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Section: Scientific Foundations

Domain decomposition methods

Domain Decomposition (DD) methods are flexible and powerful techniques for the parallel numerical solution of systems of PDEs. As clearly described in [45] , they can be used as a process of distributing a computational domain among a set of interconnected processors or, for the coupling of different physical models applied in different regions of a computational domain (together with the numerical methods best adapted to each model) and, finally as a process of subdividing the solution of a large linear system resulting from the discretization of a system of PDEs into smaller problems whose solutions can be used to devise a parallel preconditioner or a parallel solver. In all cases, DD methods (1) rely on a partitioning of the computational domain into subdomains, (2) solve in parallel the local problems using a direct or iterative solver and, (3) call for an iterative procedure to collect the local solutions in order to get the global solution of the original problem. Subdomain solutions are connected by means of suitable transmission conditions at the artificial interfaces between the subdomains. The choice of these transmission conditions greatly influences the convergence rate of the DD method. One can generally distinguish three kinds of DD methods:

  • Overlapping methods use a decomposition of the computational domain in overlapping pieces. The so-called Schwarz method belongs to this class. Schwarz initially introduced this method for proving the existence of a solution to a Poisson problem. In the Schwarz method applied to the numerical resolution of elliptic PDEs, the transmission conditions at artificial subdomain boundaries are simple Dirichlet conditions. Depending on the way the solution procedure is performed, the iterative process is called a Schwarz multiplicative method (the subdomains are treated sequently) or an additive method (the subdomains are treated in parallel).

  • Non-overlapping methods are variants of the original Schwarz DD methods with no overlap between neighboring subdomains. In order to ensure convergence of the iterative process in this case, the transmission conditions are not trivial and are generally obtained through a detailed inspection of the mathematical properties of the underlying PDE or system of PDEs.

  • Substructuring methods rely on a non-overlapping partition of the computational domain. They assume a separation of the problem unknowns in purely internal unknowns and interface ones. Then, the internal unknowns are eliminated thanks to a Schur complement technique yielding to the formulation of a problem of smaller size whose iterative resolution is generally easier. Nevertheless, each iteration of the interface solver requires the realization of a matrix/vector product with the Schur complement operator which in turn amounts to the concurrent solution of local subproblems.

Schwarz algorithms have enjoyed a second youth over the last decades, as parallel computers became more and more powerful and available. Fundamental convergence results for the classical Schwarz methods were derived for many partial differential equations, and can now be found in several books [45] - [44] - [47] .

The research activities of the team on this topic aim at the formulation, analysis and evaluation of Schwarz type domain decomposition methods in conjunction with discontinuous Galerkin approximation methods on unstructured simplicial meshes for the solution of time domain and time harmonic wave propagation problems. Ongoing works in this direction are concerned with the design of non-overlapping Schwarz algorithms for the solution of the time harmonic Maxwell equations. A first achievement has been a Schwarz algorithm for the time harmonic Maxwell equations, where a first order absorbing condition is imposed at the interfaces between neighboring subdomains [9] . This interface condition is equivalent to a Dirichlet condition for characteristic variables associated to incoming waves. For this reason, it is often referred as a natural interface condition. Beside Schwarz algorithms based on natural interface conditions, the team also investigates algorithms that make use of more effective transmission conditions [10] .