Key Features

  • Includes appendices for review of needed concepts in linear, statistics, and vector calculus.
  • Companion website contains comprehensive MATLAB code for all examples, which readers can reproduce, experiment with, and modify.
  • Online instructor’s guide helps professors teach, customize exercises, and select homework problems
  • Accessible to students and professionals without a highly specialized mathematical background.


The book is primarily used as a textbook for graduate and advanced undergraduate students taking courses in geophysical inverse problems. It is also used as a reference for geoscientists and researchers in academe and industry.

Table of Contents


Chapter One. Introduction

1.1. Classification of Parameter Estimation and Inverse Problems

1.2. Examples of Parameter Estimation Problems

1.3. Examples of Inverse Problems

1.4. Discretizing Integral Equations

1.5. Why Inverse Problems Are Difficult

1.6. Exercises

1.7. Notes and Further Reading

Chapter Two. Linear Regression

2.1. Introduction to Linear Regression

2.2. Statistical Aspects of Least Squares

2.3. An Alternative View of the 95% Confidence Ellipsoid

2.4. Unknown Measurement Standard Deviations

2.5. L1 Regression

2.6. Monte Carlo Error Propagation

2.7. Exercises

2.8. Notes and Further Reading

Chapter Three. Rank Deficiency and Ill-Conditioning

3.1. The SVD and the Generalized Inverse

3.2. Covariance and Resolution of the Generalized Inverse Solution

3.3. Instability of the Generalized Inverse Solution

3.4. A Rank Deficient Tomography Problem

3.5. Discrete Ill-Posed Problems

3.6. Exercises

3.7. Notes and Further Reading

Chapter Four. Tikhonov Regularization

4.1. Selecting Good Solutions to Ill-Posed Problems

4.2. SVD Implementation of Tikhonov Regularization

4.3. Resolution, Bias, and Uncertainty in the Tikhonov Solution

4.4. Higher-Order Tikhonov Regularization

4.5. Resolution in Higher-order Tikhonov Regularization

4.6. The TGSVD Method

4.7. Generalized Cross-Validation

4.8. Error Bounds

4.9. Exercises

4.10. Notes and Further Reading

Chapter Five. Discretizing Problems Using Basis Functions

5.1. Discretization by Expansion of the Model

5.2. Using Representers as Basis Functions

5.3. The Method of Backus and Gilbert

5.4. Exercises

5.5. Notes and Further Reading

Chapter Six. Itera


No. of pages:
© 2013
Academic Press
Print ISBN:
Electronic ISBN:

About the editors

Brian Borchers

Affiliations and Expertise

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, USA

Clifford H. Thurber

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA


"A few years ago, it was my pleasure to review for the TLE this book’s first edition, published in 2005…The present revised version is some 60 pages longer and contains several significant modifications.  As is true of the original, the book continues to be one of the clearest as well as the most comprehensive elementary expositions of discrete geophysical inverse theory.  It is ideally suited for beginners as well as a fine resource for those searching for a particular inverse problem.  Each algorithm is presented in the form of pseudo-code, then backed up by a collection of MATLAB codes downloadable from an Elsevier Web site…All examples in the book are beautifully illustrated with simple, easy to follow "cartoon" problems, and all painstakingly designed to illuminate the details of a particular numerical method."--The Leading Edge, July 2012, page 860