Can one employ convex optimization for symmetric but not positive definite problems? I tried using MATLAB's quadprog() function to solve this problem:


$\mathrm{s.t.} \mathbf{Ax}=\mathbf{b}$

Where $\mathbf{H}$ is a symmetric but not positive definite. I am attempting to solve Darcy's equation based on the Variational Multi-Scale (VMS) formulation. I could rewrite the weak form such that the linear operator is symmetric, but even so quadprog will not work.

However, if I "normalized" the minimization functional:


$\mathrm{s.t.} \mathbf{Ax}=\mathbf{b}$

I ensure that my Hessian is symmetric and positive definite, and quadprog does what i want it to. Why is this the case?


1 Answer 1


A quadratic objective function in which the Hessian isn't positive semidefinite isn't a convex objective function and minimizing it isn't convex optimization.

  • $\begingroup$ So if the Hessian is positive semi-definite the convex optimization will work, but if it's indefinite (e.g., a saddle-point problem) then it wont work? $\endgroup$
    – Justin
    Aug 31, 2015 at 23:37

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