Variational Structures in Cochain Projection Based Variational Discretizations of Lagrangian PDEs

03/16/2021 ∙ by Brian Tran, et al. ∙ 0

Compatible discretizations, such as finite element exterior calculus, provide a discretization framework that respect the cohomological structure of the de Rham complex, which can be used to systematically construct stable mixed finite element methods. Multisymplectic variational integrators are a class of geometric numerical integrators for Lagrangian and Hamiltonian field theories, and they yield methods that preserve the multisymplectic structure and momentum-conservation properties of the continuous system. In this paper, we investigate the synthesis of these two approaches, by constructing discretization of the variational principle for Lagrangian field theories utilizing structure-preserving finite element projections. In our investigation, compatible discretization by cochain projections plays a pivotal role in the preservation of the variational structure at the discrete level, allowing the discrete variational structure to essentially be the restriction of the continuum variational structure to a finite-dimensional subspace. The preservation of the variational structure at the discrete level will allow us to construct a discrete Cartan form, which encodes the variational structure of the discrete theory, and subsequently, we utilize the discrete Cartan form to naturally state discrete analogues of Noether's theorem and multisymplecticity, which generalize those introduced in the discrete Lagrangian variational framework by Marsden et al. [29]. We will study both covariant spacetime discretization and canonical spatial semi-discretization, and subsequently relate the two in the case of spacetime tensor product finite element spaces.

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