PEST Course 2017

Workshop Model Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis Using PEST


PEST (Parameter ESTimation) is a general-purpose, model-independent, parameter estimation and model predictive uncertainty analysis package. It is the most advanced software available for calibration and predictive uncertainty analysis of groundwater, subsurface reservoir, surface water, land use and other models.

The course will provide attendees with the foundations of parameter estimation theory, an understanding of the sources of uncertainty in predictions made by numerical models, and experience in using PEST to calibrate groundwater flow and transport model, and surface water models, and to explore the uncertainties of predictions made by these models.
The program for each day is a combination of lectures and practical sessions. The content of both the theoretical and practical sessions can (to at least to some extent) be defined by attendees according to their interests.

Target audience

Practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds will benefit from this course, whether new to PEST or with previous PEST experience.

To get the most out of the course, attendees should have modelling experience, preferably in the groundwater or surface water disciplines. However the material presented during the course will also benefit those who rely on models for decision-making purposes who need to have a better understanding of what models can and cannot achieve, but who do not necessarily build them.

Hands-on labs are GUI-independent and cover a variety of modelling disciplines, so that anyone interested in model calibration, parameter estimation, or the analysis of numerical model uncertainty can benefit from the course. Experience in working at the command line level is an advantage in doing the workshops. Make sure to bring your laptop so that we can install the software and workshops on it.



  • Day 1, morning: brief overview of linear analysis and matrix algebra; introduction to PEST.
  • Day 1, afternoon: models and decision support: what models can and cannot achieve; workshop on basic parameter estimation.
  • Day 2, morning: basics of parameter estimation - theory and practice.
  • Day 2, afternoon: parameter estimation in groundwater modelling; theory and workshop.
  • Day 3, morning: highly parameterized parameter estimation and regularized inversion.
  • Day 3, afternoon: using pilot points as a parameterization device – theory and workshop.
  • Day 4, morning: highly parameterized inversion in surface water model calibration.
  • Day 4, afternoon: introduction to uncertainty analysis, and workshop.
  • Day 5, morning: more on uncertainty analysis for models of different types, and workshop.
  • Day 5, afternoon: calibration of defective models, theory and practice.



CHF 2000 for professionals and CHF 1000 for students

Places are limited please register quickly


Registration formular


January 30 - February 3, 2017


Facultés de droit & sciences économiques

Avenue du 1er Mars 26

Room: D071

Timetable: 9h00 - 17h00


Dr. John Doherty, author of PEST


Registration Formular

Fees: CHF 2000 for professionnals, CHF 1000 for students

Free for PhD students of the postdoctoral program (Water Earth Systems)


Prof. Philip Brunner, CHYN - Center for Hydrogeology and Geothermics