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You are on page 1of 20

**DOI 10.1007/s00190-009-0342-1
**

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Global optimization of core station networks for space geodesy:

application to the referencing of the SLR EOP with respect

to ITRF

David Coulot · Arnaud Pollet · Xavier Collilieux ·

Philippe Berio

Received: 17 December 2008 / Accepted: 24 August 2009 / Published online: 10 September 2009

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Abstract We apply global optimization in order to optimize

the referencing (and consequently the stability) of the Earth

Orientation Parameters (EOP) with respect to ITRF2005.

These EOP are derived at a daily sampling from SLR data,

simultaneously with weekly station positions. The EOP ref-

erencing is carried out with minimum constraints applied

weekly to the three rotations and over core station networks.

Our approach is based on a multi objective genetic algo-

rithm, a particular stochastic global optimization method,

the reference systemeffects being the objectives to minimize.

We thus use rigorous criteria for the optimal weekly core sta-

tion selection. The results evidence an improvement of 10%

of the stability for Polar Motion (PM) series in comparison

to the results obtained with the network specially designed

for EOP referencing by the Analysis Working Group of the

International Laser Ranging Service. This improvement of

nearly 25µas represents 50% of the current precision of the

IERS 05 C04 PM reference series. We also test the possibil-

ity of averaging the weekly networks provided by our algo-

rithm (the Genetically Modiﬁed Networks—GMN) over the

whole time period. Although the dynamical nature of the

GMN is clearly a key point of their success, we can derive

such a global mean core network, which could be useful

Electronic supplementary material The online version of this

article (doi:10.1007/s00190-009-0342-1) contains supplementary

material, which is available to authorized users.

D. Coulot (B) · A. Pollet · X. Collilieux

IGN/LAREG et ENSG, 6 et 8 Avenue Blaise Pascal,

Cité Descartes, Champs-sur-Marne,

77455 Marne la Vallée Cedex 2, France

e-mail: David.Coulot@ign.fr

P. Berio

Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, Boulevard de l’Observatoire,

B.P. 4229, 06304 Nice Cedex 4, France

for practical applications regarding EOP referencing. Using

this latter core network moreover provides more stable EOP

series than the conventional network does.

Keywords Global optimization · Earth orientation

parameters · Minimum constraints · Core station networks ·

Genetic algorithms · Satellite laser ranging

1 Introduction

In this paper, we apply global optimization to ﬁnd, each week

andamongall the available stations, the stationnetworks over

which apply MinimumConstraints (MC) in order to produce

the best referencedEarthOrientationParameter (EOP) series.

We focus on a current space geodetic data processing provid-

ing station positions and EOP. In the literature related to opti-

mization, such a problem is a subset problem (Leguizamón

and Michalewicz 1999). Improving the EOPreferencing with

respect to any given Terrestrial Reference Frame (TRF) aims

to improve the stability and, consequently, the quality of EOP

time series. In particular, we aimto guarantee the consistency

of the estimated EOPamong the different epochs at which the

referencingis carriedout, onthe basis of MC. Indeed, some of

the primary tasks of the International Earth Rotation and Ref-

erence Systems Service (IERS) are (i) to ensure consistency

between its three major reference products, the International

Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF), the International Celes-

tial Reference Frame (ICRF), and the EOP connecting these

two frames and (ii) to guarantee the best feasible precisions

and accuracies for these three reference products.

Regarding the ﬁrst goal, the ITRF2005 computation was

recently a major step toward the consistency between the

IERS products. Indeed, for the ﬁrst time, the ITRF2005 com-

bination provided the TRFtogether with consistent EOPtime

123

32 D. Coulot et al.

series, namely Polar Motion (PM) from VLBI and satellite

techniques and Universal Time (UT) and Length Of Day

(LOD) from VLBI only (Altamimi et al. 2007). This result

led to the production of the new IERS EOP time series

IERS 05 C04. The consistency of these EOP series and the

ITRF2005is nowregularlycheckedandis ensuredat the level

of 20–30µas (Altamimi et al. 2008). In comparison, Bizouard

and Gambis (2009) assess the discrepancy between the pre-

vious IERS C04 EOP time series and the ITRF2005 at the

level of 300 µas. Concerning the IERS second task, the gen-

eration of these new 05 C04 series was also the opportunity

of implementing an upgraded computation procedure. This

new method induces a great improvement of the EOP accu-

racy, nowassessed at the level of 50µas for PM(Bizouard and

Gambis 2009). Few years ago, Gambis (2004) still estimated

this latter at approximately 100µas. The natural sensitivities

of the space geodetic techniques with respect to EOP (see

Table 1 of Gambis 2004) clearly affect the quality of their

data-related EOP series; the way these EOP are referenced

may also have a significant inﬂuence.

There are currently several ways of rigorously referenc-

ing EOP series with respect to any given TRF. The ﬁrst

method consists in using a stacking approach like the one

applied for ITRF2005 computation (Altamimi et al. 2007).

Indeed, this latter was generated, for the ﬁrst time in the

ITRF history, from time series (weekly from satellite tech-

niques and 24-h session-wise from VLBI) of station posi-

tions and daily EOP. This approach is mainly based on the

Helmert transformation, a seven-parameter similarity—see

for instance Altamimi et al. (2002b), and on the equivalent

relations for EOP(ZhuandMueller 1983). Schematically, the

weekly seven-parameter transformations between the indi-

vidual solutions and a stacked frame—a mean global secular

frame realized in the TRF by the application of MC and/or

internal constraints—are estimated simultaneously with this

stacked frame and consistent EOP series. During the estima-

tion process, the rotations are applied to the original daily

EOP to align them with respect to the orientation of the

stacked frame. The consistency of EOP among the epochs

of the original solution is thus only guaranteed by the fact

that this computation method encompasses all the available

solutions. The second method is similar to the previous one

but does not produce a stacked frame. More precisely, this

approach consists in directly computing the seven-param-

eter transformations between the weekly solutions and the

TRF. The weekly rotations are then applied to the original

daily EOP to align them with respect to the orientation of

the TRF, in accordance with the relations derived in Zhu

and Mueller (1983). Here, only an “optimal” estimation of

the weekly rotations between the involved Terrestrial Frames

(TF) and the TRF guarantees the EOP consistency among the

epochs. The ﬁnal approach directly references the daily EOP

with respect to the TRF by applying the appropriate MC at

the normal system level (Coulot et al. 2007). Indeed, MC

were mainly designed to adequately compensate for the rank

deﬁciencies of the normal matrices involved in any space

geodetic data processing (Sillard and Boucher 2001); but,

MC can also be used to nullify some of the transforma-

tion parameters between the TF underlying the considered

solutions and the TRF (Altamimi et al. 2002a). This last

approach is the one used for the present study. The main

issue for this method is thus to guarantee the EOP consis-

tency among epochs through the weekly application of MC,

constraints which not originally aim at optimally deﬁning a

TF orientation. This latter point is more discussed later on,

in Sect. 2.

MC and core station networks are key issues of these

three approaches. Indeed, the simultaneous estimation of

ITRF2005 and its joined EOP provides EOP series consistent

with the orientation of this TRF. This orientation is deﬁned

in order to get null rotation parameters at epoch 2000.0 and

null rotation rates between the ITRF2005 and the ITRF2000.

These two conditions are fulﬁlled by means of MC applied

over a core set of 70 stations located in 55 sites, see Fig. 9 of

Altamimi et al. (2007). This empirical core set of stations was

derived to avoid any artifact, related to any frame misdefi-

nition, in the so-computed EOP time series. Moreover, for

both ﬁrst approaches, the seven-parameter transformation

computation requires realistic station position variance–

covariance matrices for the least-squares estimation. Such

variance–covariance matrices can be deduced from MC

applied on appropriate networks (Altamimi et al. 2002b).

Finally, the importance of MC and, especially, of the net-

work over which these latter are applied is clearly illustrated

later on, in Sect. 3.

The present study consists in ﬁnding the optimal SLR

weekly core networks over which apply MCto guarantee the

best achievable referencing, by means of these MC, of SLR

derived EOP with respect to ITRF2005. The SLR weekly

core networks are derived with the help of a particular sto-

chastic global optimization method, the Genetic Algorithms

(GA). These weekly networks are thus called “Genetically

Modiﬁed Networks” (GMN). We decided to ﬁrst carry out

this study for the SLR technique as its tracking network is

both sparsely distributed and restricted concerning the num-

ber of stations. The ﬁrst feature is a challenge regarding the

use of MC, whereas the second one preserves the application

of our algorithm based on GA from being too time consum-

ing over a long data span. The methodology developed here,

despite of its necessary tuning for SLR solutions, is general

and can be applied to other techniques.

Our aim here is in fact twofold. On one hand, our algo-

rithm is used to test whether the stability of the SLR EOP

series could be improved, on the basis of MC, with the help

of appropriate weekly core networks. On the other hand, and

in the same spirit than the core set of stations used for the

123

Global optimization of core station networks 33

ITRF2005 datumrealization, we also question the possibility

of making a mean reference network emerge by averaging

the weekly GMN. Indeed, such a core network may be very

useful from a practical point of view. These two major goals

are supplemented by other results provided by our analy-

sis. These latter are linked to the choice of the criteria to

optimize, to the possible incommensurability between the

objectives optimized by our algorithm, and ﬁnally to the pos-

sible inﬂuence of some geometrical parameters on the EOP

referencing.

The ﬁrst section, after a brief description of the SLR solu-

tions used for this study, discusses the definition of a TF

orientation and evidences the inﬂuence, on the EOP referenc-

ing, of the network over which MC are applied. The second

section then describes three ﬁxed reference networks cur-

rently usable for EOP referencing and the results provided

by these three networks. The third section is fully dedicated

to global optimization: we present the choice of the objec-

tives to optimize to ensure the best EOP referencing, the

procedure developed for our issue on the basis of an existing

GA, and the inherent numerical tests. The results provided

by our algorithm are then detailed and discussed. We partic-

ularly emphasize the stability of the EOP series so produced

and the issue concerning the possible emergence of a global

ﬁxed core network from the weekly GMN. Finally, we pro-

vide some conclusions and prospects.

