The Finite Element Method: An Introduction

Dr. Garth N. Wells

University of Cambridge and Delft University of Technology

c G. N. Wells 2009


. . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . .5 Numerical integration . . . . . . . . .4 Isoparametric mapping . . . . . . . 5 Implementation of the finite element 5. .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Tensor basics . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . 7 7 13 15 16 19 21 21 23 25 26 27 28 29 31 31 32 33 34 35 35 37 49 50 54 57 60 63 63 64 65 70 71 73 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Minimisation of potential energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 General finite element basis functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . 1. . . .7 Exercises . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Galerkin method Approximate solution . . . . . . . . .1 One-dimensional bar . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The 3. 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Continuum elasticity . . . . . .4 Essentials from continuum mechanics 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Finite element method with piecewise linear basis functions 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Exercises . . . . . . 4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. . . . . 6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 5 . . . . . . . . . . . .3 3. . . . . . . . . .5 Post-processing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Vector calculus . . . 2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.4 Stiffness matrix storage . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Linear algebra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Program flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Preprocessing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Governing equations . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Local-global .2 3. . . . . . . . Basic error analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Poisson equation . . .Contents 1 Introduction 1.5 Regularity requirements . . . . . Convergence of the Galerkin method Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . .6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . .4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics . . . . . . . .2 Iterative solvers . . . . . . . . Shell elements . . . . . . . . Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 January 21. . . . . .1 LU-decomposition . . . . . 9. . . .2 Heat equation . . . 8 Solvers for large linear systems 111 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 113 116 117 118 119 124 124 125 6 Version 0. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Space-time formulations . . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . . . .1 A priori error estimation . . . . . 7. . . . . 111 8. . . . . . . . . . .1 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 105 107 108 109 7 Analysis of the finite element method 7.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . 73 . . . . . . . . . . .1 Elastodynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Plate . . . . . . 104 . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . .5 Rod elements in space Beams . . . . . . . 9. . . .3 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 . . . . . . .5 Time stepping algorithms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 6. . . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 9 Time-dependent problems 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 6. . . . . . . .3 Adaptivity . . . . .2 A posteriori error estimation . . . . . . . 76 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Contents 6. . . .

s.1. f . This chapter establishes the notation used in these notes and reviews the basic tools needed to develop and understand the finite element method. a Cartesian. making it well suited to efficient computer implementation. It is particularly suited for solving partial differential equations on complex geometries. b. Students will develop an understanding of the fundamentals underlying the finite element method and commercial finite element software. This simplifies vector and tensor operations considerably as the basis vectors can be ignored and operations expressed in terms of indices only. orthonormal basis is assumed. It also provides a reference point for later developments in the text. u. which for simplicity is assumed to be orthonormal. 1. The underlying mathematics of the method are introduced and details of its computer implementation are discussed. What is the finite element method? The finite element method (FEM) is a numerical method for solving partial differential equations. and are generally denoted by lowercase bold characters. The finite element method differs from the commonly used finite difference method as it is based on a variational formulation. (1. it is closely related to the concepts of energy and virtual work. b.1 Introduction This course provides an introduction to the finite element method for linear problems. x. and possibly an extension of familiar concepts.1) Vectors involve components and a basis. (1. When applied for solving problems in solid and structural mechanics. Orthonormal basis vectors are shown in Figure 1. a. as are commonly encountered in solid and structural mechanics.2) 7 . This course also provides a foundation to the more advanced courses. The application of the finite element method leads to systems (often very large) of linear equations (matrices) which can be solved using a computer. Scalars are denoted by italic type face. a. such as ‘Finite element methods for nonlinear analysis’ (CT5142).1 Tensor basics Throughout these notes. The material should serve as a review. The procedure can be largely automatised.

(1. a·b = (1.6) ∑ a i b i = a 1 b1 + a 2 b2 + a 3 b3 . x = √ x · x. i =1 3 (1. i =1 n (1.3) Consider the dot product between two vectors a and b. a= a1 . ai where i runs from one to n. where repeated indices imply summation: a·b = For n = 3. 2011 . A vector a in an n-dimensional space R n can be expressed in terms of its components.1: Example of orthonormal base vectors.2 January 21. In the case n = 2.1 Introduction x2 a e2 = [0 1 0] e1 = [1 0 0] x1 e3 = [0 0 1] x3 Figure 1. which is denoted a · b.4) The dot product of two vectors is given by: a · b = a i bi .7) 8 Version 0.5) ∑ a i bi . and is defined through the operation which gives the length x of a vector x. a2 (1.

1 Tensor basics For an orthonormal basis.12) Second-order tensors are linear operators that act upon vectors. R (1. a = Ab = Aij b j = ∑ Aij bj j =1 n (1. in the vein of matrix multiplication. M.8) can be used. At times.9) Second-order tensors (which possess some similar properties to matrices) are generally denoted by uppercase bold characters.10) As with vectors. K.17) (1.13) where n is the dimension of the vector b. the dot product maybe written as a T b. A31 A32 A33 (1. allowing the base vectors to be discarded and the more familiar notation a · b = ai b j δij = ai bi . which is expressed as D = AB. and in index notation as Dij = Aik Bkj . Second-order tensors can be multiplied.11) (1.14) January 21. (1. The transpose of a tensor is denoted by the superscript ‘T’. 0 if i = j. ei · e j = δij . Consider the case a = ABc = Dc. (1. A.15) (1. A = Aij . 2011 Version 0.2 9 . a second-order tensor A can be expressed in terms of components. The symbol δij is known as the Kronecker delta: δij = 1 if i = j.1.16) (1. It is defined by: a · Bc = Bc · a = c · B T a. (1. A second-order tensor A takes the vector b and transforms it into the vector a. Aij . The second-order tensor A in R3 can be expressed as   A11 A12 A13 A = Aij =  A21 A22 A23  .

22) Using the trace. which is equivalent to Aij = ai b j . tr ( a ⊗ b) = ai bi and tr ( A) = Aii .1 Introduction In terms of indices: Aij T = A ji .18) The transpose of a second-order tensor implies interchanging the rows and columns of its components. For two second-order tensors in R2 . an operation similar to the dot product of two vectors.24) (1.2 January 21. It also yields a scalar.20) The trace of a second-order tensor is essentially the summation of its diagonal components. is provided for two second-order tensors. (1. (1.27) This operation has no equivalent in matrix-vector convention.28) 10 Version 0. A = a ⊗ b. i =1 j =1 n n (1. It is defined by: A : B = tr A T B .23) (1. this implies: tr ( A) = A11 + A22 + A33 . The repeated i and j indices implies: Aij Bij = (1. A useful identity involving the transpose is: ( AB) T = B T A T .26) (1.25) ∑ ∑ Aij Bij . 2011 . This is equivalent to A : B = Aij Bij . (1. A : B = A11 B11 + A12 B12 + A21 B21 + A22 B22 . = ai b j . For a second-order tensor A in R3 . For example.19) Second-order tensors can be formed through the dyadic production of two vectors. an inner product. (1.21) (1. (1.

34) (1.1 Tensor basics The identity tensor I is defined by: a = Ia. Another important operation is the cross.33) (1. is equal to the identity tensor. If any of the indices are repeated. Eijk = 1. (1. A third-order tensor can be defined which will make manipulations more convenient.30) (1.32) As will be shown in the following section.31) Second-order tensors are often characterised by their special properties.29) A second-order tensor A. k} is odd.2 (1. A third-order tensor maps a second-order tensor to a first order tensor. It is defined for a. k} is even. b ∈ R3 by:   a 2 b3 − a 3 b2 (1. If the permutation {i. and if the permutation {i. matrices which rotate the reference frame are orthogonal. j.35) [ a × b ] =  a 3 b1 − a 1 b3  . A tensor A is orthogonal if: A T = A −1 . AA−1 = A−1 A = I. and is equal to I = δij ei ⊗ e j . j. or vector. Eijk = 0. product. The result of the above equation is rather simple. The cross product of two vectors yields a vector. (1. January 21. Using index notation. (1. The cross product can be introduced via the third-order tensor E . E : ( a ⊗ b) = a × b.37) 11 . Eijk = −1.1. a 1 b2 − a 2 b1 Such a definition however is not convenient for manipulation. The components of E are given by: [E ] = Eijk = ei · e j × ek . 2011 Version 0. A matrix A is symmetric if: A T = A. multiplied by its inverse A−1 .36) The expression for E in terms of the basis ei is lengthy and not shown here. (1. a tensor Aij is symmetric if: Aij = A ji . A common third-order tensor is the alternating (or permutation) tensor E .

2: Rotation between coordinate systems. ′ the components ai are given by ′ ai = Q ji a j . which is orthogonal.2 January 21. due to physical symmetries.39) Fortunately. the components in ei system are known. Consider the orthonormal coordinate systems in Figure 1.1 Introduction x2 ′ e2 = [− sin θ cos θ ] e2 = [0 1] ′ e1 = [cos θ sin θ ] θ e1 = [1 0] x1 Figure 1. it will not be necessary to manipulate fourthorder tensors directly. A : B = Aijk Bjk . Defining Qij by Qij = ei · e′j . it is convenient to rotate the coordinate frame. This operation is particularly important when considering moments. Vector and tensor components can be rotated (change of basis) using a rotation matrix Q. 2011 .38) In elasticity. Coordinate transformations For many problems. For an orthonormal basis. ′ and it would be convenient to have the components in the ei system. Consider that for a vector a.40) (1. They are related to each other via a fourth-order tensor. denoted here as C . (1. (1. (1.41) 12 Version 0.2. C = Cijkl . the stress and strain are second-order tensors. in terms of indices. It may prove convenient to transform vector components relative to the ei system to components ′ in the ei system.

2 Vector calculus which can also be expressed as: a′ = Q T a. (1. QQ T = Q T Q = I.xyy .2 (1.xx . components in the rotated reference frame can be transformed back to the original reference frame by: a = Qa′ .45) At times it is necessary to also rotate the components of a second-order tensor from one coordinate system to another. ∂x ∂4 u ∂2 u = u.46) Often coordinate transforms are used to simplify a problem. (1. January 21. It is expressed as: ∇ · a.49) 13 . = u.47) (1. Q= ′ e1 · e1 ′ e2 · e1 ′ e1 · e2 cos θ ′ = sin θ e2 · e2 (1. 0. Consider a function u which is dependent on the position x.42) − sin θ . ∂x2 ∂x4 ∂2 u ∂3 u = u. 2011 Version 0. = u.2. Considering the coordinate systems illustrated in Figure 1. (1. cos θ (1. 0 . The divergence of a vector field a yields a scalar. An example is a onedimensional rod element in a three-dimensional space.1. which effectively reduces the three-dimensional problem to a one-dimensional problem. Some of its derivatives can be written as: ∂u = u. ∂x∂y ∂x∂y2 (1. Characters after a comma in the subscript denote differentiation with respect to that variable. This is done by the operation: A′ = Q T AQ. and A = QA′ Q T .xy .2 Vector calculus Subscripts are commonly used as a short-hand notation for derivatives.xxxx . 1. An important operator is the divergence.44) Therefore.48) This notation is used commonly throughout these notes. It is convenient to rotate the ′ reference such such the position along the bar is given by [ x]′ = x1 .x .43) and note that Q is orthogonal.

  ∂A11 + ∂A12 ∂x ∂x2  .i .52) For a two-dimensional tensor A. In a three-dimensional space.51) The divergence of a second-order tensor is given by: ∇·A = ∂Aij = Aij. In a three-dimensional space. ∇ · A =  ∂A 1 ∂A22 21 ∂x + ∂x 1 2 (1. ∇ · a is equal to ∇·a = ∂ai = ai. The gradient of a scalar a is given by: ∇a = ∂a = a.1 Introduction In terms of indices.j .55) ∇a =   . 2011 . ∂xi (1. ∇a =  (1.53) Another important operator is the gradient. ∇·a = ∂ay ∂a ∂a x ∂a ∂az ∂a1 + 2+ 3 = + + . ∂x j (1. ∂x1 ∂x2 ∂x3 ∂x ∂y ∂z (1. the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a1 ∂a1 ∂a1  ∂x ∂y ∂z     ∂a2 ∂a2 ∂a2   .54) which yields a vector. ∂x j (1. ∂xi (1.50) In a three-dimensional space R3 .j . the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a  ∂x     ∂a  (1.57) ∂y ∂z   ∂x   ∂a3 ∂a3 ∂a3  ∂x ∂y ∂z 14 Version 0.  ∂y      ∂a ∂z The gradient of a vector is given by: ∇a = ∂ai = ai.56) which yields a second-order tensor.2 January 21.i .

For a vector a. Consider the body Ω in Figure 1. 1.60) The above equation also holds for the case in which a is replaced by a scalar and B is replaced by a vector. An essential theorem in formulating the finite element method is the divergence theorem (also known as Gauss’s theorem).3.3 Linear algebra The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix provide information as to its properties. the eigenvalues of the stress tensor are the principal stresses. 2011 Version 0. The outward unit normal to the body is denoted n. (1. and the January 21.59) Integration by parts is used frequently in the formulation of the finite element method. (1.2 15 . The divergence theorem states: Ω ∇ · A dΩ = ∂Ω An dΓ. It transforms a volume integral to a surface integral. The above formula is simple to derive by using the product rule for differentiation to expand Ω ∇ · ( aB ) dΩ = Ω ∂ a B dΩ. The boundary of the body Ω is denoted Γ = ∂Ω.1. Ω ∇ · a dΩ = ∂Ω a · n dΓ. (1. The surface of Ω is given by ∂Ω.3: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n bounded by Γ.61) and then applying the divergence theorem.3 Linear algebra n Ω Γ Figure 1. For example. It implies that: Ω a · (∇ · B) dΩ = − Ω ∇ a : B dΩ + ∂Ω a · Bn dΓ.58) where n is the outward normal to the body Ω. ∂x j i ij (1.

62) implies that: det ( A − λI ) = 0. It is not a comprehensive coverage of the topic. finding λ requires finding the roots of a quadratic equation. For a symmetric matrix. the eigenvalues of a matrix indicates if a matrix has a unique inverse.i . The polynomial is known as the characteristic equation of A. In the context of the finite element method. For large matrices. special numerical algorithms are used to calculate the eigenvalues.62) are known as eigenvectors and eigenvalues. 2011 . (1. vectors b and scalars λ which satisfy ( A − λI ) b = 0 (1. which guarantees that the inverse of A exists. This section is intended to cover only the important concepts which are used later in these notes. the system of equations in a finite element equation will be very large. Eigenvalue tests are often used in studying the matrices arising in the finite element method.1 Introduction corresponding eigenvectors are the principal stress directions. It is not practical to compute the inverse of the matrix K as it is computationally expensive (both in terms of the number of operations required and the memory required). A zero eigenvalue implies that the matrix A has a linearly dependent column. For a 3 × 3 matrix.2 January 21. all eigenvalues are real. Solvers for finite element problems are discussed in Chapter 8. all eigenvalues are positive and real. This requires some background in continuum mechanics and linear-elasticity. 2 i. respectively.65) Typically. The system of equations is usually solved using a direct method (such as Gauss elimination or LU decomposition) or an approximate iterative method. (1. Equation (1.j (1. the roots of a cubic equation must be found. K will often be referred to as the ‘stiffness matrix’ and f the ‘right-hand side vector’. Also. (1.64) where K is an n × n matrix. and is unique.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics The finite element method is used in these notes to solve primarily problems in continuum mechanics. and u and f are vectors of length n. of A.63) For a 2 × 2 matrix. The solution u is given by: u = K −1 f . For a positive definite matrix A. 1. For a matrix A. A system of n linear equations can be expressed as: Ku = f . The strain ǫ is defined as the symmetric gradient of the displacement vector: ǫij = 1 u + u j.66) 16 Version 0.

73) (1. the symmetric gradient using index notation will be expressed as: u(i. For solid. the strain tensor is symmetric. In two-dimensions. or in index notation. The stress tensor is defined through the traction vector t (force per unit area) on a surface. the stress tensor is symmetric (which can be proved by considering the balance of angular momentum. In a homogeneous body. σij = Cijkl ǫkl where C is a fourth-order tensor. A constitutive equation relates the stresses in a material to the strain.j) = 1 u + u j. January 21. linear-elastic continua.68) where the bracket around the subscript denotes the symmetric gradient.i .4 Essentials from continuum mechanics which is clearly a second-order tensor. The constants λ and µ are often referred to as Lam´ constants.69) where n is the unit normal vector to the surface.72) (1.67) For convenience. 2 (1.74) νE (1 + ν) (1 − 2ν) (1.j (1. Obviously. 2 i. Due to symmetry. this reduces to four. For linear elasticity. In compact notation.71) (1. 2011 Version 0. Lam´ constants are indepene e dent of the position. in three-dimensions the stress and strain tensors have only six independent components. For convenience. as will be shown in the next chapter). this can be written as: σ = C : ǫ.1. the above expression can be written as: ǫ = ∇s u = 1 ∇u + (∇u) T . Similar to the strain tensor.70) with E the Young’s modulus and ν Poisson’s ratio. it is defined by: Cijkl = µ δik δjl + δil δjk + λδij δkl where λ= and µ= E 2 (1 + ν ) (1.2 17 . σn = t (1.

the strain in the out-of-plane direction is dependent on the distance from an axis of rotation. containing components of the fourthorder tensor C . 2011 . in which the stress and strain are represented as vectors.1 Introduction ‘engineering’ notation is often adopted.z + w.y γ23 2ǫ23 The stress tensor is expressed in a vector form.        ǫ11   ǫ11   u.77) When reducing a three-dimensional problem to two-dimensions. D has the following form:   λ + 2µ λ λ 0 0 0  λ λ + 2µ λ 0 0 0    λ λ λ + 2µ 0 0 0   (1. the normal stress out-of-plane is assumed to be zero.x              v. This will require identification of the equations which govern equilibrium of where the matrix D is the constitutive matrix. particular attention will be paid to solving elastic continuum problems. In these notes. In this case.2 January 21. This approximation is good for very thin members.y                        u. (1. there are three possibilities.   σ11      σ22        σ33 (1.y + v. such as a dam wall. the constitutive relationship can be written as: σ = Dǫ (1. although without the factor ‘2’ on the shear terms. The second possibility is plane stress (σ33 = 0). For isotropic linear-elasticity.x                    2ǫ13  γ13  u. The first is known as plane strain. An axisymmetric formulation is for example commonly used when simulating a circular foundation.z + w.75) = = ǫ= 2ǫ12  γ12   u. This assumes that the normal strain in the out-of-plane direction is zero (ǫ33 = 0). such as many beams.z ǫ33 ǫ33 . In this case.78) D=  0 0 0 µ 0 0    0 0 0 0 µ 0 0 0 0 0 0 µ 18 Version 0. It is then likely that the stress in the out-of-plane direction is not equal to zero. The third possibility is axisymmetric.x           ǫ22   ǫ22   v.76) σ= σ12        σ13      σ23 Using the vector format for stress and strain. This is reasonable for problems which are relatively thick in the third direction.

5 Exercises 1. For three-dimensions (i = 1 → 3. and applying the divergence theorem. This will also be referred to as the ‘strong’ governing equation. 2011 Version 0. Note that this equation is general. if σ is symmetric. Considering that t = σn.80).83) is zero. 1.83) If translational equilibrium (equation (1.81) Consider now moment equilibrium (balance of angular momentum). How many independent components does a symmetric second-order tensor in R n have? January 21. Then. expand the terms: a) b) c) d) e) f) a i bi ai b j Aij Bij Cij bi Cij b j Fik Gkj 2. Ω r × (∇ · σ + b) dΩ + Ω E : σ T dΩ = 0 (1. the integral can be removed from equation(1.79) where b is a body force.5 Exercises elastic bodies.1.2 19 .80)) is satisfied. Therefore.80) Balance of linear momentum should also be satisfied for any subdomain of Ω. Therefore. since E : σ T = 0.82) where r is the position vector of a point on ∂Ω. Application of the divergence theorem to the integral over ∂Ω gives: Ω ∇ · σ + b dΩ = 0 (1. consider first translational equilibrium (balance of linear momentum) of a body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ = ∂Ω. moment equilibrium is satisfied if the stress tensor is symmetric. the partial differential equation of equilibrium is given by equation (1.). and not specific to elasticity. In order to derive the governing partial differential equation. leading to: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω (1. Moment equilibrium of the body Ω requires that: ∂Ω r × t dΓ + Ω r × b dΩ = ∂Ω r × σn dΓ + Ω r × b dΩ = 0 (1. the first term in equation (1. etc.80). which requires that ∂Ω t dΓ + Ω b dΩ = ∂Ω σn dΓ + Ω b dΩ = 0 (1.

