Calculator expressions

This help file describes the functions and operators that are available for use when doing column filtering or row filtering of an input file. See the colfilter and rowfilter help files for more information on these types of filters.

Boolean operators

Boolean operators can be used in the expression in either their Fortran or C forms. The following boolean operators are available:
    "equal"         .eq. .EQ. ==  "not equal"          .ne.  .NE.  !=
    "less than"     .lt. .LT. <   "less than/equal"    .le.  .LE.  <= =<
    "greater than"  .gt. .GT. >   "greater than/equal" .ge.  .GE.  >= =>
    "or"            .or. .OR. ||  "and"                .and. .AND. &&
    "negation"     .not. .NOT. !  "approx. equal(1e-7)"  ~
Note that the exclamation point, '!', is a special UNIX character, so if it is used on the command line rather than entered at a task prompt, it must be preceded by a backslash to force the UNIX shell to ignore it.

Arithmetic operators

The expression may also include arithmetic operators and functions. Trigonometric functions use radians, not degrees. The following arithmetic operators and functions can be used in the expression (function names are case insensitive). A null value will be returned in case of illegal operations such as divide by zero, sqrt(negative) log(negative), log10(negative), arccos(.gt. 1), arcsin(.gt. 1).
    "addition"           +          "subtraction"          -
    "multiplication"     *          "division"             /
    "negation"           -          "exponentiation"       **   ^
    "absolute value"     abs(x)     "cosine"               cos(x)
    "sine"               sin(x)     "tangent"              tan(x)
    "arc cosine"         arccos(x)  "arc sine"             arcsin(x)
    "arc tangent"        arctan(x)  "arc tangent"          arctan2(y,x)
    "hyperbolic cos"     cosh(x)    "hyperbolic sin"       sinh(x)
    "hyperbolic tan"     tanh(x)    "round to nearest int" round(x)
    "round down to int"  floor(x)   "round up to int"      ceil(x)
    "exponential"        exp(x)     "square root"          sqrt(x)
    "natural log"        log(x)     "common log"           log10(x)
    "modulus"            x % y      "random # [0.0,1.0)"   random()
    "random Gausian"     randomn()  "random Poisson"       randomp(x)
    "minimum"            min(x,y)   "maximum"              max(x,y)
    "cumulative sum"     accum(x)   "sequential difference" seqdiff(x)
    "if-then-else"       b?x:y
    "angular separation"  angsep(ra1,dec1,ra2,de2) (all in degrees)
    "substring"       strmid(s,p,n) "string search"        strstr(s,r)
Three different random number functions are provided: random(), with no arguments, produces a uniform random deviate between 0 and 1; randomn(), also with no arguments, produces a normal (Gaussian) random deviate with zero mean and unit standard deviation; randomp(x) produces a Poisson random deviate whose expected number of counts is X. X may be any positive real number of expected counts, including fractional values, but the return value is an integer.

When the random functions are used in a vector expression, by default the same random value will be used when evaluating each element of the vector. If different random numbers are desired, then the name of a vector column should be supplied as the single argument to the random function (e.g., "flux + 0.1 * random(flux)", where "flux' is the name of a vector column). This will create a vector of random numbers that will be used in sequence when evaluating each element of the vector expression.

An alternate syntax for the min and max functions has only a single argument which should be a vector value (see below). The result will be the minimum/maximum element contained within the vector.

The accum(x) function forms the cumulative sum of x, element by element. Vector columns are supported simply by performing the summation process through all the values. Null values are treated as 0. The seqdiff(x) function forms the sequential difference of x, element by element. The first value of seqdiff is the first value of x. A single null value in x causes a pair of nulls in the output. The seqdiff and accum functions are functional inverses, i.e., seqdiff(accum(x)) == x as long as no null values are present.

In the if-then-else expression, "b?x:y", b is an explicit boolean value or expression. There is no automatic type conversion from numeric to boolean values, so one needs to use "iVal!=0" instead of merely "iVal" as the boolean argument. x and y can be any scalar data type (including string).

The angsep function computes the angular separation in degrees between 2 celestial positions, where the first 2 parameters give the RA-like and Dec-like coordinates (in decimal degrees) of the first position, and the 3rd and 4th parameters give the coordinates of the second position.

