Ghost Point Diffusion Maps for Solving Elliptic PDEs on Manifolds with Classical Boundary Conditions

Shixiao Willing Jiang, John Harlim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In this paper, we extend the class of kernel methods, the so-called diffusion maps (DM) and its local kernel variants to approximate second-order differential operators defined on smooth manifolds with boundaries that naturally arise in elliptic PDE models. To achieve this goal, we introduce the ghost point diffusion maps (GPDM) estimator on an extended manifold, identified by the set of point clouds on the unknown original manifold together with a set of ghost points, specified along the estimated tangential direction at the sampled points on the boundary. The resulting GPDM estimator restricts the standard DM matrix to a set of extrapolation equations that estimates the function values at the ghost points. This adjustment is analogous to the classical ghost point method in a finite-difference scheme for solving PDEs on flat domains. As opposed to the classical DM, which diverges near the boundary, the proposed GPDM estimator converges pointwise even near the boundary. Applying the consistent GPDM estimator to solve well-posed elliptic PDEs with classical boundary conditions (Dirichlet, Neumann, and Robin), we establish the convergence of the approximate solution under appropriate smoothness assumptions. We numerically validate the proposed mesh-free PDE solver on various problems defined on simple submanifolds embedded in Euclidean spaces as well as on an unknown manifold. Numerically, we also found that the GPDM is more accurate compared to DM in solving elliptic eigenvalue problems on bounded smooth manifolds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-405
Number of pages69
JournalCommunications on Pure and Applied Mathematics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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