Acta Applicandae Mathematicae

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 163–203 | Cite as

Generalized Solutions to Semilinear Elliptic PDE with Applications to the Lichnerowicz Equation

  • Michael Holst
  • Caleb Meier


In this article we investigate the existence of a solution to a semi-linear, elliptic, partial differential equation with distributional coefficients and data. The problem we consider is a generalization of the Lichnerowicz equation that one encounters in studying the constraint equations in general relativity. Our method for solving this problem consists of solving a net of regularized, semi-linear problems with data obtained by smoothing the original, distributional coefficients. In order to solve these regularized problems, we develop a priori L -bounds and sub- and super-solutions to apply a fixed point argument. We then show that the net of solutions obtained through this process satisfies certain decay estimates by determining estimates for the sub- and super-solutions and utilizing classical, a priori elliptic estimates. The estimates for this net of solutions allow us to regard this collection of functions as a solution in a Colombeau-type algebra. We motivate this Colombeau algebra framework by first solving an ill-posed critical exponent problem. To solve this ill-posed problem, we use a collection of smooth, “approximating” problems and then use the resulting sequence of solutions and a compactness argument to obtain a solution to the original problem. This approach is modeled after the more general Colombeau framework that we develop, and it conveys the potential that solutions in these abstract spaces have for obtaining classical solutions to ill-posed non-linear problems with irregular data.


Nonlinear elliptic equations Einstein constraint equations A priori estimates Barriers Fixed point theorems Generalized functions Colombeau algebras 



MH was supported in part by NSF Awards 1217175 and 1065972. CM was supported in part by NSF Award 1065972.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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