2 Definition of a terrestrial frame orientation

In this section, we ﬁrst brieﬂy describe the data used for the

present study and the inherent features of the SLR network.

The Reference System Effect (RSE) and MC concepts are

then presented. Finally, the inﬂuence of MC on the EOP ref-

erencing is illustrated with numerical examples.

2.1 Data used

2.1.1 ASI solution

To carry out this study, we use the ofﬁcial solution (v10 ver-

sion) computed by the International Laser Ranging Service

(ILRS) (Pearlman et al. 2002) analysis centre hosted at the

Italian Spatial Agency (analysis centre named ASI). Over a

particular week, a solution consists of daily EOP (PM and

LOD), station positions for the whole available SLR track-

ing network, and possible range biases, simultaneously esti-

mated from a week of data on both LAGEOS satellites and

on both ETALON satellites. These solutions are available

in the form of SINEX ﬁles. The corresponding time span

is nearly 15years, from 12/27/1992 to 04/05/2008 inclusive.

This corresponds to exactly 797 weeks.

The strategy adopted for the computation of these solu-

tions is the one which was discussed and accepted during the

ILRS Analysis Working Group (AWG) meeting in Grasse,

France, in September 2007. This strategy is detailed in the

corresponding minutes.

1

2.1.2 SLR network features

A world-wide network of 77 stations is involved over the

considered data span of nearly 15years but the number of

stations available each week varies. On the whole, there is

a minimum number of seven stations, a maximum number

of 26 stations, and an average number of 19 stations each

week, the standard deviation being three. This points out the

dynamic nature of the involvedweeklySLRstationnetworks.

This feature concerns not only the number of available sta-

tions each week, but also the geographical distribution and

the presence of these stations. Figure 1 shows the SLR track-

ingnetwork, classifyingthe stations withrespect totheir pres-

ence duration in the weekly solutions over the whole period

of time. Among the 77 stations, only seven are available

between 75 and 100%of the time (black dots on Fig. 1): there

are three stations located in the US, three stations located in

Europe, and one station located in the West of Australia.

Finally, the quality of the SLRtracking station data is also

heterogeneous. Indeed, not all the SLR stations are equiva-

lent regarding the observation capability or the data accuracy.

This quality is moreover regularly checked and reported by

the ILRS. It is thus quite challenging to get a SLR refer-

ence network over which applying the MC. Nevertheless,

such networks exist and two of them are described later on.

Next Subsections discuss the TF orientation and illustrate the

inﬂuence of MC on EOP.

2.2 Terrestrial frame orientation

The definition of any TF orientation in fact amounts to solve

a free-network adjustment problem and must consequently

be apprehended in this general framework. The following

part is mainly based on the review of algebraic constraints

for TF datum definition by Sillard and Boucher (2001).

2.2.1 Free-network adjustment

The normal systems related to station positions involved in

any space geodesy data processing are singular. Indeed, by

nature, the space geodesy measurements do not carry all the

necessary information to deﬁne the TF underlying the station

positions. For instance, VLBI is not sensitive to the Earth’s

centre of mass whereas satellite techniques are. On one hand,

the estimation of station positions requires the definition of a

coordinate system, but, on another hand, the measurements

1

Available at http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/AWG_GRASSE_

minutes_24.09.2007.pdf.

123

34 D. Coulot et al.

180°

180°

240°

240°

300°

300°

0°

0°

60°

60°

120°

120°

180°

180°

-80° -80°

-40° -40°

0° 0°

40° 40°

80° 80°

Fig. 1 Station network named “ASI network” in text. Each week, this

network is made up by all the stations available in the ASI solution. The

black (respectively, green, blue, and red) dots correspond to the stations

available between 75 and 100 (respectively 50 and 75, 25 and 50, and

0 and 25)% of the whole data time span

are invariant with respect to some modiﬁcations in this coor-

dinate system (Grafarend and Schaffrin 1976). For the pres-

ent case study, as it will be numerically demonstrated later on,

the geometrical invariants are the three rotations related to the

orientation of the weekly TF underlying the ASI solutions.

The problem consisting in estimating, in a least-square

sense, station positions from space geodesy measurements

has thus an inﬁnite number of solutions (Dermanis 1994)

(with different parameter values and associated variance–

covariance matrices), and any solution of the involved sin-

gular normal system is called a free-network solution. Such

a solution belongs to the order zero, among the four orders

of network design proposed by Grafarend (1974).

The foundations of free-network adjustment were ﬁrst for-

mulated by Blaha (1971) and a wealth of literature has been

published since, both on the free network concept and on

the optimal methods to compute a solution for such a sin-

gular normal equation. These mathematical methods mostly

rely on the generalized matrix inverses (Bjerhammar 1973).

On the basis of these latter, Koch (1987) provided the general

form of a free-network adjustment solution; he also dem-

onstrated that the solution of minimum norm was the one

based on the Moore–Penrose pseudo-inverse (Penrose 1956).

This particular solution is also the one with the maximum

precision.

Blaha (1982) found the same minimum norm and

maximum precision solution but with a set of minimum

constraints, in the sense deﬁned by Schaffrin (1985); this

“minimum” characteristic is guaranteedbya relationbetween

the constraint matrix (then called the “matrix of inner con-

straint adjustment”) and the design matrix of the involved

normal system. The term “constraint” is here quite ambigu-

ous as, in fact, Blaha solved a conditional system.

These methods based on generalized matrix inverses may

provide biasedestimations of the stationpositions (Grafarend

and Schaffrin 1974). As the previous equivalence shows,

these methods in fact amount to add a regularization con-

dition to the involved normal system. But, if this condition

does not rely on the TF geometrical invariants, it may lead to

estimations fully dissociated from their physics. It is the rea-

son why Sillard and Boucher (2001) developed the concept of

RSEandMCunder the formrecommendedbythe ITRFprod-

uct centre since the ITRF2000 realization (Altamimi et al.

2002a). Both next parts brieﬂy present these concepts and

the transformation between two TF.

2.2.2 Transformation between two terrestrial frames

The standard relation of transformation between two TF is an

Euclidian similarity based on seven parameters (the Helmert

parameters), three translations t

x

, t

y

, and t

z

, a scale factor

offset d with respect to the unit scale, and three rotations

ε

x

, ε

y

, and ε

z

(Altamimi et al. 2002b). The transformation

of the a priori position vector of station i, x

i

0

, expressed in

123

Global optimization of core station networks 35

ITRF2005, into its corresponding estimated position vector

x

i

0

+δx

i

provided by any SLR data processing, is given by

δx

i

=t +d · x

i

0

+Rx

i

0

(1)

with

δx

i

=

⎛

⎝

δx

i

δy

i

δz

i

⎞

⎠

, t =

⎛

⎝

t

x

t

y

t

z

⎞

⎠

, and R=

⎡

⎣

0 ε

z

−ε

y

−ε

z

0 ε

x

ε

y

−ε

x

0

⎤

⎦

The corresponding transformation between the daily a pri-

ori EOP set eop

j

0

(equal to the IERS 05 C04 EOP time series)

and the corresponding estimated set eop

j

0

+ δeop

j

provided

by the considered SLR data processing is deduced from the

rotations as follows (Zhu and Mueller 1983):

δeop

j

=

_

δx

j

p

δy

j

p

_

and

_

δx

j

p

= −ε

y

δy

j

p

= −ε

x

(2)

The previous relations (1) and (2) can be matricially exp-

ressed as:

δx

i

= A

i

θ and δeop

j

= D

j

ρ (3)

with

θ

T

=

_

t

x

, t

y

, t

z

, d, ε

x

, ε

y

, ε

z

_

and ρ

T

=

_

ε

x

, ε

y

_

and

A

i

=

⎡

⎣

1 0 0 x

i

0

0 −z

i

0

y

i

0

0 1 0 y

i

0

z

i

0

0 −x

i

0

0 0 1 z

i

0

−y

i

0

x

i

0

0

⎤

⎦

, D

j

=

_

0 −1

−1 0

_

From the relations (3), we can deduce the least-squares esti-

mationof the vectors θ andρ, basedrespectivelyona network

of n stations and on a vector of m EOPsets (in the current con-

ﬁguration, the station network corresponds to a given weekly

estimation and the EOP vector corresponds to the seven daily

estimations of the EOP sets over the considered week),

_

ˆ

θ =

_

A

T

−1

A

_

−1

A

T

−1

δx

ˆ ρ =

_

D

T

−1

D

_

−1

D

T

−1

δeop

(4)

with

δx =

⎛

⎜

⎝

δx

1

.

.

.

δx

n

⎞

⎟

⎠, A =

⎡

⎢

⎣

A

1

.

.

.

A

n

⎤

⎥

⎦, var(δx) = ,

δeop =

⎛

⎜

⎝

δeop

1

.

.

.

δeop

m

⎞

⎟

⎠, D =

⎡

⎢

⎣

D

1

.

.

.

D

m

⎤

⎥

⎦, and var(δeop) =

2.2.3 Reference system effects and minimum constraints

The RSE concept was introduced by Sillard and Boucher

(2001) for TRF, namely sets of station positions and

velocities. The main goal of this concept is to identify the

geometrical invariants of any TF,

2

with respect to any given

measurement set. This identiﬁcation aims to add the only

necessary constraints to the considered singular normal sys-

tem, without spoiling the underlying physics. With the help

of these constraints, a solution is then estimated in the “free-

network adjustment” framework. The formulation of RSE is

mainly based on the S-transformations, ﬁrst introduced by

Baarda (1973). This statistical concept was generalized to

EOP by Coulot et al. (2007), independently from any equiv-

alent MC concept.

