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Section: Research Program

Numerical algorithms and high performance computing

Linear algebra is at the kernel of most scientific applications, in particular in physical or chemical engineering. For example, steady-state flow simulations in porous media are discretized in space and lead to a large sparse linear system. The target size is 107 in 2D and 1010 in 3D. For transient models such as diffusion, the objective is to solve about 104 linear systems for each simulation. Memory requirements are of the order of Giga-bytes in 2D and Tera-bytes in 3D. CPU times are of the order of several hours to several days. Several methods and solvers exist for large sparse linear systems. They can be divided into three classes: direct, iterative or semi-iterative. Direct methods are highly efficient but require a large memory space and a rapidly increasing computational time. Iterative methods of Krylov type require less memory but need a scalable preconditioner to remain competitive. Iterative methods of multigrid type are efficient and scalable, used by themselves or as preconditioners, with a linear complexity for elliptic or parabolic problems but they are not so efficient for hyperbolic problems. Semi-iterative methods such as subdomain methods are hybrid direct/iterative methods which can be good tradeoffs. The convergence of iterative and semi-iterative methods and the accuracy of the results depend on the condition number which can blow up at large scale. The objectives are to analyze the complexity of these different methods, to accelerate convergence of iterative methods, to measure and improve the efficiency on parallel architectures, to define criteria of choice.

In geophysics, a main concern is to solve inverse problems in order to fit the measured data with the model. Generally, this amounts to solve a linear or nonlinear least-squares problem. Complex models are in general coupled multi-physics models. For example, reactive transport couples advection-diffusion with chemistry. Here, the mathematical model is a set of nonlinear Partial Differential Algebraic Equations. At each timestep of an implicit scheme, a large nonlinear system of equations arise. The challenge is to solve efficiently and accurately these large nonlinear systems.

Approximation in Krylov subspace is in the core of the team activity since it provides efficient iterative solvers for linear systems and eigenvalue problems as well. The later are encountered in many fields and they include the singular value problem which is especially useful when solving ill posed inverse problems.