SPH Entropy Errors and the Pressure Blip
The spurious pressure jump at a contact discontinuity, in SPH
simulations of the compressible Euler equations is investigated. From
the spatiotemporal behaviour of the error, the SPH pressure jump is
likened to entropy errors observed for artificial viscosity based
finite difference/volume schemes. The error is observed to be
generated at start-up and dissipation is the only recourse to mitigate
We show that similar errors are generated for the Lagrangian plus remap version of the Piecewise Parabolic Method (PPM) finite volume code (PPMLR). Through a comparison with the direct Eulerian version of the PPM code (PPMDE), we argue that a lack of diffusion across the material wave (contact discontinuity) is responsible for the error in PPMLR. We verify this hypothesis by constructing a more dissipative version of the remap code using a piecewise constant reconstruction. As an application to SPH, we propose a hybrid GSPH scheme that adds the requisite dissipation by utilizing a more dissipative Riemann solver for the energy equation. The proposed modification to the GSPH scheme, and it’s improved treatment of the anomaly is verified for flows with strong shocks in one and two dimensions.
The result that dissipation must act across the density and energy equations provides a consistent explanation for many of the hitherto proposed “cures” or “fixes” for the problem.
keywords:SPH, GSPH, Pressure wiggling, Entropy errors
SPH solutions to the compressible Euler equations are characterized by
an anomalous “blip” or kink in the pressure at the contact
discontinuity. The density profile is accurate which means the
internal energy shows a corresponding heating/cooling to mirror the
pressure jump. The error, once introduced, neither grows nor
attenuates without dissipation and is simply advected with the
particles at the local material velocity. Monaghan and
Gingold Monaghan and Gingold (1983) were the first to observe this
behaviour when they applied SPH to simulate shock-tube problems.
Their observations lead them to ascribe the phenomenon to general
“starting” errors when discontinuous initial profiles are
used. Presumably, SPH struggles with the discontinuous thermal
energy. Resolving this behaviour has been the focus of numerous
researchers over the last thirty years as this is manifestly a grave
drawback of the method. Despite this error, SPH has been found to be
useful within the astrophysics community, it’s application often
preceded by “code-comparisons” with existing Eulerian
techniques. One of the early comparisons was undertaken by Davies et
al. M.B. Davies and M. Ruffert and W. Benz and E.
Müller (1993), who compared SPH simulations of stellar
collisions with the Piecewise Parabolic Method (PPM). They suggest
that the advantages of each approach are mutually exclusive, although
the two approaches were qualitatively similar. Caution is advised in
extending this observation for other calculations in which different
hydrodynamic effects determine the solution. About the same time,
Steinmetz and Müller M. Steinmetz and E. Müller (1993) had also suggested
that SPH and finite difference methods should be looked upon as
complimentary methods to solve hydrodynamic problems. In their seminal
work, Agertz et al. Agertz et al. (2007) performed a comprehensive
comparison of astrophysical codes (using GADGET Volker Springel (2005) for
SPH) for the simulation of interacting multi-phase fluids. The
un-physical pressure jump at a density gradient, as produced by SPH in
it’s standard formulation was found to render the method incapable of
resolving hydrodynamic instabilities like the Kelvin-Helmholtz (KHI)
or Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities (RTI). A similar comparison was
carried out by Tasker et al. Tasker et al. (2008) for test problems
with analytical solutions, therefore enabling a more quantitative
comparison. While SPH was found to be generally comparable in it’s
accuracy with the Eulerian schemes, a major difference was the
pressure jump at the contact discontinuity, which is absent for
grid-based codes. For the hydrodynamics of multi-phase fluids (more
generally at a density gradient), this spurious pressure jump behaves
like an artificial surface tension force, inhibiting the development
of density driven instabilities like KHI. In another study, Okamoto et
al. Takashi Okamoto and Adrian Jenkins and Vincent R. Eke and Vincent
Quils (2003) observed that the erroneous pressure jump can
also result in spurious momentum transfer across shearing flows,
significantly affecting numerical results. These code comparisons
rekindled the need to resolve the spurious pressure at the contact
discontinuity, with the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (KHI) often used
as a canonical “mixing” problem exposing the method’s
Among the many tricks for SPH M. Herant (1994), arguably the oldest one is a judicious use of artificial dissipation. Thermal conduction is as old as artificial viscosity itself with Monaghan Monaghan (1992) and Brookshaw Leigh Brookshaw (1994) being early advocates for it’s use in treating “wall-heating” errors. It has been used for example, by Sigalotti et al. Sigalotti et al. (2006, 2008) and Rosswog and Price Stephan Rosswog and Daniel Price (2007) for strong shock problems in hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics respectively. Addressing the mixing problem originally highlighted by Agertz et al. Agertz et al. (2007), Price Price (2008) demonstrated that a judicious use of thermal conduction enables a suitable description of density driven instabilities like KHI. The conduction terms are formulated using the signal-based artificial viscosity Monaghan (1997) and are constructed to result in a diffusion of energy across the contact discontinuity. The use of and need for similar thermal conduction terms was also suggested by Wadsley et al. Wadsley et al. (2008), García-Senz et al. García-Senz