A Software Package of Multi-Level Block ILU Preconditioning Techniques for
Solving General Sparse Linear Systems
Preliminary Examination Version, November 1997
Latest Update, March 18, 1998
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
University of Minneapolis
Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
Department of Computer Science
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506--0047, USA
Introduction to BILUM
BILUM is a set of programs designed for solving general sparse linear systems by
using Krylov subspace methods preconditioned by some multi-level block
ILU (BILUM) preconditioning techniques. BILUM combines the benefits of
generality and robustness of ILU preconditioning techniques with those of
convergence of multigrid methods. The multi-level algorithms implemented by
BILUM are based on the block independent set ordering and multi-elimination
techniques. At each level, a block independent set is found by some greedy
algorithms such that each block is decoupled with other blocks in the
independent set. There is an inherited parallelism associated with this
technique. The coefficient matrix is then re-ordered according to the
independent set ordering and an approximate block ILU factorization is
performed with a reduced system of smaller size. The multi-level structure
is constructed by recursively applying the
above idea to the approximate Schur complement (the reduced system) until
the last reduced system is small enough to be solved by a direct method
or a preconditioned iterative method.
The advantages of BILUM compared to other more traditional incomplete LU
(ILU) factorizations are the followings:
Experiments on a large number of test matrices arising in various domains
including finite element methods, finite difference methods, computational
fluid dynamics, high-order discretized convection-diffusion equations,
Harwell-Boeing collections, FIDAP matrices, Simon matrices, Wigto matrices,
driven cavity problems, have shown that BILUM is much more robust than
traditional ILU-type preconditioners. For many hard problems, the improved
robustness and faster convergence rate are accompanied by less memory
consumption, which is a surprising contrary to many so-called robust
Grid-independent convergence is almost synonymous with multigrid methods.
In fact, without some multi-level or multi-scale implementation, the
convergence rate of
an iterative method tends to decrease as the size of the problems increases.
This is a very undesirable feature as iterative methods are usually designed to
solve large scale problems. However,
experiments on certain type of problems have shown that BILUM demonstrates
nearly grid-independent convergence. For some convection-diffusion problems,
its convergence rate can be shown to be nearly independent of the strength of
the convection or the Reynolds number.
For many problems, BILUM is much faster than ILU(0), ILUT or other popular
preconditioners and uses less memory. The interesting thing is that the
construction of BILUM can be economic, i.e., the preconditioner
construction time and the solution time are of the same order. This is
in contrast to many ``modern'' preconditioners whose constructions are
many times more expensive than their solution time. Hence, BILUM is more
suitable as a general purpose preconditioning technique.
Due to its construction, all blocks in an independent set can be processed
in parallel. Inherited parallelism can be extracted in both BILUM
construction and BILUM application phases. Although the current version of
BILUM is not a parallel code, its implementation on vector machines such as
Cray C-90 benefits from the inherited vectorization and parallelism. In
addition, BILUM provide a general framework which encapsulates both
coarse-grain and fine-grain domain decomposition approaches.
Multi-level preconditioning techniques are, to some extend,
related to the hierarchical
basis multigrid in finite element analysis, the recursive red-black
factorization in finite difference analysis, multigrid methods with
matrix-dependent transfer operators, algebraic multigrid methods, and
black-box multigrid methods. However, most other methods need
grid information from the underlying partial differential equations.
BILUM is constructed purely algebraically and does not assume any
property from the coefficient matrix and needs no grid information.
Here is a list of references that
are related to multi-level preconditioning techniques.
Authorship and Acknowledgment
BILUM was written by
Yousef Saad and
under the support of
National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and
Technology as an effort to create parallel scalable libraries for
large scale applications. However, BILUM does not reflect the official
view of either National
Science Foundation or National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The authors have also benefited from Edmond Chow and Kesheng Wu for
their helpful discussions and professional advice.
Downloading a preliminary examination version of BILUM
is as easy as just pointing your web browser to
and click it.
The software package of BILUM contains a number of files
written entirely in Fortran 77. It utilizes some routines from
LAPACK and SPARSKIT. BILUM is portable
on most Unix systems that have a Fortran 77 compiler.
It has been extensively tested on SGI, SUN and Cray C-90 machines.
The distribution of BILUM consists of a Unix gziped tar file whose size is
approximately 0.16 megabyte.
After downloading BILUM you need to uncompress it and untar it. This
is achieved by executing the following command:
tar -xvf bilum.tar
At this point you should have a directory named BILUM.
This directory contains the main makefile and several subdirectories.
Instructions are contained in README file and test drivers are contained
in a subdirectory TESTRUN. There are two test problems with test
results obtained on three types of machines and the test results can be
found in a subdirectory TESTRUN/SAMPLE.
We keep updating and improving BILUM. This web page will keep the
up-to-date version. For major modifications and the relation to the
old version, please check the
There is a Belorussian translation of
this page on BILUM software. Thanks to the efforts of Bohdan Zograf.
Even though BILUM contains no known bugs, it does not mean that all
of its bugs have been found and fixed. If you find any problems, please send
an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org,
with a brief description of the problem you have found.
Also if you have any comments regarding BILUM or any suggestions for
additional functionality that you want to see being incorporated in future
releases of BILUM, send them to
If you want to keep tracking of the continuous development of BILUM,
please put the URL address:
in your collection of bookmarks.
This is a preliminary examination version of BILUM. Permission is granted
for using the software for the purpose of examination. Users are
not permitted to distribute the software.
This software package comes with no warranty. The authors
are not liable for any loss/damage or inconvenience caused
in the use of this software package or any modification thereof.
You use it at your own risk.
This page is created by
originally created: Friday, October 13, 1997.
Last modified: Monday, August 22, 2011.