Numerische Mathematik

, Volume 114, Issue 3, pp 491-520

A finite element method for surface PDEs: matrix properties

  • Maxim A. OlshanskiiAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanics and Mathematics, Moscow State M.V. Lomonosov University
  • , Arnold ReuskenAffiliated withInstitut für Geometrie und Praktische Mathematik, RWTH-Aachen University Email author 

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We consider a recently introduced new finite element approach for the discretization of elliptic partial differential equations on surfaces. The main idea of this method is to use finite element spaces that are induced by triangulations of an “outer” domain to discretize the partial differential equation on the surface. The method is particularly suitable for problems in which there is a coupling with a problem in an outer domain that contains the surface, for example, two-phase flow problems. It has been proved that the method has optimal order of convergence both in the H 1 and in the L 2-norm. In this paper, we address linear algebra aspects of this new finite element method. In particular the conditioning of the mass and stiffness matrix is investigated. For the two-dimensional case we present an analysis which proves that the (effective) spectral condition number of the diagonally scaled mass matrix and the diagonally scaled stiffness matrix behaves like h −3| ln h| and h −2| ln h|, respectively, where h is the mesh size of the outer triangulation.

Mathematics Subject Classification (2000)

58J32 65N15 65N30 76D45 76T99