Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 84, Issue 7, pp 433–447 | Cite as

Integer least-squares theory for the GNSS compass

  • P. J. G. Teunissen
Open Access
Original Article


Global navigation satellite system (GNSS) carrier phase integer ambiguity resolution is the key to high-precision positioning and attitude determination. In this contribution, we develop new integer least-squares (ILS) theory for the GNSS compass model, together with efficient integer search strategies. It extends current unconstrained ILS theory to the nonlinearly constrained case, an extension that is particularly suited for precise attitude determination. As opposed to current practice, our method does proper justice to the a priori given information. The nonlinear baseline constraint is fully integrated into the ambiguity objective function, thereby receiving a proper weighting in its minimization and providing guidance for the integer search. Different search strategies are developed to compute exact and approximate solutions of the nonlinear constrained ILS problem. Their applicability depends on the strength of the GNSS model and on the length of the baseline. Two of the presented search strategies, a global and a local one, are based on the use of an ellipsoidal search space. This has the advantage that standard methods can be applied. The global ellipsoidal search strategy is applicable to GNSS models of sufficient strength, while the local ellipsoidal search strategy is applicable to models for which the baseline lengths are not too small. We also develop search strategies for the most challenging case, namely when the curvature of the non-ellipsoidal ambiguity search space needs to be taken into account. Two such strategies are presented, an approximate one and a rigorous, somewhat more complex, one. The approximate one is applicable when the fixed baseline variance matrix is close to diagonal. Both methods make use of a search and shrink strategy. The rigorous solution is efficiently obtained by means of a search and shrink strategy that uses non-quadratic, but easy-to-evaluate, bounding functions of the ambiguity objective function. The theory presented is generally valid and it is not restricted to any particular GNSS or combination of GNSSs. Its general applicability also applies to the measurement scenarios (e.g. single-epoch vs. multi-epoch, or single-frequency vs. multi-frequency). In particular it is applicable to the most challenging case of unaided, single frequency, single epoch GNSS attitude determination. The success rate performance of the different methods is also illustrated.


GNSS Attitude determination Integer ambiguity resolution Constrained integer least squares 



The research of the author has been supported by an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship (project number FF0883188). This support is gratefully acknowledged. He also thanks Gabriele Giorgi and Peter Buist for their numerical and creative contributions to the presented theory.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution,and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Spatial SciencesCurtin University of TechnologyPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Delft Institute for Earth Observation and Space Systems (DEOS)Delft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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