*Published Paper*

**Inserted:** 21 may 2019

**Last Updated:** 11 oct 2020

**Journal:** Calc. Var.

**Volume:** 59

**Number:** 138

**Year:** 2020

**Doi:** https://doi.org/10.1007/s00526-020-01782-w

**Abstract:**

We study variational problems involving nonlocal supremal functionals $L^\infty(\Omega;\mathbb{R}^m) \ni u\mapsto {\rm ess sup}_{(x,y)\in \Omega\times \Omega} W(u(x), u(y)),$ where $\Omega\subset \mathbb{R}^n$ is a bounded, open set and $W:\mathbb{R}^m\times\mathbb{R}^m\to \mathbb{R}$ is a suitable function. Motivated by existence theory via the direct method, we identify a necessary and sufficient condition for $L^\infty$-weak$^\ast$ lower semicontinuity of these functionals, namely, separate level convexity of a symmetrized and suitably diagonalized version of the supremands. More generally, we show that the supremal structure of the functionals is preserved during the process of relaxation. Whether the same statement holds in the related context of double-integral functionals is currently still open. Our proof relies substantially on the connection between supremal and indicator functionals. This allows us to recast the relaxation problem into characterizing weak$^\ast$ closures of a class of nonlocal inclusions, which is of independent interest. To illustrate the theory, we determine explicit relaxation formulas for examples of functionals with different multi-well supremands.

**Keywords:**
Lower Semicontinuity, Supremal functionals, nonlocality, nonlocal inclusions, generalized notions of convexity

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