[R] uniroot speed and vectorization?

Petr Savicky savicky at praha1.ff.cuni.cz
Sat Apr 2 23:25:08 CEST 2011

On Sat, Apr 02, 2011 at 08:24:07AM -0400, ivo welch wrote:
> curiosity---given that vector operations are so much faster than
> scalar operations, would it make sense to make uniroot vectorized?  if
> I read the uniroot docs correctly, uniroot() calls an external C
> routine which seems to be a scalar function.  that must be slow.  I am
> thinking a vectorized version would be useful for an example such as
>   of <- function(x,a) ( log(x)+x+a )
>   uniroot( of, c( 1e-7, 100 ), a=rnorm(1000000) )


The slowest part of the solution using uniroot() is the repeated
evaluation of the R level input function. If this can be vectorized,
then a faster algorithm could be possible. The following is an
example of a vectorized bisection, which is simpler and less
efficient than "zeroin" used in uniroot().

  of <- function(x,a) { log(x)+x+a }
  a <- rnorm(1000)
  x1 <- rep(1e-7, times=length(a))
  x2 <- rep(100, times=length(a))
  stopifnot(of(x1, a) < 0)
  stopifnot(of(x2, a) > 0)
  for (i in 1:60) {
      x3 <- (x1 + x2)/2
      pos <- of(x3, a) > 0
      y1 <- ifelse(pos, x1, x3)
      y2 <- ifelse(pos, x3, x2)
      x1 <- y1
      x2 <- y2
  print(range(of(x1, a)))
  print(range(of(x2, a)))

It can be more efficient to find approximations of the roots
using a few iterations of the above approach and then switch
to the Newton method, which can be vectorized easily.

Hope this helps for a start.

Petr Savicky.

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