Julia programs which compute the Feigenbaum constants
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compute_alpha.jl
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README.md

This repo holds the Julia program used to compute Feigenbaum's alpha to thousands of digits. This program runs with no warnings in Julia 0.5. It also runs under Julia 0.6 with a deprecation warning which you can ignore (for now).

To run the program, execute the function iterate_alpha(). The results are dumped to the screen, and are also appended to the file called alpha.dat.

The algorithm is based on solving the self-similarity equation

      g(z, a) = alpha*g(g(z/alpha, a), a)

to get the function g itself. The computation works like this:

  1. The function g(z) is expanded in a power series:

     g(z) = 1 + a1*x^2 + a2*x^4 + a3*x6 + ....
    
  2. The function is sampled at a bunch of grid points zi between zero and one.

  3. Newton's method is used to compute the ai coefficients: We take the gradient of the function at each point zi. The gradient is taken w.r.t. the expansion coefficients ai. The gradients are concatenated to build the Jacobian. The function values are also concatenated to build a vector of function values. Newton's method finds an approximation to the coefficents ai by doing a linear solve using the Jacobian and function values the usual way. I don't need to do any backtracking or other special tricks.

  4. After Newton's method finds the coefficients ai to the desired number of digits, alpha is computed by alpha = g(1).

  5. The coefficients are returned to an outer loop (iterate_alpha()) which asks for increasingly more digits. The coefficients are from the last run of Newtwon's method are used to seed the next run. This helps keep the algorithm from wandering away from the desired solution, and also provides a series of increasingly precise alpha values which can be analyzed for convergence.

I have performed some timing measurements, and it (empircally) looks as if the algorithm asymptotes to O(n^4). This makes sense because the linear solve in Newton's method is O(n^3), where n is the number of sample points zi. The underlying BigFloat stuff, MPFR, scales as O(n) with number of digits n. Since convergence requires the number of sample points is proportional to number of digits requested, the overall complexity is O(n^4).

In very rough numbers, I find that getting around 1000 digits takes on the order of a day using a ca. 2000 HP laptop. Note that I have made no attempt to time individual parts of the code, nor to optimize the code.

The solution method is described in a number of publications, including:


A subdirectory of results is included here. The files are:

alpha_me_*.txt -- My computed results from Oct 2017. The numeric suffixes are the number of digits requested by iterate_alpha(), not necessariy the number of correct digits.

alpha_oeis.txt -- All 1018 digits of alpha available from http://www.plouffe.fr/simon/constants/feigenbaum.txt

verify.py -- a python program which compares each digit from two input files and reports the number of digits of agreement. Use this to analyze convergence of the computed alphas.

Last update: Stuart Brorson 10.14.2017.

Instructions:

# Run one time to get the Julia ForwardDiff package:
Pkg.add("ForwardDiff")
# To run the program:
include("compute_alpha.jl")
iterate_alpha();