et al. (2009) and and Valcke et al. S. Valcke and S. De Rijcke and E. Rödiger and H. Dejonghe (2010) for mixing problems in astrophysics. Some authors also suggest that apart from the use of the thermal conduction, the magnitude of the pressure jump can be curtailed by relaxing the initial conditions and by using a modified kernel with an increased sampling. Thermal conduction is necessary for the long term simulation and to avoid “oily” S. Valcke and S. De Rijcke and E. Rödiger and H. Dejonghe (2010) or “gloopy” J. I. Read and T. Hayfield and O. Agertz (2010) features in the solution. Following Price, Valdarnini R. Valdarnini (2012), Kawata et al. D. Kawata and T. Okamoto and B.K. Gibson and D.J. Barnes and R. Cen (2013) and Rosswog Stephan Rosswog (2009) have also advocated the use of artificial thermal conduction. By using an error and stability analysis, Read et al. J. I. Read and T. Hayfield and O. Agertz (2010) showed that the inability of SPH to adequately resolve mixing was due in part to a “Local Mixing Instability” (LMI), whereby, particles are inhibited to mix on the kernel scale due to entropy conservation, which in turn results in a pressure discontinuity. The LMI is therefore another term for the pressure “blip” in the context of hydrodynamic mixing. The LMI was cured by using a modified density estimate, similar to that employed by Ritchie and Thomas Ritchie and Thomas (2001), to ensure a single valued pressure throughout the flow. The modified density approaches (Ritchie and Thomas (2001); Marri and White (2003); J. I. Read and T. Hayfield and O. Agertz (2010)) are designed for a more accurate density estimation for multi-phase fluids (mixing problems) in pressure equilibrium. Consequently, they perform poorly for flows with strong shocks. Indeed, in a recent article, Read and Hayfield J. I. Read and T. Hayfield (2012) discuss a new high-order dissipation switch for adaptive viscosity in which they forgo the modified density approach in favour of an artificial heating term as proposed by Price Price (2008).
Moving away from adding thermal conduction in a somewhat ad-hoc
manner, Price Price (2012) argues that the assumption of a
differentiable density is the cause of the spurious pressure jump. The
density estimate plays a central role in the variational formulation
of SPH and is used to define an implicit particle volume through the
ratio of particle mass to particle density. Saitoh and
Makino Takayuki R. Saitoh and Junichiro Makino (2013) took cue from this idea to develop a
density-independent SPH (DISPH) by replacing the mass density by an
equivalent pressure density and it’s arbitrary
function. Hopkins Philip F. Hopkins (2002) also considered the idea of
replacing the particle volume, traditionally defined by the mass
density, by an arbitrary smoothed function. A family of equivalent
Lagrangian schemes are derived by different choices of the
function. In particular, the pressure-entropy formulation was shown to
be superior at resolving mixing in the hydrodynamic context. However,
there appear to be problems for shocked flows (due to the
non-isentropic nature of the flow), similar to the modified density
approach occurs for this formulation as well Hu et al. (2014).
The SPH formulations discussed hitherto were of the variational kind
with the use of explicit dissipation
terms. Inutsuka Inutsuka (2002) developed an
artificial-viscosity free scheme that requires the solution of a
Riemann problem between interacting particle pairs. The Riemann solver
introduces the necessary and sufficient dissipation required to
stabilize the scheme. Although the pressure blip is present for these
Godunov SPH (GSPH) schemes, it is less pronounced. The result is a
more suitable description of fluid instabilities like KHI. Indeed, Cha
et al. Cha, S-H Shu-ichiro Inutsuka and Sergei
Nayakshin (2010) found GSPH to be superior to the
standard SPH for the development of KHI. They argue in favour of the
linear consistency in the GSPH momentum equation and a more accurate
Lagrangian function used in GSPH. Murante et al. G. Murante and S. Borgani and R. Brunino and S-H.
observed similar advantages of GSPH for the simulation of
hydrodynamical instabilities vis-a-vis standard SPH. Another
artificial-viscosity free SPH scheme was proposed by
Lanzafame G. Lanzafame (2010) by considering shock flows as
non-equilibrium events. The equation of state is reformulated
according to a Riemann problem to introduce the necessary
dissipation. Incidentally, these GodunovSPH schemes typically include
an implicit thermal conduction term which is known
(Price (2008)) to ameliorate the pressure jump. Indeed, the
authors have shown Kunal Puri and Prabhu Ramachandran (2013) that GSPH with a class of
approximate Riemann solvers is essentially equivalent to the standard
SPH with artificial viscosity and thermal conduction terms.
It is worth noting that despite the numerous efforts to address this
pressure jump, the error is at best ameliorated, with it’s adverse
effects kept to within acceptable limits. Care must be exercised with
the use of thermal conduction so as to avoid excessive smearing and a
resulting loss of accuracy. This is achieved through viscosity
limiters Lee Cullen and Walter Dehnen (2010); J. I. Read and T. Hayfield (2012); P.A. Taylor and J.C. Miller (2012); Price (2012) and solution
dependent conductivity coefficients
Sigalotti et al. (2008); Price (2012). Without a unifying theory
however, the different approaches seem serendipitous and somewhat
ad-hoc. Success of a particular method notwithstanding, a discernible
pattern among all proposed solutions is the introduction of a certain
dissipation into the equations of motion to handle the pressure
jump. The dissipation is introduced either in the form of an explicit
(Volker Springel (2010a); Price (2008, 2012)) or implicit (GSPH)
(Inutsuka (2002); Cha, S-H Shu-ichiro Inutsuka and Sergei
Nayakshin (2010); G. Murante and S. Borgani and R. Brunino and S-H.
