Linear estimation for data with error ellipses



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



When scientists collect data to be analyzed, regardless of what quantities are being measured, there are inevitably errors in the measurements. In cases where two independent variables are measured with errors, many existing techniques can produce an estimated least-squares linear fit to the data, taking into consideration the size of the errors in both variables. Yet some experiments yield data that do not only contain errors in both variables, but also a non-zero covariance between the errors. In such situations, the experiment results in measurements with error ellipses with tilts specified by the covariance terms.

Following an approach suggested by Dr. Edward Robinson, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin, this report describes a methodology that finds the estimates of linear regression parameters, as well as an estimated covariance matrix, for a dataset with tilted error ellipses. Contained in an appendix is the R code for a program that produces these estimates according to the methodology. This report describes the results of the program run on a dataset of measurements of the surface brightness and Sérsic index of galaxies in the Virgo cluster.