Space-Time Finite-Element Exterior Calculus and Variational Discretizations of Gauge Field Theories

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 2:00pm - 2:50pm
Keller 3-180
Melvin Leok (University of California)
Many gauge field theories can be described using a multisymplectic Lagrangian formulation, where the Lagrangian density involves space-time differential forms. While there has been much work on finite-element exterior calculus for spatial and tensor product space-time domains, there has been less done from the perspective of space-time simplicial complexes. One critical aspect is that the Hodge star is now taken with respect to a pseudo-Riemannian metric, and this is most naturally expressed in space-time adapted coordinates, as opposed to the barycentric coordinates that Whitney forms (and their higher-degree generalizations) are typically expressed in terms of.

We introduce a novel characterization of Whitney forms and their Hodge dual with respect to a pseudo-Riemannian metric that is independent of the choice of coordinates, and then apply it to a variational discretization of the covariant formulation of Maxwell's equations. Since the Lagrangian density for this is expressed in terms of the exterior derivative of the four-potential, the use of finite-dimensional function spaces that respects the de Rham cohomology results in a discretization that inherits the gauge symmetries of the continuous problem. This then yields a variational discretization that exhibits a discrete Noether's theorem, which implies that an associated multi-momentum is automatically conserved by the discretization.
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