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1. Introduction

GNU Gama is a project dedicated to adjustment of geodetic networks. It is intended for use with traditional geodetic surveyings which are still used and needed in special measurements (e.g., underground or high precision engineering measurements) where the Global Positioning System (GPS) cannot be used.

In general, surveying is the technique and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional spatial position of points and the distances and angles between them.(1)

Adjustment is a technical term traditionally used by geodesists and surveyors which simply means “application of the least squares method to process the over-determined system of measurements” (statistical methods other than least squares are used sometimes but are not common). In other words, we have more observations than needed and we are trying to get the best estimate for adjusted observations and/or coordinates.

Adjustment of geodetic networks means that we have a set of fixed points with given coordinates, a set of points with unknown coordinates (possibly with approximate values available) and a set of observations among them. What is typical of adjustment of special geodetic measurements is that the resulting linearized system might be singular (we can have a network with no fixed points) and we are not only interested in the values of ‘adjusted parameters and observations’ but also in the estimates of their covariances. This is what Gama does.

Gama was originally inspired by Fortran system Geodet/PC (1990) designed by Frantisek Charamza. The GNU Gama project started at the department of mapping and cartography, faculty of Civil Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) about 1998 and its name is an acronym for geodesy and mapping. It was presented to a wider public for the first time at FIG Working Week 2000 in Prague and then at FIG Workshop and Seminar at HUT Helsinki in 2001.

The GNU Gama home page is


and the project is hosted on


GNU Gama is released under the GNU General Public License and is based on a C++ library of geodetic classes and functions and a small C++ template matrix library matvec. For parsing XML documents GNU Gama calls the expat parser version 1.1, written by James Clark. The expat parser is not part of the GNU Gama project, and is simply used by GNU Gama.

Adjustment in local Cartesian coordinate systems is fully supported by a command-line program gama-local that adjusts geodetic (free) networks of observed distances, directions, angles, height differences, 3D vectors and observed coordinates (coordinates with given variance-covariance matrix). Adjustment in global coordinate systems is supported only partly as a gama-g3 program.

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