Efficient correction for both directiondependent and baselinedependent effects in interferometric imaging: An Astacking framework
^{1}
Department of Electrical and Electronic EngineeringStellenbosch
University,
7599
Stellenbosch,
South Africa
email:
ayoung.at.sun@gmail.com
^{2}
Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON),
7990AA
Dwingeloo, The
Netherlands
^{3}
Department of Earth and Space Sciences, Chalmers University of
Technology, 412
58
Gothenburg,
Sweden
^{4}
Department of Signals and Systems, Chalmers University of
Technology, 412
58
Gothenburg,
Sweden
Received: 10 December 2014
Accepted: 23 February 2015
A general framework is presented for modeling directiondependent effects that are also baselinedependent, as part of the calibration and imaging process. Within this framework such effects are represented as a parametric linear model in which basis functions account for direction dependence, whereas expansion coefficients account for the baseline dependence. This separation enables the use of a multiple fast Fourier transformbased implementation of the forward calculation (sky to visibility) in a manner similar to the Wstacking solution for noncoplanar baselines, and offers a potential improvement in computational efficiency in scenarios where the gridding operation in a convolutionbased approach to directiondependent effects may be too costly. Two novel imaging approaches that are possible within this framework are also presented.
Key words: methods: analytical / methods: numerical / techniques: image processing
© ESO, 2015
1. Introduction
Without properly correcting for various directiondependent (DD) effects, such as the antenna radiation patterns, ionospheric phase delay, and noncoplanar baselines, the imaging performance of existing and future interferometer arrays may be limited (Smirnov 2011). One aspect of this problem concerns the determination of the various DD effects at the time of an observation, and in this context the characteristic basis function pattern (CBFP) method has been developed to provide an efficient parametrized model (i.e. high accuracy for very few parameters) with which unknown antenna radiation patterns may be solved (Maaskant et al. 2012). However, even when DD effects are known exactly, accurately correcting for them in a computationally efficient manner during the imaging process is difficult since these effects often vary over time as well as among the antenna elements in the array. The latter variation results in such effects also being baselinedependent (BD), and in turn causes a breakdown of the Fourier transform relationship between the visibility data measured by an interferometer array and the sky brightness distribution (Offringa et al. 2014). This has a significant impact on the computational cost of estimating the sky (imaging), which is often performed iteratively (Bhatnagar et al. 2008; Tasse et al. 2013), and relies on the efficiency of the fast Fourier transform (FFT) to transform between the image and visibility planes.
One class of solutions to this problem accounts for DD effects, which enter as multiplicative distortions to the intensity distribution on the sky, in the visibility domain through utilization of the convolution theorem. Since the visibility sampling provided by a typical array is not regularly spaced on a rectangular grid, as is required by the use of the FFT, additional gridding and degridding steps in the form of a convolution are usually employed to relate visibilities on the FFT grid to those at the array sampling positions (Briggs et al. 1999). Exploiting this alreadyrequired convolution step to include DD effects is at the heart of these solutions, which include the Wprojection (Cornwell et al. 2008) algorithm, which corrects for the noncoplanar baselines effect, and the Aprojection (Bhatnagar et al. 2008) algorithm which corrects for more general DD effects.
Accurate implementation of these approaches, however, requires a visibility domain convolution kernel of which the support is dependent on the spatial frequency content of the DD effect accounted for, and may result in the computational cost of convolution significantly overshadowing that of the FFT. For noncoplanar baselines an alternative method, called Wstacking (Humphreys & Cornwell 2011; Offringa et al. 2014) has been developed to exploit the relatively cheap cost of the FFT by trading a slow convolution operation followed by a single FFT for a faster convolution and repeated FFTs. This method is based on grouping visibilities having similar wterms together and then performing separate FFTs for each of these visibility groups.
In this paper a novel framework is presented that allows a similar approach to account for more general BDDD effects. Owing to the similarity to Wstacking, and the extension from noncoplanar baselines to more general DD effects, our approach is called Astacking. Within this framework the prevailing BDDD effects are represented as a linear model in which the basis functions are DD but baselineindependent, while the expansion coefficients are BD but directionindependent. Mathematically this separation of directiondependence and baselinedependence is convenient, as it results in the forward calculation (sky to visibility) assuming the form of a combination of separate Fourier transforms, and thus allows fast computation via repeated FFTs. Furthermore, the accuracy of the calculation is determined by the number of terms in the model, thus allowing a simple tradeoff between computational cost and accuracy. In the next section the response of an interferometer array is reviewed, followed by Sect. 3 where the Astacking formulation is presented. In Sect. 4 two alternative imaging approaches that are possible within this framework are developed, and Sect. 5 describes a procedure by which an appropriate linear model may be derived for prior characterized BDDD effects via the singular value decomposition (SVD). Finally, in Sect. 6 some simulation results are presented to assess the performance of Astacking based BDDD models.
