[petsc-users] MPI linear solver reproducibility question

Mark McClure mark at resfrac.com
Sat Apr 1 20:48:05 CDT 2023


I have been a user of Petsc for quite a few years, though I haven't updated
my version in a few years, so it's possible that my comments below could be
'out of date'.

Several years ago, I'd asked you guys about reproducibility. I observed
that if I gave an identical matrix to the Petsc linear solver, I would get
a bit-wise identical result back if running on one processor, but if I ran
with MPI, I would see differences at the final sig figs, below the
convergence criterion. Even if rerunning the same exact calculation on the
same exact machine.

Ie, with repeated tests, it was always converging to the same answer
'within convergence tolerance', but not consistent in the sig figs beyond
the convergence tolerance.

At the time, the response that this was unavoidable, and related to the
issue that machine arithmetic is not commutative, and so the timing of when
processors were recombining information (which was random, effectively a
race condition) was causing these differences.

Am I remembering correctly? And, if so, is this still a property of the
Petsc linear solver with MPI, and is there now any option available to
resolve it? I would be willing to accept a performance hit in order to get
guaranteed bitwise consistency, even when running with MPI.

I am using the solver KSPBCGS, without a preconditioner. This is the
selection because several years ago, I did testing, and found that on the
particular linear systems that I am usually working with, this solver (with
no preconditioner) was the most robust, in terms of consistently
converging, and in terms of performance. Actually, I also tested a variety
of other linear solvers other than Petsc (including other implementations
of BiCGStab), and found that the Petsc BCGS was the best performer. Though,
I'm curious, have there been updates to that algorithm in recent years,
where I should consider updating to a newer Petsc build and comparing?

Best regards,
Mark McClure
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.mcs.anl.gov/pipermail/petsc-users/attachments/20230401/11659712/attachment.html>

More information about the petsc-users mailing list