A parallel block multi-level preconditioner for the 3D incompressible Navier-Stokes equations

Howard C. Elman, Victoria E. Howle, John N. Shadid, Ray S. Tuminaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The development of robust and efficient algorithms for both steady-state simulations and fully implicit time integration of the Navier-Stokes equations is an active research topic. To be effective, the linear subproblems generated by these methods require solution techniques that exhibit robust and rapid convergence. In particular, they should be insensitive to parameters in the problem such as mesh size, time step, and Reynolds number. In this context, we explore a parallel preconditioner based on a block factorization of the coefficient matrix generated in an Oseen nonlinear iteration for the primitive variable formulation of the system. The key to this preconditioner is the approximation of a certain Schur complement operator by a technique first proposed by Kay, Loghin, and Wathen [SIAM J. Sci. Comput., 2002] and Silvester, Elman, Kay, and Wathen [J. Comput. Appl. Math. 128 (2001) 261]. The resulting operator entails subsidiary computations (solutions of pressure Poisson and convection-diffusion subproblems) that are similar to those required for decoupled solution methods; however, in this case these solutions are applied as preconditioners to the coupled Oseen system. One important aspect of this approach is that the convection-diffusion and Poisson subproblems are significantly easier to solve than the entire coupled system, and a solver can be built using tools developed for the subproblems. In this paper, we apply smoothed aggregation algebraic multigrid to both subproblems. Previous work has focused on demonstrating the optimality of these preconditioners with respect to mesh size on serial, two-dimensional, steady-state computations employing geometric multi-grid methods; we focus on extending these methods to large-scale, parallel, three-dimensional, transient and steady-state simulations employing algebraic multigrid (AMG) methods. Our results display nearly optimal convergence rates for steady-state solutions as well as for transient solutions over a wide range of CFL numbers on the two-dimensional and three-dimensional lid-driven cavity problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-523
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 20 2003


  • Algebraic multigrid
  • Approximate Schur complement
  • Approximate block factorization
  • Convention-diffusion operator
  • Multi-level
  • Navier-Stokes
  • Preconditioner


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