3 - Sparse Grids for Higher Dimensional Problems  pp. 106-161

Sparse Grids for Higher Dimensional Problems

By Michael Griebel

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The efficient numerical treatment of high-dimensional problems is hampered by the curse of dimensionality. We review approximation techniques which overcome this problem to some extent. Here, we focus on methods stemming from Kolmogorov's theorem, the ANOVA decomposition and the sparse grid approach and discuss their prerequisites and properties. Moreover, we present energy-norm based sparse grids and demonstrate that, for functions with bounded mixed derivatives on the unit hypercube, the associated approximation rate in terms of the involved degrees of freedom shows no dependence on the dimension at all, neither in the approximation order nor in the order constant.


The discretization of PDEs by conventional methods is limited to problems with up to three or four dimensions due to storage requirements and computational complexity. The reason is the so-called curse of dimensionality, a term coined in (Bellmann 1961). Here, the cost to compute and represent an approximation with a prescribed accuracy ε depends exponentially on the dimensionality d of the problem considered. We encounter complexities of the order O(ε−d/r) with r > 0 depending on the respective approach, the smoothness of the function under consideration, the polynomial degree of the ansatz functions and the details of the implementation. If we consider simple uniform grids with piecewise d-polynomial functions over a bounded domain in a finite element or finite difference approach, this complexity estimate translates to O(Nd) grid points or degrees of freedom for which approximation accuracies of the order O(Nr) are achieved.