2011 . Using the product rule for differentiation and the divergence theorem. Derive the isotropic linear-elastic constitutive matrix D for plane stress and plane strain conditions 20 Version 0.60).1 Introduction 3.2 January 21.43) is orthogonal. derive the integration by parts formula in equation (1. 6. 5. Confirm that the rotation matrix R in equation (1. What is the trace of the identity tensor I equal to in R n ? 4. A common and important operator in applied mathematics (and mechanics) is the Laplace operator ∆ (sometimes denoted ∇2 ). Expand ∆u in a three-dimensional space using index notation. It is equivalent to ∇ · ∇. 7.

xx = f . A Dirichlet (essential) boundary condition prescribes the displacement at a point. This has the effect of reducing the order of the derivatives appearing in the equation. 21 . addressing the weak (variational) form of the relevant governing equation. boundary conditions must be specified. u = 0 at x=0 (2. This is complemented by a constitutive relationship which gives the stress in the rod in terms of the strain. For a linear-elastic rod. 2.x = f .1 One-dimensional bar Consider the one-dimensional bar in Figure 2. the strong form is multiplied by a weight function and integrated by parts.x is the normal stress in the rod and f is a distributed load along the rod. The finite element method is a variational method. dx (2.4) f 1 0 111 000 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 11111111111 00000000000 h x L x=0 Figure 2.1: One-dimensional bar.3) To complete the problem.81)): −σ. (2.1) where σ. For example. The weak form is also commonly known as a the ‘variational form’ or a ‘variational equation’. The governing equation can then be expressed as: − Eu. To do this. and leads to a form which is convenient for later numerical solution. The governing equation for a onedimensional rod element with unit cross-sectional area is (see equation (1. the normal stress is given by: σ = Eǫ = E du . (2.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations An essential step in developing the finite element method is the identification of the governing equation and casting it in its ‘weak form’.1.2) where E is the Young’s modulus.

3). 2011 .x = w f L 0 ∀w ∈ V . If equation (2.x n = h 0 < x < L.11) Note the term wEu.9) where ‘∀w ∈ V ’ means ‘for all w ∈ V ’.8) To develop the weak form of the governing equation.6) are multiplied by a scalar weight function w ∈ V (w ∈ V means that w comes from the appropriately defined space of functions V . applying a force at the end of the bar is equivalent to prescribing u.6). then − wσ. The mathematical problem can now be summarised as: find u such that: − Eu.1) by w. Since both sides of the equation are multiplied by the weight function. L 0 (2. This is the weak form of the governing equation. (2. at x = L. (2.x . solving the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that L 0 w.2 January 21.8) inserted. Inserting now the constitutive relationship σ = Eu. σn = h at x = L.x σ dx − wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V . which yields: − L 0 wσ.x dx = L 0 w. equation (2.x n| x=0 is not included as by definition the weight function w is equal to zero at x = 0. Multiplying equation (2.60).xx = f u=0 Eu. at x = 0. −wσ.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations prescribes the displacement at one end of the bar in Figure 2.7) (2. both sides of equation (2.9) must hold point-wise. Note that in the strong form.x Eu. (2. (2. The above boundary condition sets the applied traction at x = L equal to h. after inserting the constitutive relationship (2. An important requirement on the space V is that functions w be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.x dx = w f dx ∀w ∈ V . the equation must still hold for all admissible weight function (this is a technical point which is discussed in section 2. (2. derivatives of order 22 Version 0. which has an infinite number of members).5) where n is the outward normal to the bar (equal to 1 in this case). Taking guidance from equation (1.x dx = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V .x . Considering that σ = Eu.6) (2.1 to be equal to zero. A Neumann (natural) boundary condition prescribes the applied traction.12) where S is an appropriately defined space of functions which satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions.10) is also true.10) can be integrated by parts and the Neumann boundary condition from equation (2.x .

The complication arises from the three-dimensional setting.xx = f . at least in a generalised sense). The basic form of the equations is the same as the one-dimensional bar in the previous section.13).2. 2.12). it follows that a solution of the strong form is also a solution of the weak form. Eu. In the weak form (2. 2011 Version 0. Hence. where φ is greater than zero over the interval ]0. Returning to equation (2.2 Continuum elasticity A more complicated example is continuum elasticity. (2.16) proving that the Neumann boundary conditions are satisfied.14) which can be rearranged to give L 0 φ ( Eu. Consider now the continuous body in Figure 2.13) Note again that no terms at x = 0 appear. only first derivatives with respect to x appear.13).15) Since φ > 0 and ( Eu.xx + f )2 ≥ 0. − L 0 φ ( Eu. satisfying the strong governing equation (in a distributional sense).xx + f ) f dx. w(0) = 0. Since the weak form is derived from the strong form.x n| x= L = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L . for any allowable weight function at x = L. What remains to be shown is that the weak form is equivalent to the strong form (that a solution of the weak form is also a solution of the strong form. Recall that the governing equation is given by: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω. Assuming that E is constant and integrating by parts the first term in (2.12) yields − L 0 wEu.xx + f ) Eu. L[ and zero outside (specifically at x = 0 and x = L).xx + f ). (2. see Brenner and Scott (1994).x n = h.2 Continuum elasticity two with respect to x appear. it is now proven that the first term is equal to zero.xx dx + wEu. (2.2.17) 23 . What remains now is to ensure that the Neumann boundary condition is satisfied (Dirichlet boundary conditions are satisfied by construction).xx dx = L 0 φ ( Eu. January 21. the above equation can only hold if − Eu. consider a weight function w ∈ V which is equal to φ ( Eu. Inserting the weight function into equation (2. For a more elaborate mathematical treatment.xx + f )2 dx = 0. as by construction. (2. Following Hughes (1987).2 (2. The strong governing equation for this problem was developed in the previous chapter.

u=g on Γg . a constitutive relationship is required. yielding: − Ω ∇w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0.17) by w ∈ V . Γh . (2. In Figure 2. t=h on Γh . For a linearelastic material. Γg ∩ Γh = ∅). the same steps as in the case of the one-dimensional bar are followed. where again V is an appropriately defined function space (w = 0 on Γg ). (2. (2. the part of the boundary where displacements are prescribed is denoted Γg . (2. On part of the boundary. (2. To derive the weak form.21) The first term in equation (2. Boundary conditions are still required to complete the problem. the governing equation is multiplied by a weight function w ∈ V .2.60)).20) The boundary-value problem is now complete.21) can be integrated by parts (see equation (1.2: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ (Γ = Γg ∪ Γh . the displacements are prescribed (Dirichlet boundary conditions). 2011 . and integrated over the body. As in the one-dimensional case.18) where C is a fourth-order tensor.22) 24 Version 0. and integrating over the body Ω yields: Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V .19) On the remaining boundary. tractions (potentially zero) are applied (traction ≡ force per unit area on a surface). Note that in this case. the weight function w is a vector. σ = C : ǫ.2 January 21. First.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations h Γh Ω Γg n Figure 2. Multiplying equation (2.

A wide range of physical phenomena are governed by this equation. However.3 Poisson equation An equation which is often solved using the finite element method is the Poisson equation. For an isotropic medium. Often the term ∇w is written as ∇s w. a solution to the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that − Ω ∇w : C : ǫ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . the scalar u is the temperature. Inserting the constitutive equation into (2. The previous example of continuum elasticity was an example of a system of Poisson equations – one for each spatial direction. In Darcy’s law. the variational framework is more general. This is the weak equilibrium equation for a stationary continuous elastic body. Here the Poisson equation is addressed in a more generic fashion. The constitutive relationship depends on the problem being solved. where κ is the thermal conductivity. In the case of heat conductivity. It is simple to show that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric (see exercise 1). u is the hydraulic head and κ is known as the hydraulic conductivity. Consider the following equation: −∇ · q + f = 0 in Ω (2.25) where q is a flux vector and f is a source term.3 Poisson equation where σn has been replaced by the prescribed traction h (the Neumann boundary condition).25) yields a Poisson equation. 2. Therefore ∇s w ≡ δǫ. (2.23) where S is an appropriate space of functions which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions.18). The constitutive relationship is given by: q = −κ ∇ u (qi = −κij u. January 21. including steady-state heat conduction and flow in permeable media (Darcy’s law). The equation of virtual work is therefore the weak form of the governing equation.23). Consider now w as a ‘virtual displacement’ δu.j ) (2. Ω δǫ : C : ǫ dΩ = Ω δu · b dΩ + Γh δu · h dΓ.2 25 . q is the heat flux vector. Inserting this into equation (2.24) which is the equation of virtual work.2. Inserting now the constitutive relationship from equation (2. 2011 Version 0. For Darcy’s law. Consistency can be proven in the same fashion as was used for the onedimensional problem. There exists a close link between weak forms and virtual work for a range of problems. q is the flow rate. the symmetric gradient of w. For linear heat conduction. (2.26) where u is a potential. κ = κI.

25) by a weight function w and integrating over the body Ω. (2. In the case of heat conduction.29) Integrating the LHS of the above equation by parts yields: Ω ∇w · q dΩ − Γh wq · n dΓ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . The weak form of the Poisson equation is derived following the same steps as in the previous two examples. and for Darcy flow is it the inflow/outflow across a boundary. 2011 . (2. (2. For heat conduction. The Dirichlet conditions impose: u=g on Γg (2.28) where n is the outward normal to the surface Γh (see Figure 2. For Darcy flow.2 January 21. The Neumann boundary condition requires that: −q · n = h on Γh (2.27) which prescribes the potential on the boundary. this imposes the heat flux on Γh .32) The potential energy for another displacement field. is given by I (u) ≤ I (u + v) = 1 2 Ω ∇s (u + v) : C : ∇s (u + v) dΩ − Ω (u + v) · b dΩ − ∂Ω (u + v) · h dΩ.2). there exists a close link between minimisation of energy and solution of the weak form. 2. such as equilibrium of an elastic body.31) which is the weak form of the Poisson equation.30) Inserting now the constitutive relationship and the boundary condition −q · n = h leads to the problem: find u ∈ S such that: − Ω ∇w · κ∇u dΩ + Γh wh dΓ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . − Ω w (∇ · q) dΩ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . (2.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations As for all previous examples. I (u) = 1 2 Ω ∇s u : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω u · b dΩ − ∂Ω u · h dΩ. For an elastic body Ω.4 Minimisation of potential energy For particular equations. (2. this is the temperature on the boundary Γg . w = u + v. suppose that u is the solution to the weak problem. and consider the potential energy functional I. it is the hydraulic head. the boundary-value problem requires boundary conditions.33) 26 Version 0. Multiplying equation (2.

5 Regularity requirements A common topic in finite element analysis is continuity. Functions are often classified as being C n continuous.2. It is not a possible solution. this means that its nth derivative is continuous.3. This means that the functions are continuous. in which the terms inside the brackets sum to zero for any v since u is a solution to the weak form (see equation 2.3: Example of a C0 function f . the weak form allows for more possible solutions. 2. The function shown in Figure 2.x x Figure 2. and the last term Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ ≥ 0. the second derivative of f with respect to x ( f .xx ) must exist. Examining now the weak form for the rod (equation (2. In finite element analysis. This is a classic mathematical property of weak forms.23).3. since for equation (2.3)). If a function is C n . Continuity refers to whether or not the derivatives of a function are continuous.5 Regularity requirements f f . this is a commonly used function in finite element analysis. In summary. However. Therefore a function like f is a possible solution of the weak form and a possible weight function. From Figure 2.34) Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ. A C0 function is shown in Figure 2.12)). Consider now if the function f is a possible solution u of the strong equation for a bar (equation (2. it is clear that it is simple to take the first derivative of the function f .3 is a continuous. but their first derivatives are not. its second derivative does not exist. piecewise linear function. 2011 Version 0. As will be seen in the following chapters. in a classical sense. which proves that solution of the weak form corresponds to minimisation of the potential energy. it is clear that it involves only first derivatives with respect to x of u and w. functions which are C0 are most commonly used.2 27 .3) to make sense. January 21. and is essential for the finite element method. which is equal to I (u) ≤ I (u + v) x = I (u) + + 1 2 Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω v · b dΩ − ∂Ω v · h dΩ (2.

(2. The weight functions come from the space V (w ∈ V ). (2. functions which have square-integrable derivatives are of interest. there do however exist functions from H 1 (Ω) which are not C0 continuous. which is denoted H 1 (Ω). from which the trial and weight functions come. since a fundamental step in the finite element method will involve finite-dimensional function spaces. Functions for which: Ω (u)2 + (u. That is. Importantly. 2. This is of crucial importance. The function space S is defined by: S = {u | u ∈ H 1 (Ω) .x )2 dΩ < ∞ (2. Clearly. Sobolev spaces are infinite-dimensional. but this point is not important here). which is defined by: V = {w | w ∈ H 1 (Ω) . such functions may be discontinuous.2 January 21. Note that C0 functions belong to H 1 . Consider first a scalar problem in an n-dimensional domain Ω. 2011 . w| Γg = 0}.37) This says that the S is a collection of functions from H 1 (Ω) which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions (technically this is not a space if g = 0.35) Functions which are square integrable come from the Hilbert space known as L2 (Ω). (2. u| Γg = g}. For multiple spatial dimensions. A function u is said to be square integrable if: Ω (u)2 dx < ∞.6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces There are certain mathematical requirements that must be met by the trial and weight functions for the weak form to ‘make sense’.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations The theory of which functions are allowed is discussed on more detail in the following advanced section. Trial functions u come from the space S (u ∈ S ).36) are known as members of the Sobolev space on degree one. an infinite number of different functions belong to a given Sobolev space.38) This says that V is a collection of functions which come from H 1 (Ω) which are equal to zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. The notation u ∈ H 1 means that u comes from (is an element of) H 1 . When solving second-order differential equations. Functions spaces can be considered the ‘family’ of functions from which u and w can come. the requirement that the trial functions be square-integrable implies that energy must be finite. This can be seen in the well-known Sobolev embedding theorem. 28 Version 0. It is useful to define function spaces. In physical terms.

If the √ displacement field was of the form u = a r (all derivatives of a exist and are well behaved and a is not dependent on r). (Hint: use index notation. 2011 Version 0. a = b) 5. (2. where r is the distance from the crack tip (r ≥ 0). For 3 × 3 second-order tensors (matrices). ui | Γg = gi } and similarly for weight functions w ∈ V . (2.39) V = {wi | wi ∈ H 1 (Ω) . is u a possible trial solution? January 21. 4.7 Exercises In multiple dimensions.2. Derive the weak equilibrium equation (2.) 2. 3. Solutions for the displacement field from linear-elastic fracture mechanics often √ involve a term r. u ∈ S where S = {ui | ui ∈ H 1 (Ω) . prove that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric. The Helmholtz equation is given by: ∇ · (∇φ) + kφ = 0 and is often used in wave propagation problems.40) Further details can be found in texts on functional analysis and the mathematical analysis of the finite element method. Derive the weak form.23) for elasticity using index notation.7 Exercises 1. 2.2 29 . wi | Γg = 0}. Show whether the following functions belong to H 1 on the given domain: a) b) c) d) u = 1/r on 1 < r < 2 u = 1/r on 0 < r < 2 √ u = 1/ r on 0 < r < 2 u = ax for x < 0 and u = bx for x > 0 on −1 < x < 1 (a and b are arbitrary constants.


23). respectively.1 Approximate solution First. This means that there is a limited number of possibilities.3 The Galerkin method The finite element method is one particular Galerkin method. Furthermore.2) (3.x Eu. Considering now the elasticity problem in equation (2. where S h ⊂ S is a finite-dimensional space.x dx + w h h| x= L = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . consider the approximate solution to some problem. The Galerkin method is however more general. The essence of the Galerkin method involves taking the weak form of the governing equation. It is closely related to the Rayleigh-Ritz method which involves choosing functions (a basis) for the solution and finding the amplitude of each function by minimising the energy. It is a method for finding approximate solutions to partial differential equations. For example. uh = L wh where B wh . (3.3) This abstract format is introduced to keep the derivation of some later developments compact. the finite-dimensional trial and weight functions are denoted uh and wh . the above equation is expressed in the abstract format as: find uh ∈ S h such that B wh . named after the Russian engineer Galerkin. Commonly.x Eu. being able to solve a greater range of problems.12)) involves: find uh ∈ S h such that − L 0 h h w. it is generic for a range of different problems. and finding the best solution to a problem given a collection of functions.5) 31 . the Galerkin problem involves: find uh ∈ S h such that − Ω ∇s wh : C : ǫh dΩ + Ω wh · b dΩ + Γh wh · h dΓ = 0 ∀wh ∈ V h (3. (3.4) L 0 h h w. 3. The Galerkin problem for an elastic bar (equation (2.x dx ∀w h ∈ V h (3. In a multidimensional context. uh could be a combination of low order polynomial functions.1) where V h ⊂ V is a finite dimensional space. uh = and L wh = wh h| x= L . uh ∈ S h . as developed in the previous chapter.

A basic question which arises when computing an approximate solution is how uh relates to the exact solution u. B w h . The error analysis will tell how the computed solution uh differs from the actual solution u and why the Galerkin method works (or for problems not considered here.6) wh · b dΩ + Γh (3. uh and w h will be simple continuous. Given a finite number of possibilities in S h . this implies that: B wh . Inserting equation (3. (3. For the one-dimensional problem. the Bubnov-Galerkin method) requires that the weight and trial functions come from the same finite-dimensional space. Different Galerkin-based methods are defined by how the unknown field uh is represented. often in fluid mechanics.10) Since u is the exact solution. piecewise low-order polynomials defined on ‘finite elements’.9) For generality. uh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. In the finite element method. the weight functions come from a different function space than the trial functions. e − L wh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3.3 The Galerkin method where ǫ h = ∇s uh . 3. B wh . why it doesn’t work).8) where u is the exact solution and uh is the solution to equation (3. Spectral Galerkin methods for example use a truncated Fourier series as the basis. The approximate solution is therefore equal to: uh = u − e (3. In Petrov-Galerkin method.2. which solution does the method seek? Understanding this requires some basic error analysis.2).11) 32 Version 0. This method is used for special applications. 2011 . u − L w h = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . the error in the displacement e at a point is defined by: e = u − uh (3.2 Basic error analysis It is interesting to check how the solution computed using the Galerkin procedure compares to the exact solution. taking into account the special requirements on the weight and trial functions where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.1). this will be investigated using the abstract notation.2 January 21. e = B wh . This is examined in the following section. uh = and L wh = Ω Ω ∇s wh : C : ǫh dΩ wh · h dΓ. In the abstract notation of equation 3. B wh .7) The Galerkin method (more specifically. u − B wh . u − B wh .9) into equation (3.

3.3 Convergence of the Galerkin method
which in mathematical terms means that the error is orthogonal to the function space V h with respect to B (·, ·). This important result is commonly known as Galerkin orthogonality. This means that the approximate solution uh is a projection of the exact solution u onto the space of the weight functions. In the Bubnov-Galerkin, the weight functions w h come form the same space as the trial functions uh , hence the solution uh is the projection of the exact solution onto the finite dimensional space of trial functions. It can be shown that the Galerkin finite element method is optimal in terms of the energy. This error analysis tells something of what the Galerkin method calculates. Given some approximate functions, the Galerkin method will yield the best fit to the exact solution in terms of energy. Consider the following: B u − uh + vh , u − uh + vh = B u − uh , u − uh + vh + B vh , u − uh + vh

= B u − uh , u − uh + 2B vh , u − uh + B vh , vh


for any vh ∈ V h , where u is the exact solution and uh is the solution to the Galerkin problem. From Galerkin orthogonality (equation (3.11)), the term B(u − uh , vh ) is equal to zero. Furthermore, B(vh , vh ) ≥ 0. Denoting now w h = uh − vh , the above result leads to the conclusion that: B u − uh , u − uh ≤ B u − wh , u − wh

∀w h ∈ V h


This implies that the solution uh is closer to u than any other element of V h in terms of B (·, ·). Consider the ‘energy’ norm: v
2 E

= 1 B (v, v) 2


which for an elastic body is the strain energy for a given displacement field v. Equation (3.13) can then be expressed as: u − uh

≤ u − wh


∀w h ∈ V h


which says that the solution computed using the Galerkin method yields a solution which is optimal in terms of the strain energy. Given a choice of functions, the Galerkin method therefore chooses those which minimise the error in terms of the strain energy. There is a close relationship between the Rayleigh-Ritz method and the Galerkin method. It has been shown that the Galerkin method minimises the error in terms of the energy, which is the principle behind the Rayleigh-Ritz method. For many problems in solid mechanics, the two are equivalent.

3.3 Convergence of the Galerkin method
It has been shown here that the Galerkin method works. How well it works requires a priori error estimation. This is reserved for a later section as it relies on some details

January 21, 2011

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3 The Galerkin method
of the finite element method. Crucially, convergence requires that:
h →0

lim uh = u


For finite element analysis, this corresponds to the exact solution being approached upon mesh refinement. A major question which arises is how fast the exact solution is approached as h is reduced. Details of these procedures and more elaborate mathematical analysis of the issue considered in this chapter can be found in a range of books relating to the mathematics of the finite element method (Braess, 2001; Brenner and Scott, 1994; Reddy, 1998; Strang and Fix, 1973).

3.4 Exercises
1. For elasticity, show that a solution to the Galerkin problem corresponds to a minimisation of the potential energy.


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January 21, 2011

4 Formulation of the finite element method
In this chapter, a key component of the finite element method is developed. This is the discretisation of the governing equations using finite element shape functions. The unknown field uh (the displacement for elasticity problems) will be described using basis functions (the shape functions) and discrete nodal values which represent the amplitude of the basis functions. Discretisation is a step toward computer implementation. The terminology in this chapter relates primarily to elasticity problems. The developments are however general and the same procedure can be used to solve other problems.

