Skip to main content

Theory and Modern Applications

  • Research Article
  • Open access
  • Published:

Notes on the Propagators of Evolution Equations


We consider the propagator of an evolution equation, which is a semigroup of linear operators. Questions related to its operator norm function and its behavior at the critical point for norm continuity or compactness or differentiability are studied.

1. Introduction

As it is well known, each well-posed Cauchy problem for first-order evolution equation in Banach spaces


gives rise to a well-defined propagator, which is a semigroup of linear operators, and the theory of semigroups of linear operators on Banach spaces has developed quite rapidly since the discovery of the generation theorem by Hille and Yosida in 1948. By now, it is a rich theory with substantial applications to many fields (cf., e.g., [16]).

In this paper, we pay attention to some basic problems on the semigroups of linear operators and reveal some essential properties of theirs.

Let be a Banach space.

Definition 1.1 (see [16]).

A one-parameter family of bounded linear operators on is called a strongly continuous semigroup (or simply -semigroup) if it satisfies the following conditions:

  1. (i)

    , with ( being the identity operator on X) ,

  2. (ii)

    for ,

  3. (iii)

    the map is continuous on for every .

The infinitesimal generator of is defined as


with domain


For a comprehensive theory of -semigroups we refer to [2].

2. Properties of the Function  

Let be a -semigroup on and define for . Clearly, from Definition 1.1 we see that

  1. (I)

    , for ;

  2. (II)

    for .

Furthermore, we can infer from the strong continuity of that

  1. (III)

    is lower-semicontinuous, that is,


    In fact,


    holds for all with . Thus, taking the supremum for all with on the left-hand side leads to (2.1).

We ask the following question

For every functionsatisfying,, and, does there exist asemigroupon some Banach spacesuch thatfor all?

We show that this is not true even if is a finite-dimensional space.

Theorem 2.1.

Let be an -dimensional Banach space with . Let


Then satisfies (I), (II), and (III), and there exists no semigroup on such that for all .


First, we show that satisfies (I), (II), and (III). (I) is clearly satisfied.

To show (III) and (II), we write




hence satisfies (III).

For (II), suppose , and consider the following four cases.

Case 1 ( and ).

In this case


that is,


Case 2 ( and ).





and is a convex function on . So by Jensen's inequality, we have


that is,




that is, .

Case 3 (, but and ).

It follows from Case 2 that


Case 4 ().

Again we have


Next, we prove that there does not exist any semigroup on such that . Suppose for some semigroup on and let be its infinitesimal generator.

First we note from (2.3) that


for every , while


By the well-known Lyapunov theorem [2, Chapter I, Theorem ], all eigenvalues of (the infinitesimal generator of ) have negative parts for every . Letting be the eigenvalues of , we then have


and this implies that


It is known that there is an isomorphism of onto such that


where is the Jordan block corresponding to . Therefore




where is the order of . Then is a th nilpotent matrix with for each . According to (2.20) and (2.18), we have




we see that




which is a contradiction to (2.16).

Open Problem 1.

Is it possible that there exists an with and a semigroup on such that for all ?

3. The Critical Point of Norm-Continuous (Compact, Differentiable) Semigroups

The following definitions are basic [16].

Definition 3.1.

A -semigroup is called norm-continuous for if is continuous in the uniform operator topology for .

Definition 3.2.

A -semigroup is called compact for if is a compact operator for .

Definition 3.3.

A -semigroup is called differentiable for if for every , is differentiable for .

It is known that if a -semigroup is norm continuous (compact, differentiable) at , then it remains so for all . For instance, the following holds.

Proposition 3.4.

If the map is right differentiable at , then it is also differentiable for .

Therefore, if we write


and suppose (, ), then (, ) takes the form of for a nonnegative real number . In other words, if (, ), then is norm continuous (compact, differentiable) on the interval but not at any point in . We call the critical point of the norm continuity (compactness, differentiability) of operator semigroup .

A natural question is the following

Suppose thatis the critical point of the norm continuitycompactness, differentiabilityof the operator semigroup. Isalso norm continuous (compact, differentiable) at? Of course, concerning norm continuity or differentiability at we only mean right continuity or right differentiability.

We show that the answer is "yes" in some cases and "no" for other cases.

Example 3.5.

Let and


Then clearly for . Moreover, is not norm continuous (not compact, not differentiable) for any since


for sufficiently small , where


Therefore, in this case we have . Since , we see that is compact and is differentiable at from the right.

Example 3.6.



with supremum norm. For any set


Then, is compact (hence norm-continuous) for since is the operator-norm limit of a sequence of finite-rank operators:




So the critical point for compactness and norm continuity is . However, the infinitesimal generator of is given by




In view of that is unbounded, we know that is not norm continuous at .

For differentiability, we note that is differentiable at if and only if for each . From


it follows that when , for every . On the other hand, when and is any nonzero constant sequence, . Therefore the critical point for differentiability is . But is not differentiable at .


  1. Davies EB: One-Parameter Semigroups, London Mathematical Society Monographs. Volume 15. Academic Press, London, UK; 1980:viii+230.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Engel K-J, Nagel R: One-Parameter Semigroups for Linear Evolution Equations, Graduate Texts in Mathematics. Volume 194. Springer, New York, NY, USA; 2000:xxii+586.

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  3. Fattorini HO: The Cauchy Problem, Encyclopedia of Mathematics and Its Applications. Volume 18. Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass, USA; 1983:xxii+636.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Goldstein JA: Semigroups of Linear Operators and Applications, Oxford Mathematical Monographs. The Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press, New York, NY, USA; 1985:x+245.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Hille E, Phillips RS: Functional Analysis and Semi-Groups, American Mathematical Society Colloquium Publications, vol. 31. American Mathematical Society, Providence, RI, USA; 1957:xii+808.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Pazy A: Semigroups of Linear Operators and Applications to Partial Differential Equations, Applied Mathematical Sciences. Volume 44. Springer, Berlin, Germany; 1983:viii+279.

    Book  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors acknowledge the support from the NSF of China (10771202), the Research Fund for Shanghai Key Laboratory of Modern Applied Mathematics (08DZ2271900), and the Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (2007035805).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ti-Jun Xiao.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lin, Y., Xiao, TJ. & Liang, J. Notes on the Propagators of Evolution Equations. Adv Differ Equ 2010, 795484 (2010).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: