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Section: Research Program

Variational discrete asymptotic modelling

In many of the applications we consider, intermediate fidelity models are or can be derived using an asymptotic expansion for the relevant scale resolving PDEs, and eventually considering some averaged for of the resulting continuous equations. The resulting systems of PDEs are often very complex and their characterization, e.g. in terms of stability, unclear, or poor, or too complex to allow to obtain discrete analogy of the continuous properties. This makes the numerical approximation of these PDE systems a real challenge. Moreover, most of these models are often based on asymptotic expansions involving small geometrical scales. This is true for many applications considered here involving flows in/of thin layers (free surface waves, liquid films on wings generating ice layers, oxide flows in material cracks, etc). This asymptotic expansion is nothing else than a discretization (some sort of Taylor expansion) in terms of the small parameter. The actual discretization of the PDE system is another expansion in space involving as a small parameter the mesh size. What is the interaction between these two expansions ? Could we use the spatial discretization (truncation error) as means of filtering undesired small scales instead of having to explicitly derive PDEs for the large scales ? We will investigate in depth the relations between asymptotics and discretization by :

  • comparing the asymptotic limits of discretized forms of the relevant scale resolving equations with the discretization of the analogous continuous asymptotic PDEs. Can we discretize a well understood system of PDEs instead of a less understood and more complex one ? ;

  • study the asymptotic behaviour of error terms generated by coarse one-dimensional discretization in the direction of the “small scale”. What is the influence of the number of cells along the vertical direction, and of their clustering ? ;

  • derive equivalent continuous equations (modified equations) for anisotropic discretizations in which the direction is direction of the “small scale” is approximated with a small number of cells. What is the relation with known asymptotic PDE systems ?

Our objective is to gain sufficient control of the interaction between discretization and asymptotics to be able to replace the coupling of several complex PDE systems by adaptive strongly anisotrotropic finite element approximations of relevant and well understood PDEs. Here the anisotropy is intended in the sense of having a specific direction in which a much poorer (and possibly variable with the flow conditions) polynomial approximation (expansion) is used. The final goal is, profiting from the availability of faster and cheaper computational platforms, to be able to automatically control numerical and physical accuracy of the model with the same techniques. This activity will be used to improve our modelling in coastal engineering as well as for de-anti icing systems, wave energy converters, composite materials (cf. next sections).

In parallel to these developments, we will make an effort in to gain a better understanding of continuous asymptotic PDE models. We will in particular work on improving, and possibly, simplifying their numerical approximation. An effort will be done in trying to embed in these more complex nonlinear PDE models discrete analogs of operator identities necessary for stability (see e.g. the recent work of [91], [96] and references therein).