Cha (2011)), or by more
subtle means via the state equation G. Lanzafame (2010), density
estimate J. I. Read and T. Hayfield and O. Agertz (2010) or particle
volume Takayuki R. Saitoh and Junichiro Makino (2013); Philip F. Hopkins (2002).
That dissipation can be used to progressively smear the pressure blip once it is created should be fairly obvious. A more fundamental question that can be asked perhaps, pertains to the origin of this error. Towards this goal, we search for similar behaviour in finite difference/volume schemes. These grid-based schemes have received a great deal of attention and success within the CFD community and it is therefore helpful to study them. In particular, if we can relate the SPH errors to those generated with a suitable finite volume scheme, we can gain new insights and a more satisfying explanation as to why the aforementioned approaches work.
As it turns out, a pressure blip, exactly analogous to SPH, is
produced when using the Lagrange plus Eulerian remap version of the
PPM code, PPMLR Colella, P and Woodward, P.R (1984); John Blondin (1990); Jim Stone (2003). Remap schemes
involve a Lagrangian advection step in which the cells move, followed
by a conservative remap onto the original Eulerian grid. We find
(agreeing with the argument of Davies et al. M.B. Davies and M. Ruffert and W. Benz and E.
Müller (1993)) it
highly unlikely that two fundamentally different approaches result in
the same erroneous features. Interestingly, the Eulerian version of
the PPM (PPMDE) and indeed, other Eulerian schemes
Toro (2009); LeVeque (2002) do not exhibit this anomaly. Lagrangian
finite difference codes have traditionally fallen out in favour of
their Eulerian counterparts and we are led to conjecture therefore
that the difference between the two versions of the PPM scheme can
provide an answer to origin of the pressure jump in SPH.
This work is outlined as follows. In Sec. 2, we use a
one-dimensional shock tube problem to provide numerical evidence to
the claim that PPMLR exhibits, qualitatively the same errors as the
SPH pressure jump at the contact discontinuity. In
Sec. 3, we use the spatiotemporal behaviour of
the SPH error to draw an analogy with “wall-heating” errors for
traditional finite difference schemes and argue that the pressure jump
is a result of a spurious entropy generation in the initial transient
phase of shock formation. In Sec. 4, through a
comparison of PPMLR and PPMDE schemes, a lack of diffusion in the
material wave (contact) is highlighted as the source of the error and
we demonstrate how it may be eliminated for PPMLR by using a more
diffusive Lagrangian advection step. Finally, in
Sec. 5, we use these ideas to propose a minor
modification to the GSPH scheme, where the requisite dissipation is
added through a suitable choice of an approximate Riemann solver
(similar to the method proposed by Shen et al. Zhijun Shen and Wei Yan and Guixia Lv (2010)). The
scheme is applied to standard test problems in one and two dimensions
to demonstrate it’s effectiveness in mitigating the pressure jump for
flows with strong shocks. We summarize this work in
Sec. 6, with conclusions drawn from this work and
suggestions for possible extensions. All numerical results presented
in this manuscript are generated using the code (SPH2D)
2 Numerical evidence of the pressure blip
In this section, we provide numerical evidence for the existence of the pressure discontinuity when using SPH and the Lagrange plus remap version of the Piecewise Parabolic Method (PPMLR Colella, P and Woodward, P.R (1984); John Blondin (1990)) finite difference code. The error is particularly severe for SPH and generally arises across a density gradient (contact discontinuity). We consider two one-dimensional shock tube problems that work well to highlight the anomalous behaviour. The initial conditions are defined with the the left (l) and right (r) states displayed in Table. 1
The first test is the famous Sod’s shock tube Gary A. Sod (1978)
problem. This test represents the bare minimum a numerical scheme for
the compressible Euler equations should hope to resolve. The initial
conditions result in a right moving contact discontinuity sandwiched
between a left moving rarefaction and a right moving shock wave. The
solution is self similar with four constant states separated by the
three waves. The second test is a more stringent version, referred to
as the blast-wave problem, in which the magnitude of the initial
pressure jump () is . The wave structure is similar
with a strong, right facing shock wave () moving into the low
For the SPH results, we use our SPH2D Kunal Puri and Prabhu Ramachandran (2014) code that implements the variational formulation described by Price Price (2012). Thermal conduction is turned off for both test problems to highlight the errors at the contact discontinuity. For the PPMLR method, we have used John Blondin’s VH-1 John Blondin (1990) and Jim Stone’s CMHOG Jim Stone (2003) codes independently to verify our results. Both codes implement the PPMLR algorithm proposed by Colella and Woodward Colella, P and Woodward, P.R (1984).
2.1 Test : Sod’s shock-tube problem
The numerical pressure profiles for the SPH and PPMLR schemes is shown in Fig. 1. The SPH simulation was performed using a total of particles. Initially, particles were placed to the left of the initial discontinuity () with spacing . The remaining particles were placed to the right of , with a spacing of . The particle mass was set equal to the inter-particle spacing so that reproduces the desired density. For the PPMLR results, we used a total of grid cells (zones). The pressure discontinuity is clearly visible for the SPH results. A close up of the solution in the vicinity of the contact is shown in the inset. For this relatively simple problem, PPMLR does not exhibit the anomalous pressure jump at the contact. The situation is different for the blast-wave problem discussed next.
