Global sensitivity analysis for systems with independent and/or correlated inputs

Genyuan Li, Herschel Rabitz, Paul E. Yelvington, Oluwayemisi O. Oluwole, Fred Bacon, Charles E. Kolb, Jacqueline Schoendorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


The objective of a global sensitivity analysis is to rank the importance of the system inputs considering their uncertainty and the influence they have upon the uncertainty of the system output, typically over a large region of input space. This paper introduces a new unified framework of global sensitivity analysis for systems whose input probability distributions are independent and/or correlated. The new treatment is based on covariance decomposition of the unconditional variance of the output. The treatment can be applied to mathematical models, as well as to measured laboratory and field data. When the input probability distribution is correlated, three sensitivity indices give a full description, respectively, of the total, structural (reflecting the system structure) and correlative (reflecting the correlated input probability distribution) contributions for an input or a subset of inputs. The magnitudes of all three indices need to be considered in order to quantitatively determine the relative importance of the inputs acting either independently or collectively. For independent inputs, these indices reduce to a single index consistent with previous variance-based methods. The estimation of the sensitivity indices is based on a meta-modeling approach, specifically on the random sampling-high dimensional model representation (RS-HDMR). This approach is especially useful for the treatment of laboratory and field data where the input sampling is often uncontrolled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6022-6032
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 20 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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