I am attempting to code a program that executes the golden section search method, and I would like to terminate the computations after $n$ iterations, where the user decides what $n$ is. My code works and finds the solution; it just refuses to terminate until the other termination condition is met.

Upon investigation, I discovered that unlike the Fibonacci Search method, this method is independent of $n$; in essence, $n$ did not matter.

Here is my code: (I appreciate edits to make it look better)

GoldenSearch[lower_, upper_, iterations_] := 
  Module[{a = N[lower], b = N[upper], n = iterations}, k = 0;
    Print["Iteration Results are:"];
    While[Abs[(b - (b - a)/phi) - (a + (b - a)/phi)] > Res, 
      c = (b - (b - a)/phi);
      d = (a + (b - a)/phi);
      If[G[c] < G[d],(*Then*)b = d;(*Else*)k = k + 1;, 
      a = c;
      Print[{"Lowerbound at iteration...", k, PaddedForm[a, {7, 6}]}];
      Print[{"Upperbound at iteration...", k, PaddedForm[b, {7, 6}]}];

It is clear that n does not appear anywhere else besides the Module function.

Here is some information on the variables and the function G:

  • G[x_]: function being evaluated.
  • phi: Golden Ratio = 1.61803...
  • a & b: Lower and upper bounds
  • Res: Resolution, I set it at 10^-4

Any help is appreciated.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So you're concerned that it doesn't actually terminate after n iterations? If so, I don't see a k<=n in your While loop, for a start. $\endgroup$
    – ktm
    Oct 16, 2018 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I don't. Would it work if I just added ",<=n" after the absolute value stuff? I was thinking of putting in another IF statement. Sorry if this sounds silly, I am extremely bad at coding. $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2018 at 1:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I believe you'd want While[Abs[(b - (b - a)/phi) - (a + (b - a)/phi)] > Res && k < n, ...]. (didn't test it myself) $\endgroup$
    – ktm
    Oct 16, 2018 at 1:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The bulk of Mathematica's core is written in C, so you'll notice a lot of similarities :) $\endgroup$
    – ktm
    Oct 16, 2018 at 1:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The value of phi is built in as GoldenRatio $\endgroup$
    – Bob Hanlon
    Oct 16, 2018 at 4:55

1 Answer 1


Just for reference, I'll present a pretty traditional implementation of golden section search. I'll use Newton's cubic $x^3-2x-5$ as the example function, minimized over $[-1,2]$:

f[x_] := x^3 - 2 x - 5
a = N[-1]; b = N[2];

GoldenRatio is built-in, so let's use that for making the needed constants:

{ψ, ϕ} = {1 - 1/GoldenRatio, 1/GoldenRatio} // N;

Set up the tolerance and the maximum number of iterations:

tol = 1.*^-4; kmax = 10;

Starting conditions:

m1 = Rescale[ψ, {0, 1}, {a, b}];
m2 = Rescale[ϕ, {0, 1}, {a, b}];
f1 = f[m1]; f2 = f[m2]; k = 0;

Finally, the main search:

While[Abs[b - a] > tol (Abs[m1] + Abs[m2]) && k < kmax, k = k + 1;
      If[f1 < f2,
         b = m2; m2 = m1; m1 = ψ a + ϕ m2;
         f2 = f1; f1 = f[m1],
         a = m1; m1 = m2; m2 = ϕ m1 + ψ b;
         f1 = f2; f2 = f[m2]];
      Print[{k, a, m1, m2, b}]];

which should yield {a, m1, m2, b} = {0.805318, 0.814635, 0.820393, 0.82971} when it finishes, and print the values along the way. If you want to get even more fancy, you can use Plot[] with Epilog to see how these points move along. If you want to compare with the built-in minimizer, you can also do FindArgMin[f[x], {x, 1}][[1]].

I'll leave the encapsulation into a routine up to you.

  • $\begingroup$ Very neat and easily understandable! The plots would be a neat addition. $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2018 at 4:46

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