We consider the eigenvalue equation for the largest eigenvalue of certain kinds of non-compact linear operators given as the sum of a multiplication and a kernel operator. It is shown that, under moderate conditions, such operators can be approximated arbitrarily well by operators of finite rank, which constitutes a discretization procedure. For this purpose, two standard methods of approximation theory, the Nyström and the Galerkin method, are generalized. The operators considered describe models for mutation and selection of an infinitely large population of individuals that are labelled by real numbers, commonly called continuum-of-alleles models.
AMS 2000 Mathematics subject classification: Primary 47A58; 45C05. Secondary 47B34
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