The aggregated unfitted finite element method on parallel tree-based adaptive meshes

Santiago Badia, Alberto F. Martín, Eric Neiva, Francesc Verdugo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, we present an adaptive unfitted finite element scheme that combines the aggregated finite element method with parallel adaptive mesh refinement. We introduce a novel scalable distributed-memory implementation of the resulting scheme on locally adapted Cartesian forest-of-trees meshes. We propose a two-step algorithm to construct the finite element space at hand by means of a discrete extension operator that carefully mixes aggregation constraints of problematic degrees of freedom, which get rid of the small cut cell problem, and standard hanging degree of freedom constraints, which ensure trace continuity on nonconforming meshes. Following this approach, we derive a finite element space that can be expressed as the original one plus well-defined linear constraints. Moreover, it requires minimum parallelization effort, using standard functionality available in existing large-scale finite element codes. Numerical experiments demonstrate its optimal mesh adaptation capability, robustness to cut location, and parallel efficiency, on classical Poisson hp-adaptivity benchmarks. Our work opens the path to functional and geometrical error-driven dynamic mesh adaptation with the aggregated finite element method in large-scale realistic scenarios. Likewise, it can offer guidance for bridging other scalable unfitted methods and parallel adaptive mesh refinement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)C203-C234
Number of pages32
JournalSIAM Journal on Scientific Computing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2021


  • Adaptive mesh refinement
  • Algebraic multigrid
  • Forest of trees
  • High performance scientific computing
  • Unfitted finite elements

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