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Computation and Visualization of Geometric Partial Differential Equations

  • Author(s): Tiee, Christopher;
  • Advisor(s): Holst, Michael J;
  • et al.

The chief goal of this work is to explore a modern framework for the study and approximation of partial differential equations, recast common partial differential equations into this framework, and prove theorems about such equations and their approximations. A central motivation is to recognize and respect the essential geometric nature of such problems, and take it into consideration when approximating. The hope is that this process will lead to the discovery of more refined algorithms and processes and apply them to new problems.

In the first part, we introduce our quantities of interest and reformulate traditional boundary value problems in the modern framework. We see how Hilbert complexes capture and abstract the most important properties of such boundary value problems, leading to generalizations of important classical results such as the Hodge decomposition theorem. They also provide the proper setting for numerical approximations. We also provide an abstract framework for evolution problems in these spaces: Bochner spaces. We next turn to approximation. We build layers of abstraction, progressing from functions, to differential forms, and finally, to Hilbert complexes. We explore finite element exterior calculus (FEEC), which allows us to approximate solutions involving differential forms, and analyze the approximation error.

In the second part, we prove our central results. We first prove an extension of current error estimates for the elliptic problem in Hilbert complexes. This extension handles solutions with nonzero harmonic part. Next, we consider evolution problems in Hilbert complexes and prove abstract error estimates. We apply these estimates to the problem for Riemannian hypersurfaces in $\R^{n+1}$, generalizing current results for open subsets of $\R^{n}$. Finally, we apply some of the concepts to a nonlinear problem, the Ricci flow on surfaces, and use tools from nonlinear analysis to help develop and analyze the equations. In the appendices, we detail some additional motivation and a source for further examples: canonical geometries that are realized as steady-state solutions to parabolic equations similar to that of Ricci flow. An eventual goal is to compute such solutions using the methods of the previous chapters.

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