4.1 Finite element method with piecewise linear basis functions
The simplest finite element shape functions are continuous, piecewise linear functions. Consider the elastic bar in Figure 4.1, which is restrained at both ends and loaded by a distributed force f . Along the bar, a number of ‘nodes’ are located, and the domain between two nodes is known as an element. Associated with each node is a hat-like basis function which has a value of one at the node, and zero at all other


1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0








1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0

L Figure 4.1: One-dimensional bar.


x E ∑ Nj. it can be taken outside of the integrals.3) To develop the Galerkin problem. ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni.x u j j =1 n dΩ = Ω ∑ Ni wi i =1 n f dΩ + Γh ∑ Ni. For a one-dimensional bar. is given by  x x i −1   − x i −1 < x ≤ x i . i =1 n (4.1) where xi is the coordinate of node i. (4. Given that wi is not a function of spatial position.7) 36 Version 0. It is expressed using the same basis functions as the displacement field. an expression is needed for the weight function w h .2) where ui is the value of the field uh at node i.  x i − x i +1 − x i − x i +1     0 otherwise. (4. i =1 n (4. In finite element analysis. Hence. dx i i =1 ∑ n (4. Ω ∑ Ni. the approximate displacement field is given in terms of the shape functions and the approximate displacement at a finite number of points (nodes).2 January 21. h ǫh = u.x u j j =1 n dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ. the strain field can be computed easily by taking the derivative of the shape functions.x = dNi u. these basis functions are known as ‘shape functions’. The basis function at node i. Ω h h w.4) Recalling the weak form for a one-dimensional elastic rod.   x i − x i −1 x i − x i −1   x i +1 x Ni = x i < x < x i +1 .x wi i =1 n h dΓ (4. (4. From this expression.5) and inserting the expression for the expressions for the approximate displacement field and the weight function. discretised with n nodal points.x dΩ = Ω w h f dΩ + Γh w h h dΓ ∀ wh ∈ V h . the approximate displacement field uh is given by uh = ∑ Ni ( x) ui . hence wh = ∑ Ni wi .6) for all possible values of wi . 2011 .x wi i =1 n E ∑ Nj.x Eu.4 Formulation of the finite element method nodes.

The problem has been divided into many quadrilateral elements. Kij u j = f i . This yields n equations (one for each wi . Consider the case that all but one wi is equal to zero. A simple finite element January 21. where Kij = and fi = Ω Ω (4. which can be expressed as the system of equations. ∑ wi ∑ u j i =1 j =1 n n Ω Ni. A mesh divides a body into a number of elements.9) must hold. (4.8) This equation must hold for all possible combinations of wi .2 General finite element basis functions The concept introduced in the previous section can be extended to higher spatial dimensions and more complex shape functions. It is useful to define shape functions on finite elements. Therefore. A discussion of more general boundary conditions is delayed until the end of the chapter.x E Nj. u j can also be taken outside of the integrals. In order the solve the linear system.2 General finite element basis functions Likewise. then the row and the column k is removed from the stiffness matrix.x dΩ = Ω Ni f dΩ + Γh Ni h dΓ (4. A typical finite element mesh is shown in Figure 4. surfaces (2D) or volumes (3D) which are constructed by joining nodal points. Dirichlet boundary conditions must be enforced. and the kth term is deleted from the vector f .4. 4. For the zero Dirichlet conditions.2. A finite element mesh consists of nodal points and elements. Solving this linear system of equations provides u j . Matrices and vectors can be built for each element before being assembled into global matrices and vectors. while elements are lines (1D). for each i ∑ uj j =1 n Ω Ni.10) Ni.12) The matrix K = Kij is commonly known as the stiffness matrix.2 37 . and f = f i as the right-hand side (RHS) vector.x dΩ (4. If a boundary condition is applied at node k. Elements may not overlap.11) Nj f dΩ + Γh Nj h dΓ (4. this is relatively simple. Nodes are points in space.x dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ. and n unknowns in the form of ui ). and hence an expression for the approximate displacement field along the rod.x E Nj.x E Nj. 2011 Version 0.

2: Typical two-dimensional finite element mesh. 7 8 5 7 8 6 38 Version 0. 2011 . 6 4 3 4 3 1 2 1 2 5 9 Figure 4.4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4.2 January 21.3: Simple two-dimensional finite element mesh.

Consider the one-dimensional bar element in Figure 4. Ni . Having a compact support. Once the displacement field uh and its derivatives ∇uh can be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns.13) January 21. mesh is shown in Figure 4. The displacement field inside the bar in terms of discrete nodal values and shape functions is given by: uh ( x ) = N1 ( x ) a1 + N2 ( x ) a2 .3.1. For a node i. 4.2. the discretised field can be inserted into the weak governing equations. The displacement field is given by a linear combination of a finite number of basis functions (a summation of the basis functions.1 One-dimensional bar elements To begin. A finite element shape function is only non-zero on elements to which it is attached. each multiplied by a nodal value. the unknown (displacement) field uh is discretised by developing a method in which the displacement at any point in a body is determined in terms of a discrete number of values which are stored at the nodes (known as degrees of freedom) and basis functions. Both nodes and elements are numbered. shape functions are non-zero only close to their node. the shape function associated with that node.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 2 L x=0 Figure 4. Finite element shape functions are typically piecewise continuous polynomial functions with a ‘compact support’. In the finite element method. In Figure 4. They are characterised by being equal to unity at their node.4: One-dimensional linear bar element and associated shape functions. Shape functions for various elements are discussed in detail in the following sections. known as finite elements. linear one dimensional elements. The bar has two nodes. 2011 Version 0. denoted by the solid circles. the amplitude). As in the one-dimensional case.4. Each element has three nodes.2 39 . and zero at all other nodes. the basis functions are defined on simple geometric elements. are examined.3.4. as introduced in Section 4. is equal to one at the node and zero at all other nodes. the mesh is constructed with triangular elements. (4. Each shape function Ni is associated with a node i.

16) x + 1. L This type of element is known as a linear element. dx (4. L L (4. ǫh = duh dN1 dN2 1 1 = a + a2 = − a1 + a2 . 2011 . In matrix-vector notation. the derivative of the displacement field with respect to x (the strain) is required. The weak form of the governing equations involves derivatives with respect to the spatial position. a2 (4.18) The strain is given by: ǫh = Bae .14) (4. Taking the derivative of equation (4. It does however make the generalisation to multiple dimensions simple.22) (4. Now. in terms of nodal degrees of freedom ae . the derivative of the shape function with respect to x is a constant function within an element. Therefore. (4.5. Note also that these shape functions posses C0 continuity – they are continuous but their derivatives involve jumps across element boundaries. 40 Version 0.2 January 21. to solve a problem.15) x . The shape functions corresponding to each node are given by: N1 = − N2 = Hence. where N = N1 and ae = a1 .21) The shape functions for two linear elements are shown in Figure 4.4 Formulation of the finite element method where ai is the displacement at node i (it is ‘stored’ at the node). L (4.16) with respect to x.17) In the case of a linear displacement interpolation. as its shape functions are linear polynomials. The matrix-vector notation for uh and ǫh may seem trivial for one-dimensional problems.20) N2 . the displacement and strain can be calculated in any part of the element. dx dx 1 dx L L (4.19) (4. the displacement field is expressed as: uh = Nae . where the matrix B is equal to: B= dN1 dx dN2 . uh = − x x + 1 a1 + a2 .

. (4. the displacement field is given by: uh = ∑ Ni (x) ai . For a one-dimensional quadratic element. obviously the strain field is linear.2 Two-dimensional continuum elasticity elements In two or more dimensions. it has the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 .24) and the B matrix has a similar form. The interpolation basis for higher-order elements is richer since both constant. linear and quadratic (and even higher) variations in the unknown field can be described within an element. More nodes through which the shape function must interpolate naturally means a higher-order polynomial is required. and the strain field (using engineering notation) is given by: ǫ h = Bae . i =1 3 (4..26) (4. (4.25) The matrix N contains the element shape functions.2 41 . the N matrix has the form: N = N1 N2 N3 . In two dimensions.6 illustrates shape functions for quadratic and cubic elements.4. The displacement field for an element is given by: uh = Nae . Figure 4. Nnn 0 0 .27) January 21. 4. Since the displacement field is quadratic. 2011 Version 0. each unknown field (such as displacement in each direction) is interpolated using the polynomial shape functions.5: Shape functions for two one-dimensional linear bar elements. Nnn (4.23) Therefore.2. Higher-order one-dimensional elements It is possible to develop one-dimensional elements with higher-order polynomial interpolations...2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 L1 L2 Figure 4. . Higher-order elements simply have more nodes.

7..   ... where nn is the numbers of nodes of the element. 0 (4. It is shown in Figure 4.         ann x        ann y 42 Version 0.4 Formulation of the finite element method 1 1 1 1 2 3 quadratic shape functions 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 cubic shape functions Figure 4.2 January 21. ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x The simplest element in two-dimensions is the three-node triangle.. For two-dimensional problems. 0   ∂x ∂x ∂x    ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂Nnn    0 ..   .29) ae =  .28) B= 0 . Its shape functions are of the form: The nodal degrees of freedom (normally one for each spatial dimension at each node for elasticity problems) are stored in a vector a.. (4.  ∂y ∂y ∂y     ∂N1 ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂Nnn  . For a two-dimensional problem.6: Higher-order one-dimensional elements. 2011 . the matrix B has the form:   ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂N1 0 0 .    a1 x   a    1y         a2 x      a2 y .

34)     c3 x3 y3 1 0 January 21.7. (4. Given that a shape function should have a value of unity at its node and zero at other nodes. (4. yi ) is the location of the ith node. 2011 Version 0. (4. y1 ) = c1 x1 + c2 y2 + c3 = 1.1 Consider the element in Figure 4.2 General finite element basis functions ( x3 .7: Three-node triangular element. y1 ) ( x2 . Its shape function must satisfy: N1 ( x1 . N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 . Example 4. Consider node 1 in Figure 4. Given the following coordinates of each of where ( xi . y2 ) = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 = 0. the coefficients c can be found by solving a linear system of equations. y2 ) Figure 4.8.31) (4. N1 ( x3 . This can be cast in a matrix form as:      x 1 y 1 1  c 1  1   x2 y2 1 c2 = 0 . Figure 4.30) The shape function for a node is illustrated in Figure 4. hence the strain in the element is constant.4.2 43 . y3 ) 3 1 2 ( x1 . It is clear from the linear form of the shape functions for the three-node triangle that the derivatives are constant.33) Solving the above system of equations yields the coefficients for the shape function of node 1. N1 ( x2 .8: Shape function for a three-node element. y3 ) = c1 x3 + c2 y3 + c3 = 0.32) (4.7.

x 0 N1. ( x1 . Since the shape function for node 2 is being calculated. A shape function for a four-node element is shown in Figure 4.y N2.35) It is also know as a bilinear element.y  N3.y B= 0 N1. (4. the N and B matrices can be formed. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xy + c2 x + c3 y + c4 .x N2. 2) ( x2 .34)) is formed.x and the B matrix is of the form:  N1. The N matrix for this element is of the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 N3 0 0 N3  0 N3.x 0 N2. Unlike the three-node triangle. A four-node quadrilateral element is shown in Figure 4.y N1. 3) To find the coefficients. Higher-order solid elements As in one-dimensional problems. 2011 . plane and three-dimensional elements can have higher-order interpolations. the strain in this element is not constant. find the shape function for node 2.25x − 0. y2 ) = (4.25y + 0. y1 ) = (1.y 0 N2.4 Formulation of the finite element method the nodes. y3 ) = (2. 1) ( x3 .36) 44 Version 0.9. a system of equations (see equation (4.2 January 21. The shape functions for a six-node triangle are of the form: N = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 xy + c4 x + c5 y + c6 (4.10. the only non-zero term on the RHS corresponds to node 2. due to the presence of the xy terms in the shape functions.y A very commonly used element in finite element analysis is the four-node quadrilateral.      1 2 1  c1  0 4 1 1  c 2 = 1     c3 2 3 1 0 Solving this system of equations gives: N2 = 0.x N3.25 Once the shape functions have been computed for each node.x 0 N3.

Note that triangular elements are complete – that is the shape functions contain all polynomial terms up to a given order. They belong to one of two families: serendipity or Lagrange.4.9: Four-node quadrilateral element. 2011 Version 0. quadratic and cubic triangular elements are shown in Figure 4.15. Note that serendipity     1  c1  1                 1  c2  0               c  0 1  3     .12). As with the three-node triangle. Solving the below system of equations would yield the coefficients for node 1. A Pascal triangle for serendipity elements is shown in Figure 4.14. Each time the order of a triangle is increased.11 The polynomial terms needed for triangular elements can be taken from a Pascal triangle (see Figure 4.13.  2 x1 y2 1 y2 2 y2 3 y2 4 2 y5 y2 6 x1 y1 x2 y2 x3 y3 x4 y4 x5 y5 x6 y6 x1 x2 x3 x4 x5 x6 y1 y2 y3 y4 y5 y6  2  x2   2  x3   2  x4   x2  5 2 x6 Two shape functions for a six-node triangle are shown in Figure 4. a new ‘row’ of terms from the Pascal triangle is added to the shape functions. the coefficients can be found by solving a linear system of equations.37) January 21. Higher-order quadrilateral elements can also be constructed. Linear. Serendipity elements have nodes only on element boundaries.2 General finite element basis functions 4 3 1 2 Figure 4. Figure 4.10: A shape function for four-node quadrilateral element. whereas Lagrange elements have nodes on the element interior. Several serendipity and Lagrange finite elements are shown in Figure 4. =  1  c4  0                 1  c5  0                  c6  0 1 (4.2 45 .

2011 . 1 x x2 x3 x4 .. .... Figure 4.. y y2 y3 y4 ..... 46 Version 0.. quadratic and cubic triangular elements... xy xy2 xy3 .13: Linear.12: Pascal triangle – polynomial terms for triangular elements of order n.2 January 21. . Figure 4.11: Two shape functions for a six-node triangular element.. x2 y x 2 y2 .4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4.. x3 y .

The elements do not suffer from the limitation of missing polynomial terms for any order interpolation.39) January 21.14: Serendipity (a) and Lagrange (b) quadrilateral finite elements. The shape functions for the eight-node serendipity quadrilateral have the form: N = c1 x2 y + c2 xy2 + c3 x2 + c4 y2 + c5 xy + c6 x + c7 y + c8 . elements of order higher than three ’miss’ polynomial terms.2 General finite element basis functions (a) (b) Figure 4.. Figure 4.. 2011 Version 0. Eight. and are therefore not recommended. 1 x x2 x3 x4 .. Internal nodes must be introduced to ensure all polynomial terms are included... ..15: Pascal triangle for serendipity elements. x3 y x2 y xy xy2 xy3 .16.4..38) and for the nine-node Lagrange quadrilateral the shape functions have one extra term and are of the form: N = c1 x2 y2 + c2 x2 y + c3 xy2 + c4 x2 + c5 y2 + c6 xy + c7 x + c8 y + c9 .and nine-node quadrilateral elements are commonly used in finite element analysis.2 47 .. (4. (4. y y2 y3 y4 . The Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements is shown in Figure 4.

x3 y x 3 y2 x 3 y3 x2 y x 2 y2 x 2 y3 . They are of the form: N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 z + c4 . .. Figure 4. The simplest brick element has eight nodes. ..16: Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements.4 Formulation of the finite element method 1 x x2 x3 ....17.. xy xy2 xy3 .. y y2 y3 . 2011 . the derivatives of the shape functions are constant within an element.2 January 21. wedge type elements are often used for generating meshes for complex geometries.. A four-node tetrahedral element has linear shape functions.. Commonly used shapes are tetrahedra and bricks.and two-dimensional elements. The computational effort required for three-dimensional analysis can become high. These two elements are shown in Figure 4. 4.. they often have more degrees of freedom per node. (4.2.3 Three-dimensional elements Three-dimensional elements are increasingly used in engineering analysis. Not only do the elements tend to have more nodes. Figure 4.40) Similar to the three-node triangle. (4. Also. The numbers of nodes per element increases rapidly. Higher-order version of both tetrahedral and brick elements also exist.. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xyz + c2 xy + c3 xz + c4 yz + c5 x + c6 y + c7 z + c8 . They can be formed in the same fashion as one.41) This is known as a ‘trilinear element’.17: Tetrahedral and brick three-dimensional finite elements.. 48 Version 0.

45) The be terms appear on both sides of the equality. which after some rearranging (using ( Ac) T = c T A T ) leads to: be T l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = be T Γh. Therefore. The discretised governing equation for the element is expressed as: l2 l1 ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh. Take a single element (of any order) which extends from l1 to l2 (see Figure 4. it is known how the displacement and the displacement gradient at a point in space can be expressed in terms of the nodal variables (degrees of freedom).18: One-dimensional bar showing the element that extends from x = l1 to x = l2 . (4.46) January 21.1)) is considered.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. the one-dimensional governing equation for an elastic rod (equation (3. for the multi-dimensional case within an element. l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = Γh. (4. 2011 Version 0. (4.4. The weight (test) functions are discretised in the same fashion as the unknown field uh .2 49 . Now.e N T h dΓ. wh = Nbe . What remains is the insertion of the discretised field uh into the governing weak equation. 1989) 4. and can therefore be eliminated.e N T h dΓ.18).3 Governing equations At this point. The discrete nodal values can be removed from the integrals.e is only non-zero if the boundary of the element coincides with the boundary Γh . The three-dimensional equivalent of a Pascal triangle can be used to find the polynomial terms for higher-order three-dimensional elements (Zienkiewicz and Taylor.42) (4.3 Governing equations x=0 x x = l1 x = l2 x=L Figure 4. s h where the notation has been ‘abused’ as ∇s wh is being expressed as a vector (recall that this is possible due to symmetry).43) ∇ w = Bbe .44) where the integral over Γh. (4.

y) in the ‘physical’ Cartesian 50 Version 0. For an element stiffness matrix.51) where A represents the assembly operation and ne is the number of elements in the mesh. Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for an element. e= (4.49) Ωe Γh. This yields: Ωe ( Bbe ) T DBae dΩ = Γh. For a two dimensional problem. This approach has a number of advantages. From the point of view of implementation. the discretised displacement and strain fields are inserted into equation (3. The assembly process is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. (4.4 Isoparametric mapping In practice. local node i has global node number I. An isoparametric mapping is defined via a mapping using the nodal shape functions.5).48) (recall that b denotes the body force). This is denoted symbolically by the operation: K = Ane 1 ke . and similarly for J. The shape functions are formed for a simple element configuration (typically elements with unit length side and with sides aligned with the coordinate system and with a convenient origin).50) (4. it must be assembled into the global stiffness matrix. the term k ij relates local nodes i and j.47) is known as the ‘element stiffness matrix’. its contribution is added to the ‘global’ stiffness matrix K. It also allows the simple application of numerical integration. the point ( x. e= f = Ane 1 f e . irrespective of the exact shape of the element. For a continuum elasticity problem. 2011 . The component k ij is added to the location K I J . 4. the element stiffness matrix is expressed as: B T DB dΩ ae = N T h dΓ + N T b dΩ. A third advantage is that isoparametric mapping allows higher-order elements to have curved edges. as is discussed in the following section. In the global mesh. isoparametric elements are used in finite element software.e Ωe Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for each element in the problem.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ + Ωe ( Nbe ) T b dΩ (4. it requires the programming of only one function to evaluate the shape functions of a type of element. Following the same steps as for the onedimensional problem.4 Formulation of the finite element method The term ke = l2 l1 B T EB dΩ (4.2 January 21.

consider the application of the product rule for differentia- January 21. y) system. where (ξ. ξ and η. taking a point in the real Cartesian ( x. To proceed.53) The difficulty that arises is when computing derivatives with respect to the real coordinates. η ) domain and maps it to a point in the ‘real’ element in the Cartesian ( x.19. The position on the bi-unit square is given by the natural coordinates.2 51 . y) system and mapping to a point (ξ. For example the displacement in the x-direction at a point is given by: nn uh = ∑ Ni (ξ. shape functions can be defined on simple shapes.−1) x 1 ξ Figure 4.−1) y 2 (1. 2011 Version 0. Using an isoparametric mapping. η ) aix .19: Isoparametric mapping for a bi-unit square. η ) in the bi-unit square.4. configuration is given by: nn x= y= ∑ Ni (ξ. The map ξ is the inverse of x. η ) yi . i =1 nn i =1 (4.1) (1.52) ∑ Ni (ξ. In the governing weak equations. The map x takes a point within the bi-unit square in the (ξ. η ) are known as the ‘natural coordinates’. η ) xi . The mapping for a four-node quadrilateral element is illustrated in Figure 4.4 Isoparametric mapping x 3 (−1. i =1 (4. such as the bi-unit square.1) 2 4 4 3 η ξ 1 (−1. and nn is number of nodes of the element. as the shape functions are defined in terms of the natural coordinates. derivatives of the unknown field with respect to x and y are required.

∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + .ξ y j  ∂ξ    ∂x  1 ∑ j=1 Nj. (4. nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x.58) In light of the isoparametric mapping (equation (4.      ∂y  ∂ f  ∂y ∂f      −  ∂x  ∂ξ   ∂ξ  1  ∂η  =  .  ∂ f   ∂x ∂y   ∂ f          ∂η ∂η ∂η ∂y J (4.56) where the matrix J is commonly known as the Jacobian matrix. ∂η ∂η i i =1 nn ∂Ni ∂y =∑ y. from equation (4.η x j     ∑nn1 Nj.2 January 21. defined in terms of ξ and η. Using the shape function.η y j  =  .55) (4.52)).       ∂Ni   nn  ∂Ni  nn    − ∑ j=1 Nj. ∂η ∂η i i =1 (4.60)  ∂Ni  j − ∑nn Nj.59) Once terms of the matrix J have been formed. ∂η ∂x ∂η ∂y ∂η This can be written in matrix form as:      ∂x ∂y  ∂ f  ∂f       ∂ξ   ∂ξ ∂ξ   ∂x   = .4 Formulation of the finite element method tion for a function f .54) (4. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x. (4.ξ x j  ∂Ni      j =1 j= ∂y ∂η 52 Version 0.57) the derivatives of the shape function of node i with respect to x and y can be computed. the terms in the matrix J can be computed. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂y ∂Ni =∑ y. ∂ξ ∂x ∂ξ ∂y ∂ξ ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + . (4. Taking the inverse of the Jacobian. 2011 .57) ∂x   ∂ f  ∂f  j  ∂x         − ∂y ∂η ∂ξ ∂η J where j = det J.

1) 3 3 6 5 2 1 (0. Triangular elements are often described using area coordinates. η ) = 1 (1 + ξ i ξ ) (1 + ηi η ) . 2011 Version 0. Triangular elements Isoparametric mappings are also applied for triangular elements. (4. While this procedure may seen complex. A popular approach is to ‘degenerate’ a quadrilateral element to a triangular element (Bathe. s and t. and an eight-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a six-node triangular element. Quadrilateral elements The shape functions for quadrilateral elements on a bi-unit square is particularly simple. Is is also possible to directly address isoparametric triangular elements. The position of a point inside the triangle is given by r. For the bi-unit quadrilateral in Figure 4.1) s (0.0) r Figure 4. Now. The latter approach is followed here.0) 4 2 (1. Hughes. once the derivatives of the shape functions have been calculated on the simple isoparametric domain.4. where: t = 1 − r − s.19. they can be calculated for the real configuration. 1987). Consider the triangle in Figure 4. 1996.20. 1987).4 Isoparametric mapping s (0.61) Similar formulae can be found for eight. the shape function of the ith node is given by: Ni (ξ. a four-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a threenode triangular element. it can be implemented in a computer code in a simple and compact fashion.0) r 1 (0.0) (1.62) January 21.20: Three-node and six-node triangles using area coordinates.2 53 .and nine-node elements (Hughes. 4 (4. This way.

68) 54 Version 0. N3 = s.64) (4. To make the formulation fully discrete (and amendable to computer implementation). (4. For the integration of a function f (ξ ) from −1 to 1.3). Two schemes which arise in finite element analysis are Newton-Cotes and Gauss integration. p.67) i =1 where ξ i are discrete points on the integral domain. 166). It is common for higher-order elements that the apexes are first numbered (corner nodes in the case of quadrilateral elements). N2 = 2r − r.66) N3 = 2s2 − s. N5 = 4rs. Numerical integration is illustrated in Figure 4. then the mid-side nodes. While the displacement field has been discretised. 1 nint −1 f (ξ ) dξ ≃ ∑ f ( ξ i ) wi . consider in two dimensions that: B T DB dΩ = 1 1 Ωe −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη. the problem is not yet fully discrete. 2 N4 = 4rt. N6 = 4st.5 Numerical integration At this stage. For a quadratic (six-node) triangular element. η ) domain. 2011 .20 are then: N1 = t. numerical integration is applied. (4.20. the element stiffness matrices and RHS vectors still involve integration over volumes and surfaces (see section 4.21.63) (4. To do this. There is a formula for the shape functions of arbitrary order in terms of r. Different integration schemes specify where the points are located and the weight associated with each point. N2 = r.65) Note the numbering of the nodes for the quadratic triangle in Figure 4. the shape functions are equal to: N1 = 2t2 − t. 4. Before proceeding to the element matrices. it convenient to integrate in the (ξ. s and t on triangles (Hughes. 1987. numerical integration in one-dimension is considered.2 January 21. (4.4 Formulation of the finite element method The shape functions for the nodes of the element in Figure 4. To evaluate the stiffness matrix of an element. nint is the number of discrete points (integration points) at which the function is evaluated and wi is the weight asnint signed to each point ∑i=1 wi = 2 . (4.

69) Note that B (ξ i . A Newton-Cotes scheme uses equally spaced integration points. (n + 1) integration points are required when using a Newton-Cotes scheme to integrate an nth-order polynomial. Gauss quadrature is the optimal numerical integration scheme for polynomials in one dimension. For multi-dimensional problems. Full integration means that the stiffness matrix is integrated exactly (assuming j = constant). containing derivatives of the shape functions with respect to x and y. To perform the numerical integration of the element stiffness matrix. Therefore. if the shape functions are linear.4. Importantly. The question that arises in finite element analysis is: How many integration points should be used? Generally. Note the appearance of the determinant of the Jacobian. For a (2n − 1)th-order polynomial. ηi ). ηi ) j (ξ i . It is also known as ‘Gauss quadrature’. Therefore. The integrand of the stiffness matrix is B T DB.1.2. which when squared give a January 21. one integration point is sufficient (in one. Most commonly in finite element analysis. j. the terms in B are constant and the stiffness matrix is also constant throughout the element.21: Numerical integration of the function f .2 55 . evaluated at the point (ξ i . Gauss integration requires n points to integrate the polynomial exactly. If the shape functions are quadratic. B contains linear terms. 2011 Version 0. The sampling points and weights are listed in Table 4. full integration schemes are recommended for their robustness. (4. the one-dimensional scheme can be extended in each spatial direction. it requires the least number of points. The location and weights for Gauss integration in one dimension for up to three points are given in Table 4. ηi )T DB (ξ i . in multiple dimensions Gauss integration is not necessarily the most efficient scheme. This is simple when using isoparametric elements. Application of numerical integration leads to: 1 1 −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη ≃ ∑ B (ξ i . the last remaining issue is the selection of an appropriate integration scheme. Optimal means that to integrate a polynomial exactly. However. where B contains derivatives of the shape functions. ηi ) is the usual B matrix. This is due to dx dy = j dξ dη (the substitution rule for integration has been applied). two and three dimensions). Three points integrate as 5th order polynomial exactly in one dimension. Gauss integration is used.5 Numerical integration f −1 ξ1 ξ2 ξ3 ξ4 1 ξ Figure 4. ηi ) i n wi .

4 Formulation of the finite element method n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 1 weight wi 2 1 1 1 3 4 3 1 3 1 4 3 4 3 4 1 4 3 −1 0 1 4 −1 − 1 3 1 3 1 Table 4. 2011 . 56 Version 0.2: Gauss integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1. 1]. n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 −√ 3 1 √ 3 3 − 5 0 3 5 weight wi 2 1 1 5 9 8 9 5 9 3 Table 4. 1].2 January 21.1: Newton-Cotes integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1.

recommended integration schemes for commonly used one. there is likely a deficiency in the formulation. Reduced integration schemes can improve the performance of some elements for special applications. They appear naturally in the weak formulation (hence the common name ‘natural boundary conditions’). Non-zero Dirichlet boundary conditions are more complicated to enforce.modes which do not contribute to the energy. This means that a deformation mode exists which does not contribute to the energy. although it is safer to use full integration. Similarly. there should be only three zero eigenvalues. For some applications it may be advantageous to use reduced integration schemes in combination with particular elements.3. the eight-node quadrilateral requires 3 × 3 points for full integration. In the Galerkin method. January 21. quadratic variation. In solid and structural mechanics. A test for the element stiffness matrix is to calculate its eigenvalues.and twodimensional elements are shown in Table 4. To integrate a quadratic function in two dimensions. there should only be one zero eigenvalue which corresponds to translation. the trial functions (uh ) must satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. although it is often integrated with just one point. The danger of underintegrating elements is that spurious modes may arise. 4. although a 2 × 2 scheme is often used. The number of zero eigenvalues indicates the number of rigid body modes . In summary.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions Figure 4.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions The imposition of Neumann (force) boundary conditions in the finite element method is straightforward. two relating the translation (x and y directions) and one for rigid body rotation. The four-node quadrilateral element requires 2 × 2 points for full integration. Figure 4. two points are required in each direction. If a two-dimensional element has more than three zero eigenvalues.22 shows the classic ‘hour-glass’ spurious mode for an eight-node quadrilateral when using reduced 2 × 2 integration.4. It is often argued that a zero energy mode will be restrained by neighbouring elements. 2011 Version 0. In two dimensions. This deformation mode can develop in an uncontrolled fashion. In one dimension.22: Spurious zero energy mode for the eight-node quadrilateral element when using 2 × 2 integration.2 57 .

3: Recommended integration schemes for commonly used elements. 58 Version 0. 2011 .2 January 21.4 Formulation of the finite element method element two-node bar three-node bar integration scheme 1 2 three-node triangle (T3) 1 six-node triangle (T6) or 3 four-node quadrilateral (Q4) 2×2 eight-node quadrilateral(Q8) 3×3 Table 4.

70) where uh is the displacement. 2011 Version 0. (4.6. In discretised form at element level. vv vg In terms of indexes. Two common approached are outlined below. the element RHS vector is modified. Classical enforcement of Dirichlet boundary conditions in the finite element method relies on the property of the shape functions that they are non-zero at their own node and equal to zero at all other nodes.74) j =1 ∑ ke ge . 4. the element RHS vector can be modified to enforce Dirichlet boundary conditions before assembly into the global RHS vector.2 59 .1 Elimination of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom The displacement field can be expressed by: uh = vh + gh . ke a = ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv fg . (4.72) Since g is known. 0 (4. vv vg (4. it is not included in the global system of equations to be solved.71) where av are the nodal unknowns at nodes where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. and g are the applied Dirichlet boundary conditions.73) where av is the only unknown. Since g is known. The advantages of this approach are that degrees of freedom to which Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied do not appear in the global stiffness matrix and symmetries which may be present in the stiffness matrix are preserved.mod = f ie − nn (4. It is possible to write: ke av + ke g = f v . Dirichlet boundary conditions can be enforced by modifying the RHS vector.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions this means that the uh must satisfy the prescribed displacements where they are specified.4. ij j (4. Since the weight function is defined to be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. January 21. vh is equal to zero where Dirichlet (displacement) boundary conditions are applied and gh satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions.75) Once the element stiffness matrix has been formed. ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv . f ie. ke av = f e − ke g.

symmetry is lost. compare the matrix K for the finite element method with linear elements and for the secondorder central finite difference method.7 Exercises 1. modern iterative linear solvers can deal with the consequences of boundary conditions being applied in this fashion is a very efficient manner (Ern and Guermond.4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. The value of Dirichlet boundary condition is then inserted into the vector f at position k. 4. and that the value of the Dirichlet boundary condition is returned in the solution vector which simplifies postprocessing. The advantage of this scheme is its simplicity. Show why this is. the difference equation for the second derivative is: d2 u dx2 = i 2ui+1 2ui−1 2ui + − h j h j +1 h j h j + h j +1 h j +1 h j + h j +1 Comment on the symmetry of the operators for finite elements and finite differences on unequally spaced grid. at which points is the stress from the finite element solution not uniquely defined when using C0 elements? 2. both the finite element method and the finite difference method require the solution of a system of equations Ka = f . 2011 . A disadvantage is that the size of the system of equations to be solved is larger than when the extra degrees of freedom are eliminated (but only marginally so in a typical simulation) and if the stiffness matrix is symmetric before the imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions. except the diagonal term which is set equal to one. The three-node triangle element is often referred to as the ‘constant strain triangle’ (CST). 2004). 4. In one dimension and for equally spaced nodal points (nodes are a distance h apart).6.2 January 21. However. 60 Version 0.2 Retention of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom A simpler approach to imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions is to set all terms on the row of the stiffness matrix corresponding to a node where a Dirichlet boundary condition is applied (row k) equal to zero. Under what conditions the matrix B T DB is symmetric? 5. Form the shape functions for a Lagrange nine-node quadrilateral element 3. which is given by: ∆u = ∇ · (∇u) = 0 To solve this problem. The second-order finite difference equation for the second derivative is: d2 u dx2 = i ui−1 − 2ui + ui+1 h2 For unequally spaced nodes. Consider the Laplace equation. For a plane elasticity problem.

2. Formulate the stiffness matrix for the element in Figure 4.1 and for E = 1 and ν = 0. 7. Calculate its eigenvalues using one-point and 2 × 2 integration. 8. January 21. Calculate and plot the shape functions for the eight-node quadrilateral element on a bi-unit square.7 using the nodal coordinates in Example 4.2 61 .4. Calculate the eigenvalues of the stiffness matrix and comment on their significance. Form the stiffness matrix for a four-node quadrilateral on a bi-unit square.7 Exercises 6. 2011 Version 0.


this can be done by hand. It is illustrated with schematic extracts of computer code. The notation used in this chapter follows as closely as possible the notation used in the accompanying Matlab code.3 3 4 3 2 5 4 9 8 2 1 6 7 1 Figure 5. To this point. a mesh is too complicated to produce by hand. A typical input file containing F= 5. This chapter describes how the finite element method can be implemented in a computer code. 63 .1 Preprocessing The first step in finite element analysis is known as preprocessing. Also shown are the applied boundary conditions (both prescribed displacements and the applied force). In large finite element software packages.5 Implementation of the finite element method This chapter addresses practical aspects of implementing the finite element method. the underlying theory has been addressed and the discretised formulation for individual elements discussed.1: Finite element mesh with elements and nodes numbered. Mesh generation programs exist which produce meshes suitable for finite element analysis. One of the strengths of the finite element method is the efficiency with which it can be implemented in a computer code. Figure 5. The generated mesh files serve as input for a finite element program. Note: Code examples in the chapter does not reflect the structure of the current version of the Matlab code used in CT5123. For simple problems with only a few elements. often a mesh generator is included. Both nodes and elements have been numbered.1 shows a simple finite element mesh of four-noded quadrilaterals. For problems typically analysed using the finite element method. A finite element mesh consists of nodal coordinates and a connectivity. This step involves generating a finite element mesh. 5.

0 2.2 January 21.5 0.1 y 0. For each node.1 2.7 0. The connectivity list for Figure 5.1 is given in Figure 5.0 1.3.2 Program flow Once the input for a finite element analysis has been prepared.5 2.4 gives the applied boundary condition. The density is necessary when taking the self-weight into account. The problem in Figure 5.1 involves both Dirichlet (displacement) and Neumann (force) boundary conditions. 2011 . The preprocessing is completed by specify the material data. the node to which a boundary condition is applied is listed. the x and y coordinate is given.6 0.0 0.82 1. This is either a prescribed force or the prescribed displacement. The list can begin with any node of the element.5 Implementation of the finite element method % node 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 x 0. boundary conditions must be specified. 5. the is Young’s modulus. For each element. For an isotropic linear-elastic analysis. The outline of a typical finite element program for linear static problems 64 Version 0.0 0.1 2.2: Nodal coordinates. the calculation phase can begin. the Poisson’s ratio and the density of the material. The list in Figure 5.76 2. the node numbers are listed. % element 1 2 3 4 node1 2 3 9 5 node 2 1 2 4 6 node 3 6 5 5 7 node 4 5 4 8 8 Figure 5.3: Element connectivity. The third column gives the degree-of-freedom to which the boundary condition is applied (dof=1 represents the x-direction and dof=2 represents the y-direction). In addition to nodal coordinates and the connectivity.0 0.2. The final column is the value of the applied boundary condition.0 Figure 5. First. the nodal coordinates is shown in Figure 5.0 0.8 2. although the numbering must process in an anti-clockwise direction (to avoid calculating a negative volume and hence a negative element stiffness). The second column gives the boundary condition type: Dirichlet (displacement) = 1 and Neumann (force) = 0.0 0.

5.3 Local-global
% node 1 1 2 3 9 bc type 1 1 1 1 0 dof 1 2 1 1 1 value 0 0 0 0.0 5.3

Figure 5.4: Specification of boundary conditions. is shown in Figure 5.5. It begins with reading the input data from the preprocessing stage. Once the input data has been read, each degree of freedom at which no Dirichlet boundary condition is applied is given an equation number. This is stored in an array ID(node#,dof#) (see Figure 5.6). For degrees of freedom where a Dirichlet boundarycondition is applied, ID=0. Degrees of freedom where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied do not appear in the stiffness matrix. Hence, for the problem in Figure 5.1 the size of stiffness matrix is 14 × 14. After the number of equations has been determined, it is then possible to allocate the memory required for the calculation. Once the memory has been allocated, it is possible to start a major element of the analysis – the calculation of the element stiffness matrix and element RHS. For each element, the element stiffness matrix ke is formed and added into the global stiffness matrix K. Similarly, the element RHS vector f e for each element is formed and added into the global RHS vector f . If a Dirichlet boundary condition is applied to a degree of freedom (or degrees of freedom) of the element, the RHS vector is modified to impose the boundary condition. The element RHS vector is also assembled into the global RHS vector. After looping over all the elements and forming the stiffness matrix and RHS vector, Neumann boundary conditions are added into the RHS vector. The second major step is the solution of the system of equations: Ka = f . Various methods can be used to do this. The best method depends on the nature of the problem and its size. This aspect is discussed in Chapter 8. After the system of equations has been solved, the displacement can be calculated at any point in the body. For large problems, the amount of data can be immense. This data requires post-processing to interpret the data and to extract the desired information.

5.3 Local-global
A key to implementing the finite element method is the local-global relationship between nodes. All nodes in a mesh have a global number. Locally, for each element, each node of the element has a local number. The global node numbers can be seen in Figure 5.1. From the connectivity (Figure 5.3), the relationship between the local and global node numbers can be inferred for each element. Consider element 3

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5 Implementation of the finite element method

% start program % read input data read_nodes read_connectivity read_boundary_conditions read_material_data % number equations number_equations % setup memory allocation memory_allocate % loop over elements for i=1:number_elements local_arrays % copy global to local arrays element_form % form stiffness matrix k_e and f_e for element assemble_K % add element stiffness matrix into K apply_dirichlet_bc % modify f_e for Dirichlet boundary conditions assemble_f end % add element RHS into global RHS

% apply Neumann boundary conditions apply_neumann_bc % solve system Ku = f u = K\f % post-process results calculate_stress plot_displacements % end program

Figure 5.5: Finite element program flow for a linear problem.


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5.3 Local-global
ID(1,1) ID(2,1) ID(3,1) ID(4,1) ID(5,1) ID(6,1) ID(7,1) ID(8,1) ID(9,1) = = = = = = = = = 0 0 0 3 5 7 9 11 13 ID(1,2) ID(2,2) ID(3,2) ID(4,2) ID(5,2) ID(6,2) ID(7,2) ID(8,2) ID(9,2) = = = = = = = = = 0 1 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Figure 5.6: Equation numbering.
2(4) 1(9)

4(8) 3 (5)

Figure 5.7: Global/local numbering of element 3. The global node number is shown in brackets. in Figure 5.1. For element three, the local and global node numbers are shown in Figure 5.7. An array (matrix) connect(element#,local node#) contains the connectivity data which is in Figure 5.3. For example, connect(3,1) = 9, connect(3,2) = 4, connect(3,3) = 5, connect(3,4) = 8. Before forming the element i, information specific to that element is copied from the global arrays containing nodal positions, displacements at nodes and any other relevant information to smaller local arrays for the element. An example piece of code is shown in Figure 5.8 for copy elements of the global arrays to the local element arrays. Once the local arrays have been assembled for element i, its stiffness matrix can be formed. A simple function to form the stiffness matrix and RHS vector of an element is shown Figure 5.9. The process is repeated for every element in the mesh. Once the stiffness matrix has been calculated for an element, it is possible to impose Dirichlet boundary conditions by modifying the element RHS vector f e . The process is shown in Figure 5.10. After the stiffness matrix and RHS vector has been formed for an element and the RHS vector has been modified for any Dirichlet boundary conditions, the element stiffness matrix and RHS vector is added into the global stiffness matrix and global RHS vector. This process relies on indexing between local degrees of freedom and their global equation number. An example piece of code is given in Figure 5.11. Note that degrees of freedom where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied are not assembled into the global arrays.

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j). 68 Version 0.j).dof_per_node + k if ID(connect(i. k) ) else a_e(jj) = g_e(jj) % displacement is prescribed end end end % return to main program Figure 5.9: Formation of element stiffness matrix.5 Implementation of the finite element method % setup local arrays for element i for j=1:nodes_per_element % loop over each node x_e(j. % form element stiffness matrix ip_scheme % determine integration scheme for i=1:number_ip_points % loop over integration points ip_location % calculate position of integration point shape_function % evaluate shape functions at integration point form_B_matrix form_D_matrix k_e = k_e + B’*D*B*w(i)*xj(i) % add contribution of ip to k_e f_e = f_e + N’*b*w(i)*xj(i) % add contribution of ip to f_e if postprocess == true % if stress is required stress(i) = D*B*a_e end end % return to main program Figure 5.j).8: Set-up of local element arrays for element i. 2011 .:) % copy nodal postions % copy displacements from global to local array for k=1:dof_per_node % loop over each degree of freedom jj = j*dof_per_node .k) ~= 0 a_e(jj) = a( ID(connect(i.:) = x(connect(i.2 January 21.

i)*g_e(i) end % return to main program Figure 5.k_e(:.dof_per_node + m if ii~=0 & jj~=0 K(ii. January 21.jj) = K(ii.j).5.dof_per_node + k for l=1:nodes_per_element for m=1:dof_per_node jj = ID(connect(i. % assemble k_e and f_e for element i into K and f for j=1:nodes_per_element for k=1:dof_per_node ii = ID(connect(i.3 Local-global % impose Dirichlet boundary conditions for i=1:nodes_per_element*dof_per_node f_e(:) = f_e(:) .10: Imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions. 2011 Version 0. k) kk = j*dof_per_node .ll) end end end if ii ~= 0 f(ii) = f(ii) + f_e(kk) end end end % return to main program Figure 5.l). m) ll = l*dof_per_node .2 69 .11: Assembly of local arrays into global arrays.jj) + k_e(kk.

