Cambridge Journal of Mathematics

Volume 8 (2020)

Number 2

Non-concavity of the Robin ground state

Pages: 243 – 310



Ben Andrews (Mathematical Sciences Institute, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia; and Yau Mathematical Sciences Center, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)

Julie Clutterbuck (School of Mathematics, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia)

Daniel Hauer (School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia)


On a convex bounded Euclidean domain, the ground state for the Laplacian with Neumann boundary conditions is a constant, while the Dirichlet ground state is log-concave. The Robin eigenvalue problem can be considered as interpolating between the Dirichlet and Neumann cases, so it seems natural that the Robin ground state should have similar concavity properties. The aim of this paper is to show that this is false by analyzing the perturbation problem from the Neumann case. First, we classify all convex polyhedral domains on which the first variation of the ground state with respect to the Robin parameter at zero is not a concave function. Then, we conclude from this that the Robin ground state is not $\operatorname{log}$-concave (and indeed even has some superlevel sets which are non-convex) for small Robin parameter on polyhedral convex domains outside a special class, and hence also on convex domains with smooth boundary which approximate these in Hausdorff distance.


eigenfunction, eigenvalue problem, Robin boundary condition, concavity, quasiconvexity

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

35B65, 35J15, 35J25, 47A75

The research of the first author was supported by grants DP120102462 and FL150100126 of the Australian Research Council.

The research of the second author was supported by grant FT1301013 of the Australian Research Council.

Received 20 February 2019

Published 21 April 2020