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Semi-mechanistic modelling in nonlinear regression: a case study

This paper discusses the use of highly parameterized semi-mechanistic nonlinear models with particular reference to the PARJIB crop response model of Reid (2002)[Yield response to nutrient supply across a wide range of conditions 1. Model derivation. Field Crops Research77, 161–171]. Compared to empirical linear approaches, such models promise improved generality of application but present considerable challenges for estimation. Some success has been achieved with a fitting approach that uses a Levenberg–Marquardt algorithm starting from initial values determined by a genetic algorithm. Attention must be paid, however, to correlations between parameter estimates and an approach is described to identify these based on large simulated datasets. This work illustrates the value for the scientist in exploring the correlation structure in mechanistic or semi-mechanistic models. Such information might be used to reappraise the structure of the model itself, especially if the experimental evidence is not strong enough to allow estimation of a parameter free of assumptions about the values of others. Thus statistical modelling and analysis can complement mechanistic studies, making more explicit what is known and what is not known about the processes being modelled and guiding further research.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Domijan, K., Jorgensen, M. & Reid, J.(2006). Semi-mechanistic modelling in nonlinear regression: a case study. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Statistics, 48(3), 373-392.
Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd
This is an author’s version of an article published in the journal: Australian & New Zealand Journal of Statistics. ©2006 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.