Although the framework presented here is generally applicable to any BDDD effects, results will show that the method is most efficient when these effects are accurately described by loworder (relatively few terms) models. This typically applies to the BDDD gain associated with the primary beams in an array comprising similar antennas, and the scope of this paper is limited to this particular effect. Furthermore, it is assumed throughout that the BDDD antenna gains are known a priori; modeling and solving for unknown gains is the subject of ongoing work and will not be discussed herein.
2. Interferometer array response
The fullpolarization response on one baseline of a narrowband phasetracking interferometer array is given by (see Hamaker et al. 1996; Thompson et al. 2004; Tasse et al. 2013) (1)where 1 and 2 denote the antennas that comprise the interferometer formed on the kth baseline, ⊗ is the Kronecker product, and indicates the complex conjugate of x. J_{1} is the 2 × 2 Jonesmatrix which represents all instrumental effects introduced in the received signal^{1} along channel 1. For a nonisotropic antenna the Jonesmatrix term is DD and evaluating the Kronecker product in (1)yields a 4 × 4 directiondependent matrix A_{k}. The 4 × 1 vector I represents the sky coherency in the polarization coordinates of the antennas.
The vector u_{k} is the baseline between the antenna pair (1,2) expressed in the wavelength normalized Cartesian coordinates (u,v,w) with w pointing towards the center of the field of view (FoV) being tracked, and ℓ is a vector representing a direction on the sky relative to the FoV center. Using direction cosines l and m relative to u and v, respectively, to express the direction on the sky yields For the sake of simplifying notation, the denominator in (2b)is subsumed into the sky coherency. Furthermore, the wterm may be subsumed into the BDDD gain A_{k} as a scalar factor and is omitted in the following. We consider for now only a single crosscorrelation product, and assume the antennas have zero crosspolarization^{2}. The measurement in (1)can be seen as sampling at the point (u_{k},v_{k}) the visibility function which is related to an apparent sky (3)through (4)where the support of I_{k} spans only the visible region of the sky Ω_{sky}. Here the term A_{k}(l,m) is used to indicate the entry in the first row and first column in A_{k} and its directiondependence is explicitly stated. The subscript k in indicates the baselinedependence of the sampled visibility function: for a fixed point in the uvplane, may vary depending on which antenna pair is used to sample the visibility at that point.
Equation (4)forms the basis of synthesis imaging: by measuring visibilities on a large number of unique baselines, the inversion of this relationship becomes more tractable. To this end, we consider the discrete form of (4). We let an N_{p} × N_{p} pixel image of the sky be represented by the vector σ. Then the visibility measured on the kth baseline may be written as (5)where ⊙ is the Hadamard or elementwise product, diag(x) forms a diagonal matrix by placing the elements in the vector x on the diagonal, b_{k} is the vector discretization of A_{k}(l,m) over the image plane, and φ_{k} is the vector in which the element associated with the nth image pixel is (6)Grouping all visibilities measured on K unique baselines into a single K × 1 vector yields (7)where Even though the relation between the measured visibilities and the discretized sky in (7)is relatively simple, for long observations with large arrays the scale of this linear system precludes its direct inversion, and even its direct evaluation as part of an iterative solution may prove too costly (Tasse et al. 2013). An approach that is typically employed to circumvent this problem makes use of the Fourier transform relationship in (4)to enable more efficient calculations via the FFT (Briggs et al. 1999; Jackson et al. 1991). In order to illustrate this approach, we consider the visibility function that would be measured by a hypothetical interferometer array for which A_{k}(l,m) = 1, (9)Since all baselines measure the same visibility function, the true sky I(l,m) may be computed simply using the inverse Fourier transform. Furthermore, if the hypothetical array samples on an N_{p} × N_{p} rectangular grid which satisfies the following spacing requirements (10)over the uvplane, where Δl and Δm are the spacing between pixels in the image, then arranging the corresponding visibility samples in the vector yields (11a)where is a discrete Fourier transform (DFT) matrix. Using the unitary property of the inverse transform is easily computed as (11b)Moreover, owing to the structure of the transforms in (11)may be computed efficiently using the FFT. This approach is depicted in Fig. 1a.
Fig. 1
Transformations between image and visibility domains a) for FFT compatible visibility plane sampling, and b) for irregular visibility plane sampling which requires an additional (de)gridding operation in order to utilize the FFT. 

