Section: Scientific Foundations

Scientific Foundations

Mathematical modeling and computer simulation are among the main research tools for environmental management, risks evaluation and sustainable development policy. Many aspects of the computer codes as well as the PDEs systems on which these codes are based can be considered as questionable regarding the established standards of applied mathematical modeling and numerical analysis. This is due to the intricate multiscale nature and tremendous complexity of those phenomena that require to set up new and appropriate tools. Our research group aims to contribute to bridging the gap by developing advanced abstract mathematical models as well as related computational techniques.

The scientific basis of the proposal is two–fold. On the one hand, the project is “technically–driven”: it has a strong content of mathematical analysis and design of general methodology tools. On the other hand, the project is also “application–driven”: we have identified a set of relevant problems motivated by environmental issues, which share, sometimes in a unexpected fashion, many common features. The proposal is precisely based on the conviction that these subjects can mutually cross-fertilize and that they will both be a source of general technical developments, and a relevant way to demonstrate the skills of the methods we wish to design.

To be more specific:

  • We consider evolution problems describing highly heterogeneous flows (with different phases or with high density ratio). In turn, we are led to deal with non linear systems of PDEs of convection and/or convection–diffusion type.

  • The nature of the coupling between the equations can be two–fold, which leads to different difficulties, both in terms of analysis and conception of numerical methods. For instance, the system can couple several equations of different types (elliptic/parabolic, parabolic/hyperbolic, parabolic or elliptic with algebraic constraints, parabolic with degenerate coefficients....). Furthermore, the unknowns can depend on different sets of variables, a typical example being the fluid/kinetic models for particulate flows. In turn, the simulation cannot use a single numerical approach to treat all the equations. Instead, hybrid methods have to be designed which raise the question of fitting them in an appropriate way, both in terms of consistency of the discretization and in terms of stability of the whole computation. For the problems under consideration, the coupling can also arises through interface conditions. It naturally occurs when the physical conditions are highly different in subdomains of the physical domain in which the flows takes place. Hence interface conditions are intended to describe the exchange (of mass, energy...) between the domains. Again it gives rise to rather unexplored mathematical questions, and for numerics it yields the question of defining a suitable matching at the discrete level, that is requested to preserve the properties of the continuous model.

  • By nature the problems we wish to consider involve many different scales (of time or length basically). It raises two families of mathematical questions. In terms of numerical schemes, the multiscale feature induces the presence of stiff terms within the equations, which naturally leads to stability issues. A clear understanding of scale separation helps in designing efficient methods, based on suitable splitting techniques for instance. On the other hand asymptotic arguments can be used to derive hierarchy of models and to identify physical regimes in which a reduced set of equations can be used.