# Adaptive Numerical Treatment of Elliptic Systems on Manifolds

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## Abstract

Adaptive multilevel finite element methods are developed and analyzed for certain elliptic systems arising in geometric analysis and general relativity. This class of nonlinear elliptic systems of tensor equations on manifolds is first reviewed, and then adaptive multilevel finite element methods for approximating solutions to this class of problems are considered in some detail. Two *a posteriori* error indicators are derived, based on local residuals and on global linearized adjoint or *dual* problems. The design of Manifold Code (MC) is then discussed; MC is an adaptive multilevel finite element software package for 2- and 3-manifolds developed over several years at Caltech and UC San Diego. It employs *a posteriori* error estimation, adaptive simplex subdivision, unstructured algebraic multilevel methods, global inexact Newton methods, and numerical continuation methods for the numerical solution of nonlinear covariant elliptic systems on 2- and 3-manifolds. Some of the more interesting features of MC are described in detail, including some new ideas for topology and geometry representation in simplex meshes, and an unusual partition of unity-based method for exploiting parallel computers. A short example is then given which involves the Hamiltonian and momentum constraints in the Einstein equations, a representative nonlinear 4-component covariant elliptic system on a Riemannian 3-manifold which arises in general relativity. A number of operator properties and solvability results recently established in [55] are first summarized, making possible two quasi-optimal *a priori* error estimates for Galerkin approximations which are then derived. These two results complete the theoretical framework for effective use of adaptive multilevel finite element methods. A sample calculation using the MC software is then presented; more detailed examples using MC for this application may be found in [26].

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