Abstract:
We present some recent existence results for the variational model of crack growth in brittle materials proposed by Francfort and Marigo in 1998. These results, obtained in collaboration with Francfort and Toader, cover the case of arbitrary space dimension with a general quasiconvex bulk energy and with prescribed boundary deformations and applied loads.

Abstract:
The first part of the course is devoted to the study of solutions to the Laplace equation in $\Omega\setminus K$, where $\Omega$ is a two-dimensional smooth domain and $K$ is a compact one-dimensional subset of $\Omega$. The solutions are required to satisfy a homogeneous Neumann boundary condition on $K$ and a nonhomogeneous Dirichlet condition on (part of) $\partial\Omega$. The main result is the continuous dependence of the solution on $K$, with respect to the Hausdorff metric, provided that the number of connected components of $K$ remains bounded. Classical examples show that the result is no longer true without this hypothesis. Using this stability result, the second part of the course develops a rigorous mathematical formulation of a variational quasi-static model of the slow growth of brittle fractures, recently introduced by Francfort and Marigo. Starting from a discrete-time formulation, a more satisfactory continuous-time formulation is obtained, with full justification of the convergence arguments.

Abstract:
Given an elliptic operator~$L$ on a bounded domain~$\Omega \subseteq {\bf R}^n$, and a positive Radon measure~$\mu$ on~$\Omega$, not charging polar sets, we discuss an explicit approximation procedure which leads to a sequence of domains~$\Omega_h \subseteq \Omega$ with the following property: for every~$f\in H^{-1}(\Omega)$ the sequence~$u_h$ of the solutions of the Dirichlet problems~$L\, u_h=f$ in~$\Omega_h$, $u_h=0$ on~$\partial \Omega_h$, extended to 0 in~$\Omega \setminus \Omega_h$, converges to the solution of the \lq\lq relaxed Dirichlet problem\rq\rq\ $L\,u+\mu u=f$ in~$\Omega$, $u=0$ on~$\partial \Omega$.

Abstract:
We give a precise mathematical formulation of a variational model for the irreversible quasi-static evolution of a brittle fracture proposed by G.A. Francfort and J.-J. Marigo, and based on Griffith's theory of crack growth. In the two-dimensional case we prove an existence result for the quasi-static evolution and show that the total energy is an absolutely continuous function of time, although we can not exclude that the bulk energy and the surface energy may present some jump discontinuities. This existence result is proved by a time discretization process, where at each step a global energy minimization is performed, with the constraint that the new crack contains all cracks formed at the previous time steps. This procedure provides an effective way to approximate the continuous time evolution.

Abstract:
This paper is devoted to the autonomous Lagrange problem of the calculus of variations with a discontinuous Lagrangian. We prove that every minimizer is Lipschitz continuous if the Lagrangian is coercive and locally bounded. The main difference with respect to the previous works in the literature is that we do not assume that the Lagrangian is convex in the velocity. We also show that, under some additional assumptions, the DuBois-Reymond necessary condition still holds in the discontinuous case. Finally, we apply these results to deduce that the value function of the Bolza problem is locally Lipschitz and satisfies (in a generalized sense) a Hamilton-Jacobi equation.

Abstract:
We study a variant of the variational model for the quasi-static growth of brittle fractures proposed by Francfort and Marigo. The main feature of our model is that, in the discrete-time formulation, in each step we do not consider absolute minimizers of the energy, but, in a sense, we look for local minimizers which are sufficiently close to the approximate solution obtained in the previous step. This is done by introducing in the variational problem an additional term which penalizes the $L^2$-distance between the approximate solutions at two consecutive times. We study the continuous-time version of this model, obtained by passing to the limit as the time step tends to zero, and show that it satisfies (for almost every time) some minimality conditions which are slightly different from those considered in Francfort and Marigo and in our previous paper, but are still enough to prove (under suitable regularity assumptions on the crack path) that the classical Griffith's criterion holds at the crack tips. We prove also that, if no initial crack is present and if the data of the problem are sufficiently smooth, no crack will develop in this model, provided the penalization term is large enough.

Abstract:
In this note we consider a free discontinuity problem for a scalar function, whose energy depends also on the size of the jump. We prove that the gradient of every smooth local minimizer never exceeds a constant, determined only by the data of the problem.

Abstract:
In this paper we introduce a notion of unilateral slope for the Mumford-Shah functional, and provide an explicit formula in the case of smooth cracks. We show that the slope is not lower semicontinuous and study the corresponding relaxed functional.

Abstract:
In this paper we study the quasistatic crack growth for a cohesive zone model. We assume that the crack path is prescribed and we study the time evolution of the crack in the framework of the variational theory of rate-independent processes.

Abstract:
We give a precise mathematical formulation of a variational model for the irreversible quasi-static evolution of brittle fractures proposed by G.A. Francfort and J.-J. Marigo, and based on Griffith's theory of crack growth. In the two-dimensional case we prove an existence result for the quasi-static evolution and show that the total energy is an absolutely continuous function of time, although we can not exclude that the bulk energy and the surface energy may present some jump discontinuities. This existence result is proved by a time discretization process, where at each step a global energy minimization is performed, with the constraint that the new crack contains all cracks formed at the previous time steps. This procedure provides an effective way to approximate the continuous time evolution.