On nonnegativity preservation in finite element methods for subdiffusion equations Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2016 American Mathematical Society. We consider three types of subdiffusion models, namely singleterm, multi-term and distributed order fractional diffusion equations, for which the maximum-principle holds and which, in particular, preserve nonnegativity. Hence the solution is nonnegative for nonnegative initial data. Following earlier work on the heat equation, our purpose is to study whether this property is inherited by certain spatially semidiscrete and fully discrete piecewise linear finite element methods, including the standard Galerkin method, the lumped mass method and the finite volume element method. It is shown that, as for the heat equation, when the mass matrix is nondiagonal, nonnegativity is not preserved for small time or time-step, but may reappear after a positivity threshold. For the lumped mass method nonnegativity is preserved if and only if the triangulation in the finite element space is of Delaunay type. Numerical experiments illustrate and complement the theoretical results.

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Jin, B., Lazarov, R., Thomée, V., & Zhou, Z.

citation count

  • 13

publication date

  • December 2016