Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization

, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 1523–1535 | Cite as

Global sensitivity analysis based on Gini’s mean difference

  • Sinan Xiao
  • Zhenzhou Lu


Global sensitivity analysis has been widely used to detect the relative contributions of input variables to the uncertainty of model output, and then more resources can be assigned to the important input variables to reduce the uncertainty of model output more efficiently. In this paper, a new kind of global sensitivity index based on Gini’s mean difference is proposed. The proposed sensitivity index is more robust than the variance-based first order sensitivity index for the cases with non-normal distributions. Through the decomposition of Gini’s mean difference, it shows that the proposed sensitivity index can be represented by the energy distance, which measures the difference between probability distributions. Therefore, the proposed sensitivity index also takes the probability distribution of model output into consideration. In order to estimate the proposed sensitivity index efficiently, an efficient Monte Carlo simulation method is also proposed, which avoids the nested sampling procedure. The test examples show that the proposed sensitivity index is more robust than the variance-based first order sensitivity index for the cases with non-normal distributions.


Global sensitivity analysis Uncertainty reduction Variance Gini’s mean difference Energy distance 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51475370, 51775439). The authors are also thankful to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of AeronauticsNorthwestern Polytechnical UniversityXi’anChina

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