The stationary monochromatic radiative transfer equation is stated in five dimensions, with the intensity depending on both a position in a three-dimensional domain as well as a direction. In order to overcome the high dimensionality of the problem, we propose and analyse a new multiscale Galerkin Finite Element discretizaton that, under strong regularity assumptions on the solution, reduces the complexity of the problem to the number of degrees of freedom in space only (up to logarithmic terms). The sparse tensor product approximation adapts the idea of so-called ‘Sparse Grids’ for the product space of functions on the physical domain and the unit sphere. We present some details of the sparse tensor product construction including a convergence result that shows that, assuming strong regularity of the solution, the method converges with essentially optimal asymptotic rates while its complexity grows essentially only as that for a linear transport problem. Numerical experiments in a translation invariant setting in non-scattering media agree with predictions of theory and demonstrate the superior performance of the sparse tensor product method compared to the discrete ordinates method.

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