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There are two caveats associated with the above outlined procedure. Firstly, the uvsampling provided by any practical interferometer typically does not fall on a rectangular grid, and as such does not satisfy the requirements in (10). This means that, in order to utilize the efficiency of the FFT, it is necessary to relate the visibility samples on the rectangular grid , or gridded visibilities, to the irregularly sampled visibilities on {(u_{k},v_{k})}. That is, the following operators are required, for gridding (12a)and for degridding (12b)This workaround is illustrated in Fig. 1b.
Secondly, the use of the FFT is based on the assumption that the same visibility function, which may be related to the same apparent sky, is sampled on all baselines. However, it is well known that under certain conditions this assumption breaks down (Smirnov 2011), e.g. for noncoplanar baselines or nonidentical primary beams. This problem is indicated by the dependence on k of both the left hand side of (4), as well as the integrand on its right hand side, as opposed to the form in (9)which is identical for all k. In such a case it is desirable to find some corrective transformation which can relate the baselinedependent apparent skies (visibility functions) to a single apparent sky (visibility function) common to all baselines.
The A/Wprojection algorithms present such a solution and are based on the observation that the image plane multiplicative distortions introduced by the BDDD term A_{k} in (4)enter as convolutions in the visibility domain (Cornwell et al. 2008; Bhatnagar et al. 2008). This, combined with the fact that convolution is generally used to approximate the required gridding operations (Briggs et al. 1999; Jackson et al. 1991), means that BDDD effects may be accounted for through a proper choice of gridding convolution kernel. For instance, given the visibility function uncorrupted by the effects of A_{k}, the irregularly sampled visibilities may be computed by evaluating (13)at each point (u_{k},v_{k}), and where is the Fourier transform of A_{k}. Practical implementation of this approach requires the support of to be limited to some finite region, which depends on the image plane spatial frequency content of A_{k} and the required accuracy of the calculation in (13). Consequently the cost of gridding may increase substantially in certain instances by correcting for BDDD effects in this way.
Alternatively, provided that the computational bottleneck in the transformation between the image and visibility planes is not the FFT itself but the gridding step, a grouping together of baselines for which the directiondependent effects are sufficiently similar and performing separate Fourier transforms for each group may provide a more efficient solution if it allows the computational cost of gridding to be reduced. This is the approach used in Wstacking to account for noncoplanar baselines (Humphreys & Cornwell 2011; Offringa et al. 2014). In the following it will be shown how the use of a linear model to represent a general BDDD effect A_{k}(l,m) results in a similar solution.
3. AStacking formulation: forward calculation
Suppose the factor A_{k}(l,m) in (3)can be written in an exact form as the weighted combination of N_{B} basis functions^{3}, (14)where each of the coefficients a^{(i,k)} pertains to the specific baseline k, and the DD expansion functions f_{i}(l,m) are common to all baselines. Using f_{i} to denote the vector discretization of f_{i} on the image plane, the discrete form of (14)becomes (15)Substituting this expression into (5)gives (16)Using the result for all baselines can be written as (17)which is the desired form relating the visibilities to the discretized sky.
Equation (17)states that the visibilities pertaining to a model sky may be calculated as follows, while fully accounting for the BDDD effects contained in A_{k}:

