An assumed-gradient finite element method for the level set equation

TitleAn assumed-gradient finite element method for the level set equation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsHM Mourad, J Dolbow, and K Garikipati
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering
Start Page1009
Pagination1009 - 1032
Date Published10/2005

The level set equation is a non-linear advection equation, and standard finite-element and finite-difference strategies typically employ spatial stabilization techniques to suppress spurious oscillations in the numerical solution. We recast the level set equation in a simpler form by assuming that the level set function remains a signed distance to the front/interface being captured. As with the original level set equation, the use of an extensional velocity helps maintain this signed-distance function. For some interface-evolution problems, this approach reduces the original level set equation to an ordinary differential equation that is almost trivial to solve. Further, we find that sufficient accuracy is available through a standard Galerkin formulation without any stabilization or discontinuity-capturing terms. Several numerical experiments are conducted to assess the ability of the proposed assumed-gradient level set method to capture the correct solution, particularly in the presence of discontinuities in the extensional velocity or level-set gradient. We examine the convergence properties of the method and its performance in problems where the simplified level set equation takes the form of a Hamilton-Jacobi equation with convex/non-convex Hamiltonian. Importantly, discretizations based on structured and unstructured finite-element meshes of bilinear quadrilateral and linear triangular elements are shown to perform equally well. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Short TitleInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering