The Finite Element Method: An Introduction

Dr. Garth N. Wells

University of Cambridge and Delft University of Technology

c G. N. Wells 2009


.4 Stiffness matrix storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . method . . . . . . . . 6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 5 .5 Post-processing . . . . . . .2 Vector calculus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . .3 Local-global . . . . . . 5. . . . . . .6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions . . . . . . . . 3 The 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 3. . . . . . 2. . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . .1 Finite element method with piecewise linear basis functions 4. . . . . . . . 4. . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Isoparametric mapping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Tensor basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Continuum elasticity . . . . . . . . . .3 Poisson equation . . . . 2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations 2. . . .1 Preprocessing . . . . . . . . .1 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . .1 One-dimensional bar . .6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces . . . . . . . 4. . . . . .4 Galerkin method Approximate solution . . . .5 Regularity requirements . . .3 Governing equations . . . .4 Essentials from continuum mechanics 1.2 General finite element basis functions . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . Basic error analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Numerical integration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Minimisation of potential energy . . . . . 4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Linear algebra . . .2 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Contents 1 Introduction 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 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 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Program flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . 5 Implementation of the finite element 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . Convergence of the Galerkin method Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . .

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

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

(1. ai where i runs from one to n. In the case n = 2. a= a1 . a·b = (1.2 January 21.5) ∑ a i bi .7) 8 Version 0. i =1 3 (1. 2011 .3) Consider the dot product between two vectors a and b. where repeated indices imply summation: a·b = For n = 3.1 Introduction x2 a e2 = [0 1 0] e1 = [1 0 0] x1 e3 = [0 0 1] x3 Figure 1. x = √ x · x. and is defined through the operation which gives the length x of a vector x. i =1 n (1.4) The dot product of two vectors is given by: a · b = a i bi . a2 (1.1: Example of orthonormal base vectors.6) ∑ a i b i = a 1 b1 + a 2 b2 + a 3 b3 . A vector a in an n-dimensional space R n can be expressed in terms of its components. which is denoted a · b.

1 Tensor basics For an orthonormal basis. A31 A32 A33 (1.16) (1. The second-order tensor A in R3 can be expressed as   A11 A12 A13 A = Aij =  A21 A22 A23  . 2011 Version 0. the dot product maybe written as a T b. K. A. (1. At times. a second-order tensor A can be expressed in terms of components. It is defined by: a · Bc = Bc · a = c · B T a. (1.9) Second-order tensors (which possess some similar properties to matrices) are generally denoted by uppercase bold characters. A = Aij .17) (1. Aij . M. Second-order tensors can be multiplied.13) where n is the dimension of the vector b.15) (1. The symbol δij is known as the Kronecker delta: δij = 1 if i = j.2 9 .8) can be used. A second-order tensor A takes the vector b and transforms it into the vector a. a = Ab = Aij b j = ∑ Aij bj j =1 n (1. and in index notation as Dij = Aik Bkj .10) As with vectors.12) Second-order tensors are linear operators that act upon vectors. ei · e j = δij .1. Consider the case a = ABc = Dc. (1. 0 if i = j. The transpose of a tensor is denoted by the superscript ‘T’. R (1. allowing the base vectors to be discarded and the more familiar notation a · b = ai b j δij = ai bi .11) (1. in the vein of matrix multiplication. which is expressed as D = AB.14) January 21.

(1. A useful identity involving the transpose is: ( AB) T = B T A T . It also yields a scalar.20) The trace of a second-order tensor is essentially the summation of its diagonal components.26) (1. an operation similar to the dot product of two vectors. this implies: tr ( A) = A11 + A22 + A33 . an inner product.25) ∑ ∑ Aij Bij . = ai b j . i =1 j =1 n n (1.18) The transpose of a second-order tensor implies interchanging the rows and columns of its components. (1. The repeated i and j indices implies: Aij Bij = (1. (1. which is equivalent to Aij = ai b j . For two second-order tensors in R2 . tr ( a ⊗ b) = ai bi and tr ( A) = Aii . For a second-order tensor A in R3 .28) 10 Version 0. A = a ⊗ b.1 Introduction In terms of indices: Aij T = A ji . (1. 2011 . It is defined by: A : B = tr A T B . For example.19) Second-order tensors can be formed through the dyadic production of two vectors.23) (1.22) Using the trace.21) (1. A : B = A11 B11 + A12 B12 + A21 B21 + A22 B22 . This is equivalent to A : B = Aij Bij .27) This operation has no equivalent in matrix-vector convention.2 January 21. (1. is provided for two second-order tensors.24) (1.