2.2 Test : Blast-wave problem
Numerical pressure profiles for the SPH and PPMLR schemes are shown in Fig. 2. We notice that the blip which was absent in the PPMLR solution for the Sod’s shock-tube problem is now present. Another striking feature is the huge jump in the pressure for the SPH solution. The results were generated using a total of particles for SPH and grid cells for PPMLR. At the outset, it may seem that the SPH results are no-where in comparison to PPMLR but this is not the case. This is because the PPMLR scheme has an inherent diffusion for the thermal energy which works to dissipate the error with time. Recall that we explicitly switched off the thermal conduction for the SPH scheme. With a small amount of thermal conduction, the results of the two schemes are similar as
can be seen in Fig. 3, where the magnitude of the SPH pressure jump is dramatically reduced and is only slightly larger than that of the PPMLR scheme. Having established the presence of the numerical error for both schemes, we now proceed to a discussion on the nature of the error and provide an explanation for it’s occurrence.
3 A discussion on the error
In the previous section, we provided numerical evidence to support our original claim that the ubiquitous pressure jump at the contact discontinuity for SPH solutions, occurs for a class of finite difference schemes. In particular, the Lagrange plus remap version of the Piecewise Parabolic Method (PMPLR) results in an error remarkably similar to SPH. We note that although code comparisons for SPH and PPM in different contexts have previously been conducted (M.B. Davies and M. Ruffert and W. Benz and E. Müller (1993); O’Shea et al. (2005); Agertz et al. (2007); Tasker et al. (2008)), this error has rather strangely gone unnoticed or has not been reported. It is possible that the comparisons were carried out with the fully Eulerian version of PPM, as two step (Lagrange plus remap) codes have traditionally fallen out in favour of their fully Eulerian counterparts. Indeed, Woodward and Colella Woodward and Colella (1984), in their comparison of numerical schemes for flows with strong shocks showed that the cell-centred, direct Eulerian version of the PPM scheme (PPMDE) was the most accurate. In a more recent study, Pember and Anderson R.B. Pember and R.W. Anderson (2000) argue otherwise, stating that the two approaches yield generally equivalent results. Nevertheless, direct Eulerian schemes are undoubtedly more prevalent and higher order versions of these schemes do not exhibit the SPH-like pressure jump at the contact, as can be verified by any of the schemes presented in the monographs by Toro Toro (2009) and LeVeque LeVeque (2002). We believe the differences between the remap and direct Eulerian finite difference schemes could provide insight into the nature of the pressure jump in SPH. We would like to remind the reader that although we know of a suitable “fix” in the form of thermal conduction, we are looking for a consistent explanation for it’s origin and a justification for the myriad approaches outlined in the introduction.
3.1 The nature of the error
A natural question to ask of a numerical scheme is convergence to the physically correct solution. The pressure jump at the contact, being clearly erroneous, raises valid questions as to the behaviour of the error with the spatial resolution. It is instructive therefore, to catalogue known features of the pressure jump in the SPH context. We continue with the strong shock problem of Sec. 2.2 as the canonical example exposing this behaviour for SPH. Thermal conduction is switched off to avoid cosmetic smoothing of the results. Concerning the question of numerical convergence, we first examine the error as we increase the number of particles.
Fig. 4 shows the results for the blastwave problem when we have used , and particles respectively. The shock transition region is sharper with higher resolution as expected. We notice that the spread of the error reduces with increasing resolution but the peak point-wise error remains constant. Convergence in is therefore not possible in SPH. Convergence in with a convergence rate or approximately has been observed previously Volker Springel (2010a). The temporal behaviour of the error can be studied through Fig. 5, which shows snapshots of the pressure profile at the times , , and . These results highlight another feature of the error.
Namely, once the error is created, the pressure jump simply advects with the flow and neither grows nor attenuates without explicit thermal conduction. Artificial viscosity has no discernible effect on the solution. This is not surprising when we consider that the artificial viscosity is added to generate the correct entropy jump across the shock and therefore, has no effect at the contact discontinuity. To summarize, the pressure jump at the contact discontinuity, in the context of SPH has the following properties:
The error, once created is simply advected with the material velocity.
With the increase of spatial resolution, the spread of the error decreases whilst maintaining a constant peak magnitude.
Artificial viscosity has no role to play in suppressing or mitigating it’s effect.