1.
Apply a per basis function image domain correction in the form of an elementwise multiplication to calculate a corresponding apparent sky,(18a)

2.
Fourier transform each apparent sky using the FFT, followed by a degridding step, to compute per basis function sets of visibilities,

3.
Apply a visibility domain correction in the form of an elementwise multiplication to each visibility set, and sum the resulting visibility sets, (18d)
3.1. Computational complexity
In order to identify conditions under which Astacking may present an efficient alternative to a convolution based approach for the forward calculation, the computational complexity of the algorithm is compared here to that of Aprojection. The algorithms are illustrated in Fig. 2.
Fig. 2
a) Forward calculation in the Astacking framework, subdivided into the algorithmic steps described by (18). b) Forward calculation using Aprojection. The Aprojection convolution kernel size is N_{gA} × N_{gA}, as determined by the spatial frequency content of the directiondependent effects on the sky, and can result in a relatively expensive gridding cost. Astacking aims to reduce this cost by decreasing the size of the gridding convolution kernel to N_{g} × N_{g}, as determined by the required image dynamic range; the penalty is that multiple FFTs and gridding operations are required. 

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Assuming a gridding convolution kernel of size N_{g} × N_{g} is required to meet dynamic range requirements (Duijndam & Schonewille 1999), the overall cost incurred by (18)can be shown to scale as (19)where the first term on the righthand side accounts for the per basis function image plane correction and FFT, and second term accounts for the gridding and visibility plane correction. In comparison the overall cost of an Aprojection implementation, assuming a convolution kernel of size N_{gA} × N_{gA} is required to accurately account for the associated DD effects, scales as (Jongerius et al. 2014; Offringa et al. 2014) (20)If the overall cost in both cases is dominated by the gridding step, that is (21)then Astacking presents a more efficient alternative to Aprojection on condition that (22)The total storage required to perform the Astacking forward calculation in Fig. 2a completely in memory scales as (23)where the first term accounts for the per basis function image domain correction, the second accounts for the storage of the single gridding convolution kernel, and the last term accounts for the per basis function visibility domain corrections. In comparison, the total storage required to perform the Aprojection forward calculation in Fig. 2b completely in memory scales as (24)Here storage of only a single image and visibility map are required, however a (potentially) different convolution kernel needs to be stored per baseline. The storage required or Astacking is less than that for Aprojection if (25)where the approximation assumes that gridding dominates the computational cost as in (21)(which implies that ), and that .
Since N_{gA} depends on the spatial frequency content of the primary beam patterns on the sky, and N_{B} depends on the interelement variation among the primary beams, a clear distinction between cases where one algorithm should outperform the other (in the asymptotic limit) in terms of computing time and memory requirements is possible in principle. We also note that the cost of a convolutionbased approach scales quadratically with an increase in N_{gA}, whereas that of the stacking approach in (18)scales linearly with an increase in N_{B}. This means that even with a moderately sized N_{gA} a relatively large number of basis functions N_{B} may still render the proposed method more efficient.
Finally, since the efficiency of Astacking depends on reducing the required size of the visibility plane convolution kernel, it may be necessary to avoid a convolution based approach to correct for noncoplanar baselines. As stated earlier, the wterm is easily included in the BDDD modeling approach presented here, however, this may increase the number N_{B} of terms in (14)required to yield an accurate model. Alternatively, Astacking may be combined with Wstacking (Offringa et al. 2014), which does not affect the cost of gridding, but does result in the number of image plane corrections and FFTs increasing by a factor N_{w} (number of wlayers). This means that the cost of repeated FFTs may become more expensive than gridding for fewer N_{w} than when combing Wstacking with Aprojection in the socalled hybrid wstacking (see Tasse et al. 2013).
4. Imaging with Astacking: backward calculation
Imaging is concerned with the inversion of (7). As was already stated, the scale of this system of equations precludes the use of a direct method, so that a different approach to imaging is required. In this section two approaches possible within the Astacking framework are derived.
4.1. Adaptation to the CLEAN algorithm
In theory, the Fourier relationship in (4)allows the apparent sky I_{k} to be determined from the visibility function via the inverse Fourier transform. Given the discretization inherent to the limited sampling provided by any practical interferometer array and the image representation of the sky, the result of the practical equivalent of this is (26)which is the socalled dirty image^{4}. Apart from the effects associated with B, the limited sampling of the array also adds a distortion in the form of a convolution with the Fourier transform of the visibility plane sampling function, or point spread function (PSF) (Jackson et al. 1991). Not only does this limit the resolution of the obtained image to the scale of the PSF main lobe, but sidelobes in the PSF can also produce artifacts that may produce false sources, hide existing ones, or distort other sources in the image. Removing this corruption requires some deconvolution procedure. However, owing to the imperfect sampling of the array in general the solution is not unique, so that a nonlinear deconvolution procedure is usually required (Cornwell et al. 1999). The algorithm perhaps most widely used for this purpose is CLEAN and its derivatives (Högbom 1974; Clark 1980; Schwab 1984). In general this algorithm is based on identifying a peak in the dirty image as the location of a pointlike source, and then removing the effect of that source by subtracting an appropriately scaled and shifted PSF.
In order to demonstrate how this algorithm may be adapted within the Astacking framework, we consider the dirty image produced by applying Φ^{H} to the visibilities in (17)(27)Replacing the true sky image vector σ with an image e_{s} corresponding to a single point source of unit intensity at the location (l_{s},m_{s}) and an otherwise empty sky, yields the PSF (28)Herein q_{i}(s) is the PSF, centered at (l_{s},m_{s}), and associated with applying the weights a_{i} to the visibilities. Although each q_{i} represents a shiftinvariant PSF, that represented by p_{s} is not shiftinvariant, because of the directiondependent weighting f_{i}(l_{s},m_{s}) applied to each q_{i}. Assuming a sky composed of a number N_{s} of point sources allows the following representation (29)which, when substituted into (27)and using (28)gives the desired result, (30)This expression presents an interesting decomposition of the dirty image: it is the superposition of a number of subimages, each of which is a different apparent sky σ_{i} convolved with an associated PSF q_{i}. More importantly, this interpretation can be used to adapt the PSF subtraction in the CLEAN algorithm to account more accurately for the BDDD effects.
We let the N_{B} different PSFs be precomputed as part of initializing the CLEAN algorithm, and we let σ_{r} be the residual dirty image at the start of a PSF subtraction iteration. With a point source identified at location s in σ_{r} the PSF subtraction now proceeds as follows:

1.
Weigh each PSF q_{i}(s) by the value of its corresponding DD basis function towards the direction of the source f_{i}(l_{s},m_{s}), and accumulate the result for all N_{B} basis functions to yield the total PSF p_{s} as in (28).

2.
Scale p_{s} according to the intensity of the identified source and the loop gain parameter γ, (31a)
 3.
4.2. Diagonal correction
Using the BDDD effect model in (14)also produces a useful imaging approach for the case where deconvolution is not necessary, either because the image dynamic range is not high enough or because the spatial selectivity is very good, so that artifacts produced by the PSF sidelobe structure do not have a dominant effect on the image quality.
Suppose an overdetermined system in (7), that is, . The wellknown linear least squares (LLS) solution to such a system is (32)where ^{†} denotes the MoorePenrose pseudoinverse. Using the model in (15)and the result in (17), the LSS solution becomes (33)where the deconvolution matrix M^{1} and the dirty image vector^{5} have been introduced, Because of the computational costs involved for typically encountered image sizes, direct evaluation of (33)may not be practicable. However, given the condition that deconvolution is unnecessary, the inversion of M becomes tractable in that it may be approximated as being diagonal^{6}. This results from the fact that the offdiagonal entries in this matrix represent the flux leakage between different pixels in the image, the very effect deconvolution aims to correct.
We let M_{diag} be the matrix formed by setting all offdiagonal entries in M equal to zero. In order to determine the structure of this matrix, we consider the qth diagonal element in (35)where the relation has been used. Since the result is independent of q, we can write (36)since is scalar, and where I is an appropriately sized identity matrix.
This naturally leads to the following imaging procedure:

1.
Compute the dirty image for each basis function by applying the weights to the visibilities, Fourier transforming to the image plane (via gridding and using the FFT), and then weighting the image values by , (37a)This is simply a practical implementation of each term in (34b).

