Robust Large-scale Parallel Nonlinear Solvers for Simulations


This report documents research to develop robust and efficient solution techniques for solving large-scale systems of nonlinear equations. The most widely used method for solving systems of nonlinear equations is Newton’s method. While much research has been devoted to augmenting Newton-based solvers (usually with globalization techniques), little has been devoted to exploring the application of different models. Our research has been directed at evaluating techniques using different models than Newton’s method: a lower order model, Broyden’s method, and a higher order model, the tensor method. We have developed large-scale versions of each of these models and have demonstrated their use in important applications at Sandia. Broyden’s method replaces the Jacobian with an approximation, allowing codes that cannot evaluate a Jacobian or have an inaccurate Jacobian to converge to a solution. Limited-memory methods, which have been successful in optimization, allow us to extend this approach to large-scale problems. We compare the robustness and efficiency of Newton’s method, modified Newton’s method, Jacobian-free Newton-Krylov method, and our limited-memory Broyden method. Comparisons are carried out for large-scale applications of fluid flow simulations and electronic circuit simulations. Results show that, in cases where the Jacobian was inaccurate or could not be computed, Broyden’s method converged in some cases where Newton’s method failed to converge. We identify conditions where Broyden’s method can be more efficient than Newton’s method. We also present modifications to a large-scale tensor method, originally proposed by Bouaricha, for greater efficiency, better robustness, and wider applicability. Tensor methods are an alternative to Newton-based methods and are based on computing a step based on a local quadratic model rather than a linear model. The advantage of Bouaricha’s method is that it can use any existing linear solver, which makes it simple to write and easily portable. However, the method usually takes twice as long to solve as Newton-GMRES on general problems because it solves two linear systems at each iteration. In this paper, we discuss modifications to Bouaricha’s method for a practical implementation, including a special globalization technique and other modifications for greater efficiency. We present numerical results showing computational advantages over Newton-GMRES on some realistic problems. We further discuss a new approach for dealing with singular (or ill-conditioned) matrices. In particular, we modify an algorithm for identifying a turning point so that an increasingly ill-conditioned Jacobian does not prevent convergence.

Tech. Rep., Sandia National Laboratories
B. W. Bader, R. P. Pawlowski, T. G. Kolda. Robust Large-scale Parallel Nonlinear Solvers for Simulations. Tech. Rep. No. SAND2005-6864, Sandia National Laboratories, 2005.


author = {Brett W. Bader and Roger P. Pawlowski and Tamara G. Kolda}, 
title = {Robust Large-scale Parallel Nonlinear Solvers for Simulations}, 
number = {SAND2005-6864}, 
institution = {Sandia National Laboratories}, 
month = {November}, 
year = {2005},
doi = {10.2172/876345},	
url = {},
urldate = {2014-04-17},