3.2 The relation to wall-heating errors
A multi-valued pressure in the presence of an accurate density profile
results, in a corresponding jump in the thermal energy, via the
equation of state. The pressure jump in SPH can therefore be thought
of as a spurious heating/cooling of the fluid. For the numerical
solution of the compressible Euler equations, “wall-heating” is the
canonical term given to errors that result in a spurious rise in
thermal energy (heating). The problem has generated considerable
interest and has received the attention of several
researchers Willian J. Rider (2000). The term was coined by
Noh. W. H. Noh (1987) when he considered the problem of shock
reflection in planar, cylindrical and spherical geometries. The reason
for our interest in these errors is the similarity it bears with the
SPH errors at the contact discontinuity. For instance, under mesh
refinement, Noh observed that the overheating decreases in spatial
range while maintaining it’s peak point-wise value. This leads Noh to
conjecture that the error is built into the exact solution of the
modified viscous equations. He further argues that any numerical
method based on “shock-smearing” (artificial viscosity) will
demonstrate this error. By considering the asymptotic solution of the
governing equations with artificial viscosity,
Menikoff Ralph Menikoff (1994) argues that entropy errors, resulting in
spurious heating/cooling are generated not only for shock reflection,
but also for shock interaction or when a shock passes through a change
in mesh spacing. The errors are generated over a short transient phase
as a result of the numerical width of the shock. After the initial
transient phase, the entropy errors are frozen and simply
advected with the fluid and the only recourse is to add thermal
conduction which leads to a diffusion of the energy. A similar
analysis in Lagrangian coordinates was carried out by Shen et
al. Zhijun Shen and Wei Yan and Guixia Lv (2010). Once again, entropy errors were observed to
occur over a short, initial transient phase of shock
These observations for wall heating errors in the context of traditional finite volume methods bear a striking similarity to the SPH pressure/entropy errors. Thus, we conjecture that the SPH errors are a form of spurious heating that occurs in an initial transient phase. Once the entropy errors are generated, diffusion of entropy (thermal conduction) is the only recourse to mitigate it’s effect.
4 An Explanation for the Error
We argued that the pressure jump at the contact discontinuity for SPH
has symptoms of wall-heating errors previously observed for
traditional finite difference/volume codes. Essentially, an entropy
error is generated during the initial transient phase of shock
formation, the magnitude of which is independent of the spatial
resolution. After the initial transient, the error is convected along
the particle trajectories without dissipation. Monaghan and
Gingold. Monaghan and Gingold (1983) had originally ascribed this
anomalous behaviour for SPH, to generic “starting” errors. More than
twenty years later, Tasker et al. Tasker et al. (2008) had also
suggested that the discontinuous initial conditions give rise to an
entropy error. Since the errors are generated at start-up, and
subsequently passively advected with the particles, thermal conduction
is required to mitigate it’s effect. This was the also the conclusion
drawn by Noh. W. H. Noh (1987) when he proposed an artificial
heat flux for finite difference schemes. While this reasoning serves
to justify the artificial conductivity approach in treating the error,
it sheds no light onto the origins of the error. Towards this aim, we
adopt a different perspective by studying grid-based schemes.
Recall that in Sec. 2, the errors for the Lagrange plus Eulerian remap version of the PPM scheme (PPMLR) was shown to be qualitatively similar to those of SPH. Agreeing with the reasoning of Davies et al. M.B. Davies and M. Ruffert and W. Benz and E. Müller (1993), we find it highly unlikely that two fundamentally different schemes (SPH and PPMLR) would result in the same erroneous features. This leads us to believe that both schemes solve a similar modified equation, the solution of which exhibits the heating and corresponding pressure jump at the contact. A scaling argument similar to Noh. W. H. Noh (1987) shows that the magnitude of the error is independent of the spatial resolution. This justifies to some extent the claim that the error is built into the exact solution of the discrete SPH equations. It is therefore reasonable to assume that a solution to the problem within the finite volume context using PPMLR might provide clues for a similar resolution in SPH. This can be done by comparing the Lagrangian plus remap PPM scheme, PPMLR, with it’s direct Eulerian counterpart, PPMDE, for which the error is absent.
4.1 PPMLR and PPMDE
The Piecewise Parabolic Method (PPM) Colella, P and Woodward, P.R (1984) is a
high order, Godunov finite difference method that has, as it’s
building block, a third order advection scheme. Along with the
ENO/WENO type schemes Guang-Shan Jiang and Chi-Wang Shu (1996), PPM is considered to be a
highly accurate method for the compressible Euler equations
Woodward and Colella (1984). The scheme, as originally proposed by
Colella and Woodward Colella, P and Woodward, P.R (1984), can be formulated to
follow either Lagrangian or Eulerian hydrodynamics. Although the two
equation sets are mathematically the same, their numerical solutions
exhibit differences which we are interested in.
In what follows, we focus on the development of the one-dimensional PPM scheme since multi-dimensional extensions are constructed with the dimensional splitting approach. Thus, essential details of the method and the error producing mechanism in particular are contained within the one-dimensional scheme. In a such a scheme, the conserved variables are the specific volume , velocity , and the specific energy for the Lagrangian formulation, and density , momentum , and total energy , for the Eulerian formulation. Both versions of the PPM scheme (PPMLR, PPMDE) advance the solution (vector of conserved variables ) over physical zones or cells. The generic cell has it’s center at , left and right faces at and respectively and denotes the cell volume.
The conservative equations for Lagrangian hydrodynamics are given as
where is the specific volume, is the total energy per unit mass and the time
derivative is to be understood as a derivative moving with the fluid
(material derivative) . is the mass coordinate, which is
related to the spatial coordinate , through the transformation
. The system is hyperbolic with eigenvalues , and , where is the Lagrangian sound speed. The convective
terms are absent in this formulation which is reflected as a wave of
In PPMLR, the procedure to advance the solution is carried out in two steps. In the first step, piecewise parabolic interpolations of the pressure, velocity and density are used to compute the effective left and right states for a Riemann problem between two adjacent cells. Since the zone edge is moving with the fluid velocity, the input state is determined purely by the acoustic modes and . With the input (left, right) states constructed from the parabolic reconstructions, a Riemann problem is solved to calculate fluxes through the cell boundaries. The vector of conserved variables are updated using the conservative differencing equations:
In these equations, and denote the intermediate pressure and velocity that results from the solution to Riemann problem at a zone edge. Convection is introduced through the cell motion. After the advection step, the solution is conservatively re-mapped onto the original Eulerian grid. A necessary condition for high-order Godunov schemes, non-linearity is introduced by using limiters and monotonicity constraints in the piecewise parabolic data reconstruction.