However. The stiffness matrix in Figure 5. Non-zero terms are marked by a dot. the mesh must be constructed in an ‘optimal’ fashion to minimise the bandwidth of the stiffness matrix. Figure 5. Assuming double precision storage. storing the whole matrix would require almost 18 megabytes of memory. mesh generation programs will label nodes optimally. 70 Version 0. Many finite element programs store the stiffness matrix in a skyline format. only 23 638 entries are non-zero (1% of the total matrix elements). Yet further savings can be achieved by taking into account symmetry of the stiffness matrix. This is relatively small for a finite element analysis. Typically.2 January 21.12 is well-numbered.12: Graphical representation of a stiffness matrix 5. Storing only the non zero terms requires on 283 kilobytes of memory! In addition. as all non-zero terms are close to the diagonal which minimises the bandwidth. This means that the stiffness matrix contains many zeros.12 represents graphically the structure of the stiffness matrix for a problem involving 700 four-noded quadrilateral elements. both in terms of memory and computational time. For this method to be efficient. Taking advantage of the sparse nature of the stiffness matrix yields significant computational savings. solvers are implemented such that operations are not performed on non-zero terms which reduces the number of floating point operations required. and hence the computational time. The dimension of the matrix is 1530 × 1530 (giving a total of 2 340 900 entries). significantly.5 Implementation of the finite element method 0 500 1000 1500 0 500 1000 1500 Figure 5. 2011 . or have the option to relabel nodes to minimise the stiffness matrix bandwidth. This essentially requires that the node numbers of nodes which are close to each should also be close.4 Stiffness matrix storage A feature of the finite element method is that the stiffness matrix is sparse.

including where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied).1) Once assembled for all elements (at all nodes. Reaction forces can be evaluates by calculating the so-called internal force vector f int . This means that the body is in equilibrium. Three quantities of potential interest from a linear-elastic calculation are displacements. post-processing of the data is required.2 71 . More reliable are the reaction forces at nodes where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. 2011 Version 0.5. it gives the reaction force at each node. For static problems. The internal force vector for an element is given by: int fe = Ωe B T σ dΩ + Ωe N T b dΩ (5.5 Post-processing 5.5 Post-processing After a calculation has been completed. stresses and reaction forces. the internal force vector should be zero where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. January 21. It is important to realise that the stress computed at a point is not always reliable.


6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Special finite elements are often used in structural mechanics.1. Consider the truss element in Figure 6. which is oriented in the three-dimensional space. in contrast to continuum elasticity problems which involve only second-order derivatives. The use of truss elements in a two.and y-directions. The most convenient system is one in which the axis of the truss element is aligned with the x coordinate axis. Hence.1: Two-dimensional truss structure. For a truss structure in F Figure 6. plate and shell elements.2. the strong governing equations involve fourth-order derivatives. a finite element model will require two degrees of freedom at each node.1 Rod elements in space In Chapter 4. A particular problem is that classical thin bending problems in structural mechanics are governed by fourth-order equations. It is however possible to assemble this element into a truss structure in two or three dimensions. 73 . That is. 6. a one-dimensional rod element was developed that could only transmit normal forces. or in situations where they provide a higher degree of accuracy (in terms of the quantity of interest) than plane elements for the same computational effort. Examples are beam. These elements are derived from different governing equations.or three dimensional structure relies upon a rotation between different coordinate systems. A simple two-dimensional truss structure is shown in Figure 6. Their governing equations derive from the governing equation of elastostatics. with simplifications and assumptions which are applicable for common structural problems. This has serious consequences for the shape functions which can be employed. The formulation of structural elements tends to be more complex than continuum elements. They are used in situations where conventional solid elements perform poorly with a practicably allowable number of elements. which are closely related to classical equations from structural mechanics. Each element is rotated to a convenient coordinate system. Joints (nodes) of the truss can translate in both the x.

displacements in the y⋆ -direction are not resisted by an element.2) 0 Q11 Q21   a2x   a2x⋆   0      ⋆   0 0 Q12 Q22 a2y a2y where Qij are components of the matrix Q. (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Fx* x* y* y z* z x Figure 6. the rotation is particularly simple. (6. two degrees of freedom. The only displacement of any consequence for an element is in the x ⋆ -direction.3) = a2x⋆ 0 0 Q11 Q21  a2x      a2y a⋆ = e a1x⋆ a2x⋆ . three dimensions. Denoting the angle between the x-axis and the x ⋆ -axis as θ. For a two dimensional truss structure. 2011 .2 January 21. of a linear bar.1) to give the nodal displacements in terms of the coordinate system aligned with the axis of the truss element. Since truss elements are based on the assumption that only normal forces (σx⋆ ) can be transmitted.2: Linear truss element in three-dimensional space. The displacements at nodes one and two. The displacement components can be rotated using the matrix Q (see section 1.1) The vector ae holds the displacement components at the nodes of an element. a node will have three degrees of freedom.4) The following definitions are now adopted: 74 Version 0.and y⋆ -directions are given by:      Q Q21 0 0  a1x   a1x⋆       ⋆   11   a1y Q Q22 0 0  a1y  =  12 . the rotation matrix has the form: QT = cos θ − sin θ sin θ cos θ (6. the above problem can be reduced to give:    a1x      a1y a1x⋆ Q11 Q21 0 0 . Given that the only displacements of interest are the in x ⋆ -direction. in the x ⋆ . Therefore. (6. the vector ae has four components (a component in the x and y direction at each node). and in two dimensions.

8) into the weak governing equation (2.7) Similarly. (6.2 75 . January 21. e (6. Clearly.6) where N ⋆ contains the shape functions for a one-dimensional bar (see equation (4. 2011 Version 0. the derivative of a weight function w can be expressed in the local coordinate system in terms of the global degrees of freedom. Q21 (6. Ωe ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh ( Nbe ) T h dΓ.12). Inserting the relationships in equations (6.6. the stiffness matrix for a one-dimensional element can be formed.x⋆ = B⋆ qbe ⋆ (6.9) where the LHS of equation (6. h w.10) Ωe This is equivalent to ke = q T k⋆ q. (6. A classic sign of a mechanism is singularity of the global stiffness matrix of the structure. It is important to ensure that a truss structure does not form a mechanism.8) (recall that be is a variation).7) and (6. Inserting now the discretised fields into the weak governing equation for a onedimensional bar.x⋆⋆ = B⋆ qae (6.5) The displacement in the x ⋆ -direction along the bar is therefore given by: uh⋆ = N ⋆ a⋆ = N ⋆ qae .19) for a linear element). the element stiffness matrix is equal to: ke = q T B⋆ T EB⋆ q dΩ. and eliminating be . multidimensional coordinate system. The ‘star’ denotes that the shape functions are constructed relative to the coordinate system on the bar.9) is the stiffness matrix. where k⋆ is the standard one-dimensional stiffness e e matrix for a bar.1 Rod elements in space and q= Q11 0 Q21 0 0 Q11 0 . The strain in the x ⋆ -direction is therefore given by: h ǫh⋆ = u. and with the aid of the matrix q it can be transformed into the global.

Figure 6.x y x Figure 6. in-plane beams are considered. The development of beam elements follows the same steps as for continuum elements. Consistent with previous sections. x2 ). which takes into account shear deformations.4 shows the rotation of the plane due to a rigid body rotation.2 January 21. For a transverse displacement v.4: Rotation of a line normal to the axis in a beam segment. which is valid for relatively slender beams.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis y fy Fy x T x = x1 x = x2 Figure 6. x2 ). there are no out-of plane forces or moments.1 Kinematics of a beam Beam theory is based upon the assumption that planes which are normal to the beam’s axis remain plane. The outward normal is denoted n. the ‘domain’ of the beam.3. and its ends (the boundary of Ω) are denoted Γ = x1 ∪ x2 .3: Plane beam element Ω = ( x1 .2. The second is the Timoshenko beam.2 Beams Two types of beams are considered in this section. is denoted Ω = ( x1 . straight. v. 6. The first is the classic BernoulliEuler beam.x v. Such a beam is illustrated in Figure 6. For simplicity. 2011 . 6. The governing equation is identified and then the weak form developed. Consider now a fibre in a beam 76 Version 0.

In the second method.12) and the shear stress q is defined by q= h/2 − h/2 σxy dy. The first is to elaborate the kinematics of the beam. Relative to the fibre which has not rotated.5. equilibrium of a beam can be considered directly.x y x Figure 6. Considering translational equilibrium of a beam segment Ω. Note that M = m n and Q = q n. where n is the outward unit normal vector. it is clear January 21.2 77 .2.11) − h/2 σxx y dy.7 show the ‘resultant’ force Q and moment M due to a moment m and a shear force q in a beam. Subjecting a segment from a beam to pure shear. It is clear from Figure 6.6.6 that θ = v. The bending moment m in a beam is defined as m= h/2 (6.13) Figure 6.2 Equilibrium of a beam The equilibrium equations for a beam can be developed in two ways. The fibre is indicated by the heavy line. which is initially perpendicular to the beam axis. 2011 Version 0. (6. the fibre will not rotate.5: Beam segment subjected to pure shear. a plane which remains perpendicular to the axis undergoes a rotation γ. (6.2 Beams γ v. as illustrated in Figure 6. which together with some assumptions as to the stress in different directions can be inserted into the elasticity equations from Chapter 1.6. which will be followed here. the rotation θ of a fibre which is initially perpendicular to the beam’s axis is shown in Figure 6.x − γ. 6. For a beam segment subjected to both rotation and shear deformation.

2 January 21. 2011 .7: Sign conventions for a bending moment and shear force resultant. +Q n y n +M x Figure 6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γ θ v.6: Rotation of fibre in a beam.x y x Figure 6. 78 Version 0.

on ΓQ . translational equilibrium requires that q. Γθ ∪ ΓM = Γ. it is required that: m n dΓ − q nx dΓ − f y x dΩ = 0.x x dΩ − f y x dΩ = 0. on ΓM .20a) (6.21a) (6. distributed loads f y and applied moments T (all shown in Figure 6.18) Satisfaction of the translational equilibrium equation implies that 0.2 Beams that: q n dΓ + dΩ dΩ Ω f y dΩ = 0.3). Γv ∩ ΓQ = ∅.16) dΩ dΩ Ω This expression can be rearranged such that m. (6. The boundary Γ of a beam is partitioned such that: Γv ∪ ΓQ = Γ. (6.6.20b) Denoting applied end forces Fy . Γθ ∩ ΓM = ∅ + f y ) x dΩ = (6. the boundary conditions are v = gv θn = gθ mn = T q n = Fy on Γv .x + f y = 0.x dΩ + f y dΩ = 0. therefore rotational equilibrium requires that m.x Ω Ω Ω Ω (6.2 79 . are valid for both Bernoulli-Euler and Timoshenko beam theories.21b) (6.21d) These equations. (6.21c) (6.14) Noting that q n dΓ = q| x= L2 − q| x= L1 .15) Since equilibrium must hold for an infinitely small segment of a beam. 2011 Version 0.x dΩ − q dΩ − q. January 21. Ω (q. and boundary conditions.19) (6. (6.17) (6. For rotational equilibrium.x − q = 0. it is clear that Ω Ω q. on Γθ .

2011 .xx dΩ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. (6. With appropriate boundary conditions.21a) and (6. Taking now the derivative of all terms in equation (6. so the rotation can be directly related to the displacement v. and inserting the constitutive relationship from equation (6.21b)).24) where I is the moment of inertia of the beam. The negative sign is due to the sign convention in which the rotation and the resultant moment are in opposite directions. two boundary conditions are required at both ends of the beam. dx d2 v . from an appropriately defined space. − EI d4 v + f y = 0.2. Weak governing equation Following the procedures from Chapter 2. dx4 (6.26) which is the strong equation of equilibrium for a Bernoulli-Euler beam.22) which also implies that κ= (6. θ= dv . dx2 (6. the boundary value problem is complete and can be solved. dx2 d2 v . and Neumann involve either the shear force or moment (equations (6.16) yields: d2 m + f y = 0.19) with respect to x.25) Assuming EI to be constant.21c) and (6. Being a fourth-order equation. which is equal to zero where Dirichlet (kinematic) boundary conditions are applied (the bar is used in this section to denote a weight function) and integration over the beam Ω yields: Ω ¯ vm. the weak form of equilibrium for a beam ¯ can be developed. Dirichlet boundary conditions involve the prescription of the displacement or the rotation (equations (6. Multiplying equation (6.3 Bernoulli-Euler beam A fundamental assumption in the Bernoulli-Euler theory is that a plane which is initially normal to the longitudinal axis remains a plane and normal to the longitudinal axis.25) by a weight function v.21d)). and then inserting equation (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. This assumption implies that the shear rotation γ is equal to zero.2 January 21.27) 80 Version 0.24).23) The bending moment in the beam is related to the curvature by: m = − EIκ = − EI (6. dx2 (6.

this time to the term Ω ¯ v. v = 0 on Γv .x = gθ on Γθ .2 Beams Integrating by parts the term involving the moment M once yields: − Ω ¯ v.32a) (6. which require C0 continuity only. solving the governing weak equation for a beam involves: find v ∈ S such that − Ω ¯ v.6.x = 0 on Γθ . ¯ Ω v.x = 0 on Γθ . The existence of second-order derivatives in the weak form deserves some special attention. after integrating by parts twice. .32b) For the case of an elastic continuum. Note that a fourth-order problem.21d). (6.x T dΓ + ΓQ δvFy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. the trial functions (v ∈ S ) and the ¯ weight (test) functions (v ∈ V ) must possess a higher degree of regularity (roughly speaking. which means that both their first and second derivatives exist. continuity) than for classical continuum problems. and inserting the constitutive relation in equation (6.30) gives: Ω (6.29) Inserting now the Neumann (natural) boundary conditions from equations (6.31) In one dimension this is equivalent to the trial and test functions being at least C1 continuous. v.xx dΩ − ΓM ¯ v. (6. (6.34) which is the equation of virtual work for a Bernoulli-Euler beam beam. v = gv on Γv . it implies that the weak form of the governing equation is identical to the equation of virtual work. v.33) δv.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vFy dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀v ∈ V .x dΩ. and v. The integration domain for the ¯ ¯ boundary integrals has been changed since v = 0 on Γv . Consistency of the above weak form can be proven following the same procedure as in in Section 2. For the weak form to ‘make sense’. has second-order derivatives in its weak form. 2011 Version 0. (6.1.xx EIv. it was shown that if the weight function could be considered as a ‘virtual displacement’. This is in contrast to second-order problems. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .x dΩ + Γ ¯ vm.21c) and (6.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. For completeness.xx dΩ = − ΓM δv.30) where S and V are appropriately defined spaces. which contains functions satisfying: Ω v2 + v2 + v2 dx < ∞. Consider now: ¯ v ≡ δv Inserting this relationship into equation (6. the spaces S and V are formally defined by: S = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .x .24). January 21.28) Applying integrating by parts again.x mn dΓ + Γ ¯ vm. Both S and V must be subspaces of the Sobolev space H 2 (Ω).2 81 .xx (6.x m.x m.xx m dΩ − Γ ¯ v.xx EIv.

39) (6. 82 Version 0. dx (6.4 Timoshenko beam Timoshenko beams are more general Bernoulli-Euler beams as they allow for shear deformation. and the second for the displacement v. Relative to the Bernoulli-Euler theory. but not necessarily normal. an additional unknown. GAS (6.38) and considering v and θ to be the fundamental unknowns.2. They also provide a solid introduction to moderately thick plate theories where the advantage of shear deformable theories will become more apparent. 2011 .19) and (6. This means that shear deformations can be taken into account.35) where γ is the rotation due to shear. The governing equations are given by the equilibrium conditions in equations (6.11) that rotation θ of a plane is given by θ= dv − γ. In terms of the shear force and properties of the beam.37) dv −θ .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6.19) and (6. the shear strain γ. it is related to the shear force by the constitutive relationship: γ= q . Inserting the constitutive relationships into the equilibrium equations in (6. Recall from equation (6. Timoshenko beam theory does not rely on the assumption that a plane which is initially normal to the longitudinal axis remains normal to the longitudinal axis. and are hence suitable for relatively short beams. the first for the rotation θ.16) with the constitutive relationships m = − EIκ. dx (6.40) + fy = 0 which are two coupled second-order equations.16) leads to: d2 θ − GAs dx2 dθ d2 v − dx dx2 dv −θ dx − EI GAs =0 in Ω. Together with the previously defined boundary conditions. Planes must remain plane. has been introduced. q = GAs γ = GAs (6. in Ω. (6.2 January 21. the problem is complete.36) where G is the shear modulus and As is the effective shear area.

41) (6.46) − ¯ v.x − θ ) dΩ = 0.46) is equivalent to the virtual work equation. and using γ = v.5 Finite element formulations form beams Euler beams A Galerkin problem for a Bernoulli-Euler beam involves: find vh ∈ S h such that: Ω h ¯h v.x ) dΩ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x − θ.xx EIv. − Ω δκ m dΩ + Ω δγ q dΩ = − ΓM δθ T dΓ + ΓQ δv Fy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6. Ω (6. and v satisfies the transverse displacement boundary condition. ¯ θ. (6.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vGAs (v. 2011 Version 0. Ω (6. As with all problems.2 83 .x GAs (v.42) ¯ vGAs (v.x n dΓ − Γ Ω ¯ θGAs (v.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vFy dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 A more precise definition of the necessary functions spaces should be provided to ¯ complete the problem.x − θ ) n x dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.6.45) (6. and v = 0 on Γv . 6.45) and (6. ¯ ¯ As before.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vh Fy dΓ + Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀vh ∈ V h (6.40) by appropriately defined weight functions θ ¯ and v.x EIθ. ¯ ∀θ ∈ Vθ ¯ ∀v ∈ Vv .x dΩ − Ω Ω ¯ θGAs (v.43) (6.x EIθ.44) − ¯ v.xx − θ.x − θ ) dΩ + ΓQ ΓM Ω ¯ θT dΓ = 0.2.xx dΩ − Ω ¯ θGAs (v. − Ω Ω ¯ θEIθ.x − θ ) dΩ = 0. Applying integration by parts once.x GAs (v.48) January 21. and then inserting the Neumann boundary conditions yields the weak problem for a Timoshenko beam of: find v ∈ Sv and θ ∈ Sθ such that Ω ¯ θ. It is however assumed that θ = 0 on Γθ and that θ satisfies ¯ the rotation boundary condition. considering δθ ≡ θ and δv ≡ v. consistency can be proven through the application of integration by parts.47) For many mechanical problems.xx dΩ = − ΓM ¯h v.39) and (6.2 Beams Weak governing equations ¯ Multiplying equations (6.x dΩ − Ω Ω Γ ¯ θEIθ. the weak form or virtual work expressions appear naturally and can be used as a starting point in developing a finite element model. adding the weak forms in equations (6. The test and trial functions should be at least C0 continuous (in contrast to the C1 continuity for the Bernoulli-Euler theory).

x ae = N1.x M1.49) where vi and θi are degrees of freedom associated with node i. convergence of the solution is not assured for interpolations with insufficient continuity. This results in a cubic interpolation of the displacement along the element. i 2 (6.50d) h2 for an element of length h with ends from x1 to x2 (x2 > x1 ). As for continuum elements. and the shape functions are equal to: − ( x − x2 )2 (− h + 2 ( x1 − x )) (6. and involve both displacement and rotational degrees of freedom. the second derivative of a C0 continuous function does not exist in a classical sense.50a) h3 ( x − x1 )2 ( h + 2 ( x2 − x )) N2 = (6.x M2. The first derivative is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6.x N2.50c) M1 = h2 ( x − x1 )2 ( x − x2 ) M2 = (6.52) v. However. A Hermitian beam element with two nodes has four degrees of freedom (two displacement degrees of freedom and two rotation degrees of freedom). Crucially. The above equation requires the evaluation of the second derivative of the interpolated displacement field. The displacement at a point in the beam is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6. The solution is to use C1 shape functions.50b) h3 ( x − x1 ) ( x − x2 ) 2 (6. The use of C0 interpolations for fourth-order problems is not mathematically consistent and can lead to unpredictable results.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis where S h ⊂ S and V h ⊂ V are finite-dimensional spaces. Hermitian polynomials are C1 functions. 2011 . we wish to express the displacement field v in terms of shape functions and nodal degrees of freedom.51) v = Nae = N1 M1 N2 M2  v2      θ2 N1 = It is necessary to compute both the first and second derivatives of v with respect to x. The displacement field vh is given by: vh ( x ) = ∑ ( Ni ( x ) vi + Mi ( x ) θi ) .x = N.x  v2      θ2 84 Version 0. The problem that arises is that simple C0 finite element shape functions are not suitable.2 January 21. Such shape functions can be constructed relatively easily in one dimension (the extension to multiple dimensions is however far from trivial).

xx ae = N1. (6.xx M2.56) and the RHS vector by: fe = ΓQ N T Fy dΓ − ΓM N T T dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.6.54) After some rearranging. January 21.xx T EI N.xx ae dΩ = − ΓM ( N.57) The operation to form the RHS vector essentially translates the applied loads into equivalent nodal shear forces and moments.xx dΩ.xx be ) T EI N. Ω ( N. 2011 Version 0.53) h h Now that vh .xx M1.2 Beams The second derivative of v is given by:    v1      θ1    v2    θ2 h v. Ω N.xx can be computed given ae .xx = N.x and v.x be ) T T dΓ + ΓQ ( Nbe ) T Fy dΓ Ω + ( Nbe ) T f y dΩ (6. (6.2 85 .xx T EI N. v.xx dΩ ae = − ΓM N.xx N2.xx (6.55) The element stiffness matrix is given by: ke = Ω N.x T T dΓ + ΓQ N T Fy dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ. they can be inserted into the Galerkin problem. (6.

