Numerical methods for time-fractional evolution equations with nonsmooth data: A concise overview

Bangti Jin, Raytcho Lazarov, Zhi Zhou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past few decades, there has been substantial interest in evolution equations that involve a fractional-order derivative of order α∈(0,1) in time, commonly known as subdiffusion, due to their many successful applications in engineering, physics, biology and finance. Thus, it is of paramount importance to develop and to analyze efficient and accurate numerical methods for reliably simulating such models, and the literature on the topic is vast and fast growing. The present paper gives a concise overview on numerical schemes for the subdiffusion model with nonsmooth problem data, which are important for the numerical analysis of many problems arising in optimal control, inverse problems and stochastic analysis. We focus on the following topics of the subdiffusion model: regularity theory, Galerkin finite element discretization in space, time-stepping schemes (including convolution quadrature and L1 type schemes), and space–time variational formulations, and compare the results with that for standard parabolic problems. Further, these aspects are showcased with illustrative numerical experiments and complemented with perspectives and pointers to relevant literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-358
Number of pages27
JournalComputer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Error estimates
  • Finite element method
  • Nonsmooth solution
  • Space–time formulation
  • Time-fractional evolution
  • Time-stepping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications


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