Some improvements for the fast sweeping method

Stanley Bak, Joyce Mclaughlin, Paul Renzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we outline two improvements to the fast sweeping method to improve the speed of the method in general and more specifically in cases where the speed is changing rapidly. The conventional wisdom is that fast sweeping works best when the speed changes slowly, and fast marching is the algorithm of choice when the speed changes rapidly. The goal here is to achieve run times for the fast sweeping method that are at least as fast, or faster, than competitive methods, e.g. fast marching, in the case where the speed is changing rapidly. The first improvement, which we call the locking method, dynamically keeps track of grid points that have either already had the solution successfully calculated at that grid point or for which the solution cannot be successfully calculated during the current iteration. These locked points can quickly be skipped over during the fast sweeping iterations, avoiding many time-consuming calculations. The second improvement, which we call the two queue method, keeps all of the unlocked points in a data structure so that the locked points no longer need to be visited at all. Unfortunately, it is not possible to insert new points into the data structure while maintaining the fast sweeping ordering without at least occasionally sorting. Instead, we segregate the grid points into those with small predicted solutions and those with large predicted solutions using two queues. We give two ways of performing this segregation. This method is a label correcting (iterative) method like the fast sweeping method, but it tends to operate near the front like the fast marching method. It is reminiscent of the threshold method for finding the shortest path on a network, [F. Glover, D. Klingman, and N. Phillips, Oper. Res., 33 (1985), pp. 65-73]. We demonstrate the numerical efficiency of the improved methods on a number of examples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2853-2874
Number of pages22
JournalSIAM Journal on Scientific Computing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • Eikonal equation
  • Fast marching
  • Fast sweeping
  • Static Hamilton-Jacobi equation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics

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