From a numerical point of view, to get these quantities,

we need to compute loosely constrained solutions, i.e. to add

loose constraints

3

to the normal systems involved in order

to make them invertible. The ASI weekly solutions pres-

ently used are loosely constrained solutions with a priori

standard deviations of 100m for station positions and of

equivalent values for EOP(PMand LOD). The relations link-

ing the RSE and the variance–covariance matrices and

of, respectively, the station positions and the EOP are (Sillard

and Boucher 2001; Coulot et al. 2007):

_

=

inner

+ A.

θ

.A

T

,

θ

=

_

A

T

−1

A

_

−1

=

inner

+ D.

θ

.D

T

,

θ

=

_

D

T

−1

D

_

−1

(5)

The matrices

θ

and

θ

are the RSE, respectively,

deduced from the station positions and the EOP. The matri-

ces A and D are deﬁned in previous Eqs. (3) and (4). Going

back to Eq. (4), we see that these effects are just the variance–

covariance matrices of the estimations of the transformation

parameters between the loosely constrained and the a pri-

ori solutions. The fuzzy deﬁned global parameters (the geo-

metrical invariants for the measurements) are then the ones

evidencing large formal errors (root squares of the diagonal

elements of the matrices

θ

and

θ

). Moreover, the matrices

inner

and

inner

are commonlycalledthe “inner noises” and

directly correspond to the real quality of space geodesy tech-

niques in providing station positions and EOP. Regarding the

station positions, this name directly comes from the work of

Meissel (1965) on inner error theory for geodetic networks.

We ﬁnally must specify that the two decompositions (5) are

unique.

According to Sillard and Boucher (2001), once the fuzzy

deﬁned global parameters are identiﬁed with the help of

RSE, there are several ways to access to the inner precision

inner

(and thus to the minimum norm and maximum preci-

sion free-network solution). One of these (quite equivalent)

approaches is the application of MC. The MC equation can

be easily derived, thanks to the expression of the transforma-

tion between ITRF2005, x

i

0

for station i , and the estimated

2

More precisely, in the present study, one of the seven global parame-

ters t

x

, t

y

, t

z

, d, ε

x

, ε

y

, and ε

z

, see previous Subsect. 2.2.2.

3

Equality constraints to zero for some parameters with large standard

deviations.

123

36 D. Coulot et al.

positions x

i

0

+ δx

i

. By restricting the Eq. (4) to the station

positions and the estimation of the three rotations (the fuzzy

deﬁned global parameters in the present case), we get:

ˆ

θ

ε

=

_

B

T

−1

B

_

−1

B

T

−1

δx (6)

with

θ

ε

T

=

_

ε

x

, ε

y

, ε

z

_

, δx =

⎛

⎜

⎝

δx

1

.

.

.

δx

n

⎞

⎟

⎠, B =

⎡

⎢

⎣

B

1

.

.

.

B

n

⎤

⎥

⎦,

B

i

=

⎡

⎣

0 −z

i

0

y

i

0

z

i

0

0 −x

i

0

−y

i

0

x

i

0

0

⎤

⎦

, and var(δx) =

The vector

ˆ

θ

ε

is an estimation of the three rotations

between the estimated TF and the a priori TRF. We can,

for instance, ﬁx

ˆ

θ

ε

to zero. In fact, it corresponds to aligning

the estimated TF with respect to ITRF2005 in orientation.

The corresponding MC equation is,

mc

being the variance–

covariance matrix associated to the constraint,

_

B

T

−1

B

_

−1

B

T

−1

δx = 0 (

mc

) (7)

This equation is to be added, in its “normal” form, to the

normal system involved in the considered data processing.

Doing so thus deﬁnes the three rotations of the TF underly-

ing the estimated station positions and EOP (Altamimi et al.

2002a).

Consequently, although the primary aimof MCis to ﬁnd a

minimum norm and maximum precision solution among an

inﬁnite set of possible ones, these constraints can be twisted

to deﬁne the orientation of a given TF underlying any esti-

mated station positions and EOP. We use them in that way

in the present work. To conclude these theoretical consider-

ations, we cite the following sentence, in relation with rela-

tions (5) and the inner noise matrix, fromSillard and Boucher

(2001): it may occur that the projection over some subset of

the original set instead of the whole set of coordinates gives

better results (i.e. smaller trace of the resulting variance–

covariance matrix).

2.3 Inﬂuence of minimum constraints on EOP referencing

After providing some numerical examples related to RSEand

MC, we demonstrate here the inﬂuence of the network over

which MC are applied on the EOP referencing so obtained.

2.3.1 Numerical illustrations

Table 1 provides the RSE (translated into parameter formal

errors; it will always be the case in the following) deduced

from the relations (5) for the loosely constrained solution

(original ASI solution) of the GPS week 1,031. We remark

a slight effect for the t

z

translation, directly linked to the

sparse distribution of the SLR network. The three rotations

clearly appear as the fuzzy deﬁned global parameters of the

TF. And the RSE values for the two ﬁrst rotations are consis-

tent for station positions and EOP. Furthermore, for this par-

ticular week, the median value of the spherical errors

4

of the

estimated loosely constrained station positions is 270.7mm.

This is clearly not the precision of the SLR positioning.

The median value of the formal errors of the estimated x

p

(respectively y

p

) pole coordinates is 5,667 (respectively

5,821) µas. All these numerical values indicate that the RSE

dominate the variance–covariance matrix of the loosely con-

strained solution. It is worth noting that the effects deduced

from the EOP variance–covariance matrices are larger than

those obtained for station positions.

We then compute a minimally constrained solution (solu-

tion computed with the application of MC at the normal

system level, after the withdrawal of the original loose con-

straints) for the same GPS week 1,031. MC are applied in

accordance with relation (7) and over the ASI network

(Fig. 1). Regarding the station positions, the median value

of the spherical errors is now 6.7mm (to compare to the pre-

vious 270.7mm value). The median value of the estimated

x

p

(respectively y

p

) formal errors is now 132 (respectively

102) µas. The application of MC clearly reduces the exist-

ing RSE, as shown in Table 1. The values of the effects on

the three rotations are clearly lower than those provided in

the same Table for the loose constrained solution. And the

effects on the translations and the scale factor have been left

unchanged. Moreover, the RSEvalues are no more consistent

for station positions and EOP variance–covariance matrices.

And, once again, the effects deduced fromthe EOP variance–

covariance matrices are larger than those obtained for station

positions. There are thus residual RSE in the EOP variance–

covariance matrices of the solutions computed with MC. This

fact was already evidenced by Coulot et al. (2007). Similar

results, regarding both loosely and minimally constrained

weekly solutions, are observed over the whole time period

of nearly 15years.

2.3.2 Importance of the referencing network

The MC(7) aimnot only to reduce the RSEevidenced for the

three rotations (and, as a consequence, to get realistic vari-

ance–covariance matrices for station positions and EOP), but

also to align the orientation of the weekly TF with respect to

ITRF2005. As a consequence, andinaccordance withEq. (2),

the estimated EOP time series are referenced in the reference

underlying the IERS 05 C04 series. Figure 2 shows, over

the period 2000.0–2001.5, the differences, with the IERS

4

σ

sph

=

_

σ

2

x

+σ

2

y

+σ

2

z

+2σ

xy

+2σ

xz

+2σ

yz

123

Global optimization of core station networks 37

Table 1 Reference system effects deduced from the variance–covariance matrices of the estimated station positions (lines “Stations”) and EOP

(lines “EOP”)

Parameters

t

x

t

y

t

z

d ε

x

ε

y

ε

z

Loose constrained solution

Stations 0.5 0.5 1.5 0.1 5,594 5,553 9,685

EOP − − − − 5,768 5,640 −

Solution with minimum constraints

Stations 0.5 0.5 1.5 0.1 21 17 7

EOP − − − − 90 117 −

The effects are provided for a solution computed with loose constraints (original ASI solution) and for a solution computed with minimumconstraints

(applied to the three rotations, with respect to ITRF2005, over the ASI network, Fig. 1). Both solutions correspond to the GPS week 1,031. Only

effects regarding both ﬁrst rotations can be deduced from the estimated EOP variance–covariance matrix. The effects are translated into parameter

formal errors and are given in cm for the three translations t

x

, t

y

, and t

z

, in ppb for the scale factor offset d, and in µas for the three rotations ε

x

, ε

y

,

and ε

z

2000 2000.5 2001 2001.5

−3

−2

−1

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

x 10

4

Year

x

p

(

µ

)

s

a

Fig. 2 Differences between the x

p

pole coordinate daily series com-

puted with loose constraints (original ASI solution, dashed line) and

the IERS 05 C04 series versus the similar differences for the x

p

daily

series computed with minimumconstraints (solid line), in 10

4

µas, over

the period 2000.0–2001.5. The minimum constraints are applied to the

three rotations, with respect to ITRF2005, over the ASI network, Fig. 1

05 C04 series, of the estimated x

p

pole coordinate daily

series. These daily series are respectively provided by the

loose constrained solution (the original ASI solution) and

by the solution computed with MC applied over the ASI net-

work. The differences for the loose constrained series appear

to be successions of steps, these latter corresponding to the

weeks of estimation (similar results are observed for the y

p

pole coordinate). Over the whole time period, the weighted

mean and standard deviation values of these difference series

are, respectively, 53,432 and 129,451µas. On the other hand,

the minimally constrained solution is clearly more stable.

Indeed, over the whole time period, the weighted mean and

standard deviation values of the corresponding difference

series are, respectively, 3 and 324 µas.

