WIAS Preprint No. 1751, (2012)

On the parameter choice in grad-div stabilization for incompressible flow problems


  • Jenkins, Eleanor
  • John, Volker
    ORCID: 0000-0002-2711-4409
  • Linke, Alexander
    ORCID: 0000-0002-0165-2698
  • Rebholz, Leo G.

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 35Q30 76M10 65L60


  • incompressible Navier-Stokes equations, mixed finite elements, grad-div stabilization, error estimates, parameter choice


Grad-div stabilization has been proved to be a very useful tool in discretizations of incompressible flow problems. Standard error analysis for inf-sup stable conforming pairs of finite element spaces predicts that the stabilization parameter should be optimally chosen to be O(1). This paper revisits this choice for the Stokes equations on the basis of minimizing the $H^1$ error of the velocity and the $L^2$ error of the pressure. It turns out, by applying a refined error analysis, that the optimal parameter choice is more subtle than known so far in the literature. It depends on the used norm, the solution, the family of finite element spaces, and the type of mesh. Depending on the situation, the optimal stabilization parameter might range from being very small to very large. The analytic results are supported by numerical examples.

Appeared in

  • Adv. Comput. Math., 40 (2014) pp. 491--516.

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