The MPI - Adaptive Mesh Refinement - Versatile Advection Code

Table of Contents


This document briefly describes how the equations are discretized.


MPI-AMRVAC aims to solve a system of partial differential equations of the form


where w is a vector of iw=1..nw flow variables, F_i are fluxes in idim=1..ndim directions for each w, and S is the source including all terms which are not described by F_i. The flux and source terms together are denoted by R. The discretization is of a finite volume kind, where cell-centered quantities represent cell-averaged densities for conservative variables.

Dimensional and Source Splitting

Some methods were originally designed to handle 1D problems, they may be best applied to multidimensional problems by splitting the equation for the derivatives of the flux, and solving the split equations in subsequent sweeps. All these strategies are handled in the mod_advance.t module.

For a forward Euler time integration scheme the above equation can be discretised in time as

w^(n+1)    = [I+dt*(Fx+Fy+Fz+S)] w^n

where Fx, Fy, and Fz are short notations for the dF_i/dx_i terms for 3D.

Dimensional splitting means the following approximations:

I+dt*(Fx+Fy+S)    --> [I+dt*(Fx+S/2)] [I+dt*(Fy+S/2)]                   (2D)

I+dt*(Fx+Fy+Fz+S) --> [I+dt*(Fx+S/3)] [I+dt*(Fy+S/3)] [I+dt*(Fz+S/3)]   (3D)

In case dimsplit=T, the default splitting strategy is according to typedimsplit='xyyx', which ensures alternation in the order of the sweeps in every second time step. This alternation can be switched off by typedimsplit='xy' which may be useful for steady state calculations. Depending on the selected scheme, we can also invoke no dimensional splitting at all, hence dimsplit=F (which implies typedimsplit='unsplit').

The source terms S may also be separated from the fluxes F. A reason to use split source terms may arise, when the sources are stiff, or unstable for an explicit evaluation. For steady state evolutions, one would typically use unsplit sources and no dimensional splitting at all. Splitting user sources from fluxes is achieved by source_split_usr=T. How sources are then added depends on typesourcesplit, which can be any of 4 pre-implemented combinations.

Setting typesourcesplit='sfs' results in

I+dt*(Fx+Fy+Fz+S) --> [I+dt/2*S] [I+dt*(Fx+Fy+Fz)] [I+dt/2*S]

for the dimensionally unsplit case, and

I+dt*(Fx+Fy+S)    --> [I+dt/2*S] [I+dt*Fx] [I+dt*Fy] [I+dt/2*S]            (2D)

I+dt*(Fx+Fy+Fz+S) --> [I+dt/2*S] [I+dt*Fx] [I+dt*Fy] [I+dt*Fz] [I+dt/2*S]  (3D)

for the dimensionally split case. To achieve second order time accuracy, the numerical representation of the source term S should be second order accurate in time. In case of special source terms written by the user, this may be achieved by implementing in the pointed usr_source subroutine.

However a simple second order Runge-Kutta evaluation is already built in. Setting typesourcesplit='ssfss' gives the following evaluation for w_S = [I+dt/2*S] w:

w_1 = w + dt/4 S(w)
w_S = w + dt/2 S(w_1)

both at the beginning and at the end of the time step, otherwise the default w_S = w + dt/2 S(w) is used. Other choices for typesourcesplit are **'sf', 'ssf'**.

Time Discretization

The code can use a variety of methods for spatial discretization of fluxes. A method is applied to all variables on a specific AMR level, but the method may differ from grid level to grid level. As we saw in the previous section, the contribution of the fluxes (dimensionally split or unsplit, with or without the source terms) need to be evaluated to at least 2nd order accuracy in time. Let R denote the general operator that represents any of the Fx, (Fz+S/3), (Fx+Fy), (Fx+Fy+Fz+S), etc. terms that arise in the equations above depending on the number of dimensions and on the dimensional and source splitting parameters.

