A fast and stable method for rotating spherical harmonic expansions

Z. Gimbutas, L. Greengard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we present a simple and efficient method for rotating a spherical harmonic expansion. This is a well-studied problem, arising in classical scattering theory, quantum mechanics and numerical analysis, usually addressed through the explicit construction of the Wigner rotation matrices. We show that rotation can be carried out easily and stably through "pseudospectral" projection, without ever constructing the matrix entries themselves. Existing fast algorithms, based on recurrence relations, are subject to a variety of instabilities, limiting the effectiveness of the approach for expansions of high degree.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5621-5627
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
Issue number16
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009


  • Fast multipole method
  • Rotation matrix
  • Spherical harmonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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