Adaptive computation of smallest eigenvalues of self-adjoint elliptic partial differential equations

Volker Mehrmann, Agnieszka Miedlar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We consider a new adaptive finite element (AFEM) algorithm for self-adjoint elliptic PDE eigenvalue problems. In contrast to other approaches we incorporate the inexact solutions of the resulting finite-dimensional algebraic eigenvalue problems into the adaptation process. In this way we can balance the costs of the adaptive refinement of the mesh with the costs for the iterative eigenvalue method. We present error estimates that incorporate the discretization errors, approximation errors in the eigenvalue solver and roundoff errors, and use these for the adaptation process. We show that it is also possible to restrict to very few iterations of a Krylov subspace solver for the eigenvalue problem on coarse meshes. Several examples are presented to show that this new approach achieves much better complexity than the previous AFEM approaches which assume that the algebraic eigenvalue problem is solved to full accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-409
Number of pages23
JournalNumerical Linear Algebra with Applications
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive finite element method (AFEM)
  • Approximation error
  • Discretization error
  • Eigenvalue problem
  • Elliptic eigenvalue problem
  • Error estimate
  • Finite element method (FEM)
  • Krylov subspace method
  • Roundoff error


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