Maximum bound principles for a class of semilinear parabolic equations and exponential time-differencing Schemes

Qiang Du, Lili Ju, Xiao Li, Zhonghua Qiao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


The ubiquity of semilinear parabolic equations is clear from their numerous applications ranging from physics and biology to materials and social sciences. In this paper, we consider a practically desirable property for a class of semilinear parabolic equations of the abstract form ut = L u + f[u], with L a linear dissipative operator and f a nonlinear operator in space, namely, a time-invariant maximum bound principle, in the sense that the timedependent solution u preserves for all time a uniform pointwise bound in absolute value imposed by its initial and boundary conditions. We first study an analytical framework for sufficient conditions on L and f that lead to such a maximum bound principle for the time-continuous dynamic system of infinite or finite dimensions. Then we utilize a suitable exponential time-differencing approach with a properly chosen generator of the contraction semigroup to develop first- and second-order accurate temporal discretization schemes that satisfy the maximum bound principle unconditionally in the time-discrete setting. Error estimates of the proposed schemes are derived along with their energy stability. Extensions to vector- and matrix-valued systems are also discussed. We demonstrate that the abstract framework and analysis techniques developed here offer an effective and unified approach to studying the maximum bound principle of the abstract evolution equation that covers a wide variety of well-known models and their numerical discretization schemes. Some numerical experiments are also carried out to verify the theoretical results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-359
Number of pages43
JournalSIAM Review
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 May 2021


  • Energy stability
  • Error estimate
  • Exponential time differencing
  • Maximum bound principle
  • Numerical approximation
  • Semilinear parabolic equation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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