2.
Accumulate the result for the N_{B} basis functions to yield the dirty image, (37b)

3.
Compute the diagonal version of the deconvolution matrix M_{diag} using (36).
 4.
5. Basis function construction
Although the above results are generally applicable for any exact expansion of A_{k} which has the form of (14), it is obviously desirable to obtain such an expansion which requires the least number of terms, since the cost of the above derived algorithms generally scale with N_{B}. In this section an approach aimed at producing such a model from a prior characterized A_{k} is presented.
For imaging purposes it is sufficient to obtain a model for the discretization of A_{k} on the image grid, that is b_{k} as in (15). From (8a)it is clear that finding a set of expansion functions with which each b_{k} may be expressed as in (15)is equivalent to finding a basis for the row space of B. One such basis may be obtained by computing the truncated Singular Value Decomposition (SVD), (38)Selecting the columns in the matrix U (leftsingular vectors) as the basis functions {f_{i}} in (15), it can be shown that each expansion coefficient a^{(i,k)} is the entry on the ith row and kth column in the matrix^{7}(39)This produces an exact expansion with number of terms, where the inequality may result from a linear dependence among the DD gains associated with each of the baselines^{8}.
Since the computational burden resulting from the use of the linear model in (15)scales linearly with the number of basis functions, it may be desirable to rather use n_{B}<N_{B} number of terms, thus trading computational cost for accuracy. Furthermore, since the accuracy of transformations between the image and visibility planes is also affected by other factors (e.g. noise, gridding/degridding), the required accuracy may need to be only such that it does not limit the overall accuracy. With these considerations in mind, the aim is to produce a model which yields the highest precision for a given number of terms. For this reason, the model provided through the use of the SVD is especially useful in the case where n_{B}<N_{B}. Specifically, the sum of the squared distances between each of the rows in B and the vector space spanned by n_{B} leftsingular vectors is minimized by choosing those leftsingular vectors corresponding to the n_{B} largest singular values on the diagonal of Σ (Jolliffe 1986).
It should be noted that the computational cost incurred by evaluating (38)and (39)does not need to enter into the overall cost of the algorithms presented in the previous sections, since the result need only be determined once and can be stored for repeated use over the course of one or more observations^{9}. Nevertheless, one way to alleviate the cost of constructing the BDDD model is to sample A_{k} over a sparser grid prior to computing the basis functions. The motivation for this approach is that the resolution obtainable with the entire array may be much higher than that required to accurately represent the radiation pattern of a single antenna element in such an array. We let be such a discretization of A_{k} over an N_{q} × N_{q} grid { (l′,m′) } in the image plane, where N_{p} = αN_{q} with α> 1, and (40)Using this discretization of the BDDD effects the matrix B′ is constructed, and the SVD is computed to yield leftsingular vectors . The model basis functions are now obtained by first interpolating each singular vector to extend its support onto the N_{p} × N_{p} grid, (41)and then orthonormalizing the resulting set of vectors to yield . Each model coefficient a^{(i,k)} is then computed by projecting the ith basis function onto the kth column of B^{T}.
6. Results
In this section simulation results are presented in order to assess the performance of the Astacking approach. First the impact of various factors on the accuracy of the forward calculation is considered, followed by a demonstration of the performance of the CLEAN algorithm when combined with the Astacking approach.
Simulations pertain to a snapshot observation in a narrow frequency band around 50 MHz, using one polarization of the LOFAR Low Band Antenna (LBA) station at Onsala, Sweden as an interferometer array. A fullwave numerical model was analyzed in FEKO^{10} to determine the radiation patterns of all the elements in the array (Young et al. 2014); see Fig. 3. Because of the effects of mutual coupling, which was fully accounted for in the numerical model, the primary beams exhibited a variation over the elements in the array so that a single primary beam approximation would not suffice. The phase reference for each pattern was located at the corresponding antenna position in the array, as used to determine the baseline uvcoordinates. Sky models were generated by randomly placing ten point sources of varying intensity on an image grid, so that the source statistics were in agreement with that reported in Bregman (2012) for frequencies below 1.4 GHz. The sky models were then used as input to various observation simulations. For each simulation the reference (exact) visibilities v^{exact} were calculated via direct evaluation of (7), which were then used as input for further analysis.
Fig. 3
a) The LOFAR LBA station at Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden. Photograph courtesy of Leif Helldner. b) FEKO model of the 96 element LBA station showing the radiation patterns (magnitude) of each antenna in the array. The array comprises dualpolarized invertedV antennas above a ground plane (not shown in model). Generally a larger degree of interelement variability is observed among the patterns of the antennas that are closely spaced than in the patterns of those that are more isolated. 

