Balaje Kalyanaraman
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Postdoc at Umeå University, Sweden

29 September 2021

Virtual element solution with Gridap

It is always exciting to explore whether a particular package can be extended to implement different methods with some of the low-level API available within the package. So, I wanted to answer the question - Can Gridap.jl can be used to implement the virtual element method? Virtual element methods can be seen as a generalization of the finite element method on arbitrary shaped polygon. At the time of writing this, Gridap.jl supports simplices and hypercubes to build the discretization. However, it is possible to use the underlying machinery to implement the lowest order virtual element method using Gridap.jl. In this post, I will be briefly discussing the implementation.


Let us take the following example problem available in the of the repository. I won’t be posting the code here, but I strongly recommend that you take a look at the repository (linked above). But before that, I will talk about some of the assumption behind this implementation:

  1. We use the fact that the degrees of freedom (dofs) of the lowest order VEM is the same as the lowest order Lagrange dofs, to extend the SparseMatrixAssembler available for the FESpace routine to virtual elements. This can be done using the multiple dispatch feature available in Julia.
  2. We only show this method for building the Ritz-projector \(\Pi^\nabla\) for second order problems. Higher order problems, require higher order projection which is beyond the scope of this implementation. We will also be dealing with the lowest order VEM. The \(\Pi^\nabla\) projection for the lowest order VEM is also the same as \(\Pi^0\) projection, which is a bonus here!
  3. We will not be implementing any extra quadrature rules here. All the rules that are necessary are available by default in Gridap.jl via the method. Higher order polygons require simplexification which is again beyond the scope of this implementation.
  4. We will also assume that the weak formulation is identical to the FEM formulation. Virtual element method has a different weak formulation which includes stability terms. This will be managed differently as we will see in the next section. However, if being implemented as a package, I presume that VEM weak formulation requires special treatment.

Virtual element space and element-wise contributions

To build a lowest order VE space for a discrete model, we use the new data structure

  P1ConformingVESpace(::DiscreteModel, ::Function; kwargs...):

    linear_fespace::FESpace # FESpace(model, ReferenceFE(lagrangian, Float64, 1); kwargs...)

For the lowest order order case, the virtual element degrees of freedom is identical to the lowest order Lagrange finite element space. So for geometrical purposes, we can associate a linear FESpace to the new conforming VESpace. In addition to that we have two new data structures Π∇, stability_term for the purpose of (cellwise) VEM projectors. You can find the details of the construction here. These terms depend entirely on the geometry of the element and can be computed while building the space.

Once we construct the VESpace, we can construct the stiffness matrices (local) and the load vector (local) using these functions, cell-wise:

  function _generate_mat_contribs(a::Function, V::VESpace, acd, ind)
    area, centroid, diameter = acd[end]
    stab_coeff = get_stab_coeff(V)
    # Some magic here ... #
    coeff_matrix = stab_coeff(centroid)
    projector'*H*projector + (coeff_matrix)*stability_term # Final term

Here the coeff_matrix is a diagonal matrix of the stability function evaluated at the element centroid. This defines the scaling of the stability term. In the example, for the weak formulation

  a(u,v) = (K*(u)⋅∇(v) + u*v)Qₕ

the diffusion function K is used to define the scaling of the term, since the weak form scales ~ K. Also, we multiply the integrand in the weak form with the cell quadrature Qₕ = CellQuadrature(Ω, 4) rather than the measure dΩ = Measure(Ω, 4) as done conventionally in Gridap. This is because we obtain the cell-wise values as a LazyArray rather than a Dict and it was easy to access the cell-wise contribution. This will be done using in the future.

The load vector similarly can be obtained using the method

  function _generate_vec_contribs(l::Function, V::VESpace, acd, ind)
    a, c, d = acd[ind]
    # More magic ... #

where we don’t have the stability term. The magic here is that Gridap can be used to compute the action of the bilinear form a(u,v) on the scaled monomials. This is because the quadrature rules on the elements are well defined and direct numerical integration is possible (Do take a look at how the implementation works in the code here and here). However, note that this fails for arbitrary order polygons. The idea is then to subdivide the polygons into triangles and dispatch appropriately (Future work).

To obtain the cell-wise contributions, we map the above functions to each element in the mesh: We do this using the lazy_map functionality.

    matcontribs = lazy_map(i -> _generate_mat_contribs(a, trial, acd, i), 1:num_cells(mesh))
    loadcontribs = lazy_map(i -> _generate_vec_contribs(l, trial, acd, i), 1:num_cells(mesh))

Assembly and solution

We then use the low-level assembly routine: SparseMatrixAssembler available in Gridap, but with the extra dispatch

function SparseMatrixAssembler(trial::VESpace, test::VESpace)
SparseMatrixAssembler(trial.linear_fespace, test.linear_fespace)

  # Assemble the matrices
  σₖ = get_cell_dof_ids(trial.linear_fespace)
  matdata = ([matcontribs],[σₖ],[σₖ])
  vecdata = ([loadcontribs], [σₖ])
  assem = SparseMatrixAssembler(trial, test)
  matrix = assemble_matrix(assem, matdata)
  vector = assemble_vector(assem, vecdata)

We then solve the problem and interpolate the raw vector (VEM solution) to the underlying FESpace, since we cannot express the virtual element basis explicitly. We perform a very basic convergence analysis to see if the numbers obey the error estimate

  || u - uₕ ||  Ch²

We run the rate of convergence script ooc_vem_example.jl to check:

julia> err
  5×1 Matrix{Float64}:

  julia> rate = log.(err[1:end-1] ./ err[2:end])./log.(2)
  4-element Vector{Float64}:

And thus we are able to verify the rate of convergence result. This shows that the raw vector we obtain is the virtual element solution!

tags: vem - gridap © 2019- Balaje Kalyanaraman. Hosted on Github pages. Based on the Minimal Theme by orderedlist