Vol. 14, No. 2, 2021

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Observability of the heat equation, geometric constants in control theory, and a conjecture of Luc Miller

Camille Laurent and Matthieu Léautaud

Vol. 14 (2021), No. 2, 355–423

We are concerned with the short-time observability constant of the heat equation from a subdomain ω of a bounded domain . The constant is of the form e𝔎T , where 𝔎 depends only on the geometry of and ω. Luc Miller (J. Differential Equations 204:1 (2004), 202–226) conjectured that 𝔎 is (universally) proportional to the square of the maximal distance from ω to a point of . We show in particular geometries that 𝔎 may blow up like |log(r)|2 when ω is a ball of radius r, hence disproving the conjecture. We then prove in the general case the associated upper bound on this blowup. We also show that the conjecture is true for positive solutions of the heat equation.

The proofs rely on the study of the maximal vanishing rate of (sums of) eigenfunctions. They also yield lower and upper bounds for other geometric constants appearing as tunneling constants or approximate control costs.

As an intermediate step in the proofs, we provide a uniform Carleman estimate for Lipschitz metrics. The latter also implies uniform spectral inequalities and observability estimates for the heat equation in a bounded class of Lipschitz metrics, which are of independent interest.

observability, eigenfunctions, spectral inequality, heat equation, tunneling estimates, control cost
Mathematical Subject Classification 2010
Primary: 35K05, 35L05, 35P20, 93B05, 93B07
Received: 3 June 2018
Revised: 6 August 2019
Accepted: 21 November 2019
Published: 20 March 2021
Camille Laurent
CNRS UMR 7598 and Sorbonne Université UPMC, Paris 06
Laboratoire Jacques-Louis Lions
Matthieu Léautaud
Laboratoire de Mathématiques d’Orsay
Université Paris-Sud
Université Paris-Saclay