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On the spectral theory of positive operators and PDE applications

  • * Corresponding author: Xuefeng Wang

    * Corresponding author: Xuefeng Wang 

** Current address: School of Science and Engineering, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518172, China
Dedicated to the 70th birthday of Professor Wei-Ming Ni

KCC is supported by NSFC-11371038.
XFW is supported by NSFC-11671190 and NSFC-11731005

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  • The strong version of the Krein-Rutman theorem requires that the positive cone of the Banach space has nonempty interior and the compact map is strongly positive, mapping nonzero points in the cone into its interior. In this paper, we first generalize this version of the Krein-Rutman theorem to the case of "semi-strongly positive" operators; and we prove it in a totally elementary fashion. We then prove the equivalence of semi-strong positivity and irreducibility in a Banach lattice, linking the afore-mentioned result with the Krein-Rutman theorem for irreducible operators. One of the things we emphasize is to use "upper and lower spectral radii" to characterize, in the fashion of Collatz-Wielandt formula for nonnegative irreducible matrices, the principal eigenvalue of these operators. For reducible operators, we prove that the lower spectral radius always serves as the least upper bound of the set of eigenvalues pertaining to positive eigenvectors, and the upper spectral radius the greatest lower bound of the set. Finally, we demonstrate the full power of these Krein-Rutman theorems on some PDE examples such as elliptic eigenvalue problems on non-smooth domains, and cooperative systems which may or may not be fully coupled, by using as few PDE tools as possible.

    Mathematics Subject Classification: Primary: 47B65; Secondary: 47A75, 49R05, 35P05.


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