A tensor A is orthogonal if: A T = A −1 . (1. (1. The components of E are given by: [E ] = Eijk = ei · e j × ek . Using index notation. Eijk = −1. A common third-order tensor is the alternating (or permutation) tensor E . AA−1 = A−1 A = I.33) (1. (1. Eijk = 0. is equal to the identity tensor. (1. The cross product of two vectors yields a vector. b ∈ R3 by:   a 2 b3 − a 3 b2 (1. A third-order tensor can be defined which will make manipulations more convenient.37) 11 . a tensor Aij is symmetric if: Aij = A ji . a 1 b2 − a 2 b1 Such a definition however is not convenient for manipulation. matrices which rotate the reference frame are orthogonal. A third-order tensor maps a second-order tensor to a first order tensor.30) (1. Eijk = 1.31) Second-order tensors are often characterised by their special properties. and is equal to I = δij ei ⊗ e j . If the permutation {i.1. and if the permutation {i. multiplied by its inverse A−1 . If any of the indices are repeated.29) A second-order tensor A. A matrix A is symmetric if: A T = A. j. Another important operation is the cross. k} is even. E : ( a ⊗ b) = a × b.32) As will be shown in the following section. product. January 21.1 Tensor basics The identity tensor I is defined by: a = Ia. or vector. 2011 Version 0. It is defined for a. j. The result of the above equation is rather simple. The cross product can be introduced via the third-order tensor E .34) (1. k} is odd.36) The expression for E in terms of the basis ei is lengthy and not shown here.2 (1.35) [ a × b ] =  a 3 b1 − a 1 b3  .

′ and it would be convenient to have the components in the ei system. This operation is particularly important when considering moments. Defining Qij by Qij = ei · e′j . Consider that for a vector a. For an orthonormal basis.41) 12 Version 0. It may prove convenient to transform vector components relative to the ei system to components ′ in the ei system. the components in ei system are known. Consider the orthonormal coordinate systems in Figure 1.2.39) Fortunately. ′ the components ai are given by ′ ai = Q ji a j . it is convenient to rotate the coordinate frame.2 January 21.40) (1.1 Introduction x2 ′ e2 = [− sin θ cos θ ] e2 = [0 1] ′ e1 = [cos θ sin θ ] θ e1 = [1 0] x1 Figure 1. the stress and strain are second-order tensors. C = Cijkl . due to physical symmetries. which is orthogonal. (1. A : B = Aijk Bjk . 2011 . Coordinate transformations For many problems. Vector and tensor components can be rotated (change of basis) using a rotation matrix Q. (1. They are related to each other via a fourth-order tensor. denoted here as C . it will not be necessary to manipulate fourthorder tensors directly. (1. in terms of indices.2: Rotation between coordinate systems.38) In elasticity.

xy . January 21.45) At times it is necessary to also rotate the components of a second-order tensor from one coordinate system to another. and A = QA′ Q T . Q= ′ e1 · e1 ′ e2 · e1 ′ e1 · e2 cos θ ′ = sin θ e2 · e2 (1. (1.2 (1. cos θ (1.43) and note that Q is orthogonal. An important operator is the divergence. 0 . It is expressed as: ∇ · a.46) Often coordinate transforms are used to simplify a problem. QQ T = Q T Q = I. Considering the coordinate systems illustrated in Figure 1. ∂x∂y ∂x∂y2 (1. components in the rotated reference frame can be transformed back to the original reference frame by: a = Qa′ . 2011 Version 0. It is convenient to rotate the ′ reference such such the position along the bar is given by [ x]′ = x1 .42) − sin θ . which effectively reduces the three-dimensional problem to a one-dimensional problem. An example is a onedimensional rod element in a three-dimensional space. The divergence of a vector field a yields a scalar. = u.xx .44) Therefore.48) This notation is used commonly throughout these notes.2. ∂x2 ∂x4 ∂2 u ∂3 u = u.1.xyy . (1. Consider a function u which is dependent on the position x. ∂x ∂4 u ∂2 u = u. Characters after a comma in the subscript denote differentiation with respect to that variable.x . Some of its derivatives can be written as: ∂u = u.49) 13 . 1.2 Vector calculus Subscripts are commonly used as a short-hand notation for derivatives. This is done by the operation: A′ = Q T AQ. 0.47) (1.xxxx . = u.2 Vector calculus which can also be expressed as: a′ = Q T a. (1.

