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Mathematics of Computation

Published by the American Mathematical Society since 1960 (published as Mathematical Tables and other Aids to Computation 1943-1959), Mathematics of Computation is devoted to research articles of the highest quality in computational mathematics.

ISSN 1088-6842 (online) ISSN 0025-5718 (print)

The 2020 MCQ for Mathematics of Computation is 1.78.

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Unified primal formulation-based a priori and a posteriori error analysis of mixed finite element methods
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by Martin Vohralík PDF
Math. Comp. 79 (2010), 2001-2032 Request permission


We derive in this paper a unified framework for a priori and a posteriori error analysis of mixed finite element discretizations of second-order elliptic problems. It is based on the classical primal weak formulation, the postprocessing of the potential proposed in [T. Arbogast and Z. Chen, On the implementation of mixed methods as nonconforming methods for second-order elliptic problems, Math. Comp. 64 (1995), 943–972], and the discrete Friedrichs inequality. Our analysis in particular avoids any explicit use of the uniform discrete $\inf$–$\sup$ condition and in a straightforward manner and under minimal necessary assumptions, known convergence and superconvergence results are recovered. The same framework then turns out to lead to optimal a posteriori energy error bounds. In particular, estimators for all families and orders of mixed finite element methods on grids consisting of simplices or rectangular parallelepipeds are derived. They give a guaranteed and fully computable upper bound on the energy error, represent error local lower bounds, and are robust under some conditions on the diffusion–dispersion tensor. They are thus suitable for both overall error control and adaptive mesh refinement. Moreover, the developed abstract framework and a posteriori error estimates are quite general and apply to any locally conservative method. We finally prove that in parallel and simultaneously in converse to Galerkin finite element methods, under some circumstances, the weak solution is the orthogonal projection of the postprocessed mixed finite element approximation onto the $H^1_0(\Omega )$ space and also establish several links between mixed finite element approximations and some generalized weak solutions.
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Additional Information
  • Martin Vohralík
  • Affiliation: UPMC Université Paris 06, UMR 7598, Laboratoire Jacques-Louis Lions, 75005, Paris, France –and– CNRS, UMR 7598, Laboratoire Jacques-Louis Lions, 75005, Paris, France
  • ORCID: 0000-0002-8838-7689
  • Email:
  • Received by editor(s): July 7, 2008
  • Received by editor(s) in revised form: August 6, 2009
  • Published electronically: May 26, 2010
  • Additional Notes: This work was supported by the GNR MoMaS project “Numerical Simulations and Mathematical Modeling of Underground Nuclear Waste Disposal”, PACEN/CNRS, ANDRA, BRGM, CEA, EdF, IRSN, France.
  • © Copyright 2010 American Mathematical Society
    The copyright for this article reverts to public domain 28 years after publication.
  • Journal: Math. Comp. 79 (2010), 2001-2032
  • MSC (2010): Primary 65N15, 65N30, 76S05
  • DOI:
  • MathSciNet review: 2684353