We study the iterative solution of dense linear systems that arise from boundary element discretizations of the electrostatic integral equation in magnetoencephalography (MEG). We show that modern iterative methods can be used to decrease the total computation time by avoiding the time-consuming computation of the LU decomposition of the coefficient matrix. More importantly, the modern iterative methods make it possible to avoid the explicit formation of the coefficient matrix which is needed when a large number of unknowns are used. To study the convergence of iterative solvers we examine the eigenvalue distributions of the coefficient matrices. For the sphere we show how the eigenvalues of the integral operator are approximated by the eigenvalues of the coefficient matrix when the collocation and Galerkin methods are used as discretization methods. The collocation method approximates the eigenvalues of the integral operator directly. The Galerkin method produces a coefficient matrix that needs to be preconditioned in order to maintain optimal convergence speed. With the ILU(0) preconditioner iterative methods converge fast and independent of the number of discretization points for both the collocation and Galerkin approaches. The preconditioner has no significant effect on the total computational time.
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