Figure 3 shows, over the period 2000.0–2001.5, the differ-

ences between the estimated y

p

pole coordinate daily series

provided by solutions computed with MC. These MC are

respectively applied over the ASI network (Fig. 1) and the

network recommended by the ILRS AWG for EOP refer-

encing. As on Fig. 2 for the loose constrained series, the

difference time series are successions of weekly steps. The

difference between both time series thus mainly comes from

the referencing carried out each week of estimation (similar

results are observed for the x

p

pole coordinate). Over the

whole time period, the weighted mean and standard devia-

tion values of these differences are, respectively, −43 and

228 µas. It is worth noting that the Weighted Root Mean

Square (WRMS

5

) of the post ﬁt PM residuals resulting from

the ITRF2005 combination is approximately 130 µas for the

ILRS SLR combined solution (Altamimi et al. 2008).

The reference network used for the application of MC

is thus of great importance for the referencing and, conse-

quently, for the stability of the daily EOP series estimated

with the weekly station position series. The application of

global optimization aims to improve this stability by pro-

viding, each week, the optimal reference network for the

application of MC.

Before going through this issue, we present hereafter, in

the next section, the results produced with three networks:

the ASI, IGN, and ILRS networks. Both latter networks can

be used for EOP referencing. In the following, these results

will be used as reference ones for comparison with those

produced with our algorithm.

5

Considering a random set (x

i

)

1≤i ≤n

with associated standard devia-

tions (σ

i

)

1≤i ≤n

, the WMRS is deﬁned as

_

i

x

2

i

σ

2

i

_

_

i

1

σ

2

i

.

123

38 D. Coulot et al.

2000 2000.5 2001 2001.5

−800

−600

−400

−200

0

200

400

600

800

Year

y

p

(

s

e

c

n

e

r

e

f

f

i

d

µ

)

s

a

Fig. 3 Differences between the y

p

pole coordinate daily solution com-

puted with minimum constraints applied over the ASI network (Fig. 1)

and the y

p

daily solution computed with minimum constraints applied

over the network recommended by the ILRS analysis working group for

EOP referencing, in µas, over the period 2000.0–2001.5. The minimum

constraints are applied to the three rotations, with respect to ITRF2005

3 State-of-the-art: usual core station networks

This section presents the three ASI, ILRS, and IGNnetworks

and the results produced with these networks regarding the

EOP referencing and the station position time series.

3.1 Reference networks and quality criteria

The three reference networks used for carrying out some

comparisons with the networks provided by our algorithm

are called the ASI, ILRS, and IGNnetworks. They are respec-

tively shown on Figs. 1, 4 and 5.

As previously mentioned in Sect. 2.1, the ASI network

is made up by all the stations available in the ASI solution

each week. Consequently, it cannot really be considered as a

reference network designed to optimally apply MC. Never-

theless, as it is the most obvious usable network for the MC

application, we keep it for comparisons.

The IGN network is based on 16 stations. This network is

not particularly designed for EOPreferencing but is routinely

used by the ITRF product centre, at the Institut Géographi-

que National (IGN), to apply MC during any SLR solution

stacking with CATREF software (Altamimi Z, private com-

munication, 2008).

Finally, the third network (the ILRS network) is based on

21 stations. But, among these 21 stations, only 13 stations

can be considered over the whole time period (black dots on

Fig. 5), the other eight stations (green dots) being only usable

over given time periods. This network was designed by the

ILRS AWGfor EOP referencing and is currently named “the

ILRS list of core sites”. It can thus be considered as the cur-

rent conventional core station network to use for SLR EOP

referencing. Rigorously speaking, the station 7810 (Zimmer-

wald, Switzerland) can only be considered as a core station

regarding its measurements carried out in the blue wave-

length. We do not work here directly at the observation level,

and, as this station is one of the most effective of the ILRS

tracking network, we decided to consider this station as a

core one over the period recommended by the ILRS AWG.

180°

180°

240°

240°

300°

300°

0°

0°

60°

60°

120°

120°

180°

180°

-80° -80°

-40° -40°

0° 0°

40° 40°

80° 80°

Fig. 4 Station network named “IGN network” in text. This network is based on 16 stations. Each week, it is made up by all the stations, taken

from these 16, available in the ASI solution

123

Global optimization of core station networks 39

180°

180°

240°

240°

300°

300°

0°

0°

60°

60°

120°

120°

180°

180°

-80° -80°

-40° -40°

0° 0°

40° 40°

80° 80°

Fig. 5 Station network named “ILRS network” in text. This network

is based on 21 stations among which only 13 stations (black dots) can

be considered over the whole time span. The other eight stations (green

dots) can only be considered over given periods of time. Each week, this

network is made up by all the stations, taken from these 21, available

in the ASI solution

Both IGN and ILRS networks sound like ﬁxed networks

but it is not the case. Indeed, each week, due to the dynamic

nature of the SLR network, the corresponding networks are

in fact made up by all the stations, taken from the ﬁxed lists

of stations, available in the ASI solution.

As the geographical distribution of the stations is obvi-

ouslya primaryqualitycriterionof anyreference network, we

develop a distribution quality criterion. To assess the distri-

bution of the stations composing a given network, we use the

coordinates of the Centre of Network (CN), i.e. the isobary-

centre of the network, expressedinITRF2005. The more min-

imal the absolute values of these coordinates are, the more

reliable is the distribution of the corresponding SLRnetwork.

This assertion should of course be moderated regarding dense

networks. In the present case, this is true only because more

than 80%of the SLRstations are located at mid-latitude posi-

tions (see Fig. 1).

This criterion can be summed up by a unique quantity, the

distance fromthis CNto the origin of ITRF2005 d

CN

, which,

for a network of n stations, is expressed as:

∀c ∈ {x, y, z}, ¯ c =

1

n

n

i =1

c

i

, d

CN

=

_

¯ x

2

+ ¯ y

2

+ ¯ z

2

(8)

x

i

, y

i

, z

i

designating the cartesian coordinates of the station

i in the ITRF2005 solution, computed at the 2000.0 refer-

ence epoch. Table 2 gives the mean and standard deviation

values of the weekly numbers of stations and of the CNcoor-

dinates for the three reference networks. It is worth noting

that the numbers of stations are both lower and more sta-

ble for the IGN and ILRS networks. Moreover, no network

simultaneously optimizes the three CN coordinates, above

all the ASI network that minimizes none of them. The large

mean values obtained for the CN z coordinates obviously

come from the heterogeneous distribution of the SLR net-

work between both hemispheres.

Inorder totest the stabilityof a givenweeklynetwork, over

a long time period, we ﬁnally introduce the “mean presence”

criterion deﬁned as follows. We ﬁrst deﬁne the presence of a

station over the considered data time span by:

presence =

occurrence in the ASI network

797

× 100 (9)

For a given weekly network, made up of m stations, the mean

presence of the network is just the mean value of all individ-

ual indicators presence

i

,

1

m

m

i =1

presence

i

, expressed in %.

A high mean presence value thus shows that the considered

weekly network is made up by stations regularly present in

the ASI solution.

3.2 Results produced with the reference networks

As noticed in Gambis (2004), the precision of any product

is directly linked to the stability or the reproductibility of

a given data set whereas the accuracy mainly corresponds

123

40 D. Coulot et al.

Table 2 Weekly numbers of available stations and Centre of Network (CN) coordinates (mean ±standard deviation values) for the three reference

networks ASI, IGN, and ILRS

Network

ASI IGN ILRS

Numbers of stations 19 ±3 11 ±2 12 ±2

CN x coordinates 1.88 ±0.58 1.25 ±0.66 1.13 ±0.50

CN y coordinates 0.36 ±0.66 −0.07 ±0.64 −0.27 ±0.93

CN z coordinates 2.83 ±0.42 3.13 ±0.32 2.69 ±0.38

The CN coordinates are expressed in 1,000km and the corresponding minimum statistical values are evidenced in bold

to an external estimation of the quality of the considered

product with respect to the “true” value of this latter. Thus,

biases, drifts, and WRMS with respect to reference series are

commonly used to assess the quality of EOP series (Gambis

2004; Bizouard and Gambis 2009). The WRMS is particu-

larly used as an accuracy or, more precisely, as an inaccuracy

assessment quantity. For the present study, we decided to use

the WRMS of the differences between the computed series

and the IERS 05 C04 series, which is dominated by the GPS

PM. We consider it as a mixed precision/inaccuracy assess-

ment quantity, the precision (with the meaning of stability)

being more rigorously provided by the weighted standard

deviation.

The statistics of the results produced with the reference

networks ASI, IGN, and ILRS, are provided in Table 3.

For each of these three networks, weekly station position

solutions are computed with the application of MC to the

three rotations, with respect to ITRF2005, over the consid-

ered network. Daily EOP(PMand LOD) series are computed

together with these station positions.

First, Table 3 provides the statistics of the results linked

to the EOP time series: the formal errors of these series,

the residual RSE for both rotations ε

x

and ε

y

deduced from

the second relation of Eq. (5), Sect. 2.2, the rotations esti-

mated with respect to the IERS05 C04 series according to the

second relation of Eq. (4), and the bias, drift, weighted stan-

dard deviation, and WRMSvalues of the differences between

these series and the IERS 05 C04 series.

According to all these results, the ILRS network appears

to be the best network for the application of MC. Indeed, its

use induces the largest reduction of the residual RSE (ﬁrst

lines of Table 3). Moreover, it provides the most stable EOP

time series, concerning both residual rotations with respect to

the IERS 05 C04 series and the weighted standard deviations

of the difference series (last lines of Table 3).

Regarding the bias values, we note a significant bias with

respect to the IERS 05 C04 series for the y

p

pole coordinate

for all the computed series. According to Gambis (2004), the

EOP series provided by the different space geodetic tech-

niques are heterogeneous, these inconsistencies being mainly

modeled by biases and drifts. Moreover, the same can be said

for different solutions computedfromthe data of a giventech-

nique, according to Table8 of the article above-mentioned.

