Syllabus for Inversion of Geophysical Data

Inversion av geofysiska data


  • 10 credits
  • Course code: 1GE016
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Physics A1N, Earth Science A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
  • Established: 2007-03-15
  • Established by:
  • Revised: 2018-08-30
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: week 30, 2019
  • Entry requirements: 180 credits including 80 credits in physics and mathematics. English language proficiency that corresponds to English studies at upper secondary (high school) level in Sweden ("English 6").
  • Responsible department: Department of Earth Sciences

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Explain the connection between linear regression, parameter estimation and inverse theory.
  • Derive the closed form solutions to a variety of linear least squares problems.
  • Explain the connection between continuous models and representers.
  • Derive the Singular Value Decomposition, describe the properties of the natural inverse solution and implement an algorithm for solving a simple geophysical linear inverse problem.
  • Describe the principles of Tikhonov regularisation and critically interpret the trade-off between resolution, bias and uncertainty of the Tikhonov solution.
  • Explain the basic principles behind iterative methods for solving large linear systems of equations and use the conjugate gradient method to solve a simple geophysical linear inverse problem.
  • Use Fourier transforms to solve the deconvolution problem by water levelling regularisation.
  • Give an account of and apply the basic methods for solving non-linear equations.
  • Solve a simple geophysical non-linear inverse problem by Occam regularisation.
  • Explain Bayesian approaches to inverse solutions and use apriori information to solve a simple geophysical inverse problem.


Short review of mathematical tools: linear algebra, statistics, and vector algebra; linear regression and linear inverse problems; discretisation of continuous inverse problems; the Singular Value Decomposition; Tichonov regularisation; other methods of regularisation; Fourier techniques; iterative methods, including the conjugate gradient method; non-linear regression and non-linear inverse problems, including Occam's method; Bayesian methods.


Lectures, homework, problem solving and computer solution of simple geophysical inverse problems using MATLAB.


Oral examination (7 ECTS) and compulsory part (3 ECTS).

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the disability coordinator of the university.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 30, 2019

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

  • Menke, William Geophysical data analysis : discrete inverse theory

    Rev. ed.: San Diego: Academic Press, cop. 1989

    Find in the library


  • Aster, Richard C.; Borchers, Brian; Thurber, Clifford H. Parameter estimation and inverse problems

    2nd ed.: Waltham, MA: Academic Press, 2012

    Find in the library