Multi-component background learning automates signal detection for spectroscopic data

Sebastian E. Ament, Helge S. Stein, Dan Guevarra, Lan Zhou, Joel A. Haber, David A. Boyd, Mitsutaro Umehara, John M. Gregoire, Carla P. Gomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Automated experimentation has yielded data acquisition rates that supersede human processing capabilities. Artificial Intelligence offers new possibilities for automating data interpretation to generate large, high-quality datasets. Background subtraction is a long-standing challenge, particularly in settings where multiple sources of the background signal coexist, and automatic extraction of signals of interest from measured signals accelerates data interpretation. Herein, we present an unsupervised probabilistic learning approach that analyzes large data collections to identify multiple background sources and establish the probability that any given data point contains a signal of interest. The approach is demonstrated on X-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy data and is suitable to any type of data where the signal of interest is a positive addition to the background signals. While the model can incorporate prior knowledge, it does not require knowledge of the signals since the shapes of the background signals, the noise levels, and the signal of interest are simultaneously learned via a probabilistic matrix factorization framework. Automated identification of interpretable signals by unsupervised probabilistic learning avoids the injection of human bias and expedites signal extraction in large datasets, a transformative capability with many applications in the physical sciences and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number77
Journalnpj Computational Materials
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


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