# A convergent evolving finite element algorithm for Willmore flow of closed surfaces

A proof of convergence is given for a novel evolving surface finite element semi-discretization of Willmore flow of closed two-dimensional surfaces, and also of surface diffusion flow. The numerical method proposed and studied here discretizes fourth-order evolution equations for the normal vector and mean curvature, reformulated as a system of second-order equations, and uses these evolving geometric quantities in the velocity law interpolated to the finite element space. This numerical method admits a convergence analysis in the case of continuous finite elements of polynomial degree at least two. The error analysis combines stability estimates and consistency estimates to yield optimal-order H^1-norm error bounds for the computed surface position, velocity, normal vector and mean curvature. The stability analysis is based on the matrix–vector formulation of the finite element method and does not use geometric arguments. The geometry enters only into the consistency estimates. Numerical experiments illustrate and complement the theoretical results.

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