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Section: New Results

High-order mesh generation

Participants : Frédéric Alauzet [correspondant] , Adrien Loseille, Rémi Feuillet, Dave Marcum, Lucien Rochery.

For years, the resolution of numerical methods has consisted in solving Partial Derivative Equations by means of a piecewise linear representation of the physical phenomenon on linear meshes. This choice was merely driven by computational limitations. With the increase of the computational capabilities, it became possible to increase the polynomial order of the solution while keeping the mesh linear. This was motivated by the fact that even if the increase of the polynomial order requires more computational resources per iteration of the solver, it yields a faster convergence of the approximation error (The order of convergence is the degree of the polynomial approximation plus one.)  [92] and it enables to keep track of unsteady features for a longer time and with a coarser mesh than with a linear approximation of the solution. However, in  [46], [65], it was theoretically shown that for elliptic problems the optimal convergence rate for a high-order method was obtained with a curved boundary of the same order and in  [44], evidence was given that without a high-order representation of the boundary the studied physical phenomenon was not exactly solved using a high-order method. In  [95], it was even highlighted that, in some cases, the order of the mesh should be of a higher degree than the one of the solver. In other words, if the used mesh is not a high-order mesh, then the obtained high-order solution will never reliably represent the physical phenomenon.

Based on these issues, the development of high-order mesh generation procedures appears mandatory. To generate high-order meshes, several approaches exist. The first approach was tackled twenty years ago  [47] for both surface and volume meshing. At this moment the idea was to use all the meshing tools to get a valid high-order mesh. The same problem was revisited a few years later in  [86] for bio-medical applications. In these first approaches and in all the following, the underlying idea is to use a linear mesh and elevate it to the desired order. Some make use of a PDE or variational approach to do so  [39], [79], [48], [73], [91], [94], [58], others are based on optimization and smoothing operations and start from a linear mesh with a constrained high-order curved boundary in order to generate a suitable high-order mesh [62], [51], [89]. Also, when dealing with Navier-Stokes equations, the question of generating curved boundary layer meshes (also called viscous meshes) appears. Most of the time, dedicated approaches are set-up to deal with this problem  [74], [63]. In all these techniques, the key feature is to find the best deformation to be applied to the linear mesh and to optimize it. The prerequisite of these methods is that the initial boundary is curved and will be used as an input data. A natural question is consequently to study an optimal position of the high-order nodes on the curved boundary starting from an initial linear or high-order boundary mesh. This can be done in a coupled way with the volume  [81], [90] or in a preprocessing phase  [82], [83]. In this process, the position of the nodes is set by projection onto the CAD geometry or by minimization of an error between the surface mesh and the CAD surface. Note that the vertices of the boundary mesh can move as well during the process. In the case of an initial linear boundary mesh with absence of a CAD geometry, some approaches based on normal reconstructions can be used to create a surrogate for the CAD model  [93], [59]. Finally, a last question remains when dealing with such high-order meshes: Given a set of degrees of freedom, is the definition of these objects always valid ?. Until the work presented in  [55], [61], [52], no real approach was proposed to deal in a robust way with the validity of high-order elements. The novelty of these approaches was to see the geometrical elements and their Jacobian as Bézier entities. Based on the properties of the Bézier representation, the validity of the element is concluded in a robust sense, while the other methods were only using a sampling of the Jacobian to conclude about its sign without any warranty on the whole validity of the elements.

In this context, several issues have been addressed : the analogy between high-order and Bézier elements, the development of high-order error estimates suitable for parametric high-order surface mesh generation andthe generalization of mesh optimization operators and their applications to curved mesh generation, moving-mesh methods, boundary layer mesh generation and mesh adaptation.