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Finite Differences with Toeplitz Matrix

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Finite Differences with Toeplitz Matrix

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A Toeplitz matrix is a band matrix in which each descending diagonal from left to right is constant. In this post we will see how to approximate the derivative of a function f(x) as matrix-vector products between a Toeplitz matrix and a vector of equally spaced values of f. Let's see how to generate the matrices we need using the function toeplitz(...) provided by numpy:
from numpy import *
from scipy.linalg import toeplitz
import pylab

def forward(size):
 """ returns a toeplitz matrix
   for forward differences
 r = zeros(size)
 c = zeros(size)
 r[0] = -1
 r[size-1] = 1
 c[1] = 1
 return toeplitz(r,c)

def backward(size):
 """ returns a toeplitz matrix
   for backward differences
 r = zeros(size)
 c = zeros(size)
 r[0] = 1
 r[size-1] = -1
 c[1] = -1
 return toeplitz(r,c).T

def central(size):
 """ returns a toeplitz matrix
   for central differences
 r = zeros(size)
 c = zeros(size)
 r[1] = .5
 r[size-1] = -.5
 c[1] = -.5
 c[size-1] = .5
 return toeplitz(r,c).T

# testing the functions printing some 4-by-4 matrices
print 'Forward matrix'
print forward(4)
print 'Backward matrix'
print backward(4)
print 'Central matrix'
print central(4)

The result of the test above is as follows:
Forward matrix
[[-1.  1.  0.  0.]
 [ 0. -1.  1.  0.]
 [ 0.  0. -1.  1.]
 [ 1.  0.  0. -1.]]

Backward matrix
[[ 1.  0.  0. -1.]
 [-1.  1.  0.  0.]
 [ 0. -1.  1.  0.]
 [ 0.  0. -1.  1.]]

Central matrix
[[ 0.   0.5  0.  -0.5]
 [-0.5  0.   0.5  0. ]
 [ 0.  -0.5  0.   0.5]
 [ 0.5  0.  -0.5  0. ]]

We can observe that the matrix-vector product between those matrices and the vector of equally spaced values of f(x) implements, respectively, the following equations:

Forward difference,

Backward difference,

And central difference,


where h is the step size between the samples. Those equations are called Finite Differences and they give us an approximate derivative of f. So, let's approximate some derivatives!

x = linspace(0,10,15)
y = cos(x) # recall, the derivative of cos(x) is sin(x)
# we need the step h to compute f'(x) 
# because the product gives h*f'(x)
h = x[1]-x[2]
# generating the matrices
Tf = forward(15)/h 
Tb = backward(15)/h
Tc = central(15)/h

# approximation and plotting

# the same experiment with more samples (h is smaller)
x = linspace(0,10,50)
y = cos(x)
h = x[1]-x[2]
Tf = forward(50)/h
Tb = backward(50)/h
Tc = central(50)/h

pylab.legend(['Forward', 'Backward', 'Central', 'True f prime'],loc=4)
The resulting plot would appear as follows:

As the theory suggests, the approximation is better when h is smaller and the central differences are more accurate (note that, they have an higher order of accuracy respect to the backward and forward ones).

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Published at DZone with permission of Giuseppe Vettigli, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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