The one-dimensional equations for Eulerian, inviscid hydrodynamics are given as
where the symbols have the same meaning and is the partial derivative with respect to time. The system of equations is again hyperbolic with eigenvalues , and , where , is the Eulerian sound speed. The procedure to update the solution in the one-step, direct Eulerian formulation is essentially the same as PPMLR. Piecewise parabolic interpolations of the dependent variables are used to compute effective left and right states for Riemann problems between adjacent cells. Zone fluxes, computed from the Riemann solution are used in a conservative differencing scheme.
The difference is in the construction of the input states for the Riemann problem. This is now more complicated than the Lagrangian case as there may now be as many as and as few as waves impinging on a zone edge from a given side. A consequence of this is that in general, for the input state at a given zone edge, contributions from each wave family must be accounted for Colella, P and Woodward, P.R (1984).
4.2 Diffusion in the material wave
Both PPMLR and PPMDE employ piecewise parabolic interpolations of the cell centered density, pressure and velocity to construct the input left and right states as integral averages over the characteristic domain of dependence. The domain of dependence for a given wave family is defined by tracing back the path of the wave if it impinges on the zone edge from a given side. For the Lagrangian formulation, we have two waves corresponding to the acoustic modes, and . The material wave is absent as the cells are assumed to move with the local fluid velocity (). For the Eulerian formulation, waves from each of the three families can impinge on an edge from a given side. The input state in this case is constructed such that the amount of wave associated with each family of characteristics transported across a zone edge is correct up to terms of second order Colella, P and Woodward, P.R (1984). Thus, the additional material wave must be accounted for in the Eulerian formulation. Diffusion across this wave is the main difference between the two versions of PPM. Indeed, Eulerian Godunov schemes are known to be more diffusive at the contact when compared to Lagrangian formulations. This was highlighted by Woodward and Colella Woodward and Colella (1984) and later by Pember and Anderson R.B. Pember and R.W. Anderson (2000), when they compared remap and direct Eulerian finite volume schemes.
This suggests a lack of dissipation is actually the cause of
the SPH-like entropy error for PPMLR as observed in
Sec. 2. It was suggested by Jim Stone (private
communication, August 2013) that the low dissipation in PPM causes
these “start-up” errors. The discontinuous initial conditions gives
rise to additional waves on a discrete level which is captured by the
low dissipative schemes like PPMLR. One is then tempted to verify the
hypothesis by constructing a more diffusive version of the PPMLR
scheme. The easiest way to do this is to use a piecewise constant
reconstruction instead of the parabolic reconstruction used in PPMLR.
Results for the blast-wave problem using such a scheme (PCMLR) is shown
in Fig. 6. The solution is expectedly less
crisp than PPMLR but remarkably, the pressure jump at the contact is
eliminated. We note that it is not possible for the remap phase of
PPMLR to introduce the error. This is because remapping can be viewed
as a projection and is inherently a diffusive process. As a result, no
new extrema can occur in this step. The error is therefore generated
in the Lagrangian advection phase.
What does dissipation in the material wave look like? To answer this question, we consider the eigenstructure of the equations in the Lagrangian formulation (Eq. 1). The right and left eigenvectors for this hyperbolic system is given as (Willian J. Rider (1994))
where is the Lagrangian sound speed. A conservative finite volume scheme with a general diffusive flux contribution can be defined as
where the caret denotes a suitably averaged value at the zone interface . This is the numerical flux for linearized schemes such as Roe’s scheme P.L. Roe (1981) and is applicable to SPH Monaghan (1997); Kunal Puri and Prabhu Ramachandran (2013). The diffusive flux in Eq. 6 computes jumps across each wave family. The magnitude of the jump (wave strength), , is weighted by the wave speed. The final contribution to the conserved variables is determined by the right eigenvector for that wave family. For the Lagrangian scheme, this contribution vanishes for the material wave (), since . This is the contribution we are interested in, the algebraic form of which is given by
Due to the structure of the right eigenvector ( in Eq. 5), the dissipation acts on the first and third components of . For the Lagrangian formulation, these are the specific volume , and total energy per uni mass respectively. Thus, dissipation in the material wave would result in an additional density and energy diffusion simultaneously that is absent in a purely Lagrangian formulation.
