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We use the problem of determining nematic liquid crystal director profiles from optical measurements as an example to illustrate that what is often treated purely as a data fitting problem is really an inverse problem and that useful insights can be obtained by treating it in this way. Specifically we illustrate the analysis of the sufficiency of data and the sensitivity of a solution to measurement errors. We assume a stratified medium where the Berreman method can be used for the opticaldoi:10.1088/1367-2630/9/3/063 fatcat:bc4dvzh6drdjvcpebeahhgqywm