# MACM 316 – Computing Assignment 4

MACM 316 – Computing Assignment 4

Due Date: February 28 at 11:00pm.
Submission Instructions: You must upload one .pdf file in Crowdmark that consists of two pages:
page 1 is your report which should fit all discussions, data and figures into a single page; and page
2 is a listing of your code. The deadline is 11:00pm on the due date. The actual due time is set
to 11:05pm and if Crowdmark indicates that you submitted late, you will be assigned a grade of 0
on this assignment. Your TA has emailed you a Crowdmark link that you should save since it will
❼ Please review the Guidelines for Assignments carefully.
❼ Acknowledge any collaborations or assistance from colleagues/TAs/instructor.
❼ If you have any questions about Matlab or aspects of this assignment, then you are strongly
encouraged to attend tutorials and drop-in workshops.
Computing Assignment – Gaussian Elimination on Large Random
Matrices
“Computing Assignments”.
In class you have seen that finite-precision computations with Gaussian Elimination (such as that
implemented in Matlab’s backslash command) generates relatively small errors for small matrices
like those we considered in lectures, but the error can grow much larger for when the matrix is larger.
The purpose of this assignment is to quantify the growth of this error for large matrices that have
random entries.
Let A be an N × N matrix with random entries sampled from a uniform distribution on [[1, 1]. The
exact solution is set to x = (1, 1, . . . , 1)T ∈ R
N and then b = Ax is taken to be the corresponding
right-hand side vector. The linear system Ax = b is then solved numerically with Matlab’s backslash
operator, using the command y = A \ b, which yields an approximate solution y = [yi
] ∈ R
N . To
measure the error between the exact solution x and the approximation y, we define
 = max
1≤i≤N
|xi 䛈 yi
|
to be the maximum component-wise difference between the two vectors (this is just the max-norm
error). Since A is a random matrix, you need to run this calculation for a number of separate trials
using different realizations of A in order to obtain a reasonable averaged value for . Let M be the
number of trials and suppose that for the k
th trial the error is 
(k)
. Then you can define the mean
(average) error as
EN =
1
M


(1) + 
(2) + · · · + 
(M)

where the subscript N on EN denotes the matrix size. The code GERandom.m provided to you
computes this averaged error EN for a collection of M random matrices all of size N.
The goal of this assignment is for you to study the growth in the error EN as N increases, and to
estimate the size of the matrix N = N∗
for which the mean error in Gaussian Elimination reaches
EN ≈ 1. In other words, you need to find the size N∗
for which the round-off error will grow to the
same magnitude as the solution vector x (i.e., no significant digits of accuracy remain).
In practice, N∗
is quite large and your computer will not have the processing power to find N∗ directly.
Instead, you should extrapolate the data from your computations on a sequence of moderate-sized
N values in order to estimate N∗
. To do so, generate a plot of log(EN ) versus log(N) and then
extend the data to EN = 1 using suitable extrapolation. Your conclusions should be explained in a
one-page report which includes the following:
❼ A justification for the values of N and M that you chose.
❼ Your plot of log(EN ) versus log(N).
❼ An explanation of how you do the extrapolation.
❼ An estimate of the size N∗ where you predict that the error EN∗ ≈ 1.
You should find the following Matlab built-in functions useful:
❼ A = 2*rand(N,N)-1 : this command returns an N × N matrix with random entries chosen
from the interval [[1, 1].
❼ loglog(Nlist, Elist) or plot(log10(Nlist), log10(Elist)) : generates a log-log plot of
the errors (Elist) versus the corresponding matrix sizes (Nlist).
❼ p = polyfit(x, y, 1) : for a set of data points (x, y), this returns the coefficients of a
straight-line fit having the form y = p1x + p2. Replacing the last parameter with an integer
greater than 1 fits a higher degree polynomial.

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