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6.1. Accuracy of the forward calculation
Model visibilities were calculated from the input sky using various approaches, and then compared to the exact visibilities. The sky model extended over the region  l  ,  m  ≤ 0.5 and was discretized with N_{p} = 64 pixels along each dimension (i.e. 64 × 64 pixel image). The following model visibilities were computed:

1.
v^{avg} – Visibilities are calculated using (7), but the DD gain on all baselines is assumed identical and equal to b_{0}, for which the average power pattern over all antennas in the array is used.

2.
v^{avg  fft} – Again an identical b_{0} is used for all baselines, but the visibilities are calculated via the FFT, followed by a degridding step which is implemented as cubic interpolation.

3.
– Visibilities are calculated using (17), but truncating the summation over i after n_{B}<N_{B} terms and using basis functions computed via the SVD in (38).

4.
– Using again only n_{B} model terms, visibilities are calculated via the procedure outlined in (18), that is, using the FFT and degridding.

5.
– Here was calculated on an N_{q} × N_{q} grid with N_{p} = αN_{q} in the lmplane prior to computing the SVD in (38). Cubic interpolation was used to extend the support of the basis functions onto the image grid, and the GramSchmidt method was then used to orthonormalize the basis functions. Finally, visibilities were computed using (17)and truncating the summation over i after n_{B}<N_{B} terms.
In all cases the error between a reference visibility vector and model visibility vector was computed as (42)Figure 4 shows the accuracy of the forward calculation obtained with various truncated Astacking based BDDD gain models. The result shown is the average of ϵ(model,exact) over 1000 different generated sky models. As can be expected, in all cases the accuracy improves with an increase in the number n_{B} of model terms. The highest accuracy is achieved by using the direct Fourier transform in (17), combined with basis functions derived directly from a discretization of A_{k} on the full image grid (stack model). Since the visibilities computed in this manner converge to the exact visibilities for n_{B} = N_{B} this result can be used to estimate the highest accuracy that may be obtained with a model of a given number of terms. The error decays rapidly as n_{B} is increased for the first few terms (n_{B} ≲ 10), and thereafter at a somewhat slower rate, until n_{B} ≈ 192 where a sharp drop in the error occurs. This sudden decrease in error is related to a similar sudden decrease in the Singular Value (SV) spectrum of B^{T} at twice the number of antennas in the array, 2 × 96 = 192. Using a sparser discretization of A_{k} to expedite the construction of the basis functions via the SVD (stackinterp models) is seen to introduce an error between about 10^{2.6} and 10^{2.9}, depending on the sparsity of the grid, and only represents a significant loss in accuracy for a model with more than about n_{B} = 60 terms. Similarly, utilizing the FFTbased calculation (stackfft model), an error of around 10^{2.3} and associated with the degridding operation is introduced which only has a significant impact on the accuracy for a model with more than roughly n_{B} = 40 terms.
Fig. 4
Error in model visibilities as a function of number of BDDD gain model terms. The error was computed using the exact visibilities as reference. 

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In order to put the results in Fig. 4 in perspective, we consider the accuracy for various models reported in Table 1. The error incurred by using a baselineindependent DD gain to compute the visibilities is around −1.404. Using n_{B} = 10 terms of the Astacking model and computing visibilities via the FFT already reduces the error by more than 50%, and using n_{B} = 40 the error is reduced by more than 75%. (With n_{B} = 40 and using the direct Fourier transform reduces the error slightly more, by about 80%.) This indicates that a large improvement over using a baselineindependent DD gain model is possible with just the first few terms of the BDDD model, even when the calculation is performed using the FFT followed by a degridding step. Finally, the error in the avgfft model when using avg model as the reference confirms the error introduced by the degridding operation to be around the 10^{2.3} level.
Memory usage statistics for the Astacking forward calculations based on (23)are listed in Table 2. Results show how the memory requirement increases with the number of terms n_{B} in the BDDD model for the N_{p} = 64 images used here, and also for N_{p} = 1024 to indicate the requirements for larger images. Since the overall cost scales linearly with the number of terms in the model a simple tradeoff between computational cost and calculation accuracy is available. For comparison, the memory requirements for Astacking are also shown for different convolution kernel sizes. We note that number of baselines relative to the image sizes considered means that the memory requirements for Aprojection is almost independent of image size.
6.2. CLEAN performance
In order to demonstrate how Astacking may impact on the imaging performance, two simple CLEAN algorithms were implemented to use BDDD gain models of various levels of accuracy. Here the direct transforms in (17)and (27)were used for the forward and backward calculations, respectively, so that the impact of the accuracy of the BDDD model on the result could be isolated. The sky models used here extended over the same region as before, but used a coarser grid with N_{p} = 16 pixels along each dimension (i.e. 16 × 16 pixel image).
Fig. 5
Convergence of VDSSCLEAN implementation for DD gain models of various levels of accuracy. Figure shows how the residual image norm is reduced over iterations of source subtraction in the visibility plane. 

