Joint Mathematics Colloquium 

University of Idaho

Washington State University

Fall 2012

Thursday,  November 8, 4:10-5:00 pm, room Neill 5W

Refreshments in Neill 216 Hacker Lounge at 3:30 pm

Inverse Problems and Uncertainty in Science and Engineering


Jodi Mead

Department of Mathematics

Boise State University


Inverse problems arise when we combine measurements with mathematical models, and they occur in many areas of science and engineering such as: Earth Sciences, Medical Imaging, Electromagnetics and Epidemiology. An important consideration in inverse problems is the fact that both measurements and models contain errors or uncertainties.  For example, there could be false measurement readings, the model may be simplified, or solutions of the model may be computationally approximated. 

Most inverse problems are ill-posed because the underlying process we are trying to understand cannot be resolved by measurements that may be limited or contain inconsistent information.  The problem can be made well-posed by adding information to it via regularization, and in this talk I will emphasize the statistical aspects of regularization. In particular, once we add regularization terms to the inverse problem we must appropriately weight information, and I will describe how to weight information according to its uncertainty. In addition, I will show how the statistical view of inverse problems gives new approaches to regularization and estimating uncertainty or weights on measurements and model.  These approaches will be demonstrated on problems in Hydrology and Geophysics.