web of Conferences vol. 224 (2019)

ISSN: 2100-014X (Electronic Edition)

© EDP Sciences