A piecewise linear finite element discretization of the diffusion equation for arbitrary polyhedral grids Academic Article uri icon


  • We develop a piecewise linear (PWL) Galerkin finite element spatial discretization for the multi-dimensional radiation diffusion equation. It uses recently introduced piecewise linear weight and basis functions in the finite element approximation and it can be applied on arbitrary polygonal (2D) or polyhedral (3D) grids. We first demonstrate some analytical properties of the PWL method and perform a simple mode analysis to compare the PWL method with Palmer's vertex-centered finite-volume method and with a bilinear continuous finite element method. We then show that this new PWL method gives solutions comparable to those from Palmer's. However, since the PWL method produces a symmetric positive-definite coefficient matrix, it should be substantially more computationally efficient than Palmer's method, which produces an asymmetric matrix. We conclude that the Galerkin PWL method is an attractive option for solving diffusion equations on unstructured grids. 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Bailey, T. S., Adams, M. L., Yang, B., & Zika, M. R.

complete list of authors

  • Bailey, Teresa S||Adams, Marvin L||Yang, Brian||Zika, Michael R

publication date

  • January 1, 2008 11:11 AM