Indeed, for the three SLR solutions studied in this article,

the x

p

and y

p

biases range from −366 to 110 µas. The bias

evidenced in our y

p

series is most probably due to any incon-

sistency intrinsic to the ASI solution used here. And there is

no reason to see it disappear, even if it seems that it can

be reduced, according to the results obtained with the ASI

network. We do not consider neither the mean values of the

differences of the EOP series (which are quite equivalent to

the weekly rotation mean values), nor the drift values, as real

quality indicators.

Independentlyfromthe studyconductedwithEOP, Table 4

provides the statistics of the results linked to the station posi-

tion time series: the spherical errors of the series (previously

deﬁned in Sect. 2.3), the residual RSE of the three rotations

ε

x

, ε

y

, and ε

z

, deduced from the ﬁrst relation of Eq. (5), the

rotations estimated with respect to ITRF2005 according to

the ﬁrst relation of Eq. (4), the CN distances d

CN

(8), and

the mean presences. Regarding the estimation of the three

rotations, it must be speciﬁed that all the seven parameters

are estimated but only the results regarding the three rota-

tions are reported here, the results for the translations and

the scale factors being unchanged. Furthermore, no station

position rejection process is carried out for these computa-

tions.

From all the results concerning both the residual rotation

RSE and the residual rotations with respect to ITRF2005, the

ASI network now appears as the best network. Indeed, it is

the network for which the RSE are the most reduced. It also

provides the most stable residual rotation series, according

to their standard deviation values. It is worth noting that, in

this case, the residual rotation mean values are quality indi-

cators; indeed, the MC consists in aligning the orientation of

the weekly TF on the orientation of ITRF2005.

Regarding the mean presence indicator, the IGN network

appears as the most stable networkover time. Indeed, this net-

work is partly designed with this requirement (Altamimi Z,

private communication, 2008). In the opposite, the ASI

123

Global optimization of core station networks 41

Table 3 Statistics of the results produced with the differences between the daily EOP series, simultaneously estimated with the weekly station

position series, and the IERS 05 C04 series

Reference network

ASI IGN ILRS

x

p

y

p

x

p

y

p

x

p

y

p

EOP series formal errors

Median value 114 118 92 92 89 87

Bound value

a

396 492 262 294 237 255

EOP series differences

Bias

b

−2 88 −26 120 −17 120

Bias formal error 4 4 4 3 4 3

Drift 5 0 9 8 7 7

Drift formal error 1 1 1 1 1 1

Weighted standard deviation 324 301 294 257 287 246

WRMS 324 314 295 286 287 275

ε

x

ε

y

ε

x

ε

y

ε

x

ε

y

Weekly rotation reference system effects

Median value 94 87 58 58 53 54

Bound value

a

427 346 235 182 194 170

Weekly rotations

c

Mean value −80 8 −124 30 −126 21

Standard deviation 336 317 250 238 216 221

The weekly solutions are computed with minimum constraints for the three rotations, applied with respect to ITRF2005, over the three reference

networks ASI, IGN, and ILRS. All values are provided in µas or in µas/a (drift values). The minimum values are evidenced in bold for the quantities

chosen as quality indicators

a

Value val such as 95% of the values are in the interval [0, val]

b

The bias value is simultaneously estimated with the drift value at the mid epoch of the whole time span (08/16/2000)

c

The rotations are estimated with respect to the IERS 05 C04 time series, using the second relation of Eq. (4)

network, made up each week by all the available stations,

evidences the lowest mean value for this criterion.

From all these results, we can conclude that the network

used for the application of the MC clearly inﬂuences the

EOP weekly referencing and, as a consequence, the stability

of the computed EOP series. Furthermore, it seems that the

network providing the best EOP referencing is not neces-

sarily the best one for the station position referencing. This

will be discussed later on. The rest of this paper is dedicated

to the application of global optimization to ensure the best

EOP weekly referencing on the basis of the MC. The next

section describes the approach used to achieve this optimal

referencing.

4 Global optimization

Global optimization methods, and, in particular, heuristics,

have been recently applied to geodetic problems. For

instance, Dare and Saleh (2000) applied optimal (for small

networks) and near-optimal (for larger networks) optimiza-

tion methods, such as simulated annealing, for GPS network

design problems. Simulated annealing was also used for the

ﬁrst-order design of geodetic networks by Berné and Baselga

(2004). In the present study, we use GA. Recently, Saleh and

Chelouah (2004) used GA for designing GPS surveying net-

works, from a topometric and observational point of view.

Baselga and García-Asenjo (2008) also applied GA to solve

the GNSS double difference positioning model with robust

estimation.

GA are Evolutionary Algorithms (EA), i.e. stochastic

algorithms that emulate the evolution theory by using some

genetic operators such as chromosome selection, crossover

(recombination), and gene mutation and the rule of survival

of the ﬁttest in probabilistic terms. The main idea of the GA

is to make subsets, called populations, of possible solutions

of a given optimization problem evolve in order to obtain

the global optimum for the problem. During the successive

generations, the individuals of the population are evaluated

with respect to their ability of optimizing the considered

123

42 D. Coulot et al.

Table 4 Statistics of the results produced with the weekly station position time series

Reference network

ASI IGN ILRS

Weekly station position spherical errors

Median value 7 6 6

Bound value

a

56 52 51

Weekly CN distances d

CN

Mean value 3.11 3.50 3.11

Standard deviation 0.47 0.33 0.42

Weekly mean presence

Mean value 58.7 76.3 71.3

Standard deviation 4.8 5.2 3.8

ε

x

ε

y

ε

z

ε

x

ε

y

ε

z

ε

x

ε

y

ε

z

Weekly rotation reference system effects

Median value 14 17 5 15 21 5 14 19 6

Bound value

a

29 34 10 33 37 11 41 36 12

Weekly rotations

b

Mean value 32 −19 3 55 −1 −1 50 4 2

Standard deviation 116 122 38 131 150 45 139 139 55

These series are computed, simultaneously with EOP series, with minimum constraints for the three rotations, applied with respect to ITRF2005,

over the three reference networks ASI, IGN, and ILRS. All values concerning the three rotations are provided in µas. The spherical error statistics

are provided in mm, the statistics related to the Centre of Network (CN) distances d

CN

, Eq. (8), are provided in 1,000 km, and the statistics for the

mean presences are given in %. The optimum values are evidenced in bold

a

Value val such as 95% of the values are in the interval [0, val]

b

The rotations are estimated with respect to ITRF2005, using the ﬁrst relation of Eq. (4)

objective(s) and the best individuals are favored in order to

make better solutions emerge. Goldberg (1989) wrote the

ﬁrst book popularizing GA. A wealth of literature has been

published since and GAhave become an active research ﬁeld.

Here, we ﬁrst justify the choice of the objectives to opti-

mize. We then brieﬂy present our algorithmand the approach

we retained for the choice of the ﬁnal optimal solutions

among the sets of non-dominated solutions provided by our

procedure based on a Multi Objective GA (MOGA). Text1,

electronic supplementary material, is fully dedicated to the

presentation of this procedure and of the major concepts on

which it relies; it moreover provides a concise review of

methods for handling preferences in MOGA(in other words,

for choosing the ﬁnal optimal solution) and related numerical

tests.

4.1 Multiple objectives to optimize

We aim here at guaranteeing the best referencing of daily

EOP series produced together with weekly station position

solutions. This referencing is achieved with MC restricted to

the three rotations of the weekly TF with respect to

ITRF2005. These MC are completely deﬁned through the B

matrix of Eq. (7) and, especially, through the station network

used for designing this latter. In order to assess the quality

of the derived EOP and, more particularly, their stability, we

have to choose objectives directly linked to this referencing.

As shown by the results provided in Tables 3 and 4, many

quantities depend on the network over which MCare applied:

formal errors of the EOP and station position time series,

standarddeviations (scatters) of the weeklyrotations deduced

from the EOP estimates and of the EOP time series them-

selves, as well as mean and standard deviation values of rota-

tions deduced fromthe station positions estimates, etc. Thus,

the choice spectrumis broad. But, in essence, the RSEare the

best statistical quantities to assess the MC handling. Indeed,

they are global criteria, which furthermore assess the a priori

quality of the estimations of the seven Helmert parameters.

And, ﬁnally, the MC are intrinsically based on these global

parameters.

We notice in Sect. 3 the dualismbetween the RSEdeduced

from EOP and from station position variance–covariance

matrices. But, according to the results given in Table 3, the

network providing the minimum rotation residual RSE

deduced from the EOP variance–covariance matrices

(namely, the ILRSnetwork) is the one providing the most sta-

ble EOP time series. Thus the rotation residual RSE [Eq. (5),

second relation] deduced fromthe EOP variance–covariance

123

Global optimization of core station networks 43

matrices (denoted σε

eop

x

and σε

eop

y

, in the following) appear

as the best suited objectives regarding the EOP referencing.

From a strictly geometrical point of view, we must also

keep the residual RSEon the third rotation [σε

sta

z

, see Eq. (5),

ﬁrst relation] provided by the station position variance-

covariance matrices as a possible objective to optimize.

Indeed, the SLR loose constrained solutions evidence resid-

ual RSE for the three rotations (see Table 1) and not only for

both rotations ε

x

and ε

y

. And these solutions do not provide

UT but its time derivative LOD, which is not directly linked

to the third rotation ε

z

. Consequently, this third rotation resid-

ual RSE, σε

sta

z

, is only accessible through the station position

variance-covariance matrices.

We have three objectives to minimize: σε

eop

x

, σε

eop

y

, and

σε

sta

z

. When dealing with multiple objectives, a classical

approach, in the EA framework, consists in aggregating all

these objectives in one single scalarizing objective func-

tion, such as a weighted sum of the objectives for example.

