Composite solvers for linear saddle point problems arising from the incompressible Stokes equations with highly heterogeneous viscosity structure 

Monday, 15 December 2014
Patrick Sanan1, Sascha M. Schnepp2, Dave May2 and Olaf Schenk1, (1)University of Italian Switzerland, Lugano 6900, Switzerland, (2)ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Geophysical applications require efficient forward models for non-linear Stokes flow on high resolution spatio-temporal domains. The bottleneck in applying the forward model is solving the linearized, discretized Stokes problem which takes the form of a large, indefinite (saddle point) linear system.

Due to the heterogeniety of the effective viscosity in the elliptic operator, devising effective preconditioners for saddle point problems has proven challenging and highly problem-dependent. Nevertheless, at least three approaches show promise for preconditioning these difficult systems in an algorithmically scalable way using multigrid and/or domain decomposition techniques. The first is to work with a hierarchy of coarser or smaller saddle point problems. The second is to use the Schur complement method to decouple and sequentially solve for the pressure and velocity. The third is to use the Schur decomposition to devise preconditioners for the full operator. These involve sub-solves resembling inexact versions of the sequential solve. The choice of approach and sub-methods depends crucially on the motivating physics, the discretization, and available computational resources.

Here we examine the performance trade-offs for preconditioning strategies applied to idealized models of mantle convection and lithospheric dynamics, characterized by large viscosity gradients. Due to the arbitrary topological structure of the viscosity field in geodynamical simulations, we utilize low order, inf-sup stable mixed finite element spatial discretizations which are suitable when sharp viscosity variations occur in element interiors.

Particular attention is paid to possibilities within the decoupled and approximate Schur complement factorization-based monolithic approaches to leverage recently-developed flexible, communication-avoiding, and communication-hiding Krylov subspace methods in combination with `heavy' smoothers, which require solutions of large per-node sub-problems, well-suited to solution on hybrid computational clusters.

To manage the combinatorial explosion of solver options (which include hybridizations of all the approaches mentioned above), we leverage the modularity of the PETSc library.