Mark Taylor

Congratulations, you have reached the home page of Mark Beauchamp Taylor, astronomical software programmer in the Astrophysics Group of the School of Physics at the University of Bristol.

Since 1998 I have been writing astronomical software, within the Starlink, AstroGrid, and various Euro-VO projects, as well as under grants from the UK's PPARC and STFC funding agencies, with some further funding from Microsoft Research, GAVO via the University of Heidelberg, the European Space Agency, and the EU. The main focus of my work is currently processing of and access to tabular data such as astronomical source catalogues, and application interoperability, particularly in the context of the Virtual Observatory (VO), and also of data from the Gaia astrometry satellite. I am active within the IVOA, an international body which defines standards for the VO,

Currently Active Projects

I am currently developing and supporting the following packages:

Tool for OPerations on Catalogues and Tables, an analysis tool for astronomical tabular data.
STIL Tool Set, a suite of command-line table manipulation tools.
Starlink Tables Infrastructure Library, the generic tables I/O layer underlying TOPCAT and STILTS.
Java toolkit for use with SAMP, the Simple Applications Messaging Protocol.
Pure-java CDF reader library.
SAMP Web Profile
SAMP profile suitable for sandboxed in-browser clients.
Lightweight VO Registry client library.

Previous Projects

The following is work I have done over the last few years, but am not currently working actively on.

SAMP/PLASTIC Applications
I have added SAMP and PLASTIC interoperability code to the ex-Starlink applications GAIA and SPLAT.
A hub implementation and toolkit for the PLASTIC tool interoperability protocol
Yet Another Fitting tool, designed for identifying best fits between sets of model spectra and sets of photometric observations.

Starlink Software

The following are software items which I worked on for Starlink. They are not now formally supported, but in some cases I am prepared to offer informal help with them.

a graphical browser for hierarchical data structures written in Java. It knows about Starlink NDF and HDS data structures, as well as many other types of data like file systems, zip and jar files, XML documents, FITS files, etc.
Starlink java infrastructure
consists of various utility and library packages underlying TOPCAT and friends as well as other Starlink-developed applications such as SPLAT, SoG and FROG. Hence some of this is under active maintenance, though not formally supported.
a data reduction package for astronomical CCD images. Now supported for JAC users, though informal help may be available to others. For further information see the CCDPACK page provided by Peter Draper, the original author.
an HTML Source Code Browser for the entire Starlink software collection. It is somewhat obsolete since it only works on pre-keoe versions of the source archive. Access to this service hosted in Bristol ( has been withdrawn since the end of 2006.
Work related to porting the Starlink software collection to make full use of 64-bit operating systems, which will be required for handling multi-gigabyte data files. I've written a document discussing the issues and proposing a strategy, as well as some tools to help with the conversion.
INT WFC astrometric calibration
The Wide Field Camera on the Isaac Newton Telescope is a mosaic camera consisting of four 2048 * 4096 CCDs aligned on a plane. Careful calibration of the relative positioning and nonlinear optical distortion is required in order to do astrometry using WFC data.
I did some work helping Norman Gray in the longish-term project of converting the Starlink documentation set into SGML (now moribund).
a benchmarking package for assessing how well a given machine will cope with reduction of very large images.
VNC draft user note
explains how to use the publicly available VNC software to use Starlink programs with high-performance Linux X displays.

Non-Astronomical activities

Working for Captain Starlink initially at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge and subsequently in the physics department in Bristol was my first experience of astronomy; in previous lives I have been a condensed-matter theoretical physicist and (kind of) chemist, not to mention dabbling in Unix system administration, scientific publishing, philosophy, and even baboon statistics, mostly in Bristol. There's more information if you want it:
is a quasiharmonic lattice dynamics progam I wrote most of while working in the Chemistry department at Bristol. It is available for academic use. I still do a certain amount of support for it. For more information see the user manual.
And see also:
Mark Taylor -- Astrophysics Group, School of Physics, University of Bristol,
Phone: +44-117-928-8776
Post: H H Wills Physics Laboratory, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol  BS8 1TL, UK