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## Numerical Solution of Engineering

and Scientific Problems
David M. Rocke
Department of Applied Science

Solution of an Equation
We learn how to solve (find roots of) linear
elementary/high school. Solution methods
for quadratics have been known for 4000
years.
Cubic and quartic equations have general
solutions (known since 1500s)
Quintic and higher polynomials have no
general solution

ax + bx + c = 0
2

-b b - 4ac
x=
2a
2

## Equations with no Exact,

Closed-Form Solution
Consider the equation for the velocity of a
parachutist.
Find the drag coefficient so that the velocity at a
specified time is a specified value

gm
-( c / m ) t
v=
(1- e
)
c
gm
-( c / m ) t
f (c ) =
(1- e
)-v = 0
c

Bracketing Methods
Find two points xL and xU so that f(xL) and
f(xU) have opposite signs
If f() is continuous, there must be at least
one root in the interval
Bracketing methods take this information,
and produce successive approximations to
the solution by narrowing the interval
bracketing a/the root

## Behavior of Roots of Continuous

Functions
If the function values at two points have
the same sign, then the number of roots
between them is even, including possibly
0.
If the function values at two points have
different signs, then the number of roots
between them is odd, so cannot be 0.

Exceptions
Roots of multiplicity greater than one, count as
multiple roots in this. The function
f ( x ) ( x 1) 2

## has only one root at x = 1, even though the

0 to 2, but this counts as two.
Discontinuous functions need not obey the rules.

## Computer Graphics Methods

The function f(x) = sin 10x + cos 3x has
opposite signs at x = 0 and x = 5
This means that there exists at least one
root in that interval.
Excel, Matlab, or other computer graphics
packages can be used to investigate this.

Bisection Method
Suppose a continuous function changes
sign between xL and xU. Consider
xM = (xL + xU)/2
If f(xM) = 0, we have found a root.
If f(xM) is not zero, it differs in sign from
exactly one of the end points
This gives a new interval of half the length
which must contain a root

gm
-( c / m ) t
f (c ) =
(1- e
)-v = 0
c
m = 68.1 kg
Reaches velocity of 40 m/s at t = 10s.
(9.8)(68.1)
-( c / 68.1)10
f (c ) =
(1- e
) - 40 = 0
c
667.38
-0.146843c
f (c ) =
(1- e
) - 40 = 0
c

f (12) = 6.06
f (16) = -2.269
f (14) = 1.569
f (15) = -0.425
f (14.5) = 0.5523
f (14.7802) = 0

Step

14

-0.780

15

0.220

14.5

-0.280

0.5

14.75

-0.030

0.25

14.875

0.095

0.125

## Error Estimate for Bisection

Interval at start of step i is 2x, the
distance between the upper and lower
bounds. We pick the middle of this interval
as the ith guess
The next interval has length x, has one
end on the previous guess, and the other
at one end or the other of the previous
interval

## At step i the error cannot be greater than

x and at step i+1 it cannot be greater
than x/2
The distance between the best guess at
step i and the best guess at the next step
is exactly x/2
Thus, the error bound is the change in the
best guess

Function Evaluations
In some applications, evaluation of the
function to be minimized is expensive and
may itself involve a large computation
One example I am currently working on
takes about 15 minutes for each function
evaluation, each of which requires solving
400,000 subproblems
Optimize code to reduce function
evaluations

## In n iterations, the first implementation

uses 2n function evaluations.
The second implementation use n + 1
function evaluations
Neither implementation contains a check
that the function actually does change sign
in the input interval

Summary of Bisection
The method is slow but sure for
continuous functions
There is a well-defined error bound,
though the true error may be much less

## Method of False Position

Also called linear interpolation or regula
falsi.
Bisection uses information that there is a
root in the interval xL to xU but does not
use any information from the function
values f(xL) and f(xU) other than the signs.
False position uses the insight that if |f(xL)|
is smaller than |f(xU)|, one would expect
the root to lie closer to xL.

