Applied and Computational Mathematics (ACM)

Artificial Boundary Conditions

When computing numerically the solution of a partial differential equation in an unbounded domain usually artificial boundaries are introduced to limit the computational domain. Special boundary conditions are derived at this artificial boundaries to approximate the exact whole-space solution. If the solution of the problem on the bounded domain is equal to the whole-space solution (restricted to the computational domain) these boundary conditions are called transparent boundary conditions (TBCs).

We are concerned with TBCs for general Schrödinger-type pseudo-differential equations arising from `parabolic' equation (PE) models which have been widely used for one-way wave propagation problems in various application areas, e.g. (underwater) acoustics, seismology, optics and plasma physics. As a special case the Schrödinger equation of quantum mechanics is included.

Existing discretizations of these TBCs induce numerical reflections at this artificial boundary and also may destroy the stability of the used finite difference method. These problems do not occur when using a so-called discrete TBC which is derived from the fully discretized whole-space problem. This discrete TBC is reflection-free and conserves the stability properties of the whole-space scheme. We point out that the superiority of discrete TBCs over other discretizations of TBCs is not restricted to the presented special types of partial differential equations or to our particular interior discretization scheme.

Another problem is the high numerical effort. Since the discrete TBC includes a convolution with respect to time with a weakly decaying kernel, its numerical evaluation becomes very costly for long-time simulations. As a remedy we construct new approximative TBCs involving exponential sums as an approximation to the convolution kernel. This special approximation enables us to use a fast evaluation of the convolution type boundary condition.

Finally, to illustrate the broad range of applicability of our approach we derived efficient discrete artificial boundary conditions for the Black-Scholes equation of American options.


Our approach was implemented by C.A. Moyer in the QMTools software package for quantum mechanical applications.

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