MURI Highlights

  • More than 190 papers have been published or submitted on all six research areas of MURI.
  • More than 70 invited and plenary talks by MURI personnel.
  • Volume on numerical methods in Handbook of FPDEs.
  • Several mini-symposia and two workshops organized by MURI PIs.
  • New research focusing on 2D & 3D fractional Laplacians in bounded domains with emphasis on boundary conditions and their stochastic interpretation. 11-author revised paper.
  • New research focusing on machine learning, fractional photonics, stochastic fractional PDEs and opensource software enabled by the add-on funding.
  • Fractional models of turbulent polymer drag reduction at high Reynolds number.
  • Combine FPDE and molecular dynamics to efficiently simulate anomalous diffusive transport in heterogeneous porous materials with nanoscale pores.
  • Non-local modeling of ion diffusion in battery systems & experiments.
  • We discovered new fractional phase-field/non-local equations for interface problems.
  • New opensource software at Brown (fractional NEKTAR), Uath (Nektar++) and MSU (FracFit).

New publication

Anna Lischke, Guofei Pang, Mamikon Gulian, Fangying Song, Christian Glusa, Xiaoning Zheng, Zhiping Mao, Wei Cai, Mark M. Meerschaert, Mark Ainsworth, George Em Karniadakis. What Is the Fractional Laplacian? A comparative review with new results.


The fractional Laplacian in R^d , which we write as (−∆)α/2 with α ∈ (0, 2), has multiple equivalent characterizations. Moreover, in bounded domains, boundary conditions must be incorporated in these characterizations in mathematically distinct ways, and there is currently no consensus in the literature as to which definition of the fractional Laplacian in bounded domains is most appropriate for a given application. The Riesz (or integral) definition, for example, admits a nonlocal boundary condition, where the value of a function u(x) must be prescribed on the entire exterior of the domain in order to compute its fractional Laplacian. In contrast, the spectral definition requires only the standard local boundary condition. These differences, among others, lead us to ask the question: “What is the fractional Laplacian?” We compare several commonly used definitions of the fractional Laplacian, and we use a quantitative approach to identify their practical differences.

Indeed, the purpose of the present study is to identify features and differences in the solutions arising from the different commonly used definitions of the fractional Laplacian. This work provides useful information for researchers using the fractional Laplacian in developing new mathematical models, so that they may select the most appropriate definition for their application. We aim to compare different definitions on bounded domains using a collection of benchmark problems, in which we consider the fractional Poisson equation with both zero and nonzero boundary conditions, where the fractional Laplacian is defined according to the Riesz definition, the spectral definition, the directional definition, and the horizon-based nonlocal definition. We verify the accuracy of the numerical methods used in the approximations for each operator, and we focus on identifying differences in the features of the numerical solutions.

In this work, we provide a quantitative assessment of new numerical methods as well as available state-of-the-art methods for discretizing the fractional Laplacian, and we present new results on the differences in features, regularity, and boundary behaviors of solutions to equations posed with these different definitions. We present stochastic interpretations and demonstrate the equivalence between some recent formulations. Through our efforts, we aim to further engage the research community in open problems and assist practitioners in identifying the most appropriate definition and computational approach to use for their mathematical models in addressing anomalous transport in diverse applications.

PI: George Em Karniadakis

  • AAAS fellow, 2018
  • Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, 2017

PI: Qiang Du

  • AAAS fellow, 2018
  • AMS fellow, 2020
  • SIAM Review Digest Paper Award, 2020
  • ICM invited speaker, 2018

Congratulations to the lead PI George Karniadakis and collaborators for winning the Riemann-Liouville Award for their paper:

X. Zhao, X. Hu, W. Cai, and G. E. Karniadakis. Adaptive Finite Element Method for fractional differential equations using Hierarchical Matrices. arXiv preprint arXiv:1603.01358v1, 2016.

Winner of the Riemann-Liouville Award for the Best Application Paper at the International Symposium on Fractional Differentiation and Its Applications, Novi Sad, Serbia, July 2016.

Congratulations to the Advisory Committee Member Stewart Silling for winning the 2015 Belyschko prize

“For developing and demonstrating peri-dynamics as a new mechanic methodology for modeling fracture and high strain deformation in solids.”

Congratulations to PI Mark Meerschaert and collaborators for winning the Riemann-Liouville Award for their paper:

F. Sabzikar, M.M. Meerschaert, and J. Chen, Tempered Fractional Calculus, Journal of Computational Physics, Vol. 293 (2015), pp. 14–28, Special Issue on Fractional Partial Differential Equations.

Winner of the Riemann-Liouville Award for the Best Theory Paper at the International Symposium on Fractional Differentiation and Its Applications, Catania, Sicily, Italy, June 2014.