The substring function strmid(S,P,N) extracts a substring from S, starting at string position P, with a substring length N. The first character position in S is labeled as 1. If P is 0, or refers to a position beyond the end of S, then the extracted substring will be NULL. S, P, and N may be functions of other columns.

The string search function strstr(S,R) searches for the first occurrence of the substring R in S. The result is an integer, indicating the character position of the first match (where 1 is the first character position of S). If no match is found, then strstr() returns a NULL value.

Type cast function

The following type casting operators are available, where the enclosing parentheses are required and taken from the C language usage. Also, the integer to real casts values to double precision:
                "real to integer"    (int) x     (INT) x
                "integer to real"    (float) i   (FLOAT) i

Numeric constants

Several constants are built in for use in numerical expressions:
       #pi           3.1415...         #e            2.7182...
       #deg          #pi/180           #row          current row number
       #null         undefined value   #snull        undefined string
A string constant must be enclosed in quotes as in 'Crab'. The "null" constants are useful for conditionally setting table values to a NULL, or undefined, value (eg., "col1==-99 ? #NULL : col1").

Approximation function

There is also a function for testing if two values are close to each other, i.e., if they are "near" each other to within a user specified tolerance. The arguments, value_1 and value_2 can be integer or real and represent the two values who's proximity is being tested to be within the specified tolerance, also an integer or real:
                    near(value_1, value_2, tolerance)

Null value handling

When a NULL, or undefined, value is encountered in the FITS table, the expression will evaluate to NULL unless the undefined value is not actually required for evaluation, e.g. "TRUE .or. NULL" evaluates to TRUE. The following two functions allow some NULL detection and handling:
The former returns a boolean value of TRUE if the argument x is NULL. The later "defines" a value to be substituted for NULL values; it returns the value of x if x is not NULL, otherwise it returns the value of y.

Bit masks

Bit masks can be used to select out rows from bit columns (TFORMn = #X) in FITS files. To represent the mask, binary, octal, and hex formats are allowed:
                 binary:   b0110xx1010000101xxxx0001
                 octal:    o720x1 -> (b111010000xxx001)
                 hex:      h0FxD  -> (b00001111xxxx1101)
In all the representations, an x or X is allowed in the mask as a wild card. Note that the x represents a different number of wild card bits in each representation. All representations are case insensitive.

To construct the boolean expression using the mask as the boolean equal operator described above on a bit table column. For example, if you had a 7 bit column named flags in a FITS table and wanted all rows having the bit pattern 0010011, the selection expression would be:

                            flags == b0010011
                            flags .eq. b10011
It is also possible to test if a range of bits is less than, less than equal, greater than and greater than equal to a particular boolean value:

                            flags <= bxxx010xx
                            flags .gt. bxxx100xx
                            flags .le. b1xxxxxxx
Notice the use of the x bit value to limit the range of bits being compared.

It is not necessary to specify the leading (most significant) zero (0) bits in the mask, as shown in the second expression above.

Bit wise AND, OR and NOT operations are also possible on two or more bit fields using the '&'(AND), '|'(OR), and the '!'(NOT) operators. All of these operators result in a bit field which can then be used with the equal operator. For example:

                          (!flags) == b1101100
                          (flags & b1000001) == bx000001
Bit fields can be appended as well using the '+' operator. Strings can be concatenated this way, too.

Vector Columns

Vector columns can also be used in building the expression. No special syntax is required if one wants to operate on all elements of the vector. Simply use the column name as for a scalar column. Vector columns can be freely intermixed with scalar columns or constants in virtually all expressions. The result will be of the same dimension as the vector. Two vectors in an expression, though, need to have the same number of elements and have the same dimensions. The only places a vector column cannot be used (for now, anyway) are the SAO region functions and the NEAR boolean function.

Arithmetic and logical operations are all performed on an element by element basis. Comparing two vector columns, eg "COL1 == COL2", thus results in another vector of boolean values indicating which elements of the two vectors are equal.

