Foundations of Computational Mathematics

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 245–269

Optimality of a Standard Adaptive Finite Element Method


    • Department of Mathematics, Utrecht University

DOI: 10.1007/s10208-005-0183-0

Cite this article as:
Stevenson, R. Found Comput Math (2007) 7: 245. doi:10.1007/s10208-005-0183-0


In this paper an adaptive finite element method is constructed for solving elliptic equations that has optimal computational complexity. Whenever, for some s > 0, the solution can be approximated within a tolerance ε > 0 in energy norm by a continuous piecewise linear function on some partition with O(ε-1/s) triangles, and one knows how to approximate the right-hand side in the dual norm with the same rate with piecewise constants, then the adaptive method produces approximations that converge with this rate, taking a number of operations that is of the order of the number of triangles in the output partition. The method is similar in spirit to that from [SINUM, 38 (2000), pp. 466-488] by Morin, Nochetto, and Siebert, and so in particular it does not rely on a recurrent coarsening of the partitions. Although the Poisson equation in two dimensions with piecewise linear approximation is considered, the results generalize in several respects.

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© Society for the Foundations of Computational Mathematics 2006