Section: Research Program

High order discretization methods

The Discontinuous Galerkin method

The Discontinuous Galerkin method (DG) was introduced in 1973 by Reed and Hill to solve the neutron transport equation. From this time to the 90's a review on the DG methods would likely fit into one page. In the meantime, the Finite Volume approach (FV) has been widely adopted by computational fluid dynamics scientists and has now nearly supplanted classical finite difference and finite element methods in solving problems of non-linear convection and conservation law systems. The success of the FV method is due to its ability to capture discontinuous solutions which may occur when solving non-linear equations or more simply, when convecting discontinuous initial data in the linear case. Let us first remark that DG methods share with FV methods this property since a first order FV scheme may be viewed as a 0th order DG scheme. However a DG method may also be considered as a Finite Element (FE) one where the continuity constraint at an element interface is released. While keeping almost all the advantages of the FE method (large spectrum of applications, complex geometries, etc.), the DG method has other nice properties which explain the renewed interest it gains in various domains in scientific computing as witnessed by books or special issues of journals dedicated to this method [47]- [48]- [49]- [54]:

  • It is naturally adapted to a high order approximation of the unknown field. Moreover, one may increase the degree of the approximation in the whole mesh as easily as for spectral methods but, with a DG method, this can also be done very locally. In most cases, the approximation relies on a polynomial interpolation method but the DG method also offers the flexibility of applying local approximation strategies that best fit to the intrinsic features of the modeled physical phenomena.

  • When the space discretization is coupled to an explicit time integration scheme, the DG method leads to a block diagonal mass matrix whatever the form of the local approximation (e.g. the type of polynomial interpolation). This is a striking difference with classical, continuous FE formulations. Moreover, the mass matrix may be diagonal if the basis functions are orthogonal.

  • It easily handles complex meshes. The grid may be a classical conforming FE mesh, a non-conforming one or even a hybrid mesh made of various elements (tetrahedra, prisms, hexahedra, etc.). The DG method has been proven to work well with highly locally refined meshes. This property makes the DG method more suitable (and flexible) to the design of some hp-adaptive solution strategy.

  • It is also flexible with regards to the choice of the time stepping scheme. One may combine the DG spatial discretization with any global or local explicit time integration scheme, or even implicit, provided the resulting scheme is stable.

  • It is naturally adapted to parallel computing. As long as an explicit time integration scheme is used, the DG method is easily parallelized. Moreover, the compact nature of DG discretization schemes is in favor of high computation to communication ratio especially when the interpolation order is increased.

As with standard FE methods, a DG method relies on a variational formulation of the continuous problem at hand. However, due to the discontinuity of the global approximation, this variational formulation has to be defined locally, at the element level. Then, a degree of freedom in the design of a DG method stems from the approximation of the boundary integral term resulting from the application of an integration by parts to the element-wise variational form. In the spirit of FV methods, the approximation of this boundary integral term calls for a numerical flux function which can be based on either a centered scheme or an upwind scheme, or a blending between these two schemes.

High order DG methods for wave propagation models

DG methods are at the heart of the activities of the team regarding the development of high order discretization schemes for the PDE systems modeling electromagnetic and elatsodynamic wave propagation.

  • Nodal DG methods for time-domain problems. For the numerical solution of the time-domain Maxwell equations, we have first proposed a non-dissipative high order DGTD (Discontinuous Galerkin Time-Domain) method working on unstructured conforming simplicial meshes [9]. This DG method combines a central numerical flux function for the approximation of the integral term at the interface of two neighboring elements with a second order leap-frog time integration scheme. Moreover, the local approximation of the electromagnetic field relies on a nodal (Lagrange type) polynomial interpolation method. Recent achievements by the team deal with the extension of these methods towards non-conforming unstructured [6]-[7] and hybrid structured/unstructured meshes [4], their coupling with hybrid explicit/implicit time integration schemes in order to improve their efficiency in the context of locally refined meshes [3]-[14]-[13]. A high order DG method has also been proposed for the numerical resolution of the elastodynamic equations modeling the propagation of seismic waves [2].

  • Hybridizable DG (HDG) method for time-domain and time-harmonic problems. For the numerical treatment of the time-harmonic Maxwell equations, nodal DG methods can also be considered [5]. However, such DG formulations are highly expensive, especially for the discretization of 3D problems, because they lead to a large sparse and undefinite linear system of equations coupling all the degrees of freedom of the unknown physical fields. Different attempts have been made in the recent past to improve this situation and one promising strategy has been recently proposed by Cockburn et al.[52] in the form of so-called hybridizable DG formulations. The distinctive feature of these methods is that the only globally coupled degrees of freedom are those of an approximation of the solution defined only on the boundaries of the elements. This work is concerned with the study of such Hybridizable Discontinuous Galerkin (HDG) methods for the solution of the system of Maxwell equations in the time-domain when the time integration relies on an implicit scheme, or in the frequency-domain. The team has been a precursor in the development of HDG methods for the frequency-domain Maxwell equations[12].

  • Multiscale DG methods for time-domain problems. More recently, in collaboration with LNCC in Petropolis (Frédéric Valentin) the framework of the HOMAR assoacite team, we are investigating a family of methods specifically designed for an accurate and efficient numerical treatment of multiscale wave propagation problems. These methods, referred to as Multiscale Hybrid Mixed (MHM) methods, are currently studied in the team for both time-domain electromagnetic and elastodynamic PDE models. They consist in reformulating the mixed variational form of each system into a global (arbitrarily coarse) problem related to a weak formulation of the boundary condition (carried by a Lagrange multiplier that represents e.g. the normal stress tensor in elastodynamic sytems), and a series of small, element-wise, fully decoupled problems resembling to the initial one and related to some well chosen partition of the solution variables on each element. By construction, that methodology is fully parallelizable and recursivity may be used in each local problem as well, making MHM methods belonging to multi-level highly parallelizable methods. Each local problem may be solved using DG or classical Galerkin FE approximations combined with some appropriate time integration scheme (θ-scheme or leap-frog scheme).