BIT Numerical Mathematics

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 981–1007 | Cite as

Fully discrete semi-Lagrangian methods for advection of differential forms

  • Holger Heumann
  • Ralf Hiptmair
  • Kun Li
  • Jinchao Xu


We study the discretization of linear transient transport problems for differential forms on bounded domains. The focus is on unconditionally stable semi-Lagrangian methods that employ finite element approximation on fixed meshes combined with tracking of the flow map. We derive these methods as finite element Galerkin approach to discrete material derivatives and discuss further approximations leading to fully discrete schemes.

We establish comprehensive a priori error estimates, in particular a new asymptotic estimate of order \(O(h^{r+1}\tau^{-\frac{1}{2}})\) for the L 2-error of semi-Lagrangian schemes with exact L 2-projection. Here, h is the spatial meshwidth, τ denotes the timestep, and r is the (full) polynomial degree of the piecewise polynomial discrete differential forms used as trial functions. Yet, numerical experiments hint that the estimates may still be sub-optimal for spatial discretization with lowest order discrete differential forms.


Advection-diffusion problem Discrete differential forms Discrete Lie derivative Semi-Lagrangian methods 

Mathematics Subject Classification

65M60 65M25 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holger Heumann
    • 1
  • Ralf Hiptmair
    • 1
  • Kun Li
    • 2
  • Jinchao Xu
    • 3
  1. 1.Seminar for Applied MathematicsSwiss Federal Institute of TechnologyZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of Mathematical SciencesPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of MathematicsPenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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