Approximating Stochastic Partial Differential Equations with Finite Elements: Computation and Analysis

Abstract: Stochastic partial differential equations (SPDE) must be approximated in space and time to allow for the simulation of their solutions. In this thesis fully discrete approximations of such equations are considered, with an emphasis on finite element methods combined with rational semigroup approximations. A quantity of interest for SPDE simulations often takes the form of an expected value of a functional applied to the solution. This is the major theme of this thesis, which divides into two minor themes. The first is how to analyze the error resulting from the fully discrete approximation of an SPDE with respect to a given functional, which is referred to as the weak error of the approximation. The second is how to efficiently compute the quantity of interest as well as the weak error itself. The Monte Carlo (MC) and multilevel Monte Carlo (MLMC) methods are common approaches for this. The thesis consists of five papers. In the first paper the additional error caused by MC and MLMC methods in simulations of the weak error is analyzed. Upper and lower bounds are derived for the different methods and simulations illustrate the results. The second paper sets up a framework for the analysis of the asymptotic mean square stability, the stability as measured in a quadratic functional, of a general stochastic recursion scheme, which is applied to several discretizations of an SPDE. In the third paper, a novel technique for efficiently generating samples of SPDE approximations is introduced, based on the computation of discrete covariance operators. The computational complexities of the resulting MC and MLMC methods are analyzed. The fourth paper considers the analysis of the weak error for the approximation of the semilinear stochastic wave equation. In the fifth paper, a Lyapunov equation is derived, which allows for the deterministic approximation of the expected value of a quadratic functional applied to the solution of an SPDE. The paper also includes an error analysis of an approximation of this equation and an analysis of the weak error, with respect to the quadratic functional, of an approximation of the considered SPDE.