Propagation of One- and Two-Dimensional Discrete Waves Under Finite Difference Approximation

Biccari U, Marica A, Zuazua E (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


DOI: 10.1007/s10208-020-09445-0


We analyze the propagation properties of the numerical versions of one- and two-dimensional wave equations, semi-discretized in space by finite difference schemes. We focus on high-frequency solutions whose propagation can be described, both at the continuous and at the semi-discrete levels, by micro-local tools. We consider uniform and non-uniform numerical grids as well as constant and variable coefficients. The energy of continuous and semi-discrete high-frequency solutions propagates along bi-characteristic rays, but their dynamics are different in the continuous and the semi-discrete setting, because of the nature of the corresponding Hamiltonians. One of the main objectives of this paper is to illustrate through accurate numerical simulations that, in agreement with micro-local theory, numerical high-frequency solutions can bend in an unexpected manner, as a result of the accumulation of the local effects introduced by the heterogeneity of the numerical grid. These effects are enhanced in the multi-dimensional case where the interaction and combination of such behaviors in the various space directions may produce, for instance, the rodeo effect, i.e., waves that are trapped by the numerical grid in closed loops, without ever getting to the exterior boundary. Our analysis allows to explain all such pathological behaviors. Moreover, the discussion in this paper also contributes to the existing theory about the necessity of filtering high-frequency numerical components when dealing with control and inversion problems for waves, which is based very much on the theory of rays and, in particular, on the fact that they can be observed when reaching the exterior boundary of the domain, a key property that can be lost through numerical discretization.

Authors with CRIS profile

Involved external institutions

How to cite


Biccari, U., Marica, A., & Zuazua, E. (2020). Propagation of One- and Two-Dimensional Discrete Waves Under Finite Difference Approximation. Foundations of Computational Mathematics.


Biccari, Umberto, Aurora Marica, and Enrique Zuazua. "Propagation of One- and Two-Dimensional Discrete Waves Under Finite Difference Approximation." Foundations of Computational Mathematics (2020).

BibTeX: Download