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Discussion topic for Module 1 of the course

Introduction to Finite Element Analysis



In the notes for module 1, Ive argued that the global equation set, KD = F, is singular,
and thus not solvable, as is. Singular, to review, means that the matrix K has no inverse,
hence we cannot isolate D on the left hand side for solution.

I went on to state that we rectify the situation by asserting boundary conditions, after
which we have a set of equations KD = F, which IS solvable. So, it seems obvious to me
that imposition of boundary conditions somehow alters the system of equations on some
fundamental level.

My question to you for discussion is this: how does the imposition of boundary
conditions make solution possible, and what would be the implications of asserting
different set of boundary conditions? Please back this up with a conceptual
example, where boundary conditions have a practical engineering interpretation.

As a concrete example, consider the following set of equations:
26
4 3
9
2
3
1
7
4 3
1
4 3
2
1
3
21
4
2
3
4
2
3
1
7
= + +
= +
= +
= + +
x x x x
x x
x x x
x x x x

which can be written in matrix-vector form as

(
(
(
(

26
7
1
21
4
3
2
1
1 9 3 1
1 1 0 0
1 2 0 3
2 4 3 7
x
x
x
x

The equation set above is NOT a result of any finite element analysis, it was merely
chosen by me to make a point. You may note, however, that the fourth line of the matrix
is a combination of the first three (specifically, its the first line, minus twice the second
line, plus the third line.) As a result, the set has a zero determinant, and thus the inverse
of the matrix does not exist.

Now, I submit that if we assert one value for any of the x terms, we come to a solvable
set. For example, if you try 1
1
= x , you can then solve to get 2
2
= x , 3
3
= x and 4
4
= x .
But what if you instead assert x
2
=1? How does this relate to practical engineering
situations?

I would like to see one answer to this question from each group, preferably before May
30 Please delegate one group member to send me a response, and I will look it over and
get back to you. I have arranged to have my response to this question posted on May 30.
If you wish to have more personal feedback from me, please contact me, or send your
group response.