Skip to main content

Unit 8.3.3 Conjugate Gradient Method Basics

The idea behind the Conjugate Gradient Method is that in the current iteration we have an approximation, \(x^{(k)} \) to the solution to \(A x = b \text{.}\) By construction, since \(x^{(0)} = 0 \text{,}\)

\begin{equation*} x^{(k)} = \alpha_0 p^{(0)} + \cdots + \alpha_{k-1} p^{(k-1)} . \end{equation*}

Also, the residual

\begin{equation*} \begin{array}{l} r^{(k)} \\ ~~~=~~~~ \\ b - A x^{(k)} \\ ~~~=~~~~ \\ b - A ( \alpha_0 p^{(0)} + \cdots + \alpha_{k-1} p^{(k-1)} ) \\ ~~~=~~~~ \\ b - \alpha_0 A p^{(0)} - \cdots - \alpha_{k-1} A p^{(k-1)} \\ ~~~=~~~~ \\ r^{(k-1)} - \alpha_{k-1} A p^{(k-1)}. \end{array} \end{equation*}

If \(r^{(k)} = 0 \text{,}\) then we know that \(x^{(k)} \) solves \(A x = b \text{,}\) and we are done.

Assume that \(r^{(k)} \neq 0 \text{.}\) The question now is "How should we construct a new \(p^{(k)} \) that is A-conjugate to the previous search directions and so that \(p^{(k)\,T} r^{(k)} \neq 0 \text{?}\)" Here are some thoughts:

  • We like the direction of steepest descent, \(r^{(k)} = b - A x^{(k)} \text{,}\) because it is the direction in which \(f( x ) \) decreases most quickly.

  • Let us chose \(p^{(k)} \) to be the vector that is A-conjugate to \(p^{(0)}, \ldots , p^{(k-1)} \) and closest to the direction of steepest descent, \(r^{(k)} \text{:}\)

    \begin{equation*} \| p^{(k)} - r^{(k)} \|_2 = \min_{p \perp \Span( Ap^{(0)}, \ldots, Ap^{(k-1)} )} \| r^{(k)} - p \|_2. \end{equation*}

This yields the algorithm in FigureĀ 8.3.3.1.

\begin{equation*} \begin{array}{l} {\bf Given:~} A, b \\ x^{(0)} := 0 \\ r^{(0)} := b \\ k := 0 \\ {\bf while~} r^{(k)} \neq 0 \\ ~~~ {\bf if~} k = 0 \\ ~~~ ~~~ p^{(k)} = r^{(0)} \\ ~~~ {\bf else} \\ ~~~ ~~~ p^{(k)} \mbox{ minimizes } \min_{p \perp \Span( Ap^{(0)}, \ldots, Ap^{(k-1)} )} \| r^{(k)} - p \|_2 \\ ~~~ {\bf endif} \\ ~~~ \alpha_k := \frac{p^{(k)\,T} r^{(k)}}{p^{(k)\,T} A p^{(k)}} \\ ~~~ x^{(k+1)} := x^{(k)} + \alpha_k p^{(k)} \\ ~~~ r^{(k+1)} := r^{(k)} - \alpha_k A p^{(k)} \\ ~~~ k := k + 1 \\ {\bf endwhile} \end{array} \end{equation*}
Figure 8.3.3.1. Basic Conjugate Gradient Method.