58b) (6.58g) (6.xx = .xx = 2 + .58f) (6. N1.xx = − . h3 ( x − x1 ) (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) . N1.xx = − 3 .2 January 21. h 6x 1 M2.xx = h2 N1. M2. h h (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Taking derivatives of the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6. the stiffness matrix is of the form:  12x   h3   6x 1    h/2  2 −  h  EI 12x h ke =   h3 − h/2  − 12x   h3   6x 1  + h h2 6x 1 − h h2 − 12x h3 6x 1 + h h2 dx.xx = 2 − . 2 ( x − x2 ) (3x + h − 2x1 − x2 ) .59a) (6.x = (6. (6. h2 2 ( x − x1 ) (3x − h − x1 − 2x2 ) N2. the above equations can be simplified significantly.xx = h3 ( x − x2 ) (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) M1.59c) (6. h2 2 (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) M1. h3 2 (6x + h − 2x1 − 4x2 ) .x = .x = h2 2 (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) .50). Considering just the second derivatives with respect to x.59d) Inserting these terms into equation (6.58e) (6. 2011 .58a) (6.x = − .58h) Assuming the centre of the element is at x = 0 (x2 + x1 = 0. h3 6x 1 M1.60) Integrating the terms in the stiffness matrix exactly from − h/2 to h/2 (assuming EI 86 Version 0. h3 2 (6x − h − 4x1 − 2x2 ) N2.58c) (6.59b) (6.56). h h 12x N2.58d) (6. M2. x1 = − h/2).xx = 12x .

(6. (6.64d) N θ aθ .2 87 .M N θ T dΓ. due to the second-order nature of the governing equations.61) Timoshenko beams The finite element formulation for the Timoshenko beam is relatively simple.x GAs v.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe N v T f y dΩ.64b) (6. in terms of shape functions and nodal variable.6.x EIθ. e θ = ¯ v = ¯ θh = h h (6.x dΩ − Ω h ¯ θ h GAs v. (6. − 6EI  h2  4EI h (6. A distinction is made between the shape functions for vh and θ h as these may differ.62) and (6. the element stiffness matrix is equal to:  12EI h3  6EI  2  h  12EI  − h3  6EI h2 6EI h2 4EI h 6EI − h2 2EI h − 12EI h3 − 6EI h2 12EI h3 − 6EI h2 ke = 6EI  h2 2EI   h  .62) h ¯h v.66) January 21. This will allow the use of the standard shape functions introduced in Chapter 4.64c) (6. T (6. and corresponding derivatives.63) Consider the representation of the fields vh and θ h .2 Beams to be constant).65) Ωe Bv T GAs Bv dΩav − e Ωe Bv T GAs N θ dΩaθ e = Γe. v h = N v av . h h The Galerkin problem for the Timoshenko beam involves: find vh ∈ Sv and θ h ∈ Sθ such that Ω Ω h ¯h θ. e θ θ N be .64a) (6. 2011 Version 0.63) leads to: Bθ EIBθ dΩ aθ + e T Ωe Ωe N θ GAs N θ dΩ aθ − e T Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ av e T =− Γe. e N v bv . Inserting the expressions for the unknown fields in terms of nodal variables and variations into equations (6.x − θ h dΩ = Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ + ¯ vh Fy dΓ h ¯ ∀v h ∈ Vv .x − θ h dΩ = − ΓQ ΓM ¯ θ h T dΓ h ¯ ∀θ h ∈ Vθ .

The components of the stiffness matrix are given by:   GAs L EI GAs L EI − +  L + 3 L 6  . Locking Conceptually.M N θ T dΓ. Consider a Timoshenko beam element of length L. kθθ =  (6.70) (6.71) kθv = − kvθ = − kvv = Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ.69) (6.75) kθv =  e  GA GAs  s − 2 2 88 Version 0. Bv T GAs N θ dΩ. N v T f y dΩ.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe Note that the stiffness matrix is symmetric (kθv = kvθ ). T Bv T GAs Bv dΩ. 2011 . when applying Timoshenko elements for thin bending problems. However.67) where the components of the the element stiffness matrix are given by kθθ = Ωe Bθ EIBθ + N θ GAs N θ dΩ. Ωe Ωe T T (6.68) (6. This would be advantageous from the point of view of generality. (6. only a Timoshenko beam element would be necessary in practice. Ideally. This is the effect in which the shear contribution to the energy does not vanish. the result are plagued by shear locking. T T (6.73) Γe.2 January 21. resulting in an overly stiff response. with linear shape functions for both the displacement and rotation. Timoshenko beam theory is superior to the Bernoulli-Euler theory in that it is valid for both short and slender beams.72) (6. and both short and slender beams could be analysed. and for simplicity as the Timoshenko element used C0 shape functions.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis The stiffness matrix of an element is of the form kθθ kvθ kθv kvv f aθ = θ fv av (6.74) e  EI GAs L GAs L  EI + − + L 6 L 3   GAs GAs −  2 2  . and components of the element RHS vector are given by fθ = − fv = Γe.

and a shear load P is applied one end. will yield a very stiff response. v2 ≈ 4PL .2 Beams and GAs  L =  GA s − L    GAs − L   GAs  L  GAs 2   GAs   −  2   GAs   − L   GAs  L kvv e (6.78) Therefore. GAs (6. GAs (6. If the term Ωe N θT GAs N θ dΩ is evaluated using one-point numerical integration T January 21.2 89 . 2011 Version 0. this element will exhibit a very stiff response. v2 ≈ PL . θ1 = v1 = 0.6.76) Therefore. Even with a very fine mesh. EI GAs L  L + 3 ke =   GAs − 2 −  GAs     θ 0 2   2    =  GAs v2 P L (6. As L → 0.80) which is independent of I. the displacement v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/3) EIGAs /L2 + G2 A2 /12 s (6. the stiffness matrix is of the form EI GAs L  L + 3   EI GAs L  + − 6  L ke =   GAs   2   GAs − 2  − EI GAs L + L 6 EI GAs L + L 3 GAs 2 GAs − 2 GAs 2 GAs 2 GAs L GAs − L − (6.81) which is the correct result.79) If L is large.77) If at one end the beam is clamped.

the element stiffness matrix would have the form   EI GAs L EI GAs L GAs GAs + − + −  L 4 L 4 2 2     EI GAs L GAs L GAs  EI GAs   + + − −  4 L 4 2 2   L (6. v2 ≈ PL GAs (6.82) ke =    GAs  GAs GAs GAs   −  2 2 L L     GAs GAs GAs  GAs − − − 2 2 L L Now. The case is similar for quadratic elements. v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/4) EIGAs /L2 (6. for the one element problem clamped at one end.84) which qualitatively the desired response.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis (which is reduced for this term).85) When using reduced integration. 2011 . this element performs quite well when the mesh is sufficiently well-refined. where selective integration (two-point) leads to a dramatic reduction in locking response. 90 Version 0.2 January 21.83) If L is very large. v2 ≈ PL3 4EI (6. and as L → 0.

displacement may be denoted u. T When using Greek subscripts.9). u2 and u3 when using indexes. are are typically loaded out of plane. The adopted definitions simplify the formulation as it will avoid the need for a −1 factor on particular terms.8: Coordinate system for a plate.1 Plate kinematics The adopted coordinate system and sign convention for rotations θα for plates is shown in Figure 6. Hughes. A particularly accessible account can be found in Cook et al. Similarly.86a) (6. Also. The three coordinates are denoted x.6. 6. the relevant dangers in analysing plate and shell structures with the finite element method are presented. More detailed coverage can be found in a number of books (Zienkiewicz and Taylor. summation is implied from one to two. x2 and x3 . The rotation of the January 21. u3 = u3 ( x.2 91 . Given the enormous number of different plate and shell elements. 6. The basic governing equations of shell and plate elements and the most common finite element approaches are discussed. y and z. the convention differs from the right-hand rule. and the coordinate z = 0 corresponds to the mid-surface of the plate. y and z directions.8. (1989). (6. Plate finite elements can be extremely complex and are an area of ongoing research. The surface of the plate in the x1 –x2 plane is denoted Ω. A serious problem stems from the need for C1 interpolations in the classic thin plate and shell bending theories.3 Plate x3 p θ1 x2 t x1 θ2 Figure 6. or u1 . the displacement of a point is given by: uα = −zθα ( x. The plate has a thickness t. For convenience. 1991. this section does not provide an exhaustive coverage. They are flat two-dimensional entities. respectively). and the boundary is Γ. y) . or x1 . Bathe. y) . 2011 Version 0. In plate theory. v and w (displacements in the x. 1996). 1987. It is convenient to express many relationships for plates using index notation.3 Plate Plates are effectively generalisations of beam elements to two spatial dimensions.86b) where θα is the rotation of a fibre in the plate (see Figure 6.3.

2 January 21.α 1 w x3 xα Figure 6.9: Plate kinematics with shear deformation included.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γα θ α w. 92 Version 0. 2011 .

i )).α 2 (6.86). It is useful to define a vector s which is normal to the vector n. γα = w. The moment tensor mαβ in a plate is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σαβ z dz (6.10 (‘resultants’ are forces which are equivalent to a moment or shear stress).α − θα . then θα = w.β) .88b) A useful quantity is the curvature. The alternative approach would be to insert the plate kinematics into the elasticity equations.6.α 2 −θα + w. The shear force vector qα is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σα3 dz (6.3.2 93 .β (6.89) 6. ǫαβ = ǫα3 = −z θα. This allows the definition of following notation for January 21. the strain field can be calculated at any point (recall ǫ = (1/2)(ui. and the shear strain is given by γα . From the displacement field in equations (6.j + u j.2 Equilibrium of a plate The equilibrium equations for a plate are developed here in the same fashion as for plates.88a) (6.β + θ β.87) Note that if γα = 0. and lies in the plane of Ω. 2 α.α .3 Plate mid-surface of the plate is given by w.91) The different resultant moments and transverse forces acting on cross-sections of a plate are shown in Figure 6.α . it is clear that the moment tensor is symmetric. which is a second-order tensor and at a point is given by: καβ = 1 θ + θ β.α = θ(α. 2011 Version 0.90) From symmetry of the stress tensor. (6.

6 Structural elements for finite element analysis q2 m21 m22 m11 x3 m12 x2 θ1 q1 q2 m11 q1 m12 m22 m21 x1 θ2 Figure 6.94) which must also hold for an infinitesimally small piece of the plate. Translation equilibrium of a plate requires that: ∂Ω (6. therefore qα.95) 94 Version 0. quantities relative to an arbitrarily oriented plate edge: mnn = mαβ n β nα . ∂s ∂mns . 2011 . ∂mnn . mns.α nα w.s = The quantities are illustrated in Figure 6.s = w. θn = θα nα .92h) qα nα dΓ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.92a) (6. (6.α dΩ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.10: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on cross-sections of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).93) Applying the divergence theorem to the term involving qα leads to Ω qα.α sα mnn.92g) (6. mns = mαβ n β sα . (6.92f) (6.92e) (6.92b) (6.11.92d) (6.92c) (6.2 January 21.n = w. w. (6.α + pz = 0.s = ∂s qn = qα nα .

It is applicable for thin plates where shear deformations are negligible. hence boundary conditions are elaborated upon in the context of a given theory.α xα . rotational equilibrium requires that mαβ. is the equation for translational equilibrium.β − qα = 0. 6.3 Plate q2 m21 m22 qn x3 x2 θ1 mns m11 q1 m12 s mnn n x1 θ2 Figure 6.β = q β xα.Kirchhoff theory The Kirchhoff plate model theory is analogous to the Bernoulli-Euler beam. (6.11: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on an edge of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)). (6.β xα dΩ − Ω pz xα dΩ = 0. These constitutive relationships will also be elaborated upon in the context of the different theories.96) ∂Ω ∂Ω Ω which leads to: Ω mαβ. and are specific to the considered plate theory.α xα = qα + q β. To complete the problem.β + pz = 0.98) The boundary conditions for a plate are more complicated that for a beam. Considering now rotational equilibrium. mαβ n β dΓ − q β n β xα dΩ − pz xα dΩ = 0. 2011 Version 0.β dΩ − Ω qα dΩ − Ω q β. the outwardly simplest plate theory presents the most problems when formulating the finite January 21. Ironically.β + q β. (6.97) noting that q β xα .3. Since translation equilibrium requires that q β.3 Thin plates .2 95 . constitutive relationships are required which relate the moment tensor and the shear force to deformations.PSfrag 6.

∂x y Et3 ∂x4 ∂y (6. Et3 (6.102) into equation (6. 12 (6. 2 (6.98) and inserting equation (6.αβ + pz = 0. ∇4 w = ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 . the governing equation can be expressed in a particularly convenient form: w. Assuming transverse shear deformations are zero.2 January 21.104) Expanding this equation.ααββ = 12 1 − ν2 pz .87) reduces to: θα = w. 2011 . and the Kirchhoff plate model requires two boundary conditions at all points 96 Version 0. This can be done by differentiating equation (6.100) The moment is related to the curvature by mαβ = −Cαβγδ κγδ . four different types of boundary conditions are possible.105) This equation is known as the ‘biharmonic equation’.106) As a fourth-order equation. where the constitutive tensor is equal to: (6. ∂x y ∂x4 ∂y (6.α (6.95).103) ¯ where λ = 2λµ/ (λ + 2µ).βα . mαβ. 12 1 − ν2 ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 = pz . It is often written in a shorthand format using the biharmonic operator ∇4 .αβ + w. Inserting the constitutive relationship (6. Since shear deformations are zero. the curvature κ is equal to: καβ = 1 w. The shear force qα is no longer ‘independent’.99) which corresponds to the classical theory for beams and plates which assumes fibres which are initially normal to the mid-surface remain normal to the mid-surface.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis element method. The goal is now to eliminate qα from the governing equations.100) yields a fourthorder partial differential equation.102) Cαβγδ = t3 ¯ µ δαβ δβδ + δαδ δβγ + λδαβ δγδ .101) (6. equation (6. After some rearranging.

and integrating over the surface of the plate. The problem here is that too many boundary terms appear in the first boundary integral. (6. it is convenient to carry out the process on equation (6.s mns dΓ ¯ ¯ wmns.n mnn dΓ + Γ Γ ¯ w.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. (6. (6.α mαβ. The governing equation is multiplied by a weight function.n mnn dΓ − ¯ w. − Ω ¯ w. The moment can only be applied normal to the boundary (mαβ n β nα ).20). yields Ω ¯ w.107d) The first two boundary conditions are Dirichlet boundary conditions.αβ dΩ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. − Γ ¯ w.109) Using integration by parts again on the first term.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.α mαβ n β dΓ + Γ ¯ wmαβ.3 Plate on the boundary.110) (ignoring the point terms).112) January 21.110) which is the weak form of the governing equation for thin plate bending. Ω ¯ w. Considering the partition of the boundary in equation (6.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w.107c) (6. Weak form The weak form of the governing equation for a thin plate is derived using the same processes applied for second-order problems. then integrated by parts. (6.n mnn dΓ + Γ ¯ w (mns.n = 0 on Γθ .111) =− The last term will be ignored. Ω ¯ wmαβ.2 97 . and integrating over the plate surface Ω.6.100).105) by a weight function w. and the last two are Neumann boundary conditions.s = Q on Γw on Γθ on ΓM on ΓQ (6.107b) (6.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. Multiplying by a weight ¯ function w.s dΓ − wmns | B A (6. 2011 Version 0. for which w = 0 on Γw and w.107a) (6. and leads to the well known ‘corner forces’ in thin plate theory. Integrating the moment term by parts once. Inserting the above relationship into equation (6.s + qn ) dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.β dΩ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. Rather than multiplying the governing ¯ equation (6.α mαβ n β dΓ = − Γ Γ ¯ w. The last boundary condition is known as the ‘modified shear’ boundary condition.108) where Ω is the surface of the plate. the boundary conditions are given by: w = gw θ n = gθ mnn = T qn + mns.

β − qα = 0. the governing equations cannot be further reduced since θα is not a direct function of w. The difference lies in the kinematics and the constitutive model.n = gθ on Γθ .2.115b) Consistency can proven through the repeated application of integration by parts. the spaces S and V for the weak form of Kirchhoff plate theory are defined as follows: S = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . Unlike for thin plates.113) where the functions in S satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions.3. w. it is applicable for both thick and thin plates.3. w and θα .115a) (6. The key to the success of this approach in a finite element context is that the moment tensor mαβ is calculated from the curvature.α as a virtual rotation δθα . the governing equations for equilibrium are the same as for the Kirchhoff theory.n T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ V . The governing equations for a thick plate are those given in Section 6. (6.114) Ω ΓM ΓQ Ω Recall that the bending moment mαβ is a function of the curvature. some serious practical problems arise in finite element analysis when applying Reissner-Mindlin elements for the analysis of thin plates.α ). w = gw on Γw . The equations of equilibrium are: mαβ. It is analogous to the Timoshenko beam. w.2 January 21.116b) 98 Version 0. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . ¯ ¯ ¯ Considering w as a virtual displacement δw.αβ as the virtual curvature.116a) (6. which in turn involves second derivatives of w. 6. However. qα. For this theory. w = 0 on Γw . δκαβ . 2011 . For completeness. the above equation is the equation of virtual work for a plate: δκαβ mαβ dΩ − δθn T dΓ + δwQ dΓ + δwpz dΩ = 0 (6. solving the weak problems then involves: find w ∈ S such that Ω ¯ w. w.α + pz = 0. hence the highest order derivatives in the weak governing equation are order two. which depends on θα which is no longer calculated directly from w (θα = w. and w. (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Inserting the Neumann boundary conditions. (6. As such.αβ mαβ dΩ − ΓM ¯ w.4 Moderately thick plates – Reissner-Mindlin theory The Reissner-Mindlin theory for plates includes shear deformation. The rotation of the plate cannot be calculated simply as a derivative of the transverse displacement. The problem now involves two different unknowns.n = 0 on Γθ .

119a) (6. (6. The structure of the governing equations for Mindlin-Reissner plates theory offers a greater degree of flexibility in applying boundary conditions than the Kirchhoff theory.αβ − θ β.2 99 . This means than the governing equations are being solved in their irreducible form. mαβ. Ω ¯ θα mαβ.102)).β − θ β = 0 (6. 2011 Version 0.119a) and (6.117) Cαβ w. This set of equations can be reduced by eliminating qα . ¯ equation (6.120b) (6.120c) (6. is a vector.β − θ β dΩ = 0.118) (6. (6. where Cαβ = ktµδαβ .119a) is multiplied by a weight function θα . on Γθ . (6.β − Cαβ w. This set of equations cannot be reduced further.β dΩ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.119b) are addressed.122) ¯ Inserting now Neumann boundary conditions (θα = 0 where θα is prescribed) yields: − Ω ¯ θα.6.119b) (6.α + pz = 0 It is these equations which will be solved. on ΓM . − Ω ¯ θ(α. and k is a correction factor which is equal to 5/6.3 Plate In addition to the constitutive relationship relating moment and curvature (equation (6. on ΓQ . (6. This is due to θα and w being decoupled.123) January 21. Weak form To derive the weak form. Firstly. The ‘naturally’ occurring boundary conditions involve w = gw θα = gαθ mαn = Tα qn = Q on Γw .121) Integrating the above equation by parts.β) mαβ dΩ + Γ ¯ θα mαβ n β dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.120a) (6.β − θ β dΩ = 0.120d) Given that one of the unknowns.β − θ β dΩ = 0. θα . three boundary conditions must be applied at all points on the boundary. both equations (6. a constitutive relation relating the shear forces to the shear strain is introduced.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. qα = Cαβ γβ = Cαβ w.β − θ β .

