catching solver failures as a python exception

7 months ago by
I've found that if a nonlinear dolfin solver fails, for instance by exceeding the maximum number of iterations if convergence criteria are too tight, then the program stops completely.  It would be better if the failure could be caught as an exception, which would, for instance, allow convergence criteria to be adjusted, or in a multijob application could allow the failed calculation to be skipped while the program proceeds with the next job. 

I couldn't find any python exception that deals with solver failure (I'm working with fenics 2016.2.0). Putting the solve command in a try-catch block didn't catch anything, didn't keep the program from crashing.  Is there really no mechanism for this, or have I missed a detail? 
Community: FEniCS Project

1 Answer

7 months ago by
If the solver fails, it is because the system of equations is not well posed.  Typically, you need to evaluate the system at the point of failure to diagnose the problem and derive non-trival solutions.  However, you can set the solver parameter ``error_on_nonconvergence`` to false.  On return from the solve function, you will be given a boolean value indicating convergence.  With this, you can automate corrections to your code.

For example, an automated relaxation-parameter-decrease solver for a time-dependent non-linear problem :

params      = {'newton_solver' :
                  'linear_solver'           : 'mumps',
                  'absolute_tolerance'      : 1e-14,
                  'relative_tolerance'      : 1e-9,
                  'relaxation_parameter'    : 1.0,
                  'maximum_iterations'      : 20,
                  'error_on_nonconvergence' : False
ffc_options = {"optimize"               : True}

problem = NonlinearVariationalProblem(delta, U, J=J, bcs=bcs,
solver  = NonlinearVariationalSolver(problem)

adaptive = True

# loop over all times :
for t in times:

  # set the previous solution to the last iteration :

  # Compute solution
  if not adaptive:

  # solve equation, lower alpha on failure :
  elif adaptive:
    solved_u = False
    par    = params['newton_solver']
    while not solved_u:
      if par['relaxation_parameter'] < 0.5:
        status_u = [False, False]
      U_temp   = U.copy(True)
      U1_temp  = U1.copy(True)
      status_u = solver.solve()
      solved_u = status_u[1]
      if not solved_u:
        par['relaxation_parameter'] /= 1.4
        s = ">>> WARNING: newton relaxation parameter lowered to %g <<<"
        print_text(s % par['relaxation_parameter'], 'red', 1)
Thanks Evan.  That error_on_nonconvergence parameter will be helpful.
written 7 months ago by Drew Parsons  
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