Skip to Main Content

Mathematics of Computation

Published by the American Mathematical Society since 1960 (published as Mathematical Tables and other Aids to Computation 1943-1959), Mathematics of Computation is devoted to research articles of the highest quality in computational mathematics.

ISSN 1088-6842 (online) ISSN 0025-5718 (print)

The 2020 MCQ for Mathematics of Computation is 1.78.

What is MCQ? The Mathematical Citation Quotient (MCQ) measures journal impact by looking at citations over a five-year period. Subscribers to MathSciNet may click through for more detailed information.


Numerical approximation of fractional powers of elliptic operators
HTML articles powered by AMS MathViewer

by Andrea Bonito and Joseph E. Pasciak PDF
Math. Comp. 84 (2015), 2083-2110 Request permission


We present and study a novel numerical algorithm to approximate the action of $T^\beta :=L^{-\beta }$ where $L$ is a symmetric and positive definite unbounded operator on a Hilbert space $H_0$. The numerical method is based on a representation formula for $T^{-\beta }$ in terms of Bochner integrals involving $(I+t^2L)^{-1}$ for $t\in (0,\infty )$.

To develop an approximation to $T^\beta$, we introduce a finite element approximation $L_h$ to $L$ and base our approximation to $T^\beta$ on $T_h^\beta := L_h^{-\beta }$. The direct evaluation of $T_h^{\beta }$ is extremely expensive as it involves expansion in the basis of eigenfunctions for $L_h$. The above mentioned representation formula holds for $T_h^{-\beta }$ and we propose three quadrature approximations denoted generically by $Q_h^\beta$. The two results of this paper bound the errors in the $H_0$ inner product of $T^\beta -T_h^\beta \pi _h$ and $T_h^\beta -Q_h^\beta$ where $\pi _h$ is the $H_0$ orthogonal projection into the finite element space. We note that the evaluation of $Q_h^\beta$ involves application of $(I+(t_i)^2L_h)^{-1}$ with $t_i$ being either a quadrature point or its inverse. Efficient solution algorithms for these problems are available and the problems at different quadrature points can be straightforwardly solved in parallel. Numerical experiments illustrating the theoretical estimates are provided for both the quadrature error $T_h^\beta -Q_h^\beta$ and the finite element error $T^\beta -T_h^\beta \pi _h$.

Similar Articles
Additional Information
  • Andrea Bonito
  • Affiliation: Department of Mathematics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3368
  • MR Author ID: 783728
  • Email:
  • Joseph E. Pasciak
  • Affiliation: Department of Mathematics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3368
  • Email:
  • Received by editor(s): July 2, 2013
  • Received by editor(s) in revised form: September 4, 2013, and January 17, 2014
  • Published electronically: March 12, 2015
  • © Copyright 2015 American Mathematical Society
  • Journal: Math. Comp. 84 (2015), 2083-2110
  • MSC (2010): Primary 35S15, 65R20, 65N12, 65N50, 65N30
  • DOI:
  • MathSciNet review: 3356020