# Numerically solving the Laplace equation in a 2d cylinder

Consider the following Laplace equation and boundary condition $$$$\begin{cases} \Delta \theta(r,\phi)=0 \\ \int d \vec{\ell}\cdot\nabla \theta(r,\phi)=2\pi \end{cases}$$$$ where $$\phi\in[0,2\pi)$$, $$r\in[0,\infty)$$ and the integral is over a circular contour of constant $$r$$ around the origin such that $$d\vec{\ell}=rd\phi \hat{\phi}$$ with $$\hat{\phi}$$ a unit vector in direction $$\phi$$. The solution to this equation is simply $$\theta(r,\phi)=\phi$$.

I want to learn how to solve this equation numerically in Mathematica and (approximately) recreate the solution in Cartesian coordinates. To this end, I'm taking a cylindrical domain with an annulus to avoid problems at $$r=0$$. The outer radius is $$R_{1}=1$$ and the inner radius is $$R_{0}=0.1$$. The domain looks like this

Following Solve Laplace equation in Cylindrical - Polar Coordinates, I seem to get the correct solution in polar coordinates but not in Cartesian coordinates and I don't understand why.

Any help is appreciated.

In Polar coordinates I get

and in Cartesian coordinates I get

This is the code in polar coordinates

R1 = 1; R0 = 0.1;
regionCyl =
DiscretizeRegion[
RegionDifference[
ImplicitRegion[
0 <= r <= R1 && 0 <= \[Phi] <= 2 \[Pi], {r, \[Phi]}],
ImplicitRegion[
0 <= r <= R0 && 0 <= \[Phi] <= 2 \[Pi], {r, \[Phi]}]],
PrecisionGoal -> 6];
laplacianCil = Laplacian[\[Theta][r, \[Phi]], {r, \[Phi]}, "Polar"];
boundaryConditionCil = {DirichletCondition[\[Theta][
r, \[Phi]] == \[Phi], {r == R0, 0 <= \[Phi] <= 2 \[Pi]}],
DirichletCondition[\[Theta][r, \[Phi]] == \[Phi], {r == R1,
0 <= \[Phi] <= 2 \[Pi]}]};
solCyl = NDSolveValue[{laplacianCil == 0,
boundaryConditionCil}, \[Theta], {r, \[Phi]} \[Element] regionCyl,
MaxSteps -> Infinity];
potentialSquareRepresentation =
ContourPlot[
solCyl[r, \[Phi]], {r, \[Phi]} \[Element] solCyl["ElementMesh"],
ColorFunction -> "Temperature", Contours -> 20,
PlotLegends -> Automatic];
potentialCylindricalRepresentation =
Show[potentialSquareRepresentation /.
GraphicsComplex[array1_, rest___] :>
GraphicsComplex[(#[[1]] {Cos[#[[2]]], Sin[#[[2]]]}) & /@ array1,
rest], PlotRange -> Automatic]


and this is the code in Cartesian coordinates

R1 = 1; R0 = 0.1;
regionCyl =
DiscretizeRegion[
RegionDifference[ImplicitRegion[Sqrt[x^2 + y^2] <= R1, {x, y}],
ImplicitRegion[Sqrt[x^2 + y^2] <= R0, {x, y}]],
PrecisionGoal -> 7];
laplacian = Laplacian[\[Theta][x, y], {x, y}];
boundaryCondition = {DirichletCondition[\[Theta][x, y] ==
ArcSin[y/Sqrt[x^2 + y^2]], {Sqrt[x^2 + y^2] == R0,
0 <= y/Sqrt[x^2 + y^2] <= 2 \[Pi]}],
DirichletCondition[\[Theta][x, y] ==
ArcSin[y/Sqrt[x^2 + y^2]], {Sqrt[x^2 + y^2] == R1,
0 <= y/Sqrt[x^2 + y^2] <= 2 \[Pi]}]};
sol = NDSolveValue[{laplacian == 0,
boundaryCondition}, \[Theta], {x, y} \[Element] regionCyl,
MaxSteps -> Infinity];
DensityPlot[sol[x, y], {x, y} \[Element] regionCyl,
ColorFunction -> "TemperatureMap", PlotLegends -> Automatic,
ImageSize -> Medium]

• It's not about the solution NDSolveValue being incorrect (I haven't checked but it lookes plausible to me.) The problem is that the pde you gave cannot be interpreted as a pde on the annulus: The boundary condition forbids that. In fact, $(r,\varphi) \mapsto \varphi$ is not a harmonic function on the annulus, in particular, because it must have a jump. Feb 13, 2019 at 13:35
• @HenrikSchumacher Then I don't understand why the solution in polar coordinates does agree with the analytical solution (in an infinite domain). How would you model this problem numerically? Feb 13, 2019 at 13:52

In Cartesian coordinates, the solution $$\theta$$ has a gap on the line $$y=0$$.To get a solution, you need to make a cut and define a solution on both sides of the cut, for example:

R1 = 1; y0 = 0.01;
regionCyl =
DiscretizeRegion[
RegionDifference[ImplicitRegion[Sqrt[x^2 + y^2] <= R1, {x, y}],
ImplicitRegion[-R1 <= x <= 0 && -y0 <= y <= y0, {x, y}]]];
laplacian = Laplacian[\[Theta][x, y], {x, y}];
boundaryCondition = {DirichletCondition[\[Theta][x, y] ==
ArcTan[x, y], x^2 + y^2 == R1^2],
DirichletCondition[\[Theta][x, y] == Pi, y == y0],
DirichletCondition[\[Theta][x, y] == -Pi, y == -y0]};
sol = NDSolveValue[{laplacian == 0,
boundaryCondition}, \[Theta], {x, y} \[Element] regionCyl,
Method -> {"FiniteElement",
"InterpolationOrder" -> {\[Theta] -> 2},
"MeshOptions" -> {"MaxCellMeasure" -> 0.0001}}];

{DensityPlot[sol[x, y], {x, y} \[Element] regionCyl,
ColorFunction -> "TemperatureMap", PlotLegends -> Automatic,
ImageSize -> Medium],
ContourPlot[sol[x, y], {x, y} \[Element] regionCyl,
ColorFunction -> "TemperatureMap", PlotLegends -> Automatic,
ImageSize -> Medium, Contours -> 20]}


• I see your point. Thanks @Alex Trounev Feb 14, 2019 at 12:18
• @AsafMiron You're welcome! Feb 14, 2019 at 12:22
• just wondering, is it straightforward to generalize this solution if instead of the Laplace equation theta I have two coupled nonlinear PDE for theta and another field? Feb 17, 2019 at 18:44
• Does this other field depend on theta and also have a gap? Feb 17, 2019 at 19:46
• Both fields are coupled by non-linear equations and depend on both x and y. I'm interested in boundary conditions that, similarly to my original post, are equal to $\phi$ along a circle centered around $x=x_{0},y=0$ and $-\phi$ along a circle centered around $x=-x_{0},y=0$. Thus, there is a gap along the interval $[-x_{0},x_{0}]$. Both circles have radius $R_{0}$ which is much smaller than $R_{1}$, the large outer circle radius. Feb 18, 2019 at 7:43