WIAS Preprint No. 1126, (2006)

Continuum descriptions for the dynamics in discrete lattices: Derivation and justification


  • Giannoulis, Johannes
  • Herrmann, Michael
  • Mielke, Alexander
    ORCID: 0000-0002-4583-3888

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 34C20 34E13 37K60 37K05 70F45 70K70


  • Discrete lattice systems, modulation equations, Hamiltonian structure, multiscale ansatz, dispersive wave propagation




The passage from microscopic systems to macroscopic ones is studied by starting from spatially discrete lattice systems and deriving several continuum limits. The lattice system is an infinite-dimensional Hamiltonian system displaying a variety of different dynamical behavior. Depending on the initial conditions one sees quite different behavior like macroscopic elastic deformations associated with acoustic waves or like propagation of optical pulses. We show how on a formal level different macroscopic systems can be derived such as the Korteweg-de Vries equation, the nonlinear Schroedinger equation, Whitham's modulation equation, the three-wave interaction model, or the energy transport equation using the Wigner measure. We also address the question how the microscopic Hamiltonian and the Lagrangian structures transfer to similar structures on the macroscopic level. Finally we discuss rigorous analytical convergence results of the microscopic system to the macroscopic one by either weak-convergence methods or by quantitative error bounds.

Appeared in

  • Analysis, Modeling and Simulation of Multiscale Problems, A. Mielke, ed., Springer, Heidelberg, 2006, pp. 435--466

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