Analysis of the Streamline Upwind/Petrov Galerkin Method
Applied to the Solution of Optimal Control Problems

S. Scott Collis
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Matthias Heinkenschloss
Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics
Rice University

CAAM Technical Report TR02-01
March 2002.


We study the effect of the streamline upwind/Petrov Galerkin (SUPG) stabilized finite element method on the discretization of optimal control problems governed by linear advection-diffusion equations. We compare two approaches for the numerical solution of such optimal control problems. In the discretize-then-optimize approach the optimal control problem is first discretized, using the SUPG method for the discretization of the advection-diffusion equation, and then the resulting finite dimensional optimization problem is solved. In the optimize-then-discretize approach one first computes the infinite dimensional optimality system, involving the advection-diffusion equation as well as the adjoint advection-diffusion equation, and then discretizes this optimality system using the SUPG method for both the original and the adjoint equations. These approaches lead to different results. The main result of this paper is an estimates for the error between the solution of the infinite dimensional optimal control problem and their approximations computed using the previous approaches. For a class of problems prove that the optimize-then-discretize approach has better asymptotic convergence properties if finite elements of order greater than one are used. For linear finite elements our theoretical convergence results for both approaches are comparable, except in the zero diffusion limit where again the optimize-then-discretize approach seems favorable. Numerical examples are presented to illustrate some of the theoretical results.

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