On symmetrical three-dimensional datum conversion

Yaron A. Felus, Robert C. Burtch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


A 3-D similarity transformation is frequently used to convert GPS-WGS84-based coordinates to those in a local datum using a set of control points with coordinate values in both systems. In this application, the Gauss-Markov (GM) model is often employed to represent the problem, and a least-squares approach is used to compute the parameters within the mathematical model. However, the Gauss-Markov model considers the source coordinates in the data matrix (A) as fixed or error-free; this is an imprecise assumption since these coordinates are also measured quantities and include random errors. The errors-in-variables (EIV) model assumes that all the variables in the mathematical model are contaminated by random errors. This model may be solved using the relatively new total least-squares (TLS) estimation technique, introduced in 1980 by Golub and Van Loan. In this paper, the similarity transformation problem is analyzed with respect to the EIV model, and a novel algorithm is described to obtain the transformation parameters. It is proved that even with the EIV model, a closed form Procrustes approach can be employed to obtain the rotation matrix and translation parameters. The transformation scale may be calculated by solving the proper quadratic equation. A numerical example and a practical case study are presented to test this new algorithm and compare the EIV and the GM models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalGPS Solutions
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Datum conversion
  • Procrustes algorithm
  • Total least-squares adjustment


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