I am trying to solve the following nonlinear equation for $f \in \mathbb{R}^3$ using the Newton-Raphson method, $$G(f) = {\sin{(||f||)} \over ||f|| }Jf + {1-\cos(||f||) \over ||f||^2} f \times Jf = g$$ where $g$ is a given vector in $\mathbb{R}^3$, $J \in \mathbb{R}^{3 \times 3}$ is a constant positive definite diagonal matrix and $||.||:\mathbb{R}^3 \rightarrow \mathbb{R}-\{\mathbb{R}^-\}$, represents Euclidean norm. The iterative equation obtained after applying this is the following, $$f_{i+1} = f_{i} + \nabla G (f_i)^{-1}(g-G(f_i))$$

Newton-Raphson method for an equation $f(x)=0$, where, $f:\mathbb{R}\rightarrow \mathbb{R}$, converges if the initial guess is very close to the root of the equation. We can roughly find a neighbourhood of the roots of such equations by plotting graphs or linearizing it but for equations like written above, I am not sure how would this work. I tried solving the above equation for different initial conditions, for some, it converges in at least $9$ iterations while for some other initial conditions it diverges badly. The measure of convergence is checked by computing the norm $||g-G(f_i)||$ in every iteration step.

Please find some iteration results below (performed in MATLAB):

Value of the matrix $J = \begin{bmatrix} 1 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 5 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 3 \end{bmatrix}$ and $g = \begin{bmatrix} 6.13 \\ 1.73 \\ 3.20 \end{bmatrix}$

  1. For the initial condition $f_0 = \begin{bmatrix} 1 \\ 1 \\ 1\end{bmatrix}$, the value of the norm $||g-G(f_i)||$ converges to $10^{-14}$ in $10$ iterations. The solution of the equation comes out to be $\begin{bmatrix} 1.84 \\ 1.16 \\ 1.42 \end{bmatrix}$
  2. For the initial condition $f_0 = \begin{bmatrix} 2 \\ 2 \\ 1\end{bmatrix}$, the equation diverges as the value of the norm $||g-G(f_i)||$ grows to $10^{3}$. The value of the determinant of the matrix $\nabla G$ becomes very small with subsequent iterations (i.e. the matrix $\nabla G$ loses its invertibility in the iterative equation)

It seems an issue of finding a proper initial value to solve it numerically using the Newton-Raphson method. Any other method for solving such equations would also really be appreciated. Looking forward to your suggestions!

Thank you, Dhananjay.


1 Answer 1


If your functions is locally convex around a local minimizer, then Newton's method (and most of its variants) will converge quadratically in that "local" regime -- meaning, if you are close enough to a solution, then you will observe really fast convergence to a solution. If your function is nonconvex, however, there are no guarantees of convergence whatsoever unless you start your iteration close enough to a solution. As you have observed, it can be quite challenging to determine a reasonable first-iterate for this method. Some folks devote entire research papers to finding a reasonable first-iterate for a particular problem.

If no reasonable initial iterate can be inferred based on the problem structure, here are two standard choices for "initial iterates" (not just for Newton, for most fixed-point iterations):

  1. Initialize at zero.
  2. Initialize with a vector whose components are drawn from a standard normal distribution (iid at random). Some folks normalize this as well.

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