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Approximate Gauss-Newton methods for nonlinear least squares problems

Gratton, S., Lawless, A.S. and Nichols, N.K. (2007) Approximate Gauss-Newton methods for nonlinear least squares problems. SIAM Journal on Optimization (SIOPT), 18 (1). pp. 106-132. ISSN 1052-6234

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1137/050624935


The Gauss–Newton algorithm is an iterative method regularly used for solving nonlinear least squares problems. It is particularly well suited to the treatment of very large scale variational data assimilation problems that arise in atmosphere and ocean forecasting. The procedure consists of a sequence of linear least squares approximations to the nonlinear problem, each of which is solved by an “inner” direct or iterative process. In comparison with Newton’s method and its variants, the algorithm is attractive because it does not require the evaluation of second-order derivatives in the Hessian of the objective function. In practice the exact Gauss–Newton method is too expensive to apply operationally in meteorological forecasting, and various approximations are made in order to reduce computational costs and to solve the problems in real time. Here we investigate the effects on the convergence of the Gauss–Newton method of two types of approximation used commonly in data assimilation. First, we examine “truncated” Gauss–Newton methods where the inner linear least squares problem is not solved exactly, and second, we examine “perturbed” Gauss–Newton methods where the true linearized inner problem is approximated by a simplified, or perturbed, linear least squares problem. We give conditions ensuring that the truncated and perturbed Gauss–Newton methods converge and also derive rates of convergence for the iterations. The results are illustrated by a simple numerical example. A practical application to the problem of data assimilation in a typical meteorological system is presented.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Mathematics and Statistics
ID Code:875
Publisher:Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

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