Calculus of Variations and Geometric Measure Theory

J. M. Morel - F. Santambrogio

The regularity of optimal irrigation patterns

created by santambro on 06 Jun 2007
modified on 14 Jan 2009


Accepted Paper

Inserted: 6 jun 2007
Last Updated: 14 jan 2009

Journal: Arch. Ration. Mech. Anal.
Year: 2008


A branched structure is observable in draining and irrigation systems, in electric power supply systems and in natural objects like the blood vessels, the river basins or the trees. Recent approaches of these networks derive their branched structure from an energy functional whose essential feature is to favor wide routes. Given a flow $s$ in a river, a road, a tube or a wire, the transportation cost per unit length is supposed in these models to be proportional to $s^\alpha$ with $0<\alpha<1$.

The aim of this paper is to prove the regularity of paths (rivers, branches,...) when the irrigated measure is the Lebesgue density on a smooth open set and the irrigating measure is a single source. In that case we prove that all branches of optimal irrigation trees satisfy an elliptic equation and that their curvature is a bounded measure. In consequence all branching points in the network have a tangent cone made of a finite number of segments, and all other points have a tangent. An explicit counterexample disproves these regularity properties for non-Lebesgue irrigated measures.

Keywords: Branched transport, regularity, blow-up, BV functions of one variable