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Some new approximation methods are described for harmonic functions corresponding to boundary values on the (unit) sphere. Starting from the usual Fourier (orthogonal) series approach, we propose here nonorthogonal expansions, i.e. series expansions in terms of overcomplete systems consisting of localizing functions. In detail, we are concerned with the so-called Gabor, Toeplitz, and wavelet expansions. Essential tools are modulations, rotations, and dilations of a mother wavelet. The Abel-Poisson kernel turns out to be the appropriate mother wavelet in approximation of harmonic functions from potential values on a spherical boundary.

A concept of generalized discrepancy, which involves pseudodifferential operators to give a criterion of equidistributed pointsets, is developed on the sphere. A simply structured formula in terms of elementary functions is established for the computation of the generalized discrepancy. With the help of this formula five kinds of point systems on the sphere, namely lattices in polar coordinates, transformed 2-dimensional sequences, rotations on the sphere, triangulation, and sum of three squares sequence, are investigated. Quantitative tests are done, and the results are compared with each other. Our calculations exhibit different orders of convergence of the generalized discrepancy for different types of point systems.

The basic theory of spherical singular integrals is recapitulated. Criteria are given for measuring the space-frequency localization of functions on the sphere. The trade off between space localization on the sphere and frequency localization in terms of spherical harmonics is described in form of an uncertainty principle. A continuous version of spherical multiresolution is introduced, starting from continuous wavelet transform corresponding to spherical wavelets with vanishing moments up to a certain order. The wavelet transform is characterized by least-squares properties. Scale discretization enables us to construct spherical counterparts of wavelet packets and scale discrete Daubechies" wavelets. It is shown that singular integral operators forming a semigroup of contraction operators of class (Co) (like Abel-Poisson or Gauß-Weierstraß operators) lead in canonical way to pyramyd algorithms. Fully discretized wavelet transforms are obtained via approximate integration rules on the sphere. Finally applications to (geo-)physical reality are discussed in more detail. A combined method is proposed for approximating the low frequency parts of a physical quantity by spherical harmonics and the high frequency parts by spherical wavelets. The particular significance of this combined concept is motivated for the situation of today" s physical geodesy, viz. the determination of the high frequency parts of the earth" s gravitational potential under explicit knowledge of the lower order part in terms of a spherical harmonic expansion.

Spline functions that approximate data given on the sphere are developed in a weighted Sobolev space setting. The flexibility of the weights makes possible the choice of the approximating function in a way which emphasizes attributes desirable for the particular application area. Examples show that certain choices of the weight sequences yield known methods. A convergence theorem containing explicit constants yields a usable error bound. Our survey ends with the discussion of spherical splines in geodetically relevant pseudodifferential equations.