An SR1/BFGS SQP algorithm for nonconvex nonlinear programs with block-diagonal Hessian matrix

Dennis Janka*, Christian Kirches, Sebastian Sager, Andreas Wächter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We present a quasi-Newton sequential quadratic programming (SQP) algorithm for nonlinear programs in which the Hessian of the Lagrangian function is block-diagonal. Problems with this characteristic frequently arise in the context of optimal control; for example, when a direct multiple shooting parametrization is used. In this article, we describe an implementation of a filter line-search SQP method that computes search directions using an active-set quadratic programming (QP) solver. To take advantage of the block-diagonal structure of the Hessian matrix, each block is approximated separately by quasi-Newton updates. For nonconvex instances, that arise, for example, in optimum experimental design control problems, these blocks are often found to be indefinite. In that case, the block-BFGS quasi-Newton update can lead to poor convergence. The novel aspect in this work is the use of SR1 updates in place of BFGS approximations whenever possible. The resulting indefinite QPs necessitate an inertia control mechanism within the sparse Schur-complement factorization that is carried out by the active-set QP solver. This permits an adaptive selection of the Hessian approximation that guarantees sufficient progress towards a stationary point of the problem. Numerical results demonstrate that the proposed approach reduces the number of SQP iterations and CPU time required for the solution of a set of optimal control problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-459
Number of pages25
JournalMathematical Programming Computation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Direct methods for optimal control
  • Optimum experimental design
  • Quasi-Newton
  • Sequential quadratic programming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Software

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