I am trying to understand the numerical integration routine by using as a benchmark the function

f[x_] := -x^2 + x^4

used to define the following function

g[z_] := NIntegrate[1/Sqrt[-f[x]], {x, z, 1}, WorkingPrecision -> 16]

As $\lim_{x \to 0} g(x) = \infty$

I was checking how the computation is performed as the argument of $g$ approaches $0$.



I get the warning

NIntegrate::ncvb: NIntegrate failed to converge to prescribed accuracy after 9 recursive        bisections in x near {x} = {1.64072643374912601558232961177989984273356228783177323546417714519*10^-29}. NIntegrate obtained 71.8065640502810565832993434204331739193329356186861158845012728424`66. and 2.36220417967229179569077470511748314210153999062657561896751085287`66. for the integral and error estimates.

and a result of


For smaller arguments I get


and an error estimate of


I checked this against Julia and its standard integration package QuadGK

julia> j = quadgk(h,10^-100,1)
(230.9516545085585, 3.0963683972298146e-6)

no sweat, much smaller error.

In Python with Scipy.integrate I obtain similar results, but the maximum number of subdivision has to be increased, and I set it to 500.


MaxRecursion -> 500 

makes the calculation run for x10 more than Julia, and I still get some error (probably fully acceptable)


What should I improve in my handling of similar divergent integrals in Mathematica (assuming that Julia's claim are realistic..)?


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Mentioned in a comment to the answer, but 10*^-100 != 10^-100 (you want the latter) $\endgroup$ – b3m2a1 Apr 9 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ @b3m2a1, noted thanks $\endgroup$ – Smerdjakov Apr 10 at 7:49

Based on the warning, I would try increasing either the MaxRecursion or WorkingPrecision. Increasing the WorkingPrecision only seems to help marginally, so I went with MaxRecursion -> 20.

f[x_] := -x^2 + x^4
g[z_] := NIntegrate[
           {x, z, 1}, 
           MaxRecursion -> 20, 
           WorkingPrecision -> 16


It does still give a warning, but the result seems to be correct to quite a few decimal places. We can verify this by performing the integration with infinite precision first:

Integrate[1/Sqrt[-f[x]], {x, 10^-100, 1}]

Log[10000000000000000000000000000000000 000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 000000000000000000] + 3 Sqrt[11111111111111111111111 111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 111111111111111111111111111111111]


N[%, 16]


Also, in case you didn't already know, if you ever put a number like 10.^-100 that has a decimal, unless you explicitly tell Mathematica otherwise, it will assume that it is a machine precision number. If there is no decimal in the number (like in your numbers), it will assume it is exact and has infinite precision.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ well I certainly did not know. I was inputting g[10*^-100] and was getting $\approx 228.6$. Using g[10*^-100] gets better, thanks a lot $\endgroup$ – Smerdjakov Apr 9 at 21:53
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Smerdjakov Oh, that's another thing: 10*^-100 means 10*10^-100 which is actually just 10^-99. If you want to use that notation, I would use 1*^-100. $\endgroup$ – MassDefect Apr 9 at 21:57

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