Schwarz alternating method

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In mathematics, the Schwarz alternating method or alternating process is an iterative method introduced in 1869-1870 by Hermann Schwarz in the theory of conformal mapping. Given two overlapping regions in the complex plane in each of which the Dirichlet problem could be solved, Schwarz described an iterative method for solving the Dirichlet problem in their union, provided their intersection was suitably well behaved. This was one of several constructive techniques of conformal mapping developed by Schwarz as a contribution to the problem of uniformization, posed by Riemann in the 1850s and first resolved rigorously by Koebe and Poincaré in 1907. It furnished a scheme for uniformizing the union of two regions knowing how to uniformize each of them separately, provided their intersection was topologically a disk or an annulus. From 1870 onwards Carl Neumann also contributed to this theory.

In the 1950s Schwarz's method was generalized in the theory of partial differential equations to an iterative method for finding the solution of a elliptic boundary value problem on a domain which is the union of two overlapping subdomains. It involves solving the boundary value problem on each of the two subdomains in turn, taking always the last values of the approximate solution as the next boundary conditions. In numerical analysis, a modification of the method, known as the additive Schwarz method, has become a practical domain decomposition method. An abstract formulation of the original method is then referred to as the multiplicative Schwarz method.


It was first formulated by H. A. Schwarz [1] and served as a theoretical tool: its convergence for general second order elliptic partial differential equations was first proved much later, in 1951, by Solomon Mikhlin.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See his paper (Schwarz 1870b)
  2. ^ See the paper (Mikhlin 1951): a comprehensive exposition was given by the same author in later books


Original papers

Conformal mapping and harmonic functions

PDEs and numerical analysis

External links[edit]