An Adaptive Surface Finite Element Method Based on Volume Meshes Academic Article uri icon


  • In this paper we define an adaptive version of a recently introduced finite element method for numerical treatment of elliptic PDEs defined on surfaces. The method makes use of a (standard) outer volume mesh to discretize an equation on a two-dimensional surface embedded in R3. Extension of the equation from the surface is avoided, but the number of degrees of freedom (d.o.f.) is optimal in the sense that it is comparable to methods in which the surface is meshed directly. In previous work it was proved that the method exhibits optimal order of convergence for an elliptic surface PDE if the volume mesh is uniformly refined. In this paper we extend the method and develop an a posteriori error analysis which admits adaptively refined meshes. The reliability of a residual type a posteriori error estimator is proved and both reliability and efficiency of the estimator are studied numerically in a series of experiments. A simple adaptive refinement strategy based on the error estimator is numerically demonstrated to provide optimal convergence rate in the H1 norm for solutions with point singularities. 2012 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

published proceedings

  • SIAM Journal on Numerical Analysis

author list (cited authors)

  • Demlow, A., & Olshanskii, M. A.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Demlow, Alan||Olshanskii, Maxim A

publication date

  • January 2012