j . In a three-dimensional space.i .50) In a three-dimensional space R3 .  ∂y      ∂a ∂z The gradient of a vector is given by: ∇a = ∂ai = ai. The gradient of a scalar a is given by: ∇a = ∂a = a. ∇a =  (1.52) For a two-dimensional tensor A.55) ∇a =   . ∂xi (1.j . the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a  ∂x     ∂a  (1. In a three-dimensional space.56) which yields a second-order tensor. ∇ · A =  ∂A 1 ∂A22 21 ∂x + ∂x 1 2 (1. 2011 . ∂x j (1. ∂x1 ∂x2 ∂x3 ∂x ∂y ∂z (1.57) ∂y ∂z   ∂x   ∂a3 ∂a3 ∂a3  ∂x ∂y ∂z 14 Version 0. ∇ · a is equal to ∇·a = ∂ai = ai. ∂xi (1.2 January 21. ∇·a = ∂ay ∂a ∂a x ∂a ∂az ∂a1 + 2+ 3 = + + .51) The divergence of a second-order tensor is given by: ∇·A = ∂Aij = Aij.i .1 Introduction In terms of indices. ∂x j (1.54) which yields a vector.53) Another important operator is the gradient. the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a1 ∂a1 ∂a1  ∂x ∂y ∂z     ∂a2 ∂a2 ∂a2   .   ∂A11 + ∂A12 ∂x ∂x2  .

(1. The above formula is simple to derive by using the product rule for differentiation to expand Ω ∇ · ( aB ) dΩ = Ω ∂ a B dΩ.3 Linear algebra n Ω Γ Figure 1. For a vector a.3: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n bounded by Γ. It transforms a volume integral to a surface integral. Consider the body Ω in Figure 1. and the January 21. It implies that: Ω a · (∇ · B) dΩ = − Ω ∇ a : B dΩ + ∂Ω a · Bn dΓ. The boundary of the body Ω is denoted Γ = ∂Ω. The surface of Ω is given by ∂Ω.3 Linear algebra The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix provide information as to its properties. 2011 Version 0. An essential theorem in formulating the finite element method is the divergence theorem (also known as Gauss’s theorem). Ω ∇ · a dΩ = ∂Ω a · n dΓ. (1.61) and then applying the divergence theorem.2 15 .58) where n is the outward normal to the body Ω. The divergence theorem states: Ω ∇ · A dΩ = ∂Ω An dΓ.1.3. ∂x j i ij (1.59) Integration by parts is used frequently in the formulation of the finite element method. 1. the eigenvalues of the stress tensor are the principal stresses.60) The above equation also holds for the case in which a is replaced by a scalar and B is replaced by a vector. (1. For example. The outward unit normal to the body is denoted n.

all eigenvalues are real. A zero eigenvalue implies that the matrix A has a linearly dependent column. the system of equations in a finite element equation will be very large. 1. This section is intended to cover only the important concepts which are used later in these notes. all eigenvalues are positive and real. the roots of a cubic equation must be found. For a symmetric matrix.64) where K is an n × n matrix. (1. finding λ requires finding the roots of a quadratic equation. 2011 . special numerical algorithms are used to calculate the eigenvalues. vectors b and scalars λ which satisfy ( A − λI ) b = 0 (1. Equation (1. The strain ǫ is defined as the symmetric gradient of the displacement vector: ǫij = 1 u + u j. the eigenvalues of a matrix indicates if a matrix has a unique inverse. of A. For a matrix A. which guarantees that the inverse of A exists. Eigenvalue tests are often used in studying the matrices arising in the finite element method.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics The finite element method is used in these notes to solve primarily problems in continuum mechanics. It is not a comprehensive coverage of the topic. 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 system of n linear equations can be expressed as: Ku = f . This requires some background in continuum mechanics and linear-elasticity. In the context of the finite element method.62) are known as eigenvectors and eigenvalues. Also. The solution u is given by: u = K −1 f .63) For a 2 × 2 matrix. and is unique. The system of equations is usually solved using a direct method (such as Gauss elimination or LU decomposition) or an approximate iterative method.62) implies that: det ( A − λI ) = 0. For a 3 × 3 matrix. Solvers for finite element problems are discussed in Chapter 8. (1.2 January 21. For large matrices. K will often be referred to as the ‘stiffness matrix’ and f the ‘right-hand side vector’. respectively. and u and f are vectors of length n.66) 16 Version 0.65) Typically. The polynomial is known as the characteristic equation of A. For a positive definite matrix A.j (1. 2 i.i . (1.1 Introduction corresponding eigenvectors are the principal stress directions.