Fig 5.12

## The line through the two end points of the interval is

f ( xL ) - f ( xU )
( y - f ( xU )) =
( x - xU )
xL - xU
This intersects the x axis where y is 0 and x satisfies
f ( xL ) - f ( xU )
- f ( xU ) =
( x - xU )
xL - xU
xL - xU
f ( xU )
( x - xU ) = f ( xL ) - f ( xU )
f ( xU )( xL - xU )
xR = xU f ( xL ) - f ( xU )

## The new root estimate xR replaces

whichever of the end points that has the
same sign as f(xR), so that the two new
endpoint still bracket the root.
We use as an error estimate, the change
in the best root estimate from one iteration
to the next.
This works well to the extent that the
function is nearly linear in the interval and
near the root.

gm
-( c / m ) t
f (c ) =
(1- e
)-v = 0
c
m = 68.1 kg
Reaches velocity of 40 m/s at t = 10s.
(9.8)(68.1)
-( c / 68.1)10
f (c ) =
(1- e
) - 40 = 0
c
667.38
-0.146843c
f (c ) =
(1- e
) - 40 = 0
c

f (12) 6.0669
f (16) 2.2688
( 2.2688)(12 16)
xR 16
14.9113
6.0669 ( 2.2688)
f (14.9113) 0.2543
( 0.2543)(12 14.9113)
xR 14.9113
14.7942
6.0669 ( 0.2543)
f (14.7942) 0.02727
f (14.7802) 0

Fig 5.13

Bisection Error
Step

14

-0.780

15

0.220

14.5

-0.280

0.5

14.75

-0.030

0.25

14.875

0.095

0.125

Step

14.9113

0.131104

14.7942

0.013994

0.117110

14.7817

0.001496

0.012497

14.78037

0.000164

0.001332

14.78023

0.000022

0.000142

## Pitfalls of False Position

If the function is very nonlinear in the
bracketing interval, convergence can be
very slow, and the approximate error
estimate can be very poor.
A possible solution is to use bisection until
the function appears nearly linear, then
switch to false position for faster
convergence, or to use false position, but
switch to bisection if convergence is slow.
Another is to adjust a fixed endpoint

Fig 5.14

Code Examples
We show pseudo code for modified false
function values
Then we show VBA code for false position
Then we show VBA code for the modified
false position as in the above pseudocode
Then VBA code for false position, with
bisection steps whenever the signs do not
change for a long time.

Fig 5.15

Option Explicit
Function f(x)
f = x ^ 10 - 1
End Function
Function FalsePos(xl, xu, es, imax)
Dim fl As Double, fu As Double, fr As Double
Dim xr As Double, xrold As Double, ea As Double, test As Double
Dim iter As Integer
iter = 0
fl = f(xl)
fu = f(xu)
If fl * fu >= 0 Then
Return
End If

Do
xrold = xr
xr = xu - fu * (xl - xu) / (fl - fu)
fr = f(xr)
iter = iter + 1
If xr <> 0 Then
ea = Abs((xr - xrold) / xr)
End If
test = fl * fr
If test < 0 Then
xu = xr
fu = fr
ElseIf test > 0 Then
xl = xr
fl = fr
Else
ea = 0
End If
If (ea < es) Or (iter >= imax) Then
Exit Do
End If
Loop
FalsePos = xr
MsgBox ("ea = " & ea & " iter = " & iter)
End Function

## Function Mod1FalsePos(xl, xu, es, imax)

Dim fl As Double, fu As Double, fr As Double
Dim xr As Double, xrold As Double, ea As Double, test As Double
Dim iter As Integer, il As Integer, iu As Integer
iter = 0
il = 0
iu = 0

Do
If test < 0 Then
xu = xr
fu = fr
iu = 0
il = il + 1
If il >= 2 Then
fl = fl / 2
End If
ElseIf test > 0 Then
xl = xr
fl = fr
il = 0
iu = iu + 1
If iu >= 2 Then
fu = fu / 2
End If

## Function Mod2FalsePos(xl, xu, es, imax)

il = 0
iu = 0

test = fl * fr
If test < 0 Then
iu = 0
il = il + 1
If il >= 3 Then
xr = (xl + xr) / 2
fr = f(xr)
End If
ElseIf test > 0 Then
il = 0
iu = iu + 1
If iu >= 3 Then
xr = (xr + xu) / 2
fr = f(xr)
End If
End If
test = fl * fr

## If test < 0 Then

iu = 0
xu = xr
fu = fr
ElseIf test > 0 Then
il = 0
xl = xr
fl = fr
Else
ea = 0
End If

## Results of Modified False Position

With the function x10 1 and starting
points 0 and 1.3, bisection takes 14
iterations to achieve a relative error of
0.0001 = 0.01%.
False Position takes 39 iterations.
The modifications of false position take 12
iterations each.