# Overflow when using SpheroidalS2

I want to compute the value of the radial oblate spheroidal wave function of the second kind. However, I found the value at small arguments (for example $$0.5I$$ in the following code) cannot be computed and it shows Overflow.

But I can definitely look up the table 15.19 in Zhang's text book [1] that the following result should be $$-0.6809057$$. Does anyone know why Mathematica can not correctly compute it? Thank you.

Example 1 (failed): Run

N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I , 0.5I]]


or

N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I , 0.5I],10]


The return is

Overflow[]


Example 2 (success): Run

N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I , 5I]]


The return is

-0.06805967763768572


Update

According to @MassDefect's suggestion, I tried the following code

N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I,  I/2], 10]


It works and the result is

-0.6890905746 + 0.*10^-11 I


But if I type

N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I,  I/10], 10]


It still shows

Overflow[]


Updata #2

According to @Bill Watts's answer, one can try different precision and maybe there is no Overflow. For example, if one run

N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, I/10], 50]


The result will be

-1.13893813158018132761330789352859720024513682988326 + 0.*10^-51 I


This is a good trick. However, it can not solve my problem in two aspects.

Firstly, I tried many precision scheme but it always return Overflow:

N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, 0], 200]


Secondly, I want a big numerical table for further computations. For example, the argument may begin with $$0$$ and end with $$10 I$$ with the step of $$0.001I$$. The Bill Watts's answer can not be applied because the requirement of the precision is different for different arguments.

[1] Zhang, S., & Jin, J. (1996). Computation of Special Functions. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

• i should be I. Dec 28, 2019 at 8:46
• Thank you for pointing out the typo @xzczd . Because I use [Esc] ii [Esc] in Mathematica which looks like "i", so I typed "i" in the original post. Now I changed it into "I" according to your suggestion. Please note it is not a simple mistake and this thread should not be closed. I added a successful example where the argument "0.5" is changed into "5". Dec 28, 2019 at 22:08
• @xzczd Does it mean the question will not be seen by others if it is closed? Dec 28, 2019 at 22:19
• When questions are closed they are only viewable by the author and people with at least 3000 reputation. I feel that this question may have been closed prematurely as "i" to "I" didn't fix the issue you were experiencing. However, I think if you provide an explicit number of decimals to N, it avoids machine precision computation and provides a result. N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, I/2], 10] seems to work for me. Notice that I have to keep the value inside Spheroidal as an exact value to avoid the overflow. Dec 28, 2019 at 22:34
• In version 10.1 under Windows 7 x64 N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, 0.5 I], 10] returns -0.689091 + 0. I and N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, I/10], 10] returns -1.1389381316 + 0.*10^-11 I. I am tagging this as a regression; please correct me if it is not. Dec 29, 2019 at 10:09

Looks like you have to fool around with the precision on a case by case basis.

N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, I/2]]
(*-0.6890905745631529 + 0.*I*)


works, but

N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, I/10]]


gets an overflow. However,

N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, I/10], 50]
-1.13893813158018132761330789352859720024513682988326 + 0.*10^-51 I


works.

In any case, I would always use exact numbers with this function.

• Good tricks. However, I tried many precisions like 50, 100, 200 and it is still Overflow if the input is N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, 0], 50]. I want to generate a big numerical table for further computations so I expect a better solution Dec 30, 2019 at 7:50
• For that one you get pretty close with N[SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, 10^-50], 50], but maybe someone else can come up with a solution that covers all inputs. Dec 30, 2019 at 8:10

Please report this issue to Wolfram support. It seems that LinearSolve has a bug related to the new in M12 handling of machine number underflow. As an example, the following extracts the LinearSolve call that doesn't work in M12, but does in M11.1:

ls = Reap[
TracePrint[
SpheroidalS2Prime[0, 0, -I, 0.],
_LinearSolve,
TraceInternal->True,
TraceAction->Sow
]
][[2,1,6]]


General::ovfl: Overflow occurred in computation.

General::ovfl: Overflow occurred in computation.

General::ovfl: Overflow occurred in computation.

General::stop: Further output of General::ovfl will be suppressed during this calculation.

In M11.1 the above evaluates without error:

{-2.0000000000000000000000000, 2.6666666666666666666666667, \ -3.200000000000000000000000, 3.657142857142857142857143, \ -4.063492063492063492063492, 4.432900432900432900432900, \ -4.773892773892773892773893, 5.092152292152292152292152, \ -5.391690662278897573015220, 5.675463855030418497910758, \ -5.945724038603295569239842, 6.204233779412134507032878, \ -6.452403130588619887314193, 6.691381024314124327585089, \ -6.922118301014611373363886, 7.145412439757018191859495, \ -7.361940089446624803734025, 7.572281234859385512412140, \ -7.776937484450179715450306, 7.976346137897620220974673, \ -8.170891165651220714169177, 8.360911890433807242405669, \ -8.546709932443447403348018, 8.728554824623095220440529, \ -8.906688596554178796367886, 9.081329549427790145316276, \ -9.252675389983031468812810, 9.420905851619086586427588, \ -9.586184901647491614259651, 9.748662611844906726365747, \ -9.908476753022692082535677, 10.065754161800830052099736, \ -10.220611918136227437516655, 10.373158364675574115688545, \ -10.523493993149133160843451, 10.671712218404754754658148, \ -10.817900057013039066365794, 10.962138724439879587250671, \ -11.104504162419618283188991}

In M12 we get overflow errors:

General::ovfl: Overflow occurred in computation.

General::ovfl: Overflow occurred in computation.

General::ovfl: Overflow occurred in computation.

General::stop: Further output of General::ovfl will be suppressed during this calculation.

{Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[], Overflow[]}

As a workaround, you can override the evaluation of LinearSolve so that it defaults to the slower and less robust method using Inverse:

Unprotect[LinearSolve];
LinearSolve[s1_SparseArray,s2_SparseArray] /; !TrueQ@$$LSFlag := Block[{$$LSFlag=True},
Quiet[
Check[
LinearSolve[s1,s2],
Inverse[s1].s2,
General::ovfl
],
General::ovfl
]
]
Protect[LinearSolve];


Then:

SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, .1 I]
SpheroidalS2[0, 0, -I, 0.]


-1.13894 + 0. I

-1.25234 + 0. I