Polytopic Finite Element Methods

4 June 2015
Dr Andrea Cangiani

Can we extend the FEM to general polytopic, i.e. polygonal and polyhedral, meshes while retaining 
the ease of implementation and computational cost comparable to that of standard FEM? Within this talk, I present two approaches that achieve just  that (and much more): the Virtual Element Method (VEM) and an hp-version discontinuous Galerkin (dG) method.

The Virtual Element spaces are like the usual (polynomial) finite element spaces with the addition of suitable non-polynomial functions. This is far from being a novel idea. The novelty of the VEM approach is that it avoids expensive evaluations of the non-polynomial "virtual" functions by basing all 
computations solely on the method's carefully chosen degrees of freedom. This way we can easily deal 
with complicated element geometries and/or higher continuity requirements (like C1, C2, etc.), while 
maintaining the computational complexity comparable to that of standard finite element computations.

As you might expect, the choice and number of the degrees of freedom depends on such continuity 
requirements. If mesh flexibility is the goal, while one is ready to  give up on global regularity, other approaches can be considered. For instance, dG approaches are naturally suited to deal with polytopic meshes. Here I present an extension of the classical Interior Penalty dG method which achieves optimal rates of convergence on polytopic meshes even under elemental edge/face degeneration. 

The next step is to exploit mesh flexibility in the efficient resolution of problems characterised by 
complicated geometries and solution features, for instance within the framework of automatic FEM 
adaptivity. I shall finally introduce ongoing work in this direction.

  • Computational Mathematics and Applications Seminar