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Abstract
The Fisher Information Matrix (FIM) has been the standard approximation to the accuracy of parameter estimation on gravitationalwave signals from merging compact binaries due to its easeofuse and rapid computation time. While the theoretical failings of this method, such as the signaltonoise ratio (SNR) limit on the validity of the lowestorder expansion and the difficulty of using nonGaussian priors, are well understood, the practical effectiveness compared to a real parameter estimation technique (e.g., Markovchain Monte Carlo) remains an open question. We present a direct comparison between the FIM error estimates and the Bayesian probability density functions produced by the parameter estimation code lalinference mcmc. In addition to the low SNR issues usually considered, we find that the FIM can greatly overestimate the uncertainty in parameter estimation achievable by the MCMC. This was found to be a systematic effect for systems composed of binary black holes, with the disagreement increasing with total mass. In some cases, the MCMC search returned standard deviations on the marginalized posteriors that were smaller by several orders of magnitude than the FIM estimates. We conclude that the predictions of the FIM do not represent the capabilities of real gravitationalwave parameter estimation.
Original language  English 

Pages (fromto)  111 
Number of pages  11 
Journal  Physical Review D 
Volume  88 
DOIs  
Publication status  Published  2013 
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 3 Finished

Birmingham Astrophysics : Consolidated Grant 20132016
Vecchio, A., Ponman, T., Freise, A., Smith, G., Speake, C., Mandel, I., Cruise, M., Raychaudhury, S. & Stevens, I.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY FACILITIES COUNCIL
1/04/13 → 30/09/16
Project: Research Councils

UK Involvement in the Operations of Advanced LIGO
Vecchio, A. & Freise, A.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY FACILITIES COUNCIL
1/08/11 → 31/12/15
Project: Research Councils

UK Involvement in the Advanced LIGO Gravitational Wave Project
Vecchio, A., Castelli, C. & Cruise, M.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY FACILITIES COUNCIL
1/06/03 → 31/03/11
Project: Research Councils