72) (1.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics which is clearly a second-order tensor. For convenience. σij = Cijkl ǫkl where C is a fourth-order tensor. 2011 Version 0. A constitutive equation relates the stresses in a material to the strain. The stress tensor is defined through the traction vector t (force per unit area) on a surface. the strain tensor is symmetric. Lam´ constants are indepene e dent of the position. For linear elasticity. Due to symmetry.73) (1. Obviously.j (1. σn = t (1.70) with E the Young’s modulus and ν Poisson’s ratio. as will be shown in the next chapter). In two-dimensions. this can be written as: σ = C : ǫ. in three-dimensions the stress and strain tensors have only six independent components.2 17 .j) = 1 u + u j. 2 (1. linear-elastic continua.68) where the bracket around the subscript denotes the symmetric gradient. or in index notation.74) νE (1 + ν) (1 − 2ν) (1. In a homogeneous body. this reduces to four.71) (1. 2 i. For solid.67) For convenience. the above expression can be written as: ǫ = ∇s u = 1 ∇u + (∇u) T . the stress tensor is symmetric (which can be proved by considering the balance of angular momentum. Similar to the strain tensor.1. The constants λ and µ are often referred to as Lam´ constants. January 21. the symmetric gradient using index notation will be expressed as: u(i. it is defined by: Cijkl = µ δik δjl + δil δjk + λδij δkl where λ= and µ= E 2 (1 + ν ) (1.69) where n is the unit normal vector to the surface. In compact notation.i .

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

etc.). Therefore. For three-dimensions (i = 1 → 3. Ω r × (∇ · σ + b) dΩ + Ω E : σ T dΩ = 0 (1.5 Exercises 1. Then. 1.2 19 . Application of the divergence theorem to the integral over ∂Ω gives: Ω ∇ · σ + b dΩ = 0 (1. which requires that ∂Ω t dΓ + Ω b dΩ = ∂Ω σn dΓ + Ω b dΩ = 0 (1.82) where r is the position vector of a point on ∂Ω.1.80) Balance of linear momentum should also be satisfied for any subdomain of Ω. expand the terms: a) b) c) d) e) f) a i bi ai b j Aij Bij Cij bi Cij b j Fik Gkj 2.5 Exercises elastic bodies. Considering that t = σn. and applying the divergence theorem.80). How many independent components does a symmetric second-order tensor in R n have? January 21.79) where b is a body force. Therefore. consider first translational equilibrium (balance of linear momentum) of a body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ = ∂Ω. 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 (1.81) Consider now moment equilibrium (balance of angular momentum). the integral can be removed from equation(1. and not specific to elasticity.83) is zero.83) If translational equilibrium (equation (1. In order to derive the governing partial differential equation. if σ is symmetric. leading to: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω (1. Note that this equation is general. the first term in equation (1. 2011 Version 0. the partial differential equation of equilibrium is given by equation (1.80)) is satisfied. since E : σ T = 0. moment equilibrium is satisfied if the stress tensor is symmetric.80). This will also be referred to as the ‘strong’ governing equation.

1 Introduction 3. Confirm that the rotation matrix R in equation (1.2 January 21. What is the trace of the identity tensor I equal to in R n ? 4. 7. derive the integration by parts formula in equation (1. 2011 .43) is orthogonal. 6. A common and important operator in applied mathematics (and mechanics) is the Laplace operator ∆ (sometimes denoted ∇2 ). 5. Using the product rule for differentiation and the divergence theorem. Expand ∆u in a three-dimensional space using index notation.60). It is equivalent to ∇ · ∇. Derive the isotropic linear-elastic constitutive matrix D for plane stress and plane strain conditions 20 Version 0.