But, serious drawbacks have been proven for these methods

and, regarding Multi Objective Optimization (MOO), the EA

community mostly favors the approaches relying on Pareto

dominance relation (Knowles and Corne 2004). Considering

a minimization problem with m objective functions f

i

, this

dominance relation is deﬁned by (Coello Coello 2005)

x y ⇐⇒

_

∀i ∈ {1, . . . , m} f

i

(x) ≤ f

i

(y)

∃ j ∈ {1, . . . , m} / f

j

(x) < f

j

(y)

(10)

Such an approach does not provide the user with a single

optimal solution, but with a set of non-dominated solutions,

called the Pareto optimal set (Konak et al. 2006). Moreover,

this optimal set can help the user, not only to study the rela-

tionships among the objectives, but also to gain insights about

the inherent structure of the problem at hand (Ulrich et al.

2008). For all these reasons, we decided to design an algo-

rithm on the basis of an existing MOGA and, consequently,

to consider independently the three objectives σε

eop

x

, σε

eop

y

,

and σε

sta

z

. This moreover avoids the necessity of specifying

weights, normalizing objectives, etc., as noted by Knowles

and Corne (2004).

4.2 Algorithm used

Konak et al. (2006) provide an overviewand a tutorial on GA

specifically developed for problems with multiple objectives,

the so-called MOGA. These authors made an inventory of 13

famous existing MOGAand, among them, we chose the spe-

ciﬁc algorithm NSGA-II (Deb et al. 2002). Indeed, NSGA-II

is one of the most popular MOGA of the so-called second

generation, which has moreover become a landmark (Coello

Coello 2006).

Each week, on the basis of NSGA-II, our algorithm

searches, among all the possible networks usable to build the

B matrix of Eq. (7) with at least three stations, those which

provide the best compromises between the three objectives

σε

eop

x

, σε

eop

y

, and σε

sta

z

. In order to improve the convergence

of our approach, our algorithm in fact relies, each week, on

two runs of NSGA-II. The ﬁrst run aims at providing a dis-

tance boundary in the objective space. This distance is then

used in the second run for concentrating the search on the

most interesting solutions, regarding EOP referencing. But,

for the weekly solutions comprising a number of available

stations between seven and 11,

6

the Pareto optimal sets are

directly found among all possible solutions on the basis of

(10). Thus, using GAis not necessary for those cases. For the

other weeks, our algorithm based on NSGA-II is used, with

settings tuned with respect to the number of available stations

in the network. Finally, we use 15 particular test weeks (each

week corresponding to a given number of stations between

12 and 26) for carrying convergence tests to check the efﬁ-

ciency of our algorithm. Interested readers can refer to Text1,

where all these points are detailed.

4.3 Choice of the optimal solution

As previously noted, our algorithm supplies a set of non-

dominated solutions, the so-called Pareto optimal set. This

thus raises the issue of the choice of the ﬁnal optimal solu-

tion in this Pareto optimal set. Paradoxally, little attention has

been paid to the decision making process required to select

this optimal solution (Coello Coello 2000), even if the situa-

tion seems to have recently evolved, at least regarding the a

priori methods (Cvetkovi´ c and Coello Coello 2004).

The Pareto optimal sets provided each week by both runs

of our two-step procedure permitted us to carry out numerous

tests regarding this issue of the ﬁnal optimal solution selec-

tion. Some of them are described in Text1 (in particular, see

Tables 8, 9, 10, 11). We just report here the most important

results.

First, choosing the optimal solution (in the Pareto optimal

set) as the one optimizing one particular objective σε

eop

x

,

σε

eop

y

, or σε

sta

z

, proves the incommensurability of σε

sta

z

with

both σε

eop

x

and σε

eop

y

criteria. Indeed, the WRMS of the dif-

ferences between the so-obtained EOP and the IERS 05 C04

series are 302 and 294 µas, respectively, for x

p

and y

p

, when

σε

sta

z

is the choice criterion, against 277 (respectively 266)

and 243 (respectively 251) µas, when σε

eop

x

(respectively

σε

eop

y

) is the choice criterion.

Second, the results are not drastically modiﬁed when the

optimal solution selection relies on the minimization of the

CN distance d

CN

(8), the maximization of the number of sta-

tions involved in the network, or the maximization of the

weekly mean presence (9). This certainly proves that the

6

These particular solutions only represent 1.25%of the 797 considered

weeks.

123

44 D. Coulot et al.

Table 5 Weekly numbers of available stations and Centre of Network (CN) coordinates (mean ± standard deviation values) for the genetically

modiﬁed networks corresponding to the solutions GMN

opt

eop

, GMN

net

eop

, and GMN

opt

sta

Solution

GMN

opt

eop

GMN

net

eop

GMN

opt

sta

Best

Numbers of stations 8 ±2 8 ±2 6 ±2 –

CN x coordinates 0.29 ±0.54 0.47 ±0.50 −0.04 ±0.15 1.13 ±0.50

CN y coordinates −0.03 ±0.54 −0.21 ±0.50 −0.02 ±0.18 −0.07 ±0.64

CN z coordinates 1.87 ±0.89 2.18 ±0.81 0.34 ±0.57 2.69 ±0.32

The CN coordinates are expressed in 1,000km and the corresponding minimum statistical values, among the three GMN results, are evidenced in

bold. The best values obtained with the three reference networks ASI, IGN, and ILRS (Table 2) are recalled in the last column for comparison

optimization of the chosen three objectives σε

eop

x

, σε

eop

y

, and

σε

sta

z

implicitly optimizes also these station related criteria.

Finally, we tested the most commonly used a posteriori

approach, namely the weighted sum, one of the most recent

approaches, the evaluation line (Vergidis et al. 2008), and the

following intuitive geometric criterion,

d

σ

=

_

σε

eop 2

x

+ σε

eop 2

y

+σε

sta 2

z

(11)

to select the ﬁnal optimal solutions among the Pareto opti-

mal sets. According to the simple preference method of de

Caritat Condorcet (1785),

7

the choice criterion providing the

best results (especially concerning the EOP referencing) is

the one relying on the d

σ

distance (11) in the objective space.

This criterion is thus the one used in the following. The next

section is dedicated to the results provided by our global

optimization approach.

5 Results

This section presents the results provided by our procedure.

We ﬁrst detail the results obtained from three different GMN

solutions. Then, to test whether our algorithm would permit

to deduce a mean core network usable for the MCapplication

over a long period of time, we precisely study the networks

hidden behind the GMN.

5.1 Weekly genetically modiﬁed networks

In addition to the 10 GMN solutions computed for this study

and reported in Text1, we computed two other solutions.

We thus report here the results obtained with the three fol-

lowing GMN solutions: GMN

opt

eop

, GMN

net

eop

, and GMN

opt

sta

.

GMN

opt

eop

is the solution for which the distance d

σ

(11)

is used for the selection of the ﬁnal optimal solutions.

7

Alternative A is favored over B if the number of criteria where A is

better than B is greater then the number of criteria where B is better

than A (Cvetkovi´ c and Coello Coello 2004).

This choice criterion favors both objectives σε

eop

x

and σε

eop

y

,

compared to σε

sta

z

. It thus aims to optimize the EOP

referencing.

GMN

net

eop

is based on the results of our algorithm with

respect to the three objectives σε

eop

x

, σε

eop

y

, and σε

sta

z

, but

with an optimum solution choice criterion different from

the one of solution GMN

opt

eop

. Here, for each solution of the

Paretooptimal set, we compute the d

CN

distance (8), the mean

presence, and the number of stations nbrst a. On the basis

of these new three objectives and with the Pareto dominance

relation (10), we compute a new Pareto optimal set. Finally,

amongthis newoptimal subset, the optimal solutionis chosen

on the basis of the evaluation line approach (Vergidis et al.

2008) carried out with respective weights of 1 for the oppo-

site of the mean presence and 2 for both d

CN

and −nbrst a

values. This solution thus aims at making the most stable

global core network emerge from the weekly GMN, with

reasonable geographical distribution and number of stations.

Finally, GMN

opt

sta

is equivalent to the solution GMN

opt

eop

, but

based on the three objectives σε

sta

x

, σε

sta

y

, and σε

sta

z

and the

equivalent distance d

σ

computed with these latter objectives.

This last solution aims at comparing the results obtained with

those produced by the GMN

opt

eop

solution.

The statistics of the results provided by these three GMN

solutions are provided in Tables 5 and 6.

5.1.1 EOP indicators

All the indicators linked to EOP are improved with the use

of the GMN

opt

eop

solution in comparison with the best values

obtained with the three reference networks ASI, IGN, and

ILRS (see Tables 3, 4).