114).α) dΩ + ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Combining both equations (multiplying equation (6.α Cαβ w.128) − which is the equation of virtual work for a Reissner-Mindlin plate. It is equations (6. (6. Multiplying now equation (6.126) which is the weak form of equation (6.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ Vw (6.β − θ β dΩ + Γ ¯ wCαβ γβ nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.119a). adopting ¯ ¯ ¯ the notation δw = w. the highest order derivative appearing for both terms is one. Note that different to the virtual work equation for a Kirchhoff plate (6.α Cαβ w.β) and δγα = w. yields: Ω −δκαβ mαβ dΩ + Ω δγα qα dΩ + ΓM δθα Tα dΓ − ΓQ Ω δwQ dΓ δwpz dΩ = 0 (6.2 January 21.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. ¯ ∀θα ∈ Vθ (6. This will require the interpolation of both the transverse displacement w and the rotation θα .124) Ω Ω Integrating the above equation by parts yields: − Ω ¯ w. 2011 .127b) Note that both weak equations contains derivatives no higher than order one.α Cαβ w.119b) by a ¯ weight function w.β − θ β dΩ = 0. − Ω ¯ w.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis which is the weak form of equation (6. 100 Version 0.127b) that are solved using the finite element method.127b) by minus one).β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. ¯ wCαβ w. C0 shape functions can be applied.127a) − Ω ¯ w.αβ − θ( β. The weak problem therefore involves: find θα ∈ Sθ and w ∈ Sw such that: − Ω ¯ θα. the above equation includes a contribution to the energy due to shear ( Ω δγα qα dΩ).119b). (6.125) ¯ Inserting again Neumann boundary conditions (w = 0 where w is prescribed). (6.127a) and (6. However. δκαβ = θ(α. and taking advantage of the symmetry of mαβ .α − θα . Hence.

There exists a range of Kirchhoff plate elements. m = −Db κ   (6. some non-conforming elements yield satisfactory results. flexible and robust Kirchhoff plate elements. A common Kirchhoff plate element is rectangular and has four nodes and twelve degrees of freedom. tkµ (6. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 x3 y + c2 xy3 + c3 x3 + c4 y3 + c5 x2 y + c6 xy2 + c7 x2 + c8 y2 + c9 xy + c10 x + c11 y + c12 .3 Plate 6.132) (6. The element is still useful as it passes the patch test. The majority of Kirchhoff plate elements are non-conforming – this means that they do not satisfy C1 continuity. However. 2011 Version 0. In the context of plates. m12 ) T and κ = (κ11 . In particular. constant strain implies constant curvature. It does not however satisfy C1 continuity. The complications are rooted in the need for C1 continuity. m22 . none of which are of general applicability.131) Kirchhoff plate elements There are few reliable. q = D s γ. January 21. In place of requiring C1 continuity. 2κ12 ) T .2 101 .133) The applicability of this element is however limited by its inability to satisfy the patch test as a quadrilateral – the element can only be used as a rectangle. a less severe requirement is that elements satisfy a ‘patch test’.   (6.5 Plate finite elements As in elasticity. A patch test is a numerical test which tests the ability of an element to reproduce particular results which provides and indication as to whether or not a particular element is suitable for analysis.129) where m = (m11 . it tests whether an element can represent rigid body modes and a state of constant strain. The matrix D b has the form: 1 ν 1 0 0 0 Et3 D = 12 (1 − ν2 ) b  ν    0 (1 − ν ) 2   . symmetry of mαβ and καβ allows the use of simplified ‘engineering’ notation.6. where Ds = tkµ 0 0 . κ22 . (6.3.130) For the shear forces qα .

6 Structural elements for finite element analysis
Reissner-Mindlin plate elements Plate finite elements based on the Reissner-Mindlin principle do not require C1 continuity. Two fields are interpolated (the transverse displacement and the rotation), with derivatives of order no higher than one for both fields appearing in the weak form. This is a significant advantage. It is then possible to form different elements using the same procedures as for plane and three-dimensional continuum elements. Isoparametric mappings can be used to construct arbitrary shapes. The procedures developed in Chapter 4 for continuum elements can be applied to develop plate elements. When using C0 shape functions with full integration, convergence requirements are guaranteed. The unknown fields, w h and θh are interpolated using C0 shape functions in terms of nodal unknowns, w h = N w aw θ =N a
h θ θ

(6.134) (6.135)

Taking derivatives,
h w,α = Bw aw

(6.136) (6.137)

κ =B a


θ θ

Inserting the discretised fields into equations (6.127a) and (6.127b) gives:


Bθ D b Bθ dΩ aθ − e


N θ CBw dΩaw + e


N θ CN θ dΩaθ e



T Nθ T dΓ



Bw T CBw dΩaw − e


Bw T CN θ dΩaθ e



N w T Q dΓ +


N w T pz dΩ


for an element. This can be expressed as: kww e kθw e kwθ e kθθ e f ew aw e θ = fθ , ae e



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6.3 Plate
where kww = e

Bw T CBw dΩ Bw T CN θ dΩ N θ CBw dΩ

(6.140a) (6.140b) (6.140c) N θ CN θ dΩ

kwθ = − e kθw = − e kθθ = e f ew =

Ωe Ωe

Bθ D b Bθ dΩ + N w T Q dΓ +
T Nθ T dΓ T


(6.140d) (6.140e) (6.140f)


N w T pz dΩ

f eθ = −


Note again that the element stiffness matrix is symmetric. These are the equations that are assembled into a global stiffness matrix, and solved. Shape functions of different orders can be formulated (even different orders for the transverse displacement and the rotation) and numerical integration is applied. While different elements can be used which will result in a consistent formulation, the performance of different elements may vary drastically. It is possible to simulate thin plates using elements based on the Reissner-Mindlin formulation. It is of course attractive if both thick and thin plates can be analysed using the same elements. To do this, the response of Reissner-Mindlin elements in the limit (t → 0) should be studied. The result should converge to the thin plate theory. This is not the case in practice, and is discussed in the following section. Mindlin-Reissner plate elements for thin plate problems Ideally, thick plate formulations could be used for analysing thin plates. The problem which is confronted is shear locking. As t → 0, Reissner-Mindlin elements typically show an overly stiff response, compared to exact thin plate solutions. The reason for this is that the contribution of the transverse shear deformation to the energy does not vanish. The locking effect can be so extreme as to render elements unusable. For this reason, extensive research efforts have been aimed at developing Reissner-Mindlin elements which do not lock in the thin plate limit. The simplest solution to shear locking is to use reduced or selective integration. This excludes the spurious contribution of the transverse shear deformation to the bending energy. For example, a four-node quadrilateral with 2 × 2 integration for bending terms and one-point integration for transverse shear terms yields good results for thin plate problems. Using full integration for this element results in extreme shear locking. Many Reissner-Mindlin elements involve reduced or selective integration to avoid shear locking. Another possibility to avoid shear locking is to use a mixed formulation. The governing equations are not reduced to their primal form in terms of w and θα , but three

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6 Structural elements for finite element analysis
fields are interpolated: w, θα and qα . It can be shown however that most mixed formulations are equivalent to reduced or selective integration (Hughes, 1987). Discrete Kirchhoff elements are based on thick shell formulations. What they require is that the Kirchhoff thin plate requirement of zero transverse shear strain is met at a discrete number of points within an element. These elements do not require reduced integration to avoid shear locking. However, some ambiguities arise when applying distributed loads.

6.4 Shell elements
Shells exist in a three-dimensional space. They are essentially curved plates. A simple approximation to a shell structure is to use a collection of flat combined plate/membrane elements to approximate the curved surface. Shell elements can also be formulated directly. The three-dimensional nature of the element makes them more complicated than plates. The direct formulation of shell elements is not addressed here. Details of their formulation can be found in numerous references (Bathe, 1996; Hughes, 1987; Cook et al., 1989; Zienkiewicz and Taylor, 1991).

6.5 Exercises
1. For a truss element with ends located at ( x1 , y1 ) and ( x2 , y2 ), find the rotation matrix R that rotates from the ( x, y) system to the convenient ( x ′ , y′ ) system. 2. For a two-node Hermitian beam element, how does the bending moment and the shear forces vary along the length of the element? 3. Sketch the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6.50). 4. Give the stiffness matrix for a two-node beam element in two-dimensions that allows for axial deformations. 5. Give two examples of when finite element analysis with continuum elements is preferable and two examples where beam, plate or shell elements is preferable. Provide a short reasoning for each case. 6. What is the danger in applying reduced or selective integration for plate elements? 7. If a constant distributed load is applied normal to a plate surface, pz , calculate the equivalent nodal forces for an eight-node Reissner-Mindlin element.


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1 A priori error estimation A priori error estimation does not provide quantitative information as to the error in a finite element simulation. it is necessary to consider a norm of the error. One is with which ‘norm’ the error is being measured. is the error in terms of displacements being measured. Two norms of particular interest 105 . Also. The subscript n indicates the type of norm. the order of convergence depends heavily on the type of element.3) This scalar value is a measure of the ‘magnitude’ of a function. To give an indication of the size of the error.i + u. this does not tell how large the error is.i u. For finite element analysis.1) where u is the exact solution and uh is the approximate solution. (7. it is useful to know ‘how accurate’ different elements are. For example. is given by: u n = α =0 Ω ∑ n 1/2 ( D u) dΩ α 2 . The magnitude of the error is quantified by calculating a norm of e. The order of convergence indicates how quickly the error reduces upon mesh refinement. how much smaller will the error be. The order depends on several factors.ij dΩ . For example. We want to know if we halve the element size (leading to at least a doubling in computational effort). the Sobolev norm is equal to: 1/2 u 2 = Ω uu + u. It is of course important to have some idea of the magnitude of the error and how it can be controlled and reduced. The Sobolev norm. or the error in terms of the strain. While the solution may be optimal. setting n = 2.2) where D α denotes the α derivative. This is known as the order of convergence – if the size of the element is halved. given a collection of basis functions.7 Analysis of the finite element method It was shown in Chapter 3 that the finite element method calculates a solution which is optimal in terms of the energy. how much smaller will the error be? 7. What it does provide is the order of convergence. Recall from Chapter 3 the error e at a point is defined as: e = u − uh . (7. which is the type of norm which will be used here.ij u. Another factor is the smoothness of the exact solution. (7. e n .

8) The nodal interpolate is equal to the exact solution at the nodes (u − u I = 0 at the nodes). (7. it holds that u − uh E ≤ u − uI E. Inserting now equation (7.7) where r is the order of the derivatives appearing in the weak form. 1/2 e 1 = Ω (e · e + ∇e : ∇e) dΩ . k + 1 > m. and h is a measure of the element size.9) where k is the polynomial order. uI = ∑ Ni aiI .4) which is a measure of the error in the displacements. Version 0.2 (7. Given that a finite solution is known to be the best possible solution from the finite-dimensional space S h . rather a question which can be answered from interpolation theory. Note that to ensure convergence. For example. (7.10) This means that the finite element solution is at least as accurate as the nodal interpolate in terms if energy.7 Analysis of the finite element method involve n = 0 and n = 1. c is an unknown constant. hence it interpolates the exact solution using the provided shape functions. u − uh 106 r ≤ Chk+1−r |u|k+1 .10) into the above expression. (7. (7. the question of determining an error estimate is no longer a finite element question. i (7.5) which now includes the gradient of e. An important semi-norm is the energy norm.6) which involves only a particular order derivative. setting n = 0 gives: 1/2 e 0 = Ω (e · e) dΩ . Interpolation theory provides the inequality u − uI m ≤ chk+1−m |u|k+1 . thereby introducing a measure of the error in the strain. (7. In this way. Setting n = 1.11) January 21. It is defined by: u 2 E = | u |2 = r Ω ( Dr u)2 dΩ. 2011 . (7. Consider the nodal interpolate u I . A Sobolev semi-norm is given by |u|n = Ω ( D n u)2 dΩ 1/2 .

there may be no gain in accuracy through increasing the polynomial order. For k ≥ 1. An estimate can be obtained using ‘Nitsche’s trick’ (see Strang and Fix (1973) for details). The order of convergence of a particular element type indicates how quickly the exact solution is approached. e e 0 1 ≤ Ch2 |u|2 ≤ Ch|u|2 . but does not tell how far the computed solution is from the exact solution. hence it represents the error in the energy.2 A posteriori error estimation where C is a constant. Larger a implies faster convergence. independent of h. Of course as h becomes small. Therefore. this norm is dominated by the error in the strain. and O(h) in terms of strains. It leads to the estimate: u − uh s ≤ Ch β |u|k+1 . It would be useful to find an estimate in terms of lower norms. hence u − uh 1 ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . (7. In elasticity. January 21. If the exact solution is not sufficiently smooth. (7. This is error analysis.2 107 .7. The convergence order for different polynomial orders is given in Table 7. such as the error in the displacement. 7. ≤ Chk |u|k+1 .16) Hence linear elements are known as being O(h2 ) in terms of displacements. which tells ‘how good’ the calculated solution is. the two quantities of special interest are the displacements and the strains (and hence the stresses). The notation O(h a ) means that the error is ‘of the order h a ’. The error in the displacements is given by e 0 . (7. k = 1. This result is however conditional upon the seminorm |u|k+1 existing. u − uh 0 . the displacement error is: which is equal to Ω e · e dΩ e 0 ≤ Chk+1 |u|k+1 .15) which implies that the approximate strains converge to the exact result slower than the approximate displacements.14) In terms of the strain. 2(k + 1 − r )). (7.13) where β = min (k + 1 − s. the greater a the smaller the error.12) This implies that the solution converges in this norm at a rate equal to the polynomial order. a natural question is how close the solution is to the exact solution. 2011 Version 0.2 A posteriori error estimation Once a finite element solution has been calculated. For practical purposes.1. For linear elements. 1/2 . e 1 (7. r = 1. For an elasticity problem.

Hence. Given a measure of the error. adaptivity can be employed to reduce the error where needed. Error estimation is a rich field of applied mathematical research. To halve the error in a particular problem using h-adaptivity. It relies upon reducing the size of the element. The essence of the error estimator is to take the stresses at the super convergent points and form an interpolation of the stress using these points. A posteriori error estimators are generally either residual-based or rely on stress recovery techniques. At this point.1: Order of convergence O(hk ) for commonly used finite elements in terms of displacements and strain. It has an extraordinary rate of convergence. It is possible to generate an entirely new mesh. it 108 Version 0. and adaptivity is employed. h-adaptivity uses another technique to reduce the error. Fortunately. 1987) stress recovery error estimator. assuming that the exact solution is sufficiently smooth. a new mesh must be constructed. Two forms of adaptivity are commonly used: p-adaptivity and h-adaptivity. Then. It is based on the property that the stresses at certain points within an element are super-convergent. Based on an analysis of the error.2 January 21. Research is ongoing for more sophisticated error estimators for more complicated problems. an adaptive scheme is required to reduce the error to the prescribed levels.7 Analysis of the finite element method polynomial order 1 2 3 4 displacements k 2 3 4 5 strains k 1 2 3 4 Table 7. Given a estimation of the error. the problem is re-analysed. 2011 . they converge faster toward the exact solution than other points. Then. padaptivity involves increasing the polynomial order of elements to reduce the error in the calculated solution. It may be desirable to reduce the error to a specified value throughout a mesh. That is.3 Adaptivity To improve the accuracy of a finite element solution. The most common is the Zienkiewicz-Zhu (ZZ) (Zienkiewicz and Zhu. by comparing the stresses interpolated from the super convergent points with the stress computed from the derivative of the displacement field. the error is again estimated. the error can be estimated. a finite element mesh can be adapted to improve the solution. 7. knowing the order of convergence of an element may prove useful. A mathematically appealing concept is hp-adaptivity. but is challenging to implement. or to devise procedures which sub-divide elements where the error is large. The process can be repeated until the prescribed error tolerance is met. some relatively simple error estimators exist for linear problems. adaptivity techniques can be employed in combination with an error estimator.

7.7 times smaller? 3. 7.2 109 . January 21.4 Exercises helps to know how quickly the error reduces for a particular element. Give the order of convergence in terms of the strain for the following element: a) b) c) d) e) T3 Q4 T6 Q8 Q9 2. 2011 Version 0.and h-adaptivity.4 Exercises 1. When using Q4 elements. how much smaller would you expect the error in the displacements and the stresses to be if all the elements are made 2. List some advantages and disadvantages of p.


Iterative solvers approach the exact solution. It is particularly effective for solving moderately sized problems where the bandwidth of K is limited (as is the case for a well constructed finite element mesh). Therefore. However.1) The stiffness matrix K typically has a number of special properties. the system of equations is sparse. Direct solvers yield a result with a known number of steps. Typically more efficient direct or iterative solvers are used. Furthermore. Due to the compact support of finite element shape functions. The system of equations Ka = f is rewritten as: LUa = f (8. Gauss elimination is rarely used. the exact structure of the stiffness matrix is not constant. the matrix is also banded. To find the finite element solution to a problem. Further savings can be achieved for symmetric matrices by storing only the diagonal terms and non-zero terms above the diagonal.1 LU-decomposition A commonly used direct solution technique is known as LU-decomposition. Gauss elimination – number of operations O n3 In finite element code however. Large systems require significant memory to store the matrices and large computational effort to solve the system.8 Solvers for large linear systems Note: This chapter is still being developed. unlike finite difference methods. The motivation is that it is relatively simple to solve triangular matrices. a general method is required to solve the system of equations. For all problems examined in these notes. 111 . This is a consequence of using a Galerkin formulation. It varies for different meshes. 8. the stiffness matrix is symmetric. The finite element solution of practical problems often leads to very large systems of equations. if nodes are numbered in an efficient manner. This mean that nonzero terms are located close to the diagonal. This means that the stiffness matrix contains many zero elements. The number of steps performed depends on the desired accuracy.2) where L is a lower triangular matrix with ones on the diagonal and U is an upper diagonal matrix. Another special property is symmetry. the following system needs to be solved: Ka = f (8. Storing only non-zero elements in the computer memory leads to enormous savings in memory.

for k=1:n-1 for i=k+1:min(k+p. 8. the system of equations: Ly = f (8. is then to solve the system: Ua = y (8. Then. 2011 .k) end for j=k+1:min(k+q. Unlike direct solvers.n) K(i. for symmetric systems the algorithm can be modified.8 Solvers for large linear systems The first step is to factorise the matrix K in L and U.j) . To be added: Gauss-Siedel Krylov subspace methods Conjugate-gradient The efficiency and robustness of iterative solvers can be improved significantly through the use of preconditioning. a. The following step. yielding considerable computational savings. they can become prohibitively expensive for very large problems. In a computer implementation. The following code extracts for solving a banded system are taken from Golub and Loan (1996). The process is stopped when the desired tolerance is reached.3) is solved (the ‘result’ being y).n) for i=k+1:min(k+p. An alternative is the use of iterative solvers. Iterative solvers ‘iterate’ toward the exact solution. the factorised matrices can be stored in the memory allocated for K.k)*K(k.2 January 21.k)/A(k. For large system of equations.k) = K(i. However.4) which yields the solution to the original problem. ‘backward substitution’. The procedure can be implemented in a computer programming surprisingly simply.j) = K(i.K(i. iterative solvers are generally faster than direct solvers. This is step is known as ‘forward substitution.2 Iterative solvers Direct solvers are relatively simple to program and are robust. Also.j) end end end There are several variations on this procedure to improve its performance. although the time required for convergence depends heavily on the nature of the matrix K.n) K(i. 112 Version 0. ‘Pivoting’ is often used to avoid numerical problems associated with large and small terms on the diagonal. it is not possible to compute exactly the required computational effort before starting the computation.

0) = v0 ( x) ˙ (9. relies on linearity of the underlying problem and is suited to vibration analysis. For example. 0) = u0 ( x) u ( x.4a) (9.2) On other parts of the boundary. time-dependent Neumann boundary conditions are applied.1 Governing equation and the weak form for elastodynamics The equation of motion is given by: ρu = ∇ · σ + b ¨ (9. its is complemented by boundary conditions.1.3) Dynamic problems require some ‘extra’ information compared to their quasi-static counterparts.1) where ρ is the density and u = ∂2 u/∂t2 is the acceleration vector. therefore two initial conditions are required: u ( x. All problems up to this chapter were elliptic. Initial conditions correspond to the conditions at time zero (t = 0). 9. when a load is applied at the 113 . information travels through the domain immediately. In mathematical ¨ terms. The second. In this chapter.1 Elastodynamics The majority of this chapter deals with elastodynamics problems. On parts of the boundary. the unsteady heat equation and elastodynamics are considered in which the time dimension must be addressed. the finite element method has been applied only for time-independent problems. 9. this equation differs significantly from the static case as the governing equation is hyperbolic. Two approaches will be elaborated. time-dependent Dirichlet boundary conditions are prescribed. These are initial conditions. approach is more general and suited to wave propagation problems. The first. σn = h on Γh (9. Elastodynamics involves the second derivative of the displacement with respect to time. Similar to static problems. (9.9 Time-dependent problems Until now. modal analysis. u=g on Γg .4b) where v is the velocity (v = ∂u/∂t). less subtle. With elliptic problems.

a stress wave will travel through the bar and a force at the restrained end will not be felt until the stress wave arrives. 2011 . The velocity and acceleration fields are represented using the shape functions.5) Integrating by parts. The equations for elastodynamics are hyperbolic.7) which is known as ‘semi-discrete’. solving the weak form involves: for a given t > 0. which is independent of time. and integrating gives: Ω ρw · u dΩ = ¨ Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ (9. From the weak from in the previous section. Therefore. ˙ ˙ u = N ae . using the same steps outlined in Chapter 2. (9. This stems from the fact that the dependence on time t has not been addressed in the same fashion as the spatial dependency x.8b) where ae = dae /dt and ae = d2 ae /dt2 .7) and rearranging. If a bar.6) 9. like for the static case the governing equation must be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns and basis functions. a reaction force is felt immediately at the other end. The time dimension is left continuous.2 January 21. ¨ ¨ h (9. which when considering the semidiscrete formulations are constant in time. To solve dynamic problems using a computer. is hit with a hammer at the free end. the Galerkin problem involves: find uh ∈ S h such that Ω ρwh · uh dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s wh : σ h dΩ + Ω wh · b dΩ Γh + wh · h dΓ ∀wh ∈ V h . and inserting Neumann boundary conditions.1) by a weight function w.1.8a) (9.e N T h dΓ. Deriving the weak form for dynamic problems follows the familiar procedure. This is again done using finite element shape functions. Multiplying equation (9.2 Semi-discrete Galerkin form To reach a finite element formulation. (9. find u ∈ S such that Ω ρw · u dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ ∀w ∈ V . for an element. the Galerkin form must be developed.9) 114 Version 0. restrained at one end. Inserting the discretised displacement field ˙ ¨ and the expression for the acceleration field into equation (9. the finite-dimensional velocity and acceleration fields in an element are given by: uh = N ae . Ωe N T ρN dΩ ae = − ¨ Ωe B T DB dΩ ae + Ωe N T b dΩ + Γh. (9.9 Time-dependent problems free end of a restrained rod. With hyperbolic problems ‘information’ travels at finite speeds.

