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A posteriori error control and adaptivity for vector-valued Schrödinger equations with conical crossings

   School of Science and Engineering

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  Dr I Kyza, Dr A Athanassoulis  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The project will be focused on the a posteriori error control and adaptivity of time- dependent, two-level Shrödinger systems with conical crossings.

• Mathematically, any generic two-level Shrödinger system will exhibit conical crossings.

• Shrödinger systems with crossings can describe many chemical systems, and the most interesting phenomena, such as chemical reactions, are related exactly with the conical crossing.

• Finally, not only there are no exact solutions for such systems, but in general very little is known even for the qualitative behaviour of the solutions.

For these reasons, it is of fundamental importance to have mathematical tools that will lead us to accurate approximations without the knowledge of the exact solution of the system. This can be achieved through the construction of solvers with a posteriori error estimates.

An a posteriori error estimate can simply be described as follows: If u is the exact solution of the problem and U a computed approximation of it, we are interested in estimates of the form:


u − U

≤ E(U),

for some norm


natural for the problem. In (1) the estimator E(U) is a computable quantity depending only on the approximate solution U and the known data of the problem. For meaningful computations we also require E(U) to reduce as fast as the error

u − U

, i.e. to give a reasonable estimation of the actual error (even though in general it will not be sharp). Having at hand E(U) we can make it smaller than a given tolerance Tol, E(U) ≤ Tol, and thus from (1), we will also have

u − U

≤ Tol. In this way, the error control through a posteriori error estimates not only leads to reliable computations, but also provides mathematical guarantees on how accurate the approximate solution is. One of the aims of this project is to obtain estimates of the form (1) for time-dependent, two-level Schrödinger systems with conical crossings.

Another great advantage of the a posteriori error control is that it may lead to the construction of an adaptive algorithm, i.e., a numerical algorithm in which non-uniform grids (variable spatial mesh sizes and time-steps) are allowed. This is very important for the reduction of the computational cost, i.e. to allocate the degrees of freedom of the computation where they are most needed. Additionally, for problems with singularities, such as problems with conical crossings, it is very difficult to numerically study the singular area of the solution without adaptivity. Since the singular area is usually the most interesting part of the solution mathematically, but also from the point of view of applications, adaptivity is crucial.

A related question is “How can we use E(U) in (1) to construct an adaptive algorithm?” An efficient solver E(U) can be written in the form of a sum of local in space and time estimators. This gives an understanding where the error is coming from; in particular, using this sum of local estimators, the regions where the solution exhibits singular behaviour can be detected. The idea is then to add grid points wherever the error is big with the aim to reduce it, and to remove points from areas where nothing interesting seems to happen, i.e., the error is small. In this way, the computational cost is substantially reduced, and numerical computations close to the singular points become feasible. Another main aim of the project is the proposition of efficient adaptive algorithms or time-dependent, two-level Schrödinger systems with conical crossings. The proposition of the adaptive algorithms will be based on rigorous a posteriori error control.

Our research community thrives on the diversity of students and staff which helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for postgraduate research. We welcome applications from all talented individuals and are committed to widening access to those who have the ability and potential to benefit from higher education.


Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK in a relevant discipline.

English language requirements:


Step 1: Email Dr Irene Kyza ([Email Address Removed]) to (1) send a copy of your CV and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).

Step 2: After discussion with Dr Kyza, formal applications can be made via our direct application system:

Apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Mathematics: Mathematics research degrees | University of Dundee.

Please select the study mode (full-time/part-time) and start date agreed with the lead supervisor.

In the Research Proposal section, please:

-       Enter the lead supervisor’s name in the ‘proposed supervisor’ box

-       Enter the project title listed at the top of this page in the ‘proposed project title’ box

In the ‘personal statement’ section, please outline your suitability for the project selected.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees, project specific bench fees and living expenses via external sponsorship or self-funding.


[1] G. Akrivis, Ch. Makridakis, R.H. Nochetto, A posteriori error estimates for the Crank-Nicolson method for parabolic equations, Math. Comp. 75 (2006) 511–531.

[2] A. Athanassoulis, Th. Katsaounis, I. Kyza, Regularized semiclassical limits: linear flows with infinite Lyapunov exponents, Comm. Math. Sci. 14 (2016) 1821–1858.

[3] S. Jin, P. Qi, Z. Zhang, An Eulerian surface hopping method for the Schr ̈odinger equation with conical crossings, Multiscale Model. Simul. 9 (2011) 258–281.
[3] Th. Katsaounis, I. Kyza, A posteriori error control and adaptivity for Crank-Nicolson finite element approximations for the linear Schro ̈dinger equation, Numer. Math. 129 (2015) 55–90.

[4] Th. Katsaounis, I. Kyza, A posteriori error analysis for evolution nonlinear Schro ̈dinger equations up to
the critical exponent, SIAM J. Numer. Anal. 56 (2018) 1405–1434.
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