Detecting interfaces in a parabolic-elliptic problem from surface measurements

Florian Frühauf, Bastian Gebauer, Otmar Scherzer

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17 Scopus citations


Assuming that the heat capacity of a body is negligible outside certain inclusions the heat equation degenerates to a parabolic-elliptic interface problem. In this work we aim to detect these interfaces from thermal measurements on the surface of the body. We deduce an equivalent variational formulation for the parabolic-elliptic problem and give a new proof of the unique solvability based on Lions's projection lemma. For the case that the heat conductivity is higher inside the inclusions, we develop an adaptation of the factorization method to this time-dependent problem. In particular this shows that the locations of the interfaces are uniquely determined by boundary measurements. The method also yields to a numerical algorithm to recover the inclusions and thus the interfaces. We demonstrate how measurement data can be simulated numerically by a coupling of a finite element method with a boundary element method, and finally we present some numerical results for the inverse problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-836
Number of pages27
JournalSIAM Journal on Numerical Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Factorization method
  • Inverse problems
  • Parabolic-elliptic equation


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