Indeterminate constants in numerical approximations of PDEs: A pilot study using data mining techniques

F. Assous, J. Chaskalovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Rolle's theorem, and therefore, Lagrange and Taylor's theorems are responsible for the inability to determine precisely the error estimate of numerical methods applied to partial differential equations. Basically, this comes from the existence of a non unique unknown point which appears in the remainder of Taylor's expansion. In this paper we consider the case of finite elements method. We show in detail how Taylor's theorem gives rise to indeterminate constants in the a priori error estimates. As a consequence, we highlight that classical conclusions have to be reformulated if one considers local error estimate. To illustrate our purpose, we consider the implementation of P1 and P2 finite elements method to solve Vlasov-Maxwell equations in a paraxial configuration. If the Bramble-Hilbert theorem claims that global error estimates for finite elements P2 are "better" than the P1 ones, we show how data mining techniques are powerful to identify and to qualify when and where local numerical results of P1 and P2 are equivalent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-470
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Computational and Applied Mathematics
StatePublished - Nov 2014


  • Data mining
  • Error estimates
  • Finite element
  • Vlasov-Maxwell


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