Available research project

Validation and statistical assessment of data assimilation algorithms

Dr Jochen Broecker and Professor Peter Jan van Leeuwen

    Data Assimilation (or DA) refers to the following problem: given a dynamical system (e.g. a weather model) and given a series of observations (e.g. wind measurements from the real weather), find a trajectory of the system that matches the observed data. For more information on DA, see the data assimilation web site at UoR. A conceptual problem with DA is this: Once the data has been used to estimate the trajectory, one cannot just use the same data again to evaluate that trajectory. A trajectory need not be `good' just because it fits the observations well; the algorithm might just parrot the observations without capturing any genuine features of the underlying dynamics; like students who are given problem sheets with solutions during the module, and then are asked the very same problems again during the exams. Clearly, even if they do well you cannot be sure they've understood anything.

    The easiest solution would be to use independent weather observations from the same period and region as the original data. Such data however is hardly ever available. But this problem of incestuous evaluation appears everywhere in statistics, and people have come up with various ways to deal with it (e.g.\ BIC, AIC, Mallows' Cp). A good way to get started with this PhD project would be to check which of these methods could be adapted or modified for data assimilation.

  • More detailed project description
  • Necessary background: Suitable for students with a degree in mathematics, statistics and probability theory, or environmental physics. Students with a strong background in probability theory and stochastic processes are especially encouraged to apply.

For further details please contact Dr Jochen Broecker.

How to Apply

Email Sue Davis specifying your interest in the above project. 

Postgraduate Admissions and Further Enquiries

Application forms

To apply, please complete the application form, either online or by email or by post. Note that the general University requirement for a lengthy research proposal is not a requirement for applicants to Mathematics or Statistics.


Please contact the postgraduate administrator, Sue Davis at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics on:

Telephone: +44 (0) 118 378 8991 +44 (0) 118 378 8991

Email: Sue Davis 

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