More precisely, usingthe GMNcorrespondingtothis solu-

tion induces a great improvement of the EOP indicators in

comparison to those related to the ILRS network. Indeed, the

gains are: 24 and 23% for the median values of the formal

errors of the x

p

and y

p

series, 43% for both rotations ε

x

and

ε

y

regarding the median values of the weekly residual RSE,

and 31 and 25% for the standard deviation values of both

123

Global optimization of core station networks 45

Table 6 The upper part provides the statistics of the results produced

with the differences between the daily EOP series, simultaneously esti-

mated with the weekly station position series, and the IERS 05 C04

series. The weekly solutions are computed with minimum constraints

for the three rotations, applied with respect to ITRF2005, over the three

genetically modiﬁed networks corresponding to the solutions GMN

opt

eop

,

GMN

net

eop

, and GMN

opt

sta

. All values are provided in µas or in µas/a (drift

values). The lower part provides the statistics of the results produced

with the weekly station position series. All values concerning the three

rotations are provided in µas. The spherical error statistics are provided

in mm, the statistics related to the Centre of Network (CN) distances

d

CN

, Eq. (8), are provided in 1000 km, and the statistics for the mean

presences are given in %. The optimum values, among the three GMN

results, are evidenced in bold for the quantities chosen as quality indi-

cators. The best values obtained with the three reference networks ASI,

IGN, and ILRS (Tables 3 and 4) are recalled in the last column for

comparison

opt

eop

net

eop

opt

sta

a

a

b

c

d

a

Value val such as 95% of the values are in the interval [0, val]

b

Rotations estimated with respect to the IERS 05 C04 series, using the second relation of (4)

c

Bias simultaneously estimated with drift at the mid epoch of the whole time span (08/16/2000)

d

The values not evidenced in italics correspond to the values obtained with the ILRS network

opt

eop

net

eop

opt

sta

e

e

f

e

Value val such as 95% of the values are in the interval [0, val]

f

Rotations estimated with respect to ITRF2005, using the ﬁrst relation of (4)

rotations ε

x

and ε

y

. Moreover, the WRMS of the differences

between the EOP series computed with the networks corre-

sponding to the GMN

opt

eop

solution and the IERS 05 C04 series

are respectively reduced by 8 (22 µas) and 10 (28 µas) % for

x

p

and y

p

with respect to the WRMS of the series produced

with the ILRS network. These reductions of about 25 µas

correspond to 50% of the present IERS 05 C04 series accu-

racy (Bizouard and Gambis 2009). Reductions of the same

level are also noted for the standard deviation values of these

EOP differences. Finally, even if they are not really consid-

ered as quality indicators, the bias values of the EOP series

with respect to the IERS 05 C04 series are slightly reduced

in comparison with those of the EOP series computed with

the ILRS network. They are contrariwise still larger than the

bias values of the EOP series computed with the ASI network

(Table 3). In light of these results, it is thus possible to reduce

the inﬂuence of the network used to apply MC on the EOP

referencing so obtained.

123

46 D. Coulot et al.

Regarding the GMN

net

eop

solution, the results obtained are

consistent with those produced by the GMN

opt

eop

solution.

Indeed, even if they are slightly worse than these latter, the

results provided by this solution are still better than those

obtained with the ILRS network.

On the contrary, a clear corruption of the results obtained

appears regarding the GMN

opt

sta

solution. Indeed, in compari-

son with the values produced with the ILRS network, the val-

ues obtained are increased by 20–30% for the median value

of the EOP formal errors, by 40–70%for the median value of

the weekly RSE deduced from the EOP variance–covariance

matrices, by 80–90% for the standard deviation values of the

weekly rotation time series, and by nearly 20–30% for the

WRMS of the differences between the computed EOP series

and the IERS 05 C04 series.

Finally, concerning the drift values of the differences

between the EOP series computed with all the three GMN

solutions and the IERS 05 C04 series, they are at the max-

imum level of six µas/a; this corresponds to a variation of

about three mm at the Earth’s surface after 15years. These

values are thus negligible as are the values obtained with the

three reference networks ASI, IGN, and ILRS (see Table 3).

5.1.2 Station positions indicators

A great majority of indicators linked to the station position

time series is improved with the use of the GMN

opt

sta

solution

in comparison with the best values obtained with the three

reference networks ASI, IGN, andILRS. It is particularlytrue

for the weekly RSE deduced from the station position var-

iance–covariance matrices, the weekly estimated rotations

with respect to ITRF2005, and the mean values of the CN

coordinates. These latter indicators (as well as the d

CN

indica-

tor in Table 6) show the importance of the network geometry

for the reduction of the RSE derived fromthe station position

variance–covariance matrices. This geometry is clearly not

essential for the reduction of the RSE deduced from the EOP

variance-covariance matrices, as shown in Table 5.

Comparing the three GMNsolutions, it is moreover worth

noting that, even if the values obtained with both solutions

GMN

opt

eop

and GMN

net

eop

are not the best achievable station

positions indicators, they are on the whole at the level or

sometimes better than the best values produced with the three

reference networks ASI, IGN, and ILRS. Regarding the mean

presence indicator, we note that the GMN

net

eop

solution, espe-

cially designed with this requirement, provides the maximum

mean value. Much attention is paid on this particular solution

in next Sect. 5.2.

Finally, regarding the weekly spherical errors, a quite sur-

prising result appears: The networks which provide the best

results regarding the RSEcomputed fromthe station position

variance-covariance matrices are also the networks which

produce the worst results regarding the station position spher-

ical errors in comparison with those provided by both GMN

solutions GMN

opt

eop

and GMN

net

eop

. The same fact occurs with

the three reference networks (see ASI network vs. IGN and

ILRS networks in Table 4). A possible explanation is pre-

sented in Section 2 of Text2. The GMN

opt

sta

solution chooses

more often non-core stations or at least stations not often

present in the ASI solution with the consequence of glob-

ally spoiling the spherical errors. This is not the case of both

solutions GMN

opt

eop

and GMN

net

eop

which more rely on core sta-

tions. Considerations about the stations selected by the GMN

solutions are provided in next Sect. 5.2.

All the results in Tables 5 and 6, concerning EOP and sta-

tion positions indicators, show that, even if the primary role

of MCis to reduce the reference systemnoise contained in the

station position variance-covariance matrices, it is not possi-

ble to only stick to these uncertainties to search for an optimal

network to reference EOP series. The same can be said for

the network geometry. Indeed, the global optimizations car-

ried out on the basis of the three objectives σε

eop

x

, σε

eop

y

,

and σε

sta

z

, provide an optimal EOP referencing without dis-

torting the underlying weekly TF. Furthermore, they do not

corrupt any of the indicators linked to the station positions.

On the contrary, an optimization approach only based on cri-

teria deduced from the station position variance–covariance

matrices clearly corrupts the EOP time series.

5.2 Toward long-term core station networks?

As such a network would be easier to use, at least from a

purely operational point of view, we question here the feasi-

bility of deducing, from the GMN, a mean core network for

the application of the MC. To reach this goal, we have thus to

highlight a mean network underlying the GMN, if this latter

exists. We use two criteria that we cross to make such mean

networks emerge fromthe GMN: the presence criterion, pre-

viously deﬁned in Eq. (9), and the choice criterion deﬁned

by:

choice =

occurrence in the GMN

occurrence in the ASI network

× 100 (12)

5.2.1 Nature of the selected stations

On the basis of these criteria, Table 7 provides the mean net-

works corresponding to each of the three GMNsolutions and

to given intervals regarding the choice and the presence val-

ues. The stations corresponding to ILRS core stations (Fig. 5)

are underlined in the lists provided in this Table.

Both solutions GMN

opt

eop

and GMN

net

eop

clearly favor these

ILRS core stations. It is a proof of the efﬁciency of our

approach as these stations are classiﬁed as the best ones

by the ILRS AWG. More precisely, the GMN correspond-

123

Global optimization of core station networks 47

Table 7 Mean networks underlying the GMN evidenced with both

criteria choice (12) and presence (9), for the three solutions GMN

opt

eop

,

GMN

net

eop

, and GMN

opt

sta

Solution

GMN

opt

eop

GMN

net

eop

GMN

opt

sta

75% ≤ choice 7090 7090 7090

75% ≤ presence 7110 7110

7839

7840

75% ≤ choice 7210

50% ≤ presence < 75%

75% ≤ choice 7849 7403

25% ≤ presence < 50% 7501

7843

7849

50% ≤ choice < 75% 7501 7080

25% ≤ presence < 50% 7810 7105

7832 7210

7839 7810

7840 7832

7843 7843

8834 7849

8834

25% ≤ choice < 50% 7080 7403 7080

25% ≤ presence < 50% 7105 7501 7110

7403 7838 7210

7835 7837 7824

7837 7832

7939 7835

7941 7939

presence < 25% 7109 7109 7097

50% ≤ choice 7119 7119 7119

7122 7122 7122

7405 7406 7123

7406 7502 7124

7502 7520 7404

7520 7541 7405

7541 7825 7406

7825 7410

7883 7411

7502

7520

7525

7530

ing to the GMN

opt

eop

(respectively GMN

net

eop

) solution makes

use of 90% (respectively 81%) of these ILRS core stations.

The GMN

opt

sta

solution makes use of only 52% of the ILRS

core stations. This substantiates again the idea of the optimi-

Table 7 continued

Solution

GMN

opt

eop

GMN

net

eop

GMN

opt

sta

7545

7548

7825

7847

7882

7883

Stations always missing 1831 1831 1831

1864 1864 1885

1873 1873 7231

1884 1884 7295

1885 1885 7328

1893 1893 7335

1953 1953 7337

7123 7123 7339

7237 7237 7541

7249 7249 7805

7358 7404 7848

7404 7548

7410 7805

7548 7847

7805 7848

7847

7848

The systematically missing stations are also listed. The underlined sta-

tion codes correspond to ILRS core stations (Fig. 5). For the lists of

the stations always missing, the station codes evidenced in bold corre-

spond to stations present during at least 25% of the time period in the

ASI network, Fig. 1

zation of mixed objectives and not only of objectives deduced

from station position variance–covariance matrices. We note

also that, on average, the GMN

net

eop

solution really promotes

the most present stations in comparison to the GMN

opt

eop

solu-

tion, even if the mean networks deduced fromthese two solu-

tions are quite similar.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that a significant number

of stations is systematically missing in the GMN; some of

them (evidenced in bold in Table 7) are yet present during at

least 25% of the time period. The number of these missing

stations even reaches 22% of the total number of possible

stations for the GMN

opt

eop

solution.

