Date of Award

August 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Bruce Wade

Committee Members

Kevin McLeod, Istvan Lauko, Lei Wang, Dexuan Xie


Exponential Differencing, Fractional Differential Equation, Mittag-leffler Function, Pattern Formation, Real Distinct Poles, Riesz Space Derivative


Nonlocality and spatial heterogeneity of many practical systems have made fractional differential equations very useful tools in Science and Engineering. However, solving these type of models is computationally demanding. In this work, we propose an exponential integrator method for nonlinear fractional reaction-diffusion equations. This scheme is based on using a real distinct poles discretization for the underlying matrix exponentials. Due to these real distinct poles, the algorithm could be easily implemented in parallel to take advantage of multiple processors for increased computational efficiency. The method is established to be second-order convergent; and proven to be robust for problems involving non-smooth/mismatched initial and boundary conditions and steep solution gradients. We examine the stability of the scheme through its amplification factor and plot the boundaries of the stability regions comparative to other second-order FETD schemes. This numerical scheme combined with fractional centered differencing is used for simulating many important nonlinear fractional models in applications. We demonstrate the superiority of our method over competing second order FETD schemes, BDF2 scheme, and IMEX schemes. Our experiments show that the proposed scheme is computationally more efficient (in terms of cpu time). Furthermore, we investigate the trade-off between using fractional centered differencing and matrix transfer technique in discretization of Riesz fractional derivatives.

The generalized Mittag-Leffler function and its inverse is very useful in solving fractional differential equations and structural derivatives, respectively. However, their computational complexities have made them difficult to deal with numerically. We propose a real distinct pole rational approximation of the generalized Mittag-Leffler function. Under some mild conditions, this approximation is proven and empirically shown to be L-Acceptable. Due to the complete monotonicity property of the Mittag-Leffler function, we derive a rational approximation for the inverse generalized Mittag-Leffler function. These approximations are especially useful in developing efficient and accurate numerical schemes for partial differential equations of fractional order. Several applications are presented such as complementary error function, solution of fractional differential equations, and the ultraslow diffusion model using the structural derivative. Furthermore, we present a preliminary result of the application of the M-L RDP approximation to develop a generalized exponetial integrator scheme for time-fractional nonlinear reaction-diffusion equation.