An efficient procedure to assist in the re-parametrization of structurally unidentifiable models

D. Joubert*, J.D. Stigter, J. Molenaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


An efficient method that assists in the re-parametrization of structurally unidentifiable models is introduced. It significantly reduces computational demand by combining numerical and symbolic identifiability calculations. This hybrid approach facilitates the re-parametrization of large unidentifiable ordinary differential equation models, including models where state transformations are required. A model is first assessed numerically, to discover potential structurally unidentifiable parameters. We then use symbolic calculations to confirm the numerical results, after which we describe the algebraic relationships between the unidentifiable parameters. Finally, the unidentifiable parameters are substituted with new parameters and simplification ensures that all the unidentifiable parameters are eliminated from the original model structure. The novelty of this method is its utilisation of numerical results, which notably reduces the number of symbolic calculations required. We illustrate our procedure and the detailed re-parametrization process in 5 examples: (1) an immunological model, (2) a microbial growth model, (3) a lung cancer model, (4) a JAK/STAT model, and (5) a small linear model with a non-scalable re-parametrization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108328
JournalMathematical Biosciences
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Correlated parameter sets
  • Re-parametrization
  • State transformation
  • Structural identifiability
  • Systems biology

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