Section: Research Program
Axis 2: Numerical methods and simulation
This axis is dedicated to the numerical methods and simulation for nonsmooth dynamical systems. As we mentioned in the introduction, the standard numerical methods have been largely improved in terms of accuracy and dissipation properties in the last decade. Nevertheless, the question of the geometric time–integration techniques remains largely open. It constitutes the objective of the first research direction in Sect. 3.3.1. Beside the standard IVP, the question of normal mode analysis for nonsmooth systems is also a research topic that emerged in the recent years. More generally, the goal of the second research direction (Sect. 3.3.2) is to develop numerical methods to solve boundary value problems in the nonsmooth framework. This will serve as a basis for the computation of the stability and numerical continuation of invariants. Finally, once the timeintegration method is chosen, it remains to solve the onestep nonsmooth problem, which is, most of time, a numerical optimization problem. In Sect. 3.3.3, we propose to study two specific problems with a lot of applications: the Mathematical Program with Equilibrium Constraints (MPEC) for optimal control, and Second Order Cone Complementarity Problems (SOCCP) for discrete frictional contact systems. After some possible prototypes in scripting languages (Python and Matlab), we will be attentive that all these developments of numerical methods will be integrated in Siconos.
Geometric time–integration schemes for nonsmooth Initial Value Problem (IVP)
Participants: V. Acary, B. Brogliato, G. James, F. Pérignon
The objective of this research item is to continue to improve classical time–stepping schemes for nonsmooth systems to ensure some qualitative properties in discretetime. In particular, the following points will be developed

Conservative and dissipative systems. The question of the energy conservation and the preservation of dissipativity properties in the Willems sense [64] will be pursued and extended to new kinds of systems (nonlinear mechanical systems with nonlinear potential energy, systems with limited differentiability (rigid impacts vs. compliant models)).

Lie–group integration schemes for finite rotations for the multibody systems extending recent progresses in that directions for smooth systems [43].

Conservation and preservation of the dispersion properties of the (non)dispersive system.
Stability and numerical continuation of invariants
Participants: G. James, V. Acary, A. Tonnelier, F. Pérignon,
By invariants, we mean equilibria, periodic solutions, limit cycles or waves. Our preliminary work on this subject raised the following research perspectives:

Computation of periodic solutions of discrete mechanical systems . The modal analysis, i.e., a spectral decomposition of the problem into linear normal modes is one of the basic tools for mechanical engineers to study dynamic response and resonance phenomena of an elastic structure. Since several years, the concept of nonlinear normal modes [75], that is closely related to the computation of quasiperiodic solutions that live in a nonlinear manifold, has emerged as the nonlinear extension of the modal analysis. One of the fundamental question is: what remains valid if we add unilateral contact conditions ? The computation of nonsmooth modes amounts to computing periodic solutions, performing the parametric continuation of solution branches and studying the stability of these branches. This calls for time integration schemes for IVP an BVP that satisfy some geometric criteria: conservation of energy, reduced numerical dispersion, symplecticity as we described before. Though the question of conservation of energy for unilateral contact has been discussed in [28], the other questions remain open. For the shooting technique and the study of stability, we need to compute the Jacobian matrix of the flow with respect to initial conditions, the socalled saltation matrix [76], [85] for nonsmooth flows. The eigenvalues of this matrix are the Floquet multipliers that give some information on the stability of the periodic solutions. The question of an efficient computation of this matrix is also an open question. For the continuation, the question is also largely open since the continuity of the solutions with respect to the parameters is not ensured.

Extension to elastic continuum media . This is a difficult task. First of all, the question of the mathematical model for the dynamic continuum problem with unilateral contact raises some problems of well–posedness. For instance, the need for an impact law is not clear in some cases. If we perform a semi–discretization in space with classical techniques (Finite Element Methods, Finite Difference Schemes), we obtain a discrete system for which the impact law is needed. Besides all the difficulties that we enumerate for discrete systems in the previous paragraph, the space discretization also induces numerical dispersion that may destroy the periodic solutions or renders their computation difficult. The main targeted applications for this research are cable–systems, string musical instruments, and seismic response of electrical circuit breakers with Schneider Electric.

Computation of solutions of nonsmooth time Boundary Value Problems (BVP) (collocation, shooting) . The technique developed in the two previous items can serve as a basis for the development of more general solvers for nonsmooth BVP that can be for instance found when we solve optimal control problems by direct or indirect methods, or the computation of nonlinear waves. Two directions can be envisaged:

Shooting and multiple shooting techniques. In such methods, we reformulate the BVP into a sequence of IVPs that are iterated through a Newton based technique. This implies the computation of Jacobians for nonsmooth flows, the question of the continuity w.r.t to initial condition and the use of semismooth Newton methods.

Finite differences and collocations techniques. In such methods, the discretization will result into a large sparse optimization problems to solve. The open questions are as follows: a) the study of convergence, b) how to locally improve the order if the solution is locally smooth, and c) how to take benefit of spectral methods.


Continuation techniques of solutions with respect to a parameter. Standard continuation technique requires smoothness. What types of methods can be extended in the nonsmooth case (arclength technique, nonsmooth (semismooth) Newton, Asymptotical Numerical Methods (ANM))
Numerical optimization for discrete nonsmooth problems
Participants: V. Acary, M. Brémond, F. Pérignon, B. Brogliato, C. Prieur

Mathematical Program with Equilibrium Constraints (MPEC) for optimal control . The discrete problem that arises in nonsmooth optimal control is generally a MPEC [92]. This problem is intrinsically nonconvex and potentially nonsmooth. Its study from a theoretical point of view has started 10 years ago but there is no consensus for its numerical solving. The goal is to work with world experts of this problem (in particular M. Ferris from Wisconsin University) to develop dedicated algorithms for solving MPEC, and provide to the optimization community challenging problems.

Second Order Cone Complementarity Problems (SOCCP) for discrete frictional systems : After some extensive comparisons of existing solvers on a large collection of examples [36], [30], the numerical treatment of constraints redundancy by the proximal point technique and the augmented Lagrangian formulation seems to be a promising path for designing new methods. From the comparison results, it appears that the redundancy of constraints prevents the use of second order methods such as semi–smooth Newton methods or interior point methods. With P. Armand (XLIM, U. de Limoges), we propose to adapt recent advances for regularizing constraints for the quadratic problem [62] for the secondorder cone complementarity problem. The other question is the improvement of the efficiency of the algorithms by using accelerated schemes for the proximal gradient method that come from large–scale machine learning and image processing problems. Learning from the experience in large–scale machine learning and image processing problems, the accelerated version of the classical gradient algorithm [83] and the proximal point algorithm [44], and many of their further extensions, could be of interest for solving discrete frictional contact problems. Following the visit of Y. Kanno (University of Tokyo) and his preliminary experience on frictionless problems, we will extend its use to frictional contact problem. When we face largescale problems, the main available solvers is based on a Gauss–Seidel strategy that is intrinsically sequential. Accelerated firstorder methods could be a good alternative to take benefit of the distributed scientific computing architectures.