Three Approaches to Sensitivity Analysis of Models

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Earth Sciences book series (BRIEFSEARTH)


There are three ways to implement the sensitivity analysis of quantitative models. The simplest finite-difference (FD) approach requires multiple re-runs of the forward model according to the number of model input parameters. Although this approach uses the forward model without any modifications and does not require any analytic work, its application results in a very computer-intensive algorithm, which may become a prohibitive factor in practical applications to models with a large number of input parameters. Two other approaches of sensitivity analysis—the linearization approach and adjoint approach—are substantially more computer-efficient and require just single runs of a corresponding model derived from the initial, baseline model. The general formulation and comparison of these approaches is presented in this chapter.


Sensitivity analysis Finite-difference approach Linearization approach Adjoint approach 


  1. It is difficult to trace down the first publications on applications of the finite-difference and linearization approaches in remote sensing. As for the adjoint approach, to the best of author’s knowledge, the pioneering paper on its application in remote sensing is listed in reference.Google Scholar
  2. Marchuk GM (1964) Equation for the value of information from weather satellites and formulation of inverse problems. Cosmic Res 2:394–409Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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