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Visibility domain source subtraction: VDSSCLEAN algorithm
The first CLEAN algorithm is based on using the accurate Astacking forward calculation, and proceeds as follows:

1.
Initialize the model sky σ_{m} and residual image σ_{r} as (43)where ⊘ indicates elementwise division, 0 is the zero vector, b_{0} is the average power pattern over all antennas in the array, and σ_{d} is obtained by computing (27)from the visibilities v^{exact}.

2.
The residual norm is calculated as r = log _{10}( ∥ σ_{r} ∥ _{2}).

3.
The peak in σ_{r} is identified, and its location (l_{s},m_{s}) and intensity used to update the model sky (44)where γ is the loop gain.

4.
Model visibilities v^{model} are calculated using the model sky σ_{m} in either (5)with the baselineindependent gain b_{0}, or in (17)with the Astacking model and truncating the summation over i after n_{B} ≤ N_{B} basis functions. This is used to compute residual visibilities, (45)

5.
The residual image is updated by substituting v^{res} for the visibilities in (27), and applying a DD correction in the form of elementwise division by b_{0} to the result.

6.
Steps 2 through 5 are repeated for a fixed number of iterations.
Figure 5 shows how the residual norm is reduced over the number of iterations of the VDSSCLEAN algorithm, and the result displayed is the mean of r over 1000 different generated input skies. Assuming that at each iteration a source is correctly identified, and its intensity underestimated, the energy in the residual image should ideally decrease monotonically with each subtraction. A comparison is shown between DD models of various levels of accuracy, ranging from the same average antenna power pattern over all baselines (avg) to the exact Astacking model (stack, n_{B} = N_{B} = 256). The intermediate models correspond to keeping only those terms corresponding to Singular Values (SVs) in (38)that are above 1.0% (n_{B} = 3) and 0.1% (n_{B} = 61) relative to the maximum; n_{B} = 96 uses as many terms in the model as antennas in the array, and n_{B} = 192 uses twice as many terms. The latter model is of interest since the SV spectrum exhibits a sharp drop after the 192th SV. In general the algorithm is seen to converge at ever lower values of the residual norm as the model accuracy is increased. The results for each model after the final iteration are summarized in Table 3. Compared to the result for using the average DD gain, using Astacking with just 3 terms the residual is reduced by about 29%, and with 61 terms by 89%.
Mean residual norms (logscale) after 300 iterations of each CLEAN algorithm for various BDDD models.
Image dynamic range after 300 iterations of each CLEAN algorithm for various BDDD models.
The distributions of residual norms after 300 iterations and for all 1000 simulations are shown in Fig. 7 for four different DD models. In 95% of the simulations the average beam model yielded r < 0.55, and the Astack model with n_{B} = 3 and n_{B} = 61 yielded r < 0.45, and r < −0.35, respectively. Using the exact model resulted in r < −5.65 for the same percentage of simulations. For a small fraction of the simulations the algorithm converged to a relatively large residual irrespective of the DD gain model used.
Image domain source subtraction: IDSSCLEAN algorithm
The second CLEAN implementation is based on the procedure outlined in (31)from Sect. 4.1. Using the measured visibilities v^{exact} the dirty image is computed using (27), and the residual image σ_{r} is initialized to this dirty image without any DD correction as was done for the VDSSCLEAN algorithm. The algorithm then proceeds by repeatedly performing PSF subtraction via (31)to update σ_{r} for a fixed number of iterations, and computing the residual norm r = log _{10}( ∥ σ_{r} ∥) at each iteration.
Figure 6 shows how the residual norm is reduced over the number of iterations for the IDSSCLEAN algorithm. The result shown is the mean of r over 1000 different generated sky models and a comparison is shown for various DD gain models. Initially the residual decreases at a steady rate for all DD gain models; beyond a certain number of iterations this decrease slows down significantly, and the residual level at which this occurs depends once again on the accuracy of the DD gain model. For comparison, the results after 300 iterations of IDSSCLEAN for the different gain models are also shown in Table 3. Apart from somewhat higher residuals after the same number of iterations as compared to that in VDSSCLEAN, the decrease in the residual with the increase in the number of terms in the gain model is similar for both algorithms. To help put these results into perspective, the dynamic range of the images obtained after 300 iterations of either CLEAN algorithm was calculated and listed in Table 4.
Fig. 6
Convergence of IDSSCLEAN implementation for DD gain models of various levels of accuracy. Figure shows how the residual image norm is reduced over iterations of source subtraction in the image plane. 

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Fig. 7
Distribution of the residual norms after 300 VDSSCLEAN iterations for 1000 different generated skies. Results are shown for different DD models. We note that the upper limit of the vertical axis has been reduced to improve the clarity of results at lower densities. 