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

x n = h 0 < x < L. equation (2.9) must hold point-wise. both sides of equation (2.x = w f L 0 ∀w ∈ V .11) Note the term wEu. Taking guidance from equation (1. at x = L. solving the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that L 0 w. Multiplying equation (2. after inserting the constitutive relationship (2.x Eu.x n| x=0 is not included as by definition the weight function w is equal to zero at x = 0.x dx = L 0 w.1 to be equal to zero.6).6) (2. If equation (2.10) can be integrated by parts and the Neumann boundary condition from equation (2. Note that in the strong form. L 0 (2. which yields: − L 0 wσ.3).5) where n is the outward normal to the bar (equal to 1 in this case). −wσ. Considering that σ = Eu.6) are multiplied by a scalar weight function w ∈ V (w ∈ V means that w comes from the appropriately defined space of functions V . An important requirement on the space V is that functions w be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.12) where S is an appropriately defined space of functions which satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions. Inserting now the constitutive relationship σ = Eu.xx = f u=0 Eu.2 January 21. 2011 .x .x . then − wσ. (2. (2. at x = 0. Since both sides of the equation are multiplied by the weight function.10) is also true.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations prescribes the displacement at one end of the bar in Figure 2. (2. applying a force at the end of the bar is equivalent to prescribing u. This is the weak form of the governing equation.x σ dx − wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V . σn = h at x = L.x dx = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V .8) To develop the weak form of the governing equation. The mathematical problem can now be summarised as: find u such that: − Eu.8) inserted. (2.x dx = w f dx ∀w ∈ V . which has an infinite number of members). A Neumann (natural) boundary condition prescribes the applied traction.9) where ‘∀w ∈ V ’ means ‘for all w ∈ V ’. the equation must still hold for all admissible weight function (this is a technical point which is discussed in section 2.7) (2. The above boundary condition sets the applied traction at x = L equal to h.60).x . derivatives of order 22 Version 0.1) by w. (2.

Recall that the governing equation is given by: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω.xx + f )2 dx = 0.14) which can be rearranged to give L 0 φ ( Eu. satisfying the strong governing equation (in a distributional sense). In the weak form (2. The basic form of the equations is the same as the one-dimensional bar in the previous section.2 Continuum elasticity A more complicated example is continuum elasticity.x n| x= L = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L . Returning to equation (2.12). For a more elaborate mathematical treatment.13).16) proving that the Neumann boundary conditions are satisfied. (2. Eu. where φ is greater than zero over the interval ]0.13).13) Note again that no terms at x = 0 appear. − L 0 φ ( Eu.15) Since φ > 0 and ( Eu. Hence.2 Continuum elasticity two with respect to x appear.xx + f ) Eu. w(0) = 0. (2.xx dx = L 0 φ ( Eu. at least in a generalised sense). consider a weight function w ∈ V which is equal to φ ( Eu. Inserting the weight function into equation (2.xx dx + wEu. (2.xx + f )2 ≥ 0. Since the weak form is derived from the strong form. What remains now is to ensure that the Neumann boundary condition is satisfied (Dirichlet boundary conditions are satisfied by construction).2. January 21.xx + f ).x n = h.12) yields − L 0 wEu. 2.2. Consider now the continuous body in Figure 2.xx = f . Assuming that E is constant and integrating by parts the first term in (2. Following Hughes (1987). it follows that a solution of the strong form is also a solution of the weak form.xx + f ) f dx. the above equation can only hold if − Eu. see Brenner and Scott (1994).17) 23 . L[ and zero outside (specifically at x = 0 and x = L). it is now proven that the first term is equal to zero. as by construction. The strong governing equation for this problem was developed in the previous chapter. for any allowable weight function at x = L.2 (2. 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. only first derivatives with respect to x appear. 2011 Version 0. The complication arises from the three-dimensional setting. (2.

