Combining finite element space-discretizations with symplectic time-marching schemes for linear Hamiltonian systems

Bernardo Cockburn, Shukai Du, Manuel A. Sánchez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We provide a short introduction to the devising of a special type of methods for numerically approximating the solution of Hamiltonian partial differential equations. These methods use Galerkin space-discretizations which result in a system of ODEs displaying a discrete version of the Hamiltonian structure of the original system. The resulting system of ODEs is then discretized by a symplectic time-marching method. This combination results in high-order accurate, fully discrete methods which can preserve the invariants of the Hamiltonian defining the ODE system. We restrict our attention to linear Hamiltonian systems, as the main results can be obtained easily and directly, and are applicable to many Hamiltonian systems of practical interest including acoustics, elastodynamics, and electromagnetism. After a brief description of the Hamiltonian systems of our interest, we provide a brief introduction to symplectic time-marching methods for linear systems of ODEs which does not require any background on the subject. We describe then the case in which finite-difference space-discretizations are used and focus on the popular Yee scheme (1966) for electromagnetism. Finally, we consider the case of finite-element space discretizations. The emphasis is placed on the conservation properties of the fully discrete schemes. We end by describing ongoing work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1165371
JournalFrontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Cockburn, Du and Sánchez.


  • Hamiltonian systems
  • Poisson systems
  • finite difference methods
  • finite element methods
  • symplectic time-marching methods


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