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Assuming that a distinct source (in a distinct location) is identified in each iteration of the IDSSCLEAN algorithm, a differently weighted combination of the PSFs associated with each of the DD basis functions may be required at each iteration. This combination step requires up to complex multiplications and is the computational bottleneck for this image domain deconvolution approach. As can be expected the cost of a single iteration of this algorithm is much cheaper than that for the VDSSCLEAN algorithm, which includes an image domain correction that also scales as , as well as the costs associated with transforming between the image and visibility planes. This holds even when utilizing the efficiency of an FFTbased implementation, see (19).
7. Conclusion
A novel framework for modeling baselinedependent directiondependent effects was presented. The approach is based on the expansion of BDDD effects in the form of a weighted sum of basis functions, where the basis functions are directiondependent, and the coefficients account for the baselinedependence. Related to the Wstacking method which accounts for noncoplanar baselines, the present approach, called Astacking, offers an alternative method to the convolution based algorithm Aprojection. As such it offers a potential improvement in computational efficiency in scenarios where Aprojection results in a significant increase in the gridding cost.
Using the proposed modeling technique the calculation from sky to visibilities is achieved by combining the result from a number of separate Fourier transforms, which may be implemented to utilize the efficiency of the FFT. The accuracy of this calculation is directly controlled by the number of terms retained in the model, and yields a simple tradeoff between accuracy and computational cost. Furthermore, results have shown that good performance may be achieved with relatively few terms, given that an appropriate basis is chosen for the linear model. A method to obtain such a basis for a prior characterized BDDD effect was presented, and is based on the use of the SVD.
Within this framework, two different imaging strategies were also derived. One strategy takes the form of an adaptation of the PSF subtraction cycle in a typical CLEAN deconvolution process, while the other presents an imaging approach where deconvolution is deemed unnecessary. The use of Astacking model in two different CLEAN algorithms was also used to demonstrate how this modeling approach may affect image quality. In either case the image residual after a fixed number of iterations was seen to decrease steadily as the model accuracy was improved.
Since the model relies on an accurate characterization of the BDDD effects, further work focuses on the development of a solvable BDDD model which is compatible with the Astacking approach.
The scalar formulation is presented without loss of generality, and the impact of the fullpolarization form of (1)is considered subsequently.
This is not the same dirty image as in (26).
In fact, the diagonal approximation may also be used to speed up deconvolution via an optimization procedure such as the LevenbergMarquardt algorithm (Marquardt 1963). Such an approximation reduces the Jacobian (and hence the approximate Hessian) of the deconvolution problem to a diagonal matrix, which reduces the order of complexity of the algorithm from to .
The rows in a are mutually orthogonal owing to the unitary property of W, so that for i ≠ j. This result may be used to reduce the complexity of evaluating (36)from to .
For instance, this may apply to earth rotation synthesis where multiple visibility measurements are obtained between the same antenna pair, resulting in identical rows in B. Even when the primary beams are varying in time, e.g. rotating primary beams on the sky for altaz mount reflector antennas, a linear dependence will still be present if such variation is negligible over time scales much larger than the integration time.
Acknowledgments
This work is supported by SKA South Africa, the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, the National Research Foundation, and the Swedish Vinnova and VR grants. This publication is supported by Samenwerkingsverband Noord Nederland (SNN), SKATSM project, and the European Community FP7 program, MIDPREP, Grant Agreement PIRSESGA2013612599.
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All Tables
Mean residual norms (logscale) after 300 iterations of each CLEAN algorithm for various BDDD models.
Image dynamic range after 300 iterations of each CLEAN algorithm for various BDDD models.
All Figures
Fig. 1
Transformations between image and visibility domains a) for FFT compatible visibility plane sampling, and b) for irregular visibility plane sampling which requires an additional (de)gridding operation in order to utilize the FFT. 

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In the text 
Fig. 2
a) Forward calculation in the Astacking framework, subdivided into the algorithmic steps described by (18). b) Forward calculation using Aprojection. The Aprojection convolution kernel size is N_{gA} × N_{gA}, as determined by the spatial frequency content of the directiondependent effects on the sky, and can result in a relatively expensive gridding cost. Astacking aims to reduce this cost by decreasing the size of the gridding convolution kernel to N_{g} × N_{g}, as determined by the required image dynamic range; the penalty is that multiple FFTs and gridding operations are required. 

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In the text 
Fig. 3
a) The LOFAR LBA station at Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden. Photograph courtesy of Leif Helldner. b) FEKO model of the 96 element LBA station showing the radiation patterns (magnitude) of each antenna in the array. The array comprises dualpolarized invertedV antennas above a ground plane (not shown in model). Generally a larger degree of interelement variability is observed among the patterns of the antennas that are closely spaced than in the patterns of those that are more isolated. 

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In the text 
Fig. 4
Error in model visibilities as a function of number of BDDD gain model terms. The error was computed using the exact visibilities as reference. 

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In the text 
Fig. 5
Convergence of VDSSCLEAN implementation for DD gain models of various levels of accuracy. Figure shows how the residual image norm is reduced over iterations of source subtraction in the visibility plane. 

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In the text 
Fig. 6
Convergence of IDSSCLEAN implementation for DD gain models of various levels of accuracy. Figure shows how the residual image norm is reduced over iterations of source subtraction in the image plane. 

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In the text 
Fig. 7
Distribution of the residual norms after 300 VDSSCLEAN iterations for 1000 different generated skies. Results are shown for different DD models. We note that the upper limit of the vertical axis has been reduced to improve the clarity of results at lower densities. 

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In the text 