A note on a paper by Babuska

This is a post regarding the paper Efficient Preconditioning for the $p$-Version Finite Element Method in Two Dimensions. In Lemma 3.3, the basis required is the bubble (or interior) polynomials, the set of edge functions orthogonal to the interiors, and linear (of bilinear) functions.

The edge functions orthogonality is explicitly stated as $\hat a(u, v) = 0$ for all $u \in \Gamma_i$ (edge space) and $v \in \mathcal{I}$ interior space. A very natural question is why the vertex functions does not need to be orthogonal to the interior functions. The fun fact is that it secretly is.

Note that the paper is for the $H^1$ semi-norm, hence $\hat a(u, v) = \int_T \nabla u \nabla v \, dx$. Now let $u$ be a hat (or bilinear) function, and let $v \in \mathcal{I}$. Then we have that
\begin{align*}
\int_T \nabla u \nabla v = \int_{\partial T} u \partial_n v – \int_T \Delta u v = 0.
\end{align*}
The first term is 0 due to the bubble functions vanishing on the boundary, and that $\Delta u = 0$ because it is linear.

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