Considerations about the Estimation of the Size Distribution in Wicksel's Corpuscle Problem
- Wicksell's corpuscle problem deals with the estimation of the size distribution of a population of particles, all having the same shape, using a lower imensional sampling probe. This problem was originary formulated for particle systems occurring in life sciences but its solution is of actual and increasing interest in materials science. From a mathematical point of view, Wicksell's problem is an inverse problem where the interesting size distribution is the unknown part of a Volterra equation. The problem is often regarded ill-posed, because the structure of the integrand implies unstable numerical solutions. The accuracy of the numerical solutions is considered here using the condition number, which allows to compare different numerical methods with different (equidistant) class sizes and which indicates, as one result, that a finite section thickness of the probe reduces the numerical problems. Furthermore, the relative error of estimation is computed which can be split into two parts. One part consists of the relative discretization error that increases for increasing class size, and the second part is related to the relative statistical error which increases with decreasing class size. For both parts, upper bounds can be given and the sum of them indicates an optimal class width depending on some specific constants.