Section: Research Program

Scientific foundations

The research activities undertaken by the team aim at developing innovative numerical methodologies putting the emphasis on several features:

  • Accuracy. The foreseen numerical methods should rely on discretization techniques that best fit to the geometrical characteristics of the problems at hand. Methods based on unstructured, locally refined, even non-conforming, simplicial meshes are particularly attractive in this regard. In addition, the proposed numerical methods should also be capable to accurately describe the underlying physical phenomena that may involve highly variable space and time scales. Both objectives are generally addressed by studying so-called hp-adaptive solution strategies which combine h-adaptivity using local refinement/coarsening of the mesh and p-adaptivity using adaptive local variation of the interpolation order for approximating the solution variables. However, for physical problems involving strongly heterogeneous or high contrast propagation media, such a solution strategy may not be sufficient. Then, for dealing accurately with these situations, one has to design numerical methods that specifically address the multiscale nature of the underlying physical phenomena.

  • Numerical efficiency. The simulation of unsteady problems most often relies on explicit time integration schemes. Such schemes are constrained by a stability criterion, linking some space and time discretization parameters, that can be very restrictive when the underlying mesh is highly non-uniform (especially for locally refined meshes). For realistic 3D problems, this can represent a severe limitation with regards to the overall computing time. One possible overcoming solution consists in resorting to an implicit time scheme in regions of the computational domain where the underlying mesh size is very small, while an explicit time scheme is applied elsewhere in the computational domain. The resulting hybrid explicit-implicit time integration strategy raises several challenging questions concerning both the mathematical analysis (stability and accuracy, especially for what concern numerical dispersion), and the computer implementation on modern high performance systems (data structures, parallel computing aspects). A second, often considered approach is to devise a local time stepping strategy. Beside, when considering time-harmonic (frequency-domain) wave propagation problems, numerical efficiency is mainly linked to the solution of the system of algebraic equations resulting from the discretization in space of the underlying PDE model. Various strategies exist ranging from the more robust and efficient sparse direct solvers to the more flexible and cheaper (in terms of memory resources) iterative methods. Current trends tend to show that the ideal candidate will be a judicious mix of both approaches by relying on domain decomposition principles.

  • Computational efficiency. Realistic 3D wave propagation problems involve the processing of very large volumes of data. The latter results from two combined parameters: the size of the mesh i.e the number of mesh elements, and the number of degrees of freedom per mesh element which is itself linked to the degree of interpolation and to the number of physical variables (for systems of partial differential equations). Hence, numerical methods must be adapted to the characteristics of modern parallel computing platforms taking into account their hierarchical nature (e.g multiple processors and multiple core systems with complex cache and memory hierarchies). In addition, appropriate parallelization strategies need to be designed that combine SIMD and MIMD programming paradigms.

From the methodological point of view, the research activities of the team are concerned with four main topics: (1) high order finite element type methods on unstructured or hybrid structured/unstructured meshes for the discretization of the considered systems of PDEs, (2) efficient time integration strategies for dealing with grid induced stiffness when using non-uniform (locally refined) meshes, (3) numerical treatment of complex propagation media models (e.g. physical dispersion models), (4) algorithmic adaptation to modern high performance computing platforms.