Eight functions are available that operate on a vector and return a scalar result:

    "minimum"      MIN(V)          "maximum"               MAX(V)
    "average"      AVERAGE(V)      "median"                MEDIAN(V)
    "sumation"     SUM(V)          "standard deviation"    STDDEV(V)
    "# of values"  NELEM(V)        "# of non-null values"  NVALID(V)
where V represents the name of a vector column or a manually constructed vector using curly brackets as described below. The first 6 of these functions ignore any null values in the vector when computing the result. The STDDEV() function computes the sample standard deviation, i.e. it is proportional to 1/SQRT(N-1) instead of 1/SQRT(N), where N is NVALID(V).

The SUM function literally sums all the elements in x, returning a scalar value. If V is a boolean vector, SUM returns the number of TRUE elements. The NELEM function returns the number of elements in vector V whereas NVALID return the number of non-null elements in the vector. (NELEM also operates on bit and string columns, returning their column widths.) As an example, to test whether all elements of two vectors satisfy a given logical comparison, one can use the expression

              SUM( COL1 > COL2 ) == NELEM( COL1 )
which will return TRUE if all elements of COL1 are greater than their corresponding elements in COL2.

To specify a single element of a vector, give the column name followed by a comma-separated list of coordinates enclosed in square brackets. For example, if a vector column named PHAS exists in the table as a one dimensional, 256 component list of numbers from which you wanted to select the 57th component for use in the expression, then PHAS[57] would do the trick. Higher dimensional arrays of data may appear in a column. But in order to interpret them, the TDIMn keyword must appear in the header. Assuming that a (4,4,4,4) array is packed into each row of a column named ARRAY4D, the (1,2,3,4) component element of each row is accessed by ARRAY4D[1,2,3,4]. Arrays up to dimension 5 are currently supported. Each vector index can itself be an expression, although it must evaluate to an integer value within the bounds of the vector. Vector columns which contain spaces or arithmetic operators must have their names enclosed in "$" characters as with $ARRAY-4D$[1,2,3,4].

A more C-like syntax for specifying vector indices is also available. The element used in the preceding example alternatively could be specified with the syntax ARRAY4D[4][3][2][1]. Note the reverse order of indices (as in C), as well as the fact that the values are still ones-based (as in Fortran -- adopted to avoid ambiguity for 1D vectors). With this syntax, one does not need to specify all of the indices. To extract a 3D slice of this 4D array, use ARRAY4D[4].

Variable-length vector columns are not supported.

Vectors can be manually constructed within the expression using a comma-separated list of elements surrounded by curly braces ('{}'). For example, '{1,3,6,1}' is a 4-element vector containing the values 1, 3, 6, and 1. The vector can contain only boolean, integer, and real values (or expressions). The elements will be promoted to the highest datatype present. Any elements which are themselves vectors, will be expanded out with each of its elements becoming an element in the constructed vector.

Good Time Interval Filtering

A common filtering method involves selecting rows which have a time value which lies within what is called a Good Time Interval or GTI. The time intervals are defined in a separate FITS table extension which contains 2 columns giving the start and stop time of each good interval. The filtering operation accepts only those rows of the input table which have an associated time which falls within one of the time intervals defined in the GTI extension. A high level function, gtifilter(a,b,c,d), is available which evaluates each row of the input table and returns TRUE or FALSE depending whether the row is inside or outside the good time interval. The syntax is
      gtifilter( [ "gtifile" [, expr [, "STARTCOL", "STOPCOL" ] ] ] )
      gtifilter( [ 'gtifile' [, expr [, 'STARTCOL', 'STOPCOL' ] ] ] )
where each "[]" demarks optional parameters. Note that the quotes around the gtifile and START/STOP column are required. Either single or double quotes may be used. In cases where this expression is entered on the Unix command line, enclose the entire expression in double quotes, and then use single quotes within the expression to enclose the 'gtifile' and other terms. It is also usually possible to do the reverse, and enclose the whole expression in single quotes and then use double quotes within the expression. The gtifile, if specified, can be blank ("") which will mean to use the first extension with the name "*GTI*" in the current file, a plain extension specifier (eg, "+2", "[2]", or "[STDGTI]") which will be used to select an extension in the current file, or a regular filename with or without an extension specifier which in the latter case will mean to use the first extension with an extension name "*GTI*". Expr can be any arithmetic expression, including simply the time column name. A vector time expression will produce a vector boolean result. STARTCOL and STOPCOL are the names of the START/STOP columns in the GTI extension. If one of them is specified, they both must be.