18) where C is a fourth-order tensor. Γh .60)). (2. where again V is an appropriately defined function space (w = 0 on Γg ). σ = C : ǫ. the displacements are prescribed (Dirichlet boundary conditions). To derive the weak form.2: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ (Γ = Γg ∪ Γh . t=h on Γh . For a linearelastic material.21) can be integrated by parts (see equation (1.22) 24 Version 0. 2011 . and integrating over the body Ω yields: Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . a constitutive relationship is required. and integrated over the body. the same steps as in the case of the one-dimensional bar are followed.19) On the remaining boundary. First.21) The first term in equation (2. In Figure 2.17) by w ∈ V . tractions (potentially zero) are applied (traction ≡ force per unit area on a surface). Note that in this case. the part of the boundary where displacements are prescribed is denoted Γg . Boundary conditions are still required to complete the problem. (2. (2. the weight function w is a vector. As in the one-dimensional case. On part of the boundary. (2. u=g on Γg .20) The boundary-value problem is now complete. Multiplying equation (2. the governing equation is multiplied by a weight function w ∈ V .2 January 21. yielding: − Ω ∇w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0. Γg ∩ Γh = ∅). (2.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations h Γh Ω Γg n Figure 2.2.

(2.2 25 . the variational framework is more general. κ = κI. u is the hydraulic head and κ is known as the hydraulic conductivity. The equation of virtual work is therefore the weak form of the governing equation.26) where u is a potential. Consider the following equation: −∇ · q + f = 0 in Ω (2. 2011 Version 0. The previous example of continuum elasticity was an example of a system of Poisson equations – one for each spatial direction.24) which is the equation of virtual work. For linear heat conduction. q is the flow rate. 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 . This is the weak equilibrium equation for a stationary continuous elastic body.25) where q is a flux vector and f is a source term. In Darcy’s law. q is the heat flux vector. Therefore ∇s w ≡ δǫ. the symmetric gradient of w.23) where S is an appropriate space of functions which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. where κ is the thermal conductivity.18). Here the Poisson equation is addressed in a more generic fashion. (2.3 Poisson equation An equation which is often solved using the finite element method is the Poisson equation. Often the term ∇w is written as ∇s w. Ω δǫ : C : ǫ dΩ = Ω δu · b dΩ + Γh δu · h dΓ. For Darcy’s law. Inserting this into equation (2. There exists a close link between weak forms and virtual work for a range of problems. The constitutive relationship depends on the problem being solved. For an isotropic medium. Consider now w as a ‘virtual displacement’ δu. Inserting the constitutive equation into (2.j ) (2. Consistency can be proven in the same fashion as was used for the onedimensional problem. However. It is simple to show that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric (see exercise 1). 2. The constitutive relationship is given by: q = −κ ∇ u (qi = −κij u.25) yields a Poisson equation.23).3 Poisson equation where σn has been replaced by the prescribed traction h (the Neumann boundary condition). the scalar u is the temperature. January 21. Inserting now the constitutive relationship from equation (2. A wide range of physical phenomena are governed by this equation. including steady-state heat conduction and flow in permeable media (Darcy’s law).2. In the case of heat conductivity.

2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations As for all previous examples. and consider the potential energy functional I. the boundary-value problem requires boundary conditions. 2.25) by a weight function w and integrating over the body Ω. such as equilibrium of an elastic body.27) which prescribes the potential on the boundary.2).31) which is the weak form of the Poisson equation. w = u + v. this imposes the heat flux on Γh . The Neumann boundary condition requires that: −q · n = h on Γh (2. suppose that u is the solution to the weak problem. I (u) = 1 2 Ω ∇s u : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω u · b dΩ − ∂Ω u · h dΩ. and for Darcy flow is it the inflow/outflow across a boundary.32) The potential energy for another displacement field. For heat conduction. (2. 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. Multiplying equation (2. For an elastic body Ω. 2011 . it is the hydraulic head. (2. (2. this is the temperature on the boundary Γg . (2. The weak form of the Poisson equation is derived following the same steps as in the previous two examples.2 January 21.33) 26 Version 0. (2. The Dirichlet conditions impose: u=g on Γg (2.4 Minimisation of potential energy For particular equations. In the case of heat conduction. − Ω w (∇ · q) dΩ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . For Darcy flow.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 . there exists a close link between minimisation of energy and solution of the weak form.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 .28) where n is the outward normal to the surface Γh (see Figure 2.

