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Matrix Compression Methods for the Numerical Solution of Radiative Transfer in Scattering Media
(2002)

Radiative transfer in scattering media is usually described by the radiative transfer equation, an integro-differential equation which describes the propagation of the radiative intensity along a ray. The high dimensionality of the equation leads to a very large number of unknowns when discretizing the equation. This is the major difficulty in its numerical solution. In case of isotropic scattering and diffuse boundaries, the radiative transfer equation can be reformulated into a system of integral equations of the second kind, where the position is the only independent variable. By employing the so-called momentum equation, we derive an integral equation, which is also valid in case of linear anisotropic scattering. This equation is very similar to the equation for the isotropic case: no additional unknowns are introduced and the integral operators involved have very similar mapping properties. The discretization of an integral operator leads to a full matrix. Therefore, due to the large dimension of the matrix in practical applcation, it is not feasible to assemble and store the entire matrix. The so-called matrix compression methods circumvent the assembly of the matrix. Instead, the matrix-vector multiplications needed by iterative solvers are performed only approximately, thus, reducing, the computational complexity tremendously. The kernels of the integral equation describing the radiative transfer are very similar to the kernels of the integral equations occuring in the boundary element method. Therefore, with only slight modifications, the matrix compression methods, developed for the latter are readily applicable to the former. As apposed to the boundary element method, the integral kernels for radiative transfer in absorbing and scattering media involve an exponential decay term. We examine how this decay influences the efficiency of the matrix compression methods. Further, a comparison with the discrete ordinate method shows that discretizing the integral equation may lead to reductions in CPU time and to an improved accuracy especially in case of small absorption and scattering coefficients or if local sources are present.