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Section: Overall Objectives

Overall objectives

The overall objectives of the NACHOS project-team are the formulation, analysis and evaluation of numerical methods and high performance algorithms for the solution of first order linear systems of partial differential equations (PDEs) with variable coefficients pertaining to electrodynamics and elastodynamics with applications to computational electromagnetics and computational geoseismics. In both domains, the applications targeted by the team involve the interaction of the underlying physical fields with media exhibiting space and time heterogeneities such as when studying the propagation of electromagnetic waves in biological tissues or the propagation of seismic waves in complex geological media. Moreover, in most of the situations of practical relevance, the computational domain is irregularly shaped or/and it includes geometrical singularities. Both the heterogeneity and the complex geometrical features of the underlying media motivate the use of numerical methods working on non-uniform discretizations of the computational domain. In this context, the research efforts of the team aim at the development of unstructured (or hybrid structured/unstructured) mesh based methods with activities ranging from the mathematical analysis of numerical methods for the solution of the systems of PDEs of electrodynamics and elastodynamics, to the development of prototype 3D simulation software that efficiently exploits the capabilities of modern high performance computing platforms.

In the case of electrodynamics, the mathematical model of interest is the full system of unsteady Maxwell equations [53] which is a first-order hyperbolic linear system of PDEs (if the underlying propagation media is assumed to be linear). This system can be numerically solved using so-called time domain methods among which the Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) method introduced by K.S. Yee [63] in 1996 is the most popular and which often serves as a reference method for the works of the team. In the vast majority of existing time domain methods, time advancing relies on an explicit time scheme. For certain types of problems, a time harmonic evolution can be assumed leading to the formulation of the frequency domain Maxwell equations whose numerical resolution requires the solution of a linear system of equations (i.e in that case, the numerical method is naturally implicit). Heterogeneity of the propagation media is taken into account in the Maxwell equations through the electrical permittivity, the magnetic permeability and the electric conductivity coefficients. In the general case, the electrical permittivity and the magnetic permeability are tensors whose entries depend on space (i.e heterogeneity in space) and frequency. In the latter case, the time domain numerical modeling of such materials requires specific techniques in order to switch from the frequency evolution of the electromagnetic coefficients to a time dependency. Moreover, there exist several mathematical models for the frequency evolution of these coefficients (Debye model, Lorentz model, etc.).

In the case of elastodynamics, the mathematical model of interest is the system of elastodynamic equations [46] for which several formulations can be considered such as the velocity-stress system. For this system, as with Yee's scheme for time domain electromagnetics, one of the most popular numerical method is the finite difference method proposed by J. Virieux [62] in 1986. Heterogeneity of the propagation media is taken into account in the elastodynamic equations through the Lamé and mass density coefficients. A frequency dependence of the Lamé coefficients allows to take into account physical attenuation of the wave fields and characterizes a viscoelastic material. Again, several mathematical models are available for expressing the frequency evolution of the Lamé coefficients.

The research activities of the team are currently organized along five main directions: (a) arbitrary high order finite element type methods on simplicial meshes for the discretization of the considered systems of PDEs, (b) efficient time integration methods for dealing with grid induced stiffness when using non-uniform (locally refined) meshes, (c) numerical treatment of complex propagation media models (i.e. physical dispersion models), (d) domain decomposition algorithms for solving the algebraic systems resulting from the discretization of the considered systems of PDEs when a time harmonic regime is assumed or when time integration relies on an implicit scheme and (e) adaptation of numerical algorithms to modern high performance computing platforms. From the point of view of applications, the objective of the team is to demonstrate the capabilities of the proposed numerical methodologies for the simulation of realistic wave propagation problems in complex domains and heterogeneous media.