## Solving elliptic finite element systems in near-linear time with support preconditioners.

We consider linear systems arising from the use of the finite element method for solving a certain class of linear elliptic problems. Our main result is that these linear systems, which are symmetric and positive semidefinite, are well approximated by symmetric diagonally dominant matrices. Our framework for defining matrix approximation is support theory. Significant graph theoretic work has already been developed in the support framework for preconditioners in the diagonally dominant case, and in particular it is known that such systems can be solved with iterative methods in nearly linear time. Thus, our approximation result implies that these graph theoreticmore »