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The paper introduces the sweeping preconditioner, which is highly efficient for iterative solutions of the variable-coefficient Helmholtz equation including veryhigh-frequency problems. The first central idea of this novel approach is to construct an approximate factorization of the discretized Helmholtz equation by sweeping the domain layer by layer, starting from an absorbing layer or boundary condition. Given this specific order of factorization, the second central idea is to represent the intermediate matrices in the hierarchical matrix framework. In two dimensions, both the construction and the application of the preconditioners are of linear complexity. The generalized minimal residual method (GMRES) solver...

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