5 Application to SPH
The lack of dissipation in the material wave, coupled with the low diffusion of PPMLR is responsible for the entropy errors, and hence the SPH-like pressure jump at the contact. The introduction of dissipation helped eliminate the error for the finite volume remap code in Sec. 4. It is then reasonable to assume that an improvement of results can be expected for SPH if this dissipation is somehow introduced. Indeed, this has been the adopted practice within the SPH community, with dissipation often introduced directly through thermal conduction Sigalotti et al. (2006); Price (2008); Wadsley et al. (2008); García-Senz et al. (2009); Stephan Rosswog (2009); S. Valcke and S. De Rijcke and E. Rödiger and H. Dejonghe (2010); J. I. Read and T. Hayfield (2012), or via surrogate means such as using a smoother estimate to define particle volume Takayuki R. Saitoh and Junichiro Makino (2013); Philip F. Hopkins (2002), relaxing initial conditions S. Valcke and S. De Rijcke and E. Rödiger and H. Dejonghe (2010); J. I. Read and T. Hayfield and O. Agertz (2010) and a modification to the equation of state G. Lanzafame (2010). The problem with the dissipation introduced in these schemes is that they appear serendipitous and their reasoning belies the simplicity of the SPH formulation. The requirement that dissipation should act across the material wave provides a consistent explanation as to why the aforementioned approaches work. From Eq. 7, we know that a combination of dissipation in the density and energy variables is required to suppress the entropy errors. Dissipation for velocity (artificial viscosity) has no role to play. This was verified numerically in Sec. 3. Armed with this knowledge, we can attempt to introduce the requisite dissipation in a consistent manner for SPH, thereby validating our hypothesis.
5.1 Adding diffusion to SPH
We consider the GSPH formulation Inutsuka (2002) with an approximate Riemann solver. We have shown (Kunal Puri and Prabhu Ramachandran (2013)) that with a suitable choice of an approximate Riemann solver, this formulation is equivalent to a variational SPH scheme with artificial dissipation and thermal conduction. The advantage of this formulation is the explicit control of the dissipation through numerical fluxes akin to finite difference/volume schemes. The discrete SPH equations in this formulation, for the density, velocity and thermal energy are given as
where, the starred quantities () are the
intermediate state arising from the solution of a Riemann problem
between two interacting particles. The solution to the Riemann problem
introduces the minimum and necessary dissipation required to stabilize
We follow the approach proposed by Shen et al. Zhijun Shen and Wei Yan and Guixia Lv (2010) by constructing a hybrid scheme in which a regular Riemann solver is used in the momentum equation equation, and a diffusive Riemann solver is used for the energy equation. Recall that the flux vector for the conservative equations in the Lagrangian formulation are . Thus, using a more dissipative intermediate velocity is akin to introducing dissipation in the density and energy equations. In Kunal Puri and Prabhu Ramachandran (2013), we evaluated different approximate Riemann solvers in Lagrangian coordinates for use with GSPH. From an analysis of an accuracy test for the Euler equations, we find that the Harten, Lax, van Leer and Einfeldt (HLLE) Willian J. Rider (1994) solver is a suitable choice for the diffusive approximate Riemann solver. For the regular Riemann solver, we can use any one from the exact Van Leer B (1997), Ducowicz John K. Dukowicz (1985) or Roe P.L. Roe (1981) approximate Riemann solvers.
We construct such a scheme, where the two approximate Riemann solvers used are the van Leer exact and the HLLE approximate Riemann solver. In particular, the diffusive contribution is constructed as
where, is the final time in the simulation. This corresponds to a linear blending of the two estimates with a more diffusive estimate used in the initial stages of the computation. Since the errors are expected to be generated at start-up, the blending avoids excessive dissipation that may ruin the solution. Fig. 7 shows the numerical pressure profiles for the standard (blue) and hybrid GSPH (green), compared with the exact solution (red), when using equal mass particles. As expected, the dissipation helps to suppress the entropy error, with only a slight kink visible in the inset plot.
The suppression of the pressure jump at the contact discontinuity does not have an adverse effect on the profiles of the other physical variables as can be seen in Fig. 8, which shows the numerical solution for the hybrid GSPH scheme (dots), compared with the exact solution (red line). The dissipation has the desired effect of acting on the contact discontinuity as can be observed by the slightly smeared density and thermal energy profiles. near .
We would like to point out that this method produces improved results than with using a traditional scheme with larger thermal conduction parameters. Fig. 9 shows the result of simply increasing the thermal conduction parameter , for the variational scheme of Monaghan, Price and Morris Monaghan (1997); Morris and Monaghan (1997); Price (2012).
Larger values of the thermal conduction parameter works to supress the presure discontinuity as expected. However, results in an unwanted dip in the velocity profile at the contact discontinuity. This behaviour has been recently reported by Sirotkin and Yoh Sirotkin and Yoh (2013) in their SPH scheme with approximate Riemann solvers. In comparison, the hybrid GSPH scheme (cf Fig. 8) does not produce this behaviour.
5.2 Consequences of adding dissipation
The linear blending of the two estimates for through Eq. 9 was shown to work well to suppress the pressure jump for the one-dimensional blast-wave problem. Since the errors are expected to be generated at start-up, it’s use can be detrimental for long time simulations.
For example, Fig. 10 shows the density profiles for the Woodward and Colella blast-wave problem Woodward and Colella (1984); Kunal Puri and Prabhu Ramachandran (2014) using standard GSPH (blue) and the hybrid modification (green) at the time . The extra dissipation in the hybrid scheme has resulted in an excessive smearing of the contact discontinuities near and , and a loss of detail within the region . Note that adding dissipation to the material wave (contact discontinuity) is exactly what we set out to do, although Eq. 9 results in an over diffusive scheme. This can be corrected by defining the intermediate states as
This corresponds to an exponential decay with time, for the diffusive component. The parameter , controls the rate of decay (growth) of the two velocity estimates, with higher values resulting in a more rapid decay (growth).
