Duality in finite element exterior calculus and Hodge duality on the sphere

Yakov Berchenko-Kogan

Finite element exterior calculus refers to the development of finite element methods for differential forms, generalizing several earlier finite element spaces of scalar fields and vector fields to arbitrary dimension $n$, arbitrary polynomial degree $r$, and arbitrary differential form degree $k$. The study of finite element exterior calculus began with the $\mathcal P_r\Lambda^k$ and $\mathcal P_r^-\Lambda^k$ families of finite element spaces on simplicial triangulations. In their development of these spaces, Arnold, Falk, and Winther rely on a duality relationship between $\mathcal P_r\Lambda^k$ and $\mathring{\mathcal P}_{r+k+1}^-\Lambda^{n-k}$ and between $\mathcal P_r^-\Lambda^k$ and $\mathring{\mathcal P}_{r+k}\Lambda^{n-k}$. In this article, we show that this duality relationship is, in essence, Hodge duality of differential forms on the standard $n$-sphere, disguised by a change of coordinates. We remove the disguise, giving explicit correspondences between the $\mathcal P_r\Lambda^k$, $\mathcal P_r^-\Lambda^k$, $\mathring{\mathcal P}_r\Lambda^k$ and $\mathring{\mathcal P}_r^-\Lambda^k$ spaces and spaces of differential forms on the sphere. As a direct corollary, we obtain new pointwise duality isomorphisms between $\mathcal P_r\Lambda^k$ and $\mathring{\mathcal P}_{r+k+1}^-\Lambda^{n-k}$ and between $\mathcal P_r^-\Lambda^k$ and $\mathring{\mathcal P}_{r+k}\Lambda^{n-k}$, which we illustrate with examples.

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