I have a function $f(x)$ defined on a domain $D$, but such that the image $f(D)$ may contain extra regions not included in its domain. I am interested in solving the fixed-point equation $x=f(x)$. If I do a fixed-point iteration:

$$x_{n+1} = f(x_n)$$

starting from a point $x_0\in D$, I risk that some point $x_n\notin D$ falls outside the domain.

Are there techniques to deal with such an $f$? For simplicity let's assume that $f$ is smooth in $D$.

  • $\begingroup$ I think almost every function $f$ is like that not necessarily $D = f(D)$, but if you know that truly that converged solution of your equation defined as: $x - f(x) = 0$ should be in $D$, your method to solve it numerically should be able to get it to you at the end within a defined tolerance. I think using iteration equation of: $x_{n+1} = f(x_{n})$ generally has a really poor performance and accuracy. Why you don't use Newton-Raphson here? $\endgroup$ Apr 7, 2020 at 2:46

1 Answer 1


You can modify the iteration, for example by including a projection. That's because if $x\in D$ is indeed a fixed point of the function, i.e. $x=f(x)$, then it is also a fixed point of $x=\Pi(f(x))$ where $\Pi$ is some kind of operation so that $$ \Pi(x) = \begin{cases} x & \text{if $x\in D$} \\ \text{some $y\in D$} & \text{otherwise}. \end{cases} $$ An example is the orthogonal projection onto $D$ if $D$ is a convex set. But anything else that satisfies the statement above is valid as well.

So, with this, your iteration then becomes $x_{n+1}=\Pi(f(x_n))$ and that avoids the problem of walking out of the domain.

The question you need to answer, however, is whether the combined operation $\Pi\circ f$ is still a contraction. If your fixed point lies in the interior of $D$, then if $f$ is a contraction at $x$, then $\Pi\circ f$ is clearly also a contraction at $x$. But it may not be far away from the fixed point, and it's not obvious that the iteration will converge.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I was thinking about something along these lines. Also it would be useful to have a guarantee that a fixed point of $\Pi\circ f$ is also a fixed point of $f$ (so the converse of your statement). What I am doing (and seems to work for my particular problem) is to do a random projection of $f(x)\notin D$ into some random point of $D$. But I have not really thought about formalizing this and its theoretical convergence properties. $\endgroup$
    – becko
    Apr 7, 2020 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ No, the converse is definitely not true. For $f(x)=2x$, you have that $x=0$ is the only fixed point. But if $\Pi$ is the projection onto $[1,2]$, then $x=1$ is a fixed point of $\Pi\circ f$. $\endgroup$ Apr 7, 2020 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ I suspect that the random projection is fine if $\text{dist}(x_\text{fixed},\partial D)>0$ for at least one fixed point. It might lead to slow convergence, though. $\endgroup$ Apr 7, 2020 at 20:28

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