Fig. 11 shows the density profiles at for the same problem when we have this blending function with
. The density profile for the hybrid GSPH (green) scheme
is expectedly more crisp with an improved agreement with the second
order GSPH (blue) scheme in the region .
Fig. 11 shows the density profiles at for the same problem when we have this blending function with
. The density profile for the hybrid GSPH (green) scheme
is expectedly more crisp with an improved agreement with the second
order GSPH (blue) scheme in the region .
We concede that a tuning parameter to control dissipation perhaps goes against the ethos of a GSPH scheme that is inherently parameter free. While one can argue that the choice of the Riemann solver itself in the GSPH scheme can be thought of as a parameter, the issue we want to highlight is the subtle role of dissipation, that is needed for stability but criticized when used in excess. An ideal scheme should use just the right amount of dissipation for all problems, the requisite amount, in turn, ideally determined by the scheme itself (adaptive schemes). High-order Godunov methods (MUSCL, PPM, ENO/WENO) are generally accepted to fit this ideal. However, Quirk Quirk (1992) famously pointed out several instances where these schemes fail or produce erroneous results. Moreover, he suggests that most of these errors can be overcome by a judicious use of artificial dissipation. The trick is to avoid a proliferation of tuning parameters to determine the requisite dissipation. We are faced with a similar conundrum while constructing our hybrid GSPH scheme. Dissipation must be somehow introduced into the purely inviscid equations and in this work we have argued in favour of a specific form, acting across the energy and density variables to suppress entropy errors. Given the transient nature of the error, we are forced to introduce a parameter that limits the extra dissipation to when it is needed.
5.3 Extension to higher dimensions
We used the one-dimensional blast-wave problem as the canonical test highlighting the SPH entropy errors. The manner in which we chose to introduce the dissipation is however, not limited to the one-dimensional case. This can bee seen in Fig. 12, which shows the numerical (dots) pressure for the hybrid scheme (green) compared with the reference second order GSPH scheme (blue) with the van Leer Riemann solver, for a two-dimensional blastwave problem.
For the hybrid scheme, we use the exponential smoothing given by Eqs. 10 with , and choose the HLLE solver as the diffusive Riemann solver. The suppression of the pressure blip has no discernible adverse effect on the other variables as can be seen in Fig. 13, which shows the density (left), velocity (center) and thermal energy (right) for the hybrid GSPH scheme (lower panel), compared with a second order GSPH scheme using the van Leer exact Riemann solver (upper panel).
The hybrid scheme eliminates the spike in the thermal energy behind the contact. Additionally, analogous to the one-dimensional case, the contact discontinuity is slightly smeared as can be seen in the density plot around . The results were generated using a total of equal mass particles initially distributed in a hexagonal close paced arrangement.
6 Summary and further work
In this work, we attempted to provide an explanation for the origin of
the ubiquitous pressure jump in SPH simulations of the compressible
Euler equations. The anomalous behaviour has been observed since the
dawn of SPH Monaghan and Gingold (1983) and has received attention
ever since. It has been highlighted as a drawback of the method when
compared with traditional Eulerian
schemes Agertz et al. (2007); Tasker et al. (2008), and has led some researchers to
develop particle tessellation techniques as an alternative to
SPH Volker Springel (2010b); Steffen Heß and Volker Springel (2010). Within the SPH
community, the use of dissipation, introduced via various means has
been the general recourse to mitigate the effects of the
Through an analogy with “wall heating” errors for finite
difference/volume codes, we argued that the pressure jump is a result
of entropy errors generated over an initial transient phase and
thereafter, passively advected with the particles. We highlighted that
a qualitatively similar error is present for the Lagrange plus remap
version of the Piecewise Parabolic Method (PPM) finite volume code
PPMLR. Through a comparison of PPMLR with it’s direct Eulerian
counterpart, PPMDE, a lack of diffusion across the material wave was
identified as the origin for the error. By examining the
eigenstructure of the Lagrangian equations of motion, we showed that
the requisite diffusion needs to act on the density and energy
equations simultaneously. This explanation also justifies the myriad
techniques employed by different researchers to “cure” the
problem. Using our hypothesis, we construct a hybrid GSPH scheme that
introduces the requisite dissipation by using a more diffusive flux
for the energy equation. We verified our hypothesis by using the
blast-wave problem as the canonical test highlighting the pressure
anomaly in SPH. The results using the new scheme are shown to be
better than simply increasing the magnitude of thermal conduction for
SPH schemes that rely on explicit dissipation. A tuning
parameter is introduced to limit the dissipation to the initial stages
of the computation.
We expect the added dissipation to be disadvantageous for certain problems. An example is the Sjögreen’s strong rarefaction test (1-2-3 problem Toro (2009)), for which, numerical dissipation should be kept to a minimum. Indeed, one of the advantages of the SPH artificial viscosity is the ability to switch it off entirely when not required. Additionally, we believe that the hybrid GSPH scheme can certainly be improved upon by using an alternative hybridization to Eqs. 10. These equations were constructed for the specific example to validate our hypothesis concerning the origin of the spurious pressure jump in SPH. The construction of an adaptive hybridization and validation for a general suite of multi-dimensional problems is left as an area for future investigation.
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