In its simplest form, no parameters need to be provided -- default values will be used. The expression "gtifilter()" is equivalent to

       gtifilter( "", TIME, "*START*", "*STOP*" )
This will search the current file for a GTI extension, filter the TIME column in the current table, using START/STOP times taken from columns in the GTI extension with names containing the strings "START" and "STOP". The wildcards ('*') allow slight variations in naming conventions such as "TSTART" or "STARTTIME". The same default values apply for unspecified parameters when the first one or two parameters are specified. The function automatically searches for TIMEZERO/I/F keywords in the current and GTI extensions, applying a relative time offset, if necessary.

Spatial Region Filtering

Another common filtering method selects rows based on whether the spatial position associated with each row is located within a given 2-dimensional region. The syntax for this high-level filter is
       regfilter( "regfilename" [ , Xexpr, Yexpr [ , "wcs cols" ] ] )
where each "[]" demarks optional parameters. The region file name is required and must be enclosed in quotes. The remaining parameters are optional. The region file is an ASCII text file which contains a list of one or more geometric shapes (circle, ellipse, box, etc.) which defines a region on the celestial sphere or an area within a particular 2D image. The region file is typically generated using an image display program such as fv/POW (distribute by the HEASARC), or ds9 (distributed by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory). Users should refer to the documentation provided with these programs for more details on the syntax used in the region files.

In its simpliest form, (e.g., regfilter("region.reg") ) the coordinates in the default 'X' and 'Y' columns will be used to determine if each row is inside or outside the area specified in the region file. Alternate position column names, or expressions, may be entered if needed, as in

        regfilter("region.reg", XPOS, YPOS)
Region filtering can be applied most unambiguously if the positions in the region file and in the table to be filtered are both give in terms of absolute celestial coordinate units. In this case the locations and sizes of the geometric shapes in the region file are specified in angular units on the sky (e.g., positions given in R.A. and Dec. and sizes in arcseconds or arcminutes). Similarly, each row of the filtered table will have a celestial coordinate associated with it. This association is usually implemented using a set of so-called 'World Coordinate System' (or WCS) FITS keywords that define the coordinate transformation that must be applied to the values in the 'X' and 'Y' columns to calculate the coordinate.

Alternatively, one can perform spatial filtering using unitless 'pixel' coordinates for the regions and row positions. In this case the user must be careful to ensure that the positions in the 2 files are self-consistent. A typical problem is that the region file may be generated using a binned image, but the unbinned coordinates are given in the event table. The ROSAT events files, for example, have X and Y pixel coordinates that range from 1 - 15360. These coordinates are typically binned by a factor of 32 to produce a 480x480 pixel image. If one then uses a region file generated from this image (in image pixel units) to filter the ROSAT events file, then the X and Y column values must be converted to corresponding pixel units as in:

        regfilter("rosat.reg", X/32.+.5, Y/32.+.5)
Note that this binning conversion is not necessary if the region file is specified using celestial coordinate units instead of pixel units because CFITSIO is then able to directly compare the celestial coordinate of each row in the table with the celestial coordinates in the region file without having to know anything about how the image may have been binned.

The last "wcs cols" parameter should rarely be needed. If supplied, this string contains the names of the 2 columns (space or comma separated) which have the associated WCS keywords. If not supplied, the filter will scan the X and Y expressions for column names. If only one is found in each expression, those columns will be used, otherwise an error will be returned.

