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We develop and calibrate a characteristic waveform extraction tool whose major improvements and corrections of prior versions allow satisfaction of the accuracy standards required for advanced LIGO data analysis. The extraction tool uses a characteristic evolution code to propagate numerical data on an inner worldtube supplied by a 3+1 Cauchy evolution to obtain the gravitational waveform at null infinity. With the new extraction tool, high accuracy and convergence of the numerical error can be demonstrated for an inspiral and merger of mass M binary black holes even for an extraction worldtube radius as small as R=20M. The tool provides a means for unambiguous comparison between waveforms generated by evolution codes based upon different formulations of the Einstein equations and based upon different numerical approximations.


This article first appeared in the August 15, 2011 issue of Physical Review D, the member magazine of the American Physical Society and is reprinted with permission.

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