Tensor PDE model of biological network formation

Jan Haskovec, Peter A. Markowich, Giulia Pilli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We study an elliptic-parabolic system of partial differential equations describing formation of biological network structures. The model takes into consideration the evolution of the permeability tensor under the influence of a diffusion term, representing randomness in the material structure, a decay term describing metabolic cost and a pressure force. A Darcy’s law type equation describes the pressure field. In the spatially two-dimensional setting, we present a constructive, formal derivation of the PDE system from the discrete network formation model in the refinement limit of a sequence of unstructured triangulations. Moreover, we show that the PDE system is a formal L2-gradient flow of an energy functional with biological interpretation, and study its convexity properties. For the case when the energy functional is convex, we construct unique global weak solutions of the PDE system. Finally, we construct steady state solutions in one- and multi-dimensional settings and discuss their stability properties.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1173-1191
Number of pages19
JournalCommunications in Mathematical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 11 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • General Mathematics


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