If we consider all the mean networks provided in Table 7

(including the three GMN solutions) and only keep the sta-

tions present during at least 5% of the time period, our algo-

rithm mostly chooses, by a majority, 26 stations. These lat-

ter are listed in Table 1 of Text2. These 26 stations only

represent 34% of the total number of possible stations, but

57% of the total number of stations present during at least

123

48 D. Coulot et al.

Table 8 Validity time periods for the 16 stations mostly used by the

solution GMN

net

eop

(start date–end date)

Network

GMN

net

eop

ILRS

7080 Period Period

7090 Period Period

7105 49011–54442 Period

7110 Period Period

7210 48983–53126 49384–53161

7403 49025–51873 49025–51873

7501 49172–49206 –

7501 51762–54309 51762–54554

7810 Period 50814–54491

7832 Period Period

7835 49032–52664 48997–53560

7837 49046–53448 50449–53476

7839 Period Period

7840 Period Period

7843 49095–51103 non ILRS core

7849 Period Period

8834 Period 52504–54561

The time periods are also provided for the ILRS network, when the con-

sidered station belongs to this core network. Dates are given in modiﬁed

Julian days. Regarding the ILRSnetwork, the original validity time peri-

ods are crossed with the presence time periods in the considered ASI

solution. Finally, the term“Period” indicates that the considered station

can be used as a reference station over its whole presence time period

in the ASI solution

5% of the time period. Our algorithm thus clearly selects the

stations used. And this selection is dynamical as illustrated

by the intersection of the intervals “presence < 25%” and

“50% ≤ choice” in Table 7. Indeed, a significant number of

non-core stations is also selected in the GMN. The dynam-

ical feature of the GMN obviously comes partly from the

intrinsic dynamical nature of the SLR network (see Fig. 1;

Sect. 2.1). But this does not fully explain this characteristic

which appears to be a strength of the GMN. Indeed, when

a stable core station is missing for a given week, the GMN

probably switch to another station which is not forcely a pri-

ori classiﬁed as a core one.

5.2.2 Mean station core networks

Despite this dynamical nature of the GMN, it is possible, on

the basis of the ﬁve ﬁrst categories in Table 7, to evidence a

mean core network for the dedicated solution GMN

net

eop

. This

mean core network is listed in Table 8, together with the

inherent validity periods in the GMN solution and the ILRS

network.

The case of the station 7249 (station of Beijing in China,

DOMES number 21601S004, with a presence of 32.5%) is

interesting. Indeed, the ILRS AWG recommends to consider

this station as a core one before 1999.0. On the contrary,

the GMN never use it. This station may not be well suited

for EOP referencing. This was moreover pointed out during

the ILRS AWG meeting of April 12, 2008. Indeed, as writ-

ten in the corresponding minutes (Pavlis EC, private com-

munication, 2008), Beijing site (7249) should be removed

from the core site list. In the opposite, the station 7843 (sta-

tion of Orroral in Australia, DOMES number 50103S007,

with a presence of 29.1%, and which is no more active) is

used by GMN. This station should probably be considered

as a core station. The case of both ILRS core stations 7939

and 7941 (stations of Matera in Italy, respective DOMES

numbers 12734S001 and 12734S008, respective presence

values of 34.9 and 30.5%, 7939 is no more active) ques-

tions also. Indeed, these stations are not mainly used

in the GMN

net

eop

solution, even if they are not always

missing.

Other cases are noticeable. First, the three stations 7210

(station of Haleakala in Hawaii, DOMES number

40445M001, presence of 59.1%, no more active), 7810 (sta-

tion of Zimmerwald in Switzerland, DOMES numbers

14001S001 and 14001S007, presence of 65.5%), and 8834

(station of Wettzell in Germany, DOMES number

14201S018, presence of 84.8%) are used over their whole

presence periods by the GMN whereas their use is only rec-

ommended over restricted time periods by the ILRS AWG.

Second, the validity time periods deduced from the GMN

are different than the ones established for the ILRS net-

work regarding both stations 7501 (station of Hartebeesthoek

in South Africa, DOMES number 30302M003, presence of

39.3%) and 7835 (SLR station of Grasse, France, DOMES

number 10002S001, presence of 60.2%). Finally, we can

notice that, for the station 7403 (station of Arequipa in Peru,

DOMES number 42202M003, presence of 47.7%), the

GMN

net

eop

solution evidences the same validity time periods

than the one recommended in ILRS network, the end date

corresponding to an Earthquake.

As a test, we merge the 16 stations of the mean network

corresponding to the GMN

net

eop

solution (especially designed

to reach this particular goal) into a core network (as the IGN

and ILRS ones), taking into account the respective valid-

ity time periods deduced from the GMN. The differences

between the so-computed PM time series and the IERS 05

C04 series provide WRMS of 285 and 267 µas, for x

p

and y

p

respectively. These results are better than those provided by

the ILRS network (Table 3) but they are worse than results

obtained with any of both solutions GMN

opt

eop

and GMN

net

eop

(Table 6). However, they prove the possibility of evidencing a

core network providing a satisfactory EOP referencing from

these weekly GMN. This core network moreover questions

the ILRS network, regarding the stations chosen as well as

their validity time periods.

123

Global optimization of core station networks 49

6 Discussion and conclusions

In this article, we propose a new convention for EOP ref-

erencing, based on the weekly selection of station core net-

works for MC application with respect to a given TRF. This

newapproach leads to an improvement of 10%of the stability

of the PMtime series with respect to the IERS 05 C04 series,

in comparison to the ILRS network which was especially

designed for EOP referencing. Indeed, the WRMS of the

differences are reduced from287 to 265 µas for x

p

, and from

275 to 247 µas for y

p

. These reductions of about 20–25 µas

represent 50% of the current assessed accuracy of the IERS

05 C04 series (Bizouard and Gambis 2009). For some part,

the accuracy of the PM series may be thus corrupted by ref-

erencing problems and it is essential to ensure an optimal ref-

erencing. Our method does so. Moreover, we obtained these

results on the basis of rigorous criteria for the optimization

of core station selection. These rigorous criteria (namely, the

mixed RSEdeduced fromEOP and station position variance-

covariance matrices) support the fundamental following

requirement: although the considered problem falls into the

free-network adjustment framework, the best core network

for EOP referencing (carried out on the basis of MC appli-

cation) should be more designed on its adequacy to best rep-

resent the real EOP, by preserving their consistency among

the involved epochs, rather than on its adequacy to reduce

the station positions uncertainties, and even on its geometry.

On this latter point, it is yet worth noting that our optimized

criteria do not distort the underlying weekly TF.

The dynamical nature of the weekly GMN appears as a

key point of their success for the MC application. It was thus

essential to work on a weekly basis to evidence this fact.

This feature is another fundamental difference between our

method and the current approaches based on (more or less

empirical) mean core networks. Nevertheless, we designed

a speciﬁc GMN solution to make such a mean core network

emerge. This latter, even if it does not provide results at the

level of those produced with the weekly GMN, improves

the EOP accuracy in comparison to the ILRS core network.

Moreover, it questions this latter network regarding both sta-

tions 7249 and 7843 and the validity time periods of other

ones.

The multi objective approach, which is the heart of our

algorithm, permitted us to show the incommensurability

between the considered objectives, to test the possible inﬂu-

ence of geographical indicators (such as the mean presence

or the distance d

CN

), and more particularly to compute the

speciﬁc GMN

net

eop

solution for producing a mean core net-

work. Nevertheless, in light of the results provided by the

GMN

opt

eop

solution, and of all the numerical tests reported in

Text1, Section 3, permitted by this multi objective approach,

it seems that, for this particular application to the SLR tech-

nique, a single objective approach (based on the distance

d

σ

, for instance) should provide optimal solutions. This was

conﬁrmed by numerical tests carried out for the 15 test GPS

weeks we used for assessing our algorithm results.

Our approach is general and can consequently be used

for other case studies. Regarding SLR technique, it would

be interesting to carry out a similar study, using other solu-

tions or even the ILRS ofﬁcial combined solution, which

is currently under investigation for the next ITRF generation

(ITRF2008) at the time of writing of this article. Similar stud-

ies for the DORIS, VLBI, and GPS techniques would also

be profitable to strengthen the present conclusions. To our

mind, we should also pay attention to the issue of designing

a speciﬁc global optimization approach for the selection of a

mean ﬁxed core network, valid over a given time period.

Finally, regarding the consistency of EOP and TRF or TF,

Gambis (2004) concludes that there are presently two ways

of improvement: using the ITRF stacking approach or car-

rying out a combination of space geodetic techniques at the

measurement level. For this latter, that can be carried out

on a weekly basis, we know that referencing problems are

still key issues (Coulot et al. 2007) and that the application

of MC is essential. Such a study, based on global optimiza-

tion, may solve some of these problems or, at least, guide

us towards possible ways of improvement. For the stacking

approach, which must encompass all available solutions to

preserve consistency among epochs and which also mainly

relies on MC (Altamimi et al. 2007), it would probably be

beneﬁcial to design a similar global optimization method.

In this context, regarding the study carried out by Ray and

Altamimi (2005), such an approach could also help for the

evaluation (and even the selection) of the co-location ties.

Acknowledgments This study was funded by the Institut Géographi-

que National (IGN), France. We also acknowledge the Centre National

d’Études Spatiales (CNES), France, for recent ﬁnancial support. We are

grateful to the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) (Pearlman

et al. 2002) and, more especially, to the analysis center ASI (Agen-

zia Spaziale Italiane, Italian Spatial Agency, Italy) for the production

and the distribution of the solution used for this research. We thank

the professor K. Deb (Kanpur GA Laboratory, KanGAL, India) and

his colleagues for the design, the programming, the testing, and the

maintenance of NSGA-II software. We have also a friendly thought

for our colleague H. Duquenne (IGN/LAREG, France) who found the

so present French expression “Réseau Génétiquement Modiﬁé” (that

we have translated into “Genetically Modiﬁed Network” in English)

after a preliminary presentation of this work at IGN/LAREG. Finally,

we acknowledge the anonymous referees who reviewed the submitted

and revised versions of this article: Their remarks and comments have

helped us to make this paper more precise and comprehensive.

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