This property is highly advantageous in combination with some time integration schemes.1.3 Mass matrix There are several methods to form the mass matrix. it was not entirely clear how the mass matrix should be formed. cons = Me Ωe ρN T N dΩ. as will be discussed in the following sections. this will yield a diagonal mass matrix. Once the element contributions have been assembled into the global mass and stiffness matrices and the global RHS vector. Another procedure is based on summing rows of the consistent mass matrix. Other more January 21. there is some freedom in determining exactly how the lumped mass matrix should be calculated.12) This is typically formed by integrating numerically. Since lumped schemes do not follow naturally from the variational formulation. ¨ (9.2 115 . a strategy is required to deal with the time derivatives of a.13) where n is the dimension of the mass matrix.9. The obvious choice from the variational approach is the consistent mass matrix. This corresponds to having discrete. Mii lump = j =1 cons ∑ Mij n (9. the lumped mass matrix has non-zero terms only on the diagonal. A common approach was to form a lumped mass matrix.10) where Me is the element mass matrix. Before the variational basis of the finite element method was properly understood. It is however possible that nodes will have zero or negative masses.11) Before this equation can be solved. This procedure however can lead to negative masses on the diagonal. Since shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. Perhaps the simplest procedure to form lumped mass matrices is to form the matrices using numerical integration. As with the element stiffness matrix. All off-diagonal terms are equal to zero. lumped masses at each node. 2011 Version 0. This equation can be written is a shorthand format as: Me a e + k e a e = f e ¨ (9. in the same fashion as for the element stiffness matrix. the mass matrix is symmetric and will have off-diagonal terms. for a given time tn M an + Kan = f n . but with integration points located only at element nodes. (9.1 Elastodynamics This equation is commonly called the ‘semi-discrete’ equation. 9. This is formed similarly to the stiffness matrix. Since finite element shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes.

17) 116 Version 0. 9. The performance of lumped mass matrices is guided primarily by experience. It will become clear when addressing particular time integration schemes why lumped mass matrices are popular. only one type of initial condition may be provided. The problem requires boundary conditions. (9. t) = u0 ( x) .16) where in the context of diffusion of heat. The choice of the parameters τ and ψ is certainly arbitrary.2 January 21. A simple method of introducing damping is to say: C = τM + ψK. kappa is the conductivity. It can be included through the damping matrix C. There is no rich theory underlying the choices. The contribution of the stiffness matrix to the damping matrix increases damping with increasing frequency. representing the uncertainty in the source of damping. namely the temperature at t = 0. (9. or through the constitutive model relating stress and strain. Given that only the first derivative with respect to time is involved. (1989). (9. Unlike elastodynamics.3. unsteady heat diffusion is governed by: ˙ ρcu + ∇ · q = f . The precise source of damping and its mathematical form is often vague.3. 9. and initial conditions.15) where τ and ψ are user chosen parameters. u ( x. as outlined in Section 2. A discussion can be found in Cook et al. c is the ‘capacity’. This topic is left to other courses which address non-linear material behaviour. 2011 . Conversely. ˙ M a + C a + Ka = f .9 Time-dependent problems sophisticated lumping schemes are possible which will avoid negative masses. Damping due to the material response can also be included.14) where the matrix C represents the sources of damping in the structure. ¨ ˙ (9. q = −κ ∇u is the heat flux.1. Damping is often included by adding the term C a to the governing equations. They two key points are that zero and negative masses on the diagonal should be avoided. the contribution of the mass matrix increases damping with decreasing frequency.4 Damping Problems in structural dynamics often involve damping. The steady-state version of the equation was introduced in Section 2. u is the temperature. In strong form. it involves first order derivatives with respect to time. This is known as Rayleigh damping.2 Heat equation The heat equation is introduced here as a step to the problems in elastodynamics.

(9. If stiffness and mass matrices are of dimension n.20) where ω is the frequency (radians per second). For a one-dimensional linear element. Non-trivial solutions (a = 0) require that: ¯ (9. the semi-discrete Galerkin problem for the heat equation involves: for a given t > 0. which ¯ are also known as natural modes.21) −ω 2 M + K a = 0. the highest frequency is equal to: ωe = 2 L E ρ E/ρ. ¨ ¯ Inserting these results into equation (9. it is important to know the highest natural frequency of the discrete problem.11) and rearranging. The displacements at the nodes can be described by a = a cos (ωt − α) . ¯ a = −ω 2 a cos (ωt − α) .25) √ for an element of length L. (9.2 117 .18) (9.23) where ω are the natural frequencies of the system. find uh ∈ S h such that Ω ˙ w h ρcuh dΩ + Ω ∇wh · κ ∇uh dΩ − Γh w h h dΓ = Ω w h f dΩ ∀wh ∈ V h (9. For the consistent mass matrix.23) can be very large.24) The highest frequency from all elements provides an upper bound to the highest frequency of the problem.22) which is a matrix eigenvalue problem. 2011 Version 0. An upper bound to the highest frequency can be found by calculating the frequencies for all individual elements. The eigenvectors are a. If one end of a rod is heated.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics The heat equation is parabolic. For explicit time integration procedures. Following the usual processes in developing the weak form. The acceleration is therefore given by: (9. this can be expressed at time tn as: M an + Kan = f n . this is immediately felt (an infinitesimal amount) and increases with time. (9.9. 2 det ke − ωe me = 0 (9.19) In matrix form. its motion is harmonic. ¯ det K − ω 2 M = 0.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics If an undamped system is allowed to vibrate freely (no forcing terms). ωe = 2 3/L January 21. there are n eigenvalues λ (λ = ω 2 ). ˙ 9. The difficulty is that the size of the problem in equation (9. it is relatively simple to calculate the natural frequencies. It turns out that for a lumped mass matrix.

9 Time-dependent problems 9. The nodal displacements can be expressed as a summation of eigenfunctions. This means that: Ψi T MΨj = and Ψi T KΨj = ωi2 0 i = j. (9. (9. ¨ Ψj T M ∑ αi Ψi + Ψj T K ∑ αi Ψi = Ψj T f i i (9.11) yields: ¨ M ∑ αi Ψi + K ∑ αi Ψi = f i i (9. A special property of the eigenmodes Ψi is that they are orthogonal.11) . i = j. Consider a solution a = ψi cos (ωi t + θi ) . (9. it is then possible to treat each mode individually. separate equations. a (t) = ∑ αi (t) Ψi i (9. (9. and ωi are the natural frequencies. (9. For linear problems. i = j.33) 118 Version 0. 2011 .31) Pre-multiplying both sides of this equation by Ψj T .4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics Modal analysis involves the dividing of the response of a structure into a number of modes.26) Inserting the above equation into the unforced version ( f = 0) of equation (9. ¨ αi + ωi2 αi = Ψi T f .30) 1 0 i = j.27) where Ψi are eigenvectors.28) into equation (9.29) Orthogonality implies that the vibration modes do not interact with each other. K − ωi2 M Ψi = 0. It is then possible to treat each mode separately. and are known as vibration modes.28) where αi (t) is the amplitude of the ith eigenmode.32) The orthogonality property means that the equation has been decoupled into nm simple.2 January 21. The sum of the modes gives the total displacement. Inserting equation (9.

which is O(∆t4 ) accurate). This means a system of equations must be solved for implicit schemes. Explicit schemes can be constructed to have a high degree of accuracy (such as the 4th order Runge-Kutta method. There are known schemes of exceptional accuracy. the computational effort lies in finding the eigenvectors and eigenvalues. January 21. Modal analysis relies on the orthogonality property of the eigenfunctions. Given the values of an .5. There are no known unconditionally stable explicit schemes. but due to their extremely poor stability properties they are useless. 2011 Version 0. an and an at time tn (and perhaps also at earlier times ˙ ¨ steps). and perhaps information at time step n and earlier steps. implicit schemes may have a low degree of accuracy (such as the backward Euler scheme. the above equation can be solved. Conversely.9. Time is then incremented until the desired time is reached. For non-linear problems. Stability means the range of time steps ∆t for which an integrator will calculate a stable result (small errors do not grow exponentially).1 One-step algorithms for the heat equation To introduce time stepping algorithms. the orthogonality property does not hold. rapidly diverging from any sensible result. ˙ ¨ a time stepping scheme is needed. compared to explicit schemes. For the unforced case. Typically. If an integrator is unstable. the unsteady heat equation is first considered. and perhaps earlier steps (such as n − 1) to compute the solution at time step n + 1.33) is only solved for a few modes. equation (9. To do this. In applying modal analysis. Time stepping schemes are distinguished by being either explicit or implicit. this equation can be solved analytically. Hence. Therefore it is limited to linear analysis. It provides a step towards the more complicated schemes for elastodynamics. Explicit integrators rely only on information at time step n. 9. Implicit schemes rely on information at time step n + 1.34) Solutions for forced cases are dependent on the type of loading. usually only the low frequency modes have a significant influence on the structural response. Accuracy is not the difference between explicit and implicit schemes. The difference between explicit and implicit schemes lies in stability. with the solution αi = c1 sin (ωi t) + c2 cos (ωi t) . (1989). 9. equation (9. (9. which is O(∆t) accurate). In structural analysis. implicit schemes generally require significantly extra computational effort. for each mode of interest.5 Time stepping algorithms Now.2 119 . Further discussion of modal methods can be found in Craig (1981) and Cook et al. the values an+1 . an+1 and an+1 at time tn+1 = tn + ∆t are needed.33) is a homogeneous ordinary partial differential equation. it will ‘blow-up’.5 Time stepping algorithms Time stepping algorithms involve schemes to increment the time in discrete steps ∆t. Therefore.

˙ θ∆t n+1 θ∆t θ (9.35). The Newmark algorithm gives an+1 and an+1 as: ˙ an+1 = an + ∆t an + ˙ a n +1 ˙ ∆t2 ¨ ¨ ((1 − 2β) an + 2β an+1 ) 2 = an + ∆t ((1 − γ) an + γ an+1 ) ˙ ¨ ¨ (9. and is second-order accurate. a n +1 = ˙ 1 1 (1 − θ ) a − an − an . In practice. both explicit and implicit. well known integrators. For the problems to be considered here.5.36) gives.9 Time-dependent problems A popular family of algorithms are ‘generalised trapezoidal’ methods.37) (9. the problem to solve an+1 has become ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 .35) where 0 ≤ θ ≤ 1. and the implicit trapezoidal (θ = 1/2) and backward Euler (θ = 1) methods. Well known methods are the explicit forward Euler (θ = 0) method. The backward Euler method is also unconditionally stable. ˙ ˙ (9. ˙ θ∆t θ∆t θ In compact notation. the heat equation at time tn+1 must satisfy: M an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 .37).2 January 21.36) and inserting the above result into equation (9. Newmark time integrators are a family of schemes. 1 1 (1 − θ ) M + K a n +1 = f n +1 + Man + M an . ˙ θ∆t θ and an is computed from equation (9. the forward Euler is not particularly useful as its stability properties are poor. They involve: an+1 = an + ∆t ((1 − θ ) an + θ an+1 ) . where 1 ˆ K= M+K θ∆t 1 (1 − θ ) fˆn+1 = f n+1 + Man + M an . ˙ 9.38) 120 Version 0. but only first-order accurate. the trapezoidal method is particularly attractive as it is unconditionally stable.41b) (9. ˙ Rearranging equation (9.39) (9.40a) (9. Choosing parameters appropriately for a Newmark algorithm yields a number of different. 2011 .2 One-step algorithms for elastodynamics The most commonly used time integration scheme in solid and structural mechanics is the generalised Newmark scheme.40b) (9. In matrix form.41a) (9.

a n +1 = a n + ˙ ˙ a n +1 ∆t ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) . 2011 Version 0. c (9. 2 (9. January 21. but as will be shown later. but it is conditionally stable. it requires the factorisation of a large matrix. an = ˙ an = ¨ a n +1 − a n −1 2∆t an−1 − 2an + an+1 . a Newmark scheme is second-order accurate. ∆t ≤ L . Appropriate choices of β and γ yield well known integration methods.43b) It is possible to rearrange these terms and show that they are equivalent to equation (9.42) For γ = 1/2. It is stable for: ∆t ≤ 2 ωh (9. It is also energy conserving. Friedrichs and Lewy (CFL) stability condition.47) This integrator is implicit.43a) (9. This scheme is O(∆t2 ) accurate.46b).46b) Inserting equation (9. It is necessary to express the terms a and a in terms of a. an+1 = an + ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) 4 (9. It is clear that this algorithm is explicit – it is possible to express an+1 in terms of quantities at n and earlier times (which are known). Calculating the necessary terms using ˙ ¨ central differences.44) where ω h is the highest natural frequency (highest value from det K − ω 2 M = 0. 2 ∆t ˙ ˙ = an + ( a n + a n +1 ) .5 Time stepping algorithms where β and γ are parameters which define the nature and properties of the algorithm. This method is unconditionally stable and the accuracy is O(∆t2 ). Its stability properties are attractive. It corresponds to β = 1/4 and γ = 1/2 in the Newmark family of integrators.41) for β = 0 and γ = 1/2. where c is the dilatational wave speed (c = E/ρ) and L is the length of an element.45) which is the Courant.46a) into equation (9. A commonly used time integrator is the central difference method. Therefore. ∆t2 (9. Another commonly used time integrator is based on the trapezoidal rule. The term ω h can be estimated for linear elements as 2c/L.2 121 . The Newmark method is unconditionally stale for: 2β ≥ γ ≥ 1 2 (9.9.46a) (9.

1 1 1 1 M+ C an+1 = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . (9. it is not necessary to form the stiffness matrix K.55) Ω A difficulty with explicit central-difference time integration is the need for information at n − 1 when starting a calculation. the displacement vector a at step n + 1 is given by: ˆ an+1 = M −1 fˆn (9.9 Time-dependent problems Explicit time integration – central difference approach The system of equations to be solved.53) 1 1 C M+ 2 2∆t ∆t (9.54) (9.48) It is assumed that a and its time derivatives are known at time t and unknown at time t + ∆t (corresponding to n + 1). In practice. + C n +1 2 2∆t ∆t (9.43). ¨ ˙ (9. The above equations can be written in a shorthand format as: ˆ Man+1 = fˆn .2 January 21.49) Rearranging the above equation such that all terms at t + ∆t are on the LHS and all terms at time t are on the RHS. 2∆t n−1 ∆t Then. 2011 .52) (9. Given an and an−1 . where ˆ M= and 1 1 fˆn = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . has the appearance: M an + C an + Kan = f n . and unknown at step n + 1. (9.51) If both M and C are diagonal matrices. M an−1 − 2an + an+1 a − a n −1 + Kan = f n .50) 2 2∆t 2∆t n−1 ∆t ∆t Recall that the displacement vector a is known at step n and all previous steps. Inserting the central difference expressions from equation (9. an+1 can be calculated without solving a system of equations (hence the attractiveness of lumped mass matrices when using explicit time integrators). A procedure is required to ‘start’ the 122 Version 0. it is possible to calculate an+1 . The term Kan is equivalent to: Kan = B T σn dΩ. with damping.

56) The vector an−1 can be used to start the time integration procedure.2 123 . a n +1 = ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9.43) it is possible to express an−1 in terms of quantities at n (time t = 0).57). damping is ignored.61) January 21.58a) a n +1 = a n ˙ ˙ + ∆t (1 − γ) an + γ ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9. In combination with a lumped mass matrix. an−1 = an − ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 an ¨ 2 (9. it is very efficient and suitable for very large problems. The significant drawback is the conditional stability. Implicit time integration – the Newmark family Formulation of a Newmark scheme starts by inserting the expressions for the velocity and accelerations into: M an+1 + C an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 ¨ ˙ (9.59) Rearranging such that all unknown quantities appear on the LHS.58b) These equations are then inserted into equation (9. The central difference procedure is popular in finite element analysis. This yields. it is second-order accurate. 1 M + K a n +1 = M β∆t2 1 1 1 an + ˙ an − an ˙ ¨ a + 2 n β∆t 2β β∆t +f (9. and all known quantities on the RHS.5 Time stepping algorithms algorithm at t = 0. For simplicity. M 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 + Kan+1 = f n+1 (9. Furthermore.9. The time step must be chosen carefully for a particular discretisation.41) for β = 0 to express the accelerations and velocity at step n + 1 in terms of step n and earlier. which are the initial conditions. Combining equations (9. 2011 Version 0.57) Rearranging the expressions in equation (9.60) which in a short-hand notation can be expressed as: ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 (9.

Numerical dissipation can be controlled through the parameter α. 2011 . it is usually desirable to introduce some numerical damping to suppress spurious high-frequency modes. Note that calculating the ‘new’ an+1 introduces a dependency ˙ on the parameter γ. γ = (1 − 2α) /2 and β = (1 − α)2 /4. At time step n. ¨ (9. 9. 9. the algorithm is unconditionally stable and second-order accurate. the terms in f are prescribed and both M and K can be formed. the α-Method reduces to the Newmark scheme. One such algorithm is the α-Method. 1987).62) where f n+1+α = f n+1+θ∆t . 2. Decreasing α increases the dissipation.41) to show for β = 0 and γ = 1/2 the scheme is equivalent to a central-difference procedure. 3. Calculate the consistent and lumped mass matrices for the four-noded quadrilateral element. The problem with the Newmark scheme is that the introduction of any numerical damping reduces the order of accuracy from two to one. Derive the mass matrix for a two-noded beam element.3 α-Method for elastodynamics In dynamic simulations. Solving the resulting system of equations yields an+1 .9 Time-dependent problems Since the stiffness matrix K is not diagonal. numerical damping can be introduced by choosing γ > 1/2. 124 Version 0. the vector fˆ can be calculated from an . It involves using a Newmark scheme to solve : M an+1 + (1 − α) Kan+1 − αKan = f n+1+α .5. With the Newmark scheme.7 Exercises 1. Numerical damping aids in controlling undesirable spurious high frequency modes in the solution. If −1/3 < α < 0. Rearrange equation (9. However. A number of algorithms have been developed to preserve second-order accuracy while allowing for the introduction of numerical damping. choosing γ = 1/2 reduces the integration scheme to first order accuracy O(t). which is also known as the Hilber-Hughes-Taylor Method (Hughes.6 Space-time formulations Time as a degree of freedom. calculating an requires the solution of a system of equations. 9. If α = 0.2 January 21.

R. The Finite Element Method. Zienkiewicz. Cambridge. New Jersey. third edition. D. fast solvers. V. O. The Finite Element Method . C. England.. R.-J.Linear Static and Dynamic Finite Element Analysis. and Fix. R. (2004). (1996). and Plesha. T. (1989). K. Berkshire. New York. Brenner. Introductory Functional Analysis. Structural Dynamics. McGraw-Hill Book Company. and Loan. Reddy. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering. Prentice-Hall. S. The John Hopkins University Press. and Scott. Malkus. B. Cambridge University Press. Craig. D. McGraw-Hill Book Company. G.. SpringerVerlag. D. New York. Golub. (1973). Zienkiewicz.References Bathe. Ern. D. New York. (1987). O. (1987). R. L. (1981). C. London. Cook. R. John Wiley & Sons. fourth edition. L. R. A simple error estimator and adaptive procedure for practical engineering analysis. Berkshire. L. Englewood Cliffs. Prentice-Hall. Springer-Verlag. J. fourth edition. Concept and Applications of Finite Element Analysis. C. C.. and Taylor. Theory and Practice of Finite Elements. (1994). Braess. O. Springer. Matrix Computations. G. L. Zienkiewicz. 125 . Z. and Zhu. The Finite Element Method. Finite Element Procedures. (2001). (1996). (1989). J. H. C. The Mathematical Theory of Finite Elements Methods. Baltimore. F. volume 1. 24:337–357. E. New York. (1991). New Jersey. J. Prentice-Hall. M. volume 2. A. and Guermond. (1998). Hughes. Finite Elements: Theory. Inc. Analysis of the Finite Element Method. Strang. John Wiley and Sons. G. and Taylor. London. and applications in solid mechanics. S. R.

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