The Metric Space of Collider Events


When are two collider events similar? Despite the simplicity and generality of this question, there is no established notion of the distance between two events. To address this question, we develop a metric for the space of collider events based on the earth mover’s distance: the “work” required to rearrange the radiation pattern of one event into another. We expose interesting connections between this metric and the structure of infrared- and collinear-safe observables, providing a novel technique to quantify event modifications due to hadronization, pileup, and detector effects. We showcase how this metrization unlocks powerful new tools for analyzing and visualizing collider data without relying upon a choice of observables. More broadly, this framework paves the way for data-driven collider phenomenology without specialized observables or machine learning models.