Several recent studies have investigated the optimization of Stokes vector polarimeters with respect to signal to noise ratio (SNR). While SNR is an important consideration, performance of a polarimeter in the presence of errors in the calibration and alignment of the optical components is also important. Here, the relationship between system condition and error performance is investigated, and it is shown that an optimum system from the point of view of SNR is not always an optimum system with respect to error performance. A detailed theory of error performance is presented, and the relationship between system condition and systematic errors is described. For systems that over determine the Stokes vector to improve error performance, the RMS error of a SV polarimeter is shown to fall off as the inverse of the number of measurements taken.
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