Reducing parallel communication in algebraic multigrid through sparsification

Amanda Bienz, Robert D. Falgout, William Gropp, Luke N. Olson, Jacob B. Schroder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Algebraic multigrid (AMG) is an O(n) solution process for many large sparse linear systems. A hierarchy of progressively coarser grids which utilize complementary relaxation and interpolation operators is constructed. High-energy error is reduced by relaxation, while low-energy error is mapped to coarse-grid matrices and reduced there. However, large parallel communication costs often limit parallel scalability. As the multigrid hierarchy is formed, each coarse matrix is formed through a triple matrix product. The resulting coarse grids often have significantly more nonzeros per row than the original fine-grid operator, thereby generating high parallel communication costs associated with sparse matrix-vector multiplication (SpMV) on coarse levels. In this paper, we introduce a method that systematically removes entries in coarse-grid matrices after the hierarchy is formed, leading to improved communication costs. We sparsify by removing weakly connected or unimportant entries in the matrix, leading to improved solve time. The main trade-off is that if the heuristic identifying unimportant entries is used too aggressively, then AMG convergence can suffer. To counteract this, the original hierarchy is retained, allowing entries to be reintroduced into the solver hierarchy if convergence is too slow. This enables a balance between communication cost and convergence, as necessary. In this paper we present new algorithms for reducing communication and present a number of computational experiments in support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S332-S357
JournalSIAM Journal on Scientific Computing
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016


  • Algebraic multigrid
  • High performance computing
  • Multigrid
  • Non-Galerkin multigrid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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