[petsc-dev] quasi-newton approximations

Oxberry, Geoffrey Malcolm oxberry1 at llnl.gov
Tue Aug 30 21:26:09 CDT 2016

On 8/30/16, 12:36 PM, "Munson, Todd" <tmunson at mcs.anl.gov> wrote:

>For preconditioners, I use them as a default for unconstrained and bound
>constrained problems.  They can be overridden by someone who knows a
>good preconditioner for their particular problem.

Makes sense to me. I agree that QN approaches are good for constructing
preconditioners, and also readily lend themselves to cheaper computation
of Hessian inverse approximations. Definitely for the unconstrained case,
this use is apparent.

>For more general constrained problems, its harder.  But they could be
>part of your saddle point problem preconditioner.

Absolutely. If you solve a KKT-like system, this preconditioner is good
for the (0,0) block.

>Note: we already use QN methods in TAO for the some reduced space methods
>where we use a QN approximation to the reduced Hessian matrix, primarily
>because we never want to actually form the reduced Hessian matrix.  It
>could still be used as a preconditioner in a flexible CG method using
>the product form of the reduced Hessian.

Yes, that makes sense to me.

The issue I am thinking about ‹ and I still need to think about it more ‹
is that there are two interfaces for QN approximations that are useful.
One of them is as a preconditioner; the other interface is as a Hessian
approximant. As a practitioner and method developer, I would want both
interfaces, but maybe these two interfaces are two aspects of the same
thing, or can be expressed using a common formalism.

There are cases where using it as a preconditioner does not currently make
sense; for instance, one of these cases is trust-region STCG, because
variable preconditioning will change the shape of the trust region from
iteration to iteration. In this particular setting, it makes more sense to
me to use QN approximations for the Hessian rather than as a

There have been some alternate methods that replace STCG ‹ GLTR is one,
IP-SSM is another ‹ and I do not know of these methods suffer from the
same drawbacks, so I will have to do more reading. I remember skimming a
paper on IP-SSM that mentioned the variable preconditioning issue, so I
will have to look that up and do some more reading.


>> On Aug 30, 2016, at 4:13 PM, Oxberry, Geoffrey Malcolm
>><oxberry1 at llnl.gov> wrote:
>> I think refactoring to enable use of QN approximations in more methods
>>is a good idea. As I¹m sure you both are aware, some IPMs and SQP
>>methods admit QN approximations, and it would be good to have this
>>option on the command line for more methods (e.g., TAOIPM, the nascent
>>SQP implementation), especially where attempting to form even the action
>>of the Hessian is onerous.
>> For the optimization methods, it¹s not immediately clear that
>>extracting them as a PC makes sense to me. I¹d have to think about it
>>more. In many algorithms (e.g., in IPOPT), using the QN approximation
>>also enables more efficient linear algebra via
>>Sherman-Morrison-Woodbury, but it¹s not clear to me that this
>>modification is really appropriate for some of the possible algorithm
>>combinations in TAO. It makes sense for TAOIPM with KSPPREONLY and PCLU
>>with SuperLU or another package capable of pivoting with zeroes on the
>>diagonal, but if an actual Krylov subspace method is used, I¹m not sure
>>it makes sense anymore.
>> Geoff 
>> From: <petsc-dev-bounces at mcs.anl.gov> on behalf of Matthew Knepley
>><knepley at gmail.com>
>> Date: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 2:02 PM
>> To: "Munson, Todd" <tmunson at mcs.anl.gov>
>> Cc: petsc-dev <petsc-dev at mcs.anl.gov>
>> Subject: Re: [petsc-dev] quasi-newton approximations
>> I think we should extract them the same way as SNESMFFD. Using them as
>>a PC
>> is a good idea.
>>    Matt
>> On Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 1:18 PM, Munson, Todd <tmunson at mcs.anl.gov>
>> One of the common concepts for TAO and SNES is the quasi-Newton
>> SNES seems to only use them in SNESQN (for non-symmetric matrices) and
>>TAO uses
>> them in TAOLMVM and TAOBLMVM (for symmetric matrices).  TOA also allows
>>them to
>> be used as a preconditioner for the Hessian-based line-search and
>> methods.
>> Should we consider extracting some common class for these
>>approximations and
>> the associated operations or just leave them as separate things?
>> Todd.
>> -- 
>> What most experimenters take for granted before they begin their
>>experiments is infinitely more interesting than any results to which
>>their experiments lead.
>> -- Norbert Wiener

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