An analysis of the crank-nicolson method for subdiffusion

Bangti Jin, Buyang Li, Zhi Zhou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, we analyse a Crank-Nicolson type time-stepping scheme for the subdiffusion equation, which involves a Caputo fractional derivative of order α ∈ (0, 1) in time. It hybridizes the backward Euler convolution quadrature with a θ-type method, with the parameter θ dependent on the fractional order α by θ = α/2 and naturally generalizes the classical Crank-Nicolson method. We develop essential initial corrections at the starting two steps for the Crank-Nicolson scheme and, together with the Galerkin finite element method in space, obtain a fully discrete scheme. The overall scheme is easy to implement and robust with respect to data regularity. A complete error analysis of the fully discrete scheme is provided, and a second-order accuracy in time is established for both smooth and nonsmooth problem data. Extensive numerical experiments are provided to illustrate its accuracy, efficiency and robustness, and a comparative study also indicates its competitive with existing schemes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-541
Number of pages24
JournalIMA Journal of Numerical Analysis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Convolution quadrature
  • Crank-Nicolson method
  • Error estimates
  • Initial correction
  • Nonsmooth data
  • Subdiffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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