A peak-finding algorithm for serial crystallography (SX) data analysis based on the principle of `robust statistics' has been developed. Methods which are statistically robust are generally more insensitive to any departures from model assumptions and are particularly effective when analysing mixtures of probability distributions. For example, these methods enable the discretization of data into a group comprising inliers (i.e. the background noise) and another group comprising outliers (i.e. Bragg peaks). Our robust statistics algorithm has two key advantages, which are demonstrated through testing using multiple SX data sets. First, it is relatively insensitive to the exact value of the input parameters and hence requires minimal optimization. This is critical for the algorithm to be able to run unsupervised, allowing for automated selection or `vetoing' of SX diffraction data. Secondly, the processing of individual diffraction patterns can be easily parallelized. This means that it can analyse data from multiple detector modules simultaneously, making it ideally suited to real-time data processing. These characteristics mean that the robust peak finder (RPF) algorithm will be particularly beneficial for the new class of MHz X-ray free-electron laser sources, which generate large amounts of data in a short period of time.




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