Finite element methods for time-harmonic wave equations

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


This thesis concerns the numerical simulation of time-harmonic wave equations using the finite element method. The main difficulties in solving wave equations are the large number of unknowns and the solution of the resulting linear system. The focus of the research is in preconditioned iterative methods for solving the linear system and in the validation of the result with a posteriori error estimation. Two different solution strategies for solving the Helmholtz equation, a domain decomposition method and a preconditioned GMRES method are studied. In addition, an a posterior error estimate for the Maxwell's equations is presented. The presented domain decomposition method is based on the hybridized mixed Helmholtz equation and using a high-order, tensorial eigenbasis. The efficiency of this method is demonstrated by numerical examples. As the first step towards the mathematical analysis of the domain decomposition method, preconditioners for mixed systems are studied. This leads to a new preconditioner for the mixed Poisson problem, which allows any preconditioned for the first order finite element discretization of the Poisson problem to be used with iterative methods for the Schur complement problem. Solving the linear systems arising from the first order finite element discretization of the Helmholtz equation using the GMRES method with a Laplace, an inexact Laplace, or a two-level preconditioner is discussed. The convergence properties of the preconditioned GMRES method are analyzed by using a convergence criterion based on the field of values. A functional type a posterior error estimate is derived for simplifications of the Maxwell's equations. This estimate gives computable, guaranteed upper bounds for the discretization error.
Translated title of the contributionFinite element methods for time-harmonic wave equations
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Stenberg, Rolf, Supervisor
  • Stenberg, Rolf, Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-4296-1
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-4297-8
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • finite element method
  • time-harmonic wave equations
  • Helmholtz equation
  • fast solution methods

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