There are many options to evaluate w_R=[I+dt*R] w, it is determined by the value of the time_integrator parameter with the following examples:

w_R = w + dt*R(w)                 'onestep'

w_1 = w + dt/2*R1(w)               'twostep'  (predictor step)
w_R = w + dt  *R(w_1)                        (corrector step)

w_1 = w + dt/2*R(w)               'fourstep' (classical RK4)
w_2 = w + dt/2*R(w_1)
w_3 = w + dt  *R(w_2)
w_4 = w + dt/6*R(w_3)
w   = w + dt/6*[R(w_1)+2*R(w_2)+2*R(w_3)+R(w_4)]

RK4 is fourth order accurate. Not all schemes can be combined with all options, infact the TVD scheme should use time_integrator='onestep', while the other temporally second order methods TVDLF, TVD-MUSCL, HLL, HLLC can use time_integrator='twostep' or time_integrator='fourstep'.

Since in the twostep method the R1 spatial discretization in the first predictor step can be different from R of the second corrector step, the twostep time integration is a predictor-corrector type scheme. In the parameter file, the arrays typepred1 and flux_scheme (which need to be specified for each AMR grid level up to nlevelshi), determine the method applied in the predictor and full step.

For the multistep RK4 integration scheme, the same flux_scheme method is used in each substep for istep=1..nstep. Full timesteps are counted by it_init <= it <= it_max, while the physical time is global_time <= time_max.

Grid and Mesh

The grid is a 1, 2 or 3D grid, either Cartesian, cylindrical (to which polar belongs), or spherical, which is selected by call set_coordinate_system in usr_init subroutine of mod_usr.t. See coordinate system for more information. The coordinates of the grid points are represented by the array x, usually interpreted for Cartesian coordinates as x, y, and z; for cylindrical as r, z, and phi; for polar grid as r, phi, and z; for spherical grid as r, theta, and phi. Other useful cell-related quantities calculated from x, like distance between cell interfaces, volume, surface, and surface normal, are also computed, and this happens in the geometry.t module, specifically in the fillgeo subroutine. They are stored in the structures pw(igrid)surfaceC(ixG^T,^D), pw(igrid)surface(ixG^T,^D), pw(igrid)dvolume and pw(igrid)dx.

The spatial indices of these arrays, denoted by the dimension independent syntax, have varying ranges, depending on their use (as cell centered, or cell surface quantities). Remember that number of physical cells (by block_nx^D) plus number of ghostcells (by nghostcells) gives the total grid extent:

ixGlo^D:ixGhi^D = ixG^T

In many places, the same range, including ghost cells describing the boundaries, is denoted as

ixGmin^D:ixGmax^D = ixG^S

The mesh is defined as the grid without boundary layers:

ixMlo^D,ixMhi^D = ixGlo^D+nghostcells,ixGhi^D-nghostcells

or equivalently as ixMmin^D,ixMmax^D, or in a shorter notation

ixM^L = ixG^L^LSUBnghostcells^L

The ghost cells are updated by the subroutine getbc in mod_ghostcells_update.t. When a file is read or saved by MPI-AMRVAC, the ghost cells are usually not included.

You may run the VACPP preprocessor interactively to see how the above expressions are translated for a given number of dimensions.

Boundary Regions

The boundary cells of the grid are grouped into boundary regions indexed by iB=1..nB. In 1D, there are 2 regions, at left and right of the mesh; in 2D there are 4, left, right, bottom, top (in that order); while for 3D there are

  1. These boundary regions cover the 2*ndim edges of the grid in the left, right, bottom, top, front, back, in other words, ixmin1, ixmax1, ixmin2, ixmax2, ixmin3, ixmax3, order. The regions overlap at the corner ghost cells.

The boundary methods are applied to each boundary region from iB=1 to nB and for each variable from iw=1 to nw according to the descriptor string typeboundary(iw,iB). An exception is made for the special type variables, where all variables should be provided somehow in conservative format by users in pointed usr_special_bc subroutine in mod_usr.t.

Please note that the boundary itself is at the interface between the real and ghost cells, therefore setting the velocity to 0 in the ghost cell will not make the velocity 0 at the cell interface which is an interpolated value. To have exactly zero flux through the boundary, the **'symm'** boundary type should be used for the scalar quantities and the tangential velocity components. For the normal vector components the anti-symmetric **'asymm'** boundary type should be used.

Internal boundaries

Internal boundaries can be used to overwrite the domain variables with specified values. Internally, these are assigned before the ghost-cells and external boundaries are applied (in subroutine get_bc). The user can provide conditions on the conserved variables depending on location or time in the pointed usr_internal_bc subroutine. To activate internal boundaries, the switch


has to be set in the boundlist section of the par file.