Acta Numerica



Computation of geometric partial differential equations and mean curvature flow


Klaus Deckelnick a1, Gerhard Dziuk a2 and Charles M. Elliott a3
a1 Institut für Analysis und Numerik, Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Universitätsplatz 2, D-39106 Magdeburg, Germany, E-mail: Klaus.Deckelnick@Mathematik.Uni-Magdeburg.de
a2 Abteilung für Angewandte Mathematik, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg i. Br., Hermann-Herder-Straße 10, D-79104 Freiburg i. Br., Germany, E-mail: gerd.dziuk@mathematik.uni-freiburg.de
a3 Department of Mathematics, University of Sussex, Mantell Building, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9RF, UK E-mail: C.M.Elliott@sussex.ac.uk

Article author query
deckelnick k   [Google Scholar] 
dziuk g   [Google Scholar] 
elliott cm   [Google Scholar] 
 

Abstract

This review concerns the computation of curvature-dependent interface motion governed by geometric partial differential equations. The canonical problem of mean curvature flow is that of finding a surface which evolves so that, at every point on the surface, the normal velocity is given by the mean curvature. In recent years the interest in geometric PDEs involving curvature has burgeoned. Examples of applications are, amongst others, the motion of grain boundaries in alloys, phase transitions and image processing. The methods of analysis, discretization and numerical analysis depend on how the surface is represented. The simplest approach is when the surface is a graph over a base domain. This is an example of a sharp interface approach which, in the general parametric approach, involves seeking a parametrization of the surface over a base surface, such as a sphere. On the other hand an interface can be represented implicitly as a level surface of a function, and this idea gives rise to the so-called level set method. Another implicit approach is the phase field method, which approximates the interface by a zero level set of a phase field satisfying a PDE depending on a new parameter. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages. In the article we describe the mathematical formulations of these approaches and their discretizations. Algorithms are set out for each approach, convergence results are given and are supported by computational results and numerous graphical figures. Besides mean curvature flow, the topics of anisotropy and the higher order geometric PDEs for Willmore flow and surface diffusion are covered.