These region shapes are supported (names are case insensitive):

       Point         ( X1, Y1 )               <- One pixel square region
       Line          ( X1, Y1, X2, Y2 )       <- One pixel wide region
       Polygon       ( X1, Y1, X2, Y2, ... )  <- Rest are interiors with
       Rectangle     ( X1, Y1, X2, Y2, A )       | boundaries considered
       Box           ( Xc, Yc, Wdth, Hght, A )   V within the region
       Diamond       ( Xc, Yc, Wdth, Hght, A )
       Circle        ( Xc, Yc, R )
       Annulus       ( Xc, Yc, Rin, Rout )
       Ellipse       ( Xc, Yc, Rx, Ry, A )
       Elliptannulus ( Xc, Yc, Rinx, Riny, Routx, Routy, Ain, Aout )
       Sector        ( Xc, Yc, Amin, Amax )
where (Xc,Yc) is the coordinate of the shape's center; (X#,Y#) are the coordinates of the shape's edges; Rxxx are the shapes' various Radii or semimajor/minor axes; and Axxx are the angles of rotation (or bounding angles for Sector) in degrees. For rotated shapes, the rotation angle can be left off, indicating no rotation. Common alternate names for the regions can also be used: rotbox <-> box; rotrectangle <-> rectangle; (rot)rhombus <-> (rot)diamond; and pie <-> sector. When a shape's name is preceded by a minus sign, '-', the defined region is instead the area *outside* its boundary (ie, the region is inverted). All the shapes within a single region file are OR'd together to create the region, and the order is significant. The overall way of looking at region files is that if the first region is an excluded region then a dummy included region of the whole detector is inserted in the front. Then each region specification as it is processed overrides any selections inside of that region specified by previous regions. Another way of thinking about this is that if a previous excluded region is completely inside of a subsequent included region the excluded region is ignored.

The positional coordinates may be given either in pixel units, decimal degrees or hh:mm:ss.s, dd:mm:ss.s units. The shape sizes may be given in pixels, degrees, arcminutes, or arcseconds. Look at examples of region file produced by fv/POW or ds9 for further details of the region file format.

Region functions

There are three functions that are primarily for use with SAO region files, but they can be used directly. They return a boolean true or false depending on whether a two dimensional point is in the region or not:
    "point in a circular region"
    "point in an elliptical region"
    "point in a rectangular region"
       (xcntr,ycntr) are the (x,y) position of the center of the region
       (xhlf_wdth,yhlf_wdth) are the (x,y) half widths of the region
       (xfll_wdth,yfll_wdth) are the (x,y) full widths of the region
       (radius) is half the diameter of the circle
       (rotation) is the angle(degrees) that the region is rotated with
             respect to (xcntr,ycntr)
       (Xcoord,Ycoord) are the (x,y) coordinates to test, usually column
       NOTE: each parameter can itself be an expression, not merely a
             column name or constant.

Example Row Filters

    [ binary && mag <= 5.0]        - Extract all binary stars brighter
                                     than  fifth magnitude (note that
                                     the initial space is necessary to
                                     prevent it from being treated as a
                                     binning specification)

    [#row >= 125 && #row <= 175]   - Extract row numbers 125 through 175

    [IMAGE[4,5] .gt. 100]          - Extract all rows that have the
                                     (4,5) component of the IMAGE column
                                     greater than 100

    [abs(sin(theta * #deg)) < 0.5] - Extract all rows having the
                                     absolute value of the sine of theta
                                     less  than a half, where the angles
                                     are tabulated in degrees

    [SUM( SPEC > 3*BACKGRND )>=1]  - Extract all rows containing a
                                     spectrum, held in vector column
                                     SPEC, with at least one value 3
                                     times greater than the background
                                     level held in a keyword, BACKGRND

    [VCOL=={1,4,2}]                - Extract all rows whose vector column
                                     VCOL contains the 3-elements 1, 4, and

    [@rowFilter.txt]               - Extract rows using the expression
                                     contained within the text file

    [gtifilter()]                  - Search the current file for a GTI
				     extension,  filter  the TIME
				     column in the current table, using
				     START/STOP times taken from
				     columns in the GTI  extension

    [regfilter("pow.reg")]         - Extract rows which have a coordinate
                                     (as given in the X and Y columns) 
                                     within the spatial region specified
                                     in the pow.reg region file. 

    [regfilter("pow.reg", Xs, Ys)] - Same as above, except that the
                                     Xs and Ys columns will be used
                                     to determine the coordinate of each
                                     row in the table.


filenames, colfilter, rowfilter, imfilter, pixfilter, binfilter, tilecompression