I know that the definition of the Lipschitz continuity is defines as $$||f(y) - f(x)|| \leq L ||y-x||$$

My professor told me that by knowing $f$ we can find constant $L$ using the power iteration method, which essentially computes the maximum eigenvalues. Yet I don't see how definition above is related to searching for max eigenvalues. Can anyone please help me understand?

  • $\begingroup$ Is $f$ a linear function(al)? Otherwise, eigenvalue analogy does not make sense. Assuming that this is related to the fixed point problem "find $x$ s.t. $x=f(x)$", you can approximate the constant as $L \approx \max_i \|f(x_{i+1})-f(x_i)\|/\|x_{i+1} - x_i\|$ which is equal to $\max_i \|x_{i+2}-x_{i+1}\|/\|x_{i+1} - x_i\|$ and $\max_i \|f(x_{i+1})-f(x_i)\|/\|f(x_{i}) - f(x_{i-1})\|$. This fairly looks like a power iteration and maybe that is what your professor meant. $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2021 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ I greatly appreciate your reply. This result is necessary as an assumption for the local convergence of primal-dual problem. Can you elaborate more why $\max_{i} $ looks like power iteration? From what I know, the power iteration algorithm is needed to find eigenvalues and I don't see any eigenvalue problem here. $\endgroup$
    – Karina
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ There may not be an eigenvalue problem at all. That analogy may not be valid. Regarding why the maximum ratio over the iterations may approximate $L$, see cfdlab's answer. $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2021 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


Define the iteration $$ x_{n+1} = f(x_n) $$ Then $$ e_n := \frac{\|x_{n+1} - x_n\|}{\| x_n - x_{n-1}\|} \le L $$ Compute $e_n$ and that should tell you something about L. If the iterations converge ($L < 1$), then $e_n$ should converge to $L$.


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