Analysis of a Class of Penalty Methods for Computing Singular Minimizers

  • 1 Humboldt-Universit¨at zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany.
  • 2 Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, 24-29 St Giles’, Oxford OX1 3LB, UK.


Amongst the more exciting phenomena in the field of nonlinear partial differential equations is the Lavrentiev phenomenon which occurs in the calculus of variations. We prove that a conforming finite element method fails if and only if the Lavrentiev phenomenon is present. Consequently, nonstandard finite element methods have to be designed for the detection of the Lavrentiev phenomenon in the computational calculus of variations. We formulate and analyze a general strategy for solving variational problems in the presence of the Lavrentiev phenomenon based on a splitting and penalization strategy. We establish convergence results under mild conditions on the stored energy function. Moreover, we present practical strategies for the solution of the discretized problems and for the choice of the penalty parameter.

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CMAM considers original mathematical contributions to computational methods and numerical analysis with applications mainly related to PDEs. The journal is interdisciplinary while retaining the common thread of numerical analysis, readily readable and meant for a wide circle of researchers in applied mathematics.