Stability, Instability, and Error of the Force-based Quasicontinuum Approximation
M. Dobson, M. Luskin and C. Ortner
Archive for Rational Mechanics and Analysis, 197, 179–202 (2010).


Due to their algorithmic simplicity and high accuracy, force-based model coupling techniques are popular tools in computational physics. For example, the force-based quasicontinuum (QCF) approximation is the only known pointwise consistent quasicontinuum approximation for coupling a general atomistic model with a finite element continuum model. In this paper, we present a detailed stability and error analysis of this method. Our optimal order error estimates provide a theoretical justification for the high accuracy of the QCF approximation: they clearly demonstrate that the computational efficiency of continuum modeling can be utilized without a significant loss of accuracy if defects are captured in the atomistic region. The main challenge we need to overcome is the fact that the linearized QCF operator is typically not positive definite. Moreover, we prove that no uniform inf-sup stability condition holds for discrete versions of the W-1,W-p-W-1,W-q "duality pairing" with 1/p + 1/q = 1, if 1 <= p < infinity. However, we were able to establish an inf-sup stability condition for a discrete version of the W-1,W-infinity-W-1,W-1 "duality pairing" which leads to optimal order error estimates in a discrete W-1,W-infinity-norm.