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Mathematica will not, in general, do arbitrary order interpolation on unstructured grids:

<< NDSolve`FEM`
f[x_, y_] := (1 - x^2 + y^2);
mesh = ToElementMesh[Disk[]];
coords = mesh["Coordinates"];
vals = f @@ # & /@ coords;
if = Interpolation[MapThread[{#1, #2} &, {coords, vals}], InterpolationOrder -> 2]

results in a message saying Interpolation::udeg: Interpolation on unstructured grids is currently only supported for InterpolationOrder->1 or InterpolationOrder->All. Order will be reduced to 1.

On the other hand if I use ElementMeshInterpolation:

emif2 = ElementMeshInterpolation[{mesh}, vals, InterpolationOrder -> 2]

It seems to have no problem. It also seems to only actually give the first order interpolation no matter what I specify. If I plot the difference between Interpolation and ElementMeshInterpolation run at first and second order I get identical plots.

if1 = Interpolation[MapThread[{#1, #2} &, {coords, vals}], InterpolationOrder -> 1]    
emif1 = ElementMeshInterpolation[{mesh}, vals, InterpolationOrder -> 1]
emif2 = ElementMeshInterpolation[{mesh}, vals, InterpolationOrder -> 2]
GraphicsGrid[{{ContourPlot[emif1[x, y] - if1[x, y], {x, y} \[Element] Disk[]], 
   ContourPlot[emif2[x, y] - if1[x, y], {x, y} \[Element] Disk[]]}}]

enter image description here

Is ElementMeshInterpolation silently falling back to 1st order? Is there any way to get higher order interpolations on an unstructured grid?

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  • $\begingroup$ if you generally mean "arbitrary," then, no, the interpolation order can only be 1 or 2, and it depends on the order of the underlying mesh. OTOH, your example seems to raise a more particular question. $\endgroup$ – Michael E2 Aug 24 '18 at 1:11
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ElementMeshInterpolation seems to default to the order of the underlying mesh, which is 2 in the example. Alter the order of mesh to get an order 1 mesh & interpolation, and you can construct two different interpolations.

mesh1 = MeshOrderAlteration[mesh, 1];
vals1 = f @@@ mesh1["Coordinates"];

if1 = Interpolation[MapThread[{##} &, {coords, vals}], InterpolationOrder -> 1];
emif1 = ElementMeshInterpolation[{mesh1}, vals1, InterpolationOrder -> 1];
emif2 = ElementMeshInterpolation[{mesh}, vals, InterpolationOrder -> 2];
GraphicsGrid[{{ContourPlot[
    emif1[x, y] - if1[x, y], {x, y} \[Element] Disk[]], 
   ContourPlot[emif2[x, y] - if1[x, y], {x, y} \[Element] Disk[]]}}]

Mathematica graphics

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  • $\begingroup$ You may want to compare emif1 and emif2 with if1 = Interpolation[MapThread[{##} &, {mesh1["Coordinates"], vals1}], InterpolationOrder -> 1]. For some reason, I didn't grok the purpose of the plots at first. $\endgroup$ – Michael E2 Aug 24 '18 at 12:41

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