A C0 function is shown in Figure 2. 2011 Version 0. In summary. it is clear that it involves only first derivatives with respect to x of u and w. Continuity refers to whether or not the derivatives of a function are continuous.2 27 . It is not a possible solution. Consider now if the function f is a possible solution u of the strong equation for a bar (equation (2. functions which are C0 are most commonly used. In finite element analysis.12)). January 21. and the last term Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ ≥ 0. but their first derivatives are not.5 Regularity requirements A common topic in finite element analysis is continuity. 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. The function shown in Figure 2.3: Example of a C0 function f . If a function is C n . Therefore a function like f is a possible solution of the weak form and a possible weight function. 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)). since for equation (2. piecewise linear function. this means that its nth derivative is continuous. its second derivative does not exist. the weak form allows for more possible solutions.2.x x Figure 2. This means that the functions are continuous. and is essential for the finite element method. this is a commonly used function in finite element analysis. the second derivative of f with respect to x ( f . which proves that solution of the weak form corresponds to minimisation of the potential energy. As will be seen in the following chapters. Functions are often classified as being C n continuous.5 Regularity requirements f f . This is a classic mathematical property of weak forms.3) to make sense.3. From Figure 2.3 is a continuous. Examining now the weak form for the rod (equation (2. in a classical sense. 2. However.34) Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ. it is clear that it is simple to take the first derivative of the function f .xx ) must exist.3.23).

28 Version 0. (2.37) 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. (2. an infinite number of different functions belong to a given Sobolev space. In physical terms. Clearly. there do however exist functions from H 1 (Ω) which are not C0 continuous.36) are known as members of the Sobolev space on degree one. u| Γg = g}. It is useful to define function spaces. functions which have square-integrable derivatives are of interest. 2011 . the requirement that the trial functions be square-integrable implies that energy must be finite. Consider first a scalar problem in an n-dimensional domain Ω. Note that C0 functions belong to H 1 . such functions may be discontinuous. Functions spaces can be considered the ‘family’ of functions from which u and w can come. Sobolev spaces are infinite-dimensional. which is denoted H 1 (Ω). This can be seen in the well-known Sobolev embedding theorem. since a fundamental step in the finite element method will involve finite-dimensional function spaces. 2. but this point is not important here). (2. The notation u ∈ H 1 means that u comes from (is an element of) H 1 . A function u is said to be square integrable if: Ω (u)2 dx < ∞.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. Functions for which: Ω (u)2 + (u.35) Functions which are square integrable come from the Hilbert space known as L2 (Ω). which is defined by: V = {w | w ∈ H 1 (Ω) . The weight functions come from the space V (w ∈ V ). Importantly.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. When solving second-order differential equations. w| Γg = 0}. The function space S is defined by: S = {u | u ∈ H 1 (Ω) . For multiple spatial dimensions. from which the trial and weight functions come.2 January 21. That is.x )2 dΩ < ∞ (2.6 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’. Trial functions u come from the space S (u ∈ S ). This is of crucial importance.

The Helmholtz equation is given by: ∇ · (∇φ) + kφ = 0 and is often used in wave propagation problems. where r is the distance from the crack tip (r ≥ 0). 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). Derive the weak equilibrium equation (2. is u a possible trial solution? January 21. wi | Γg = 0}.2. ui | Γg = gi } and similarly for weight functions w ∈ V . prove that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric.2 29 .39) V = {wi | wi ∈ H 1 (Ω) . 2.7 Exercises 1. (2. 2011 Version 0. u ∈ S where S = {ui | ui ∈ H 1 (Ω) . 4. (2. For 3 × 3 second-order tensors (matrices).40) Further details can be found in texts on functional analysis and the mathematical analysis of the finite element method.) 2. a = b) 5.23) for elasticity using index notation. Derive the weak form. Solutions for the displacement field from linear-elastic fracture mechanics often √ involve a term r. 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.7 Exercises In multiple dimensions. (Hint: use index notation. 3.


(3.1) where V h ⊂ V is a finite dimensional space.3) This abstract format is introduced to keep the derivation of some later developments compact. It is a method for finding approximate solutions to partial differential equations. uh = and L wh = wh h| x= L . The Galerkin method is however more general. where S h ⊂ S is a finite-dimensional space. Furthermore. uh ∈ S h . and finding the best solution to a problem given a collection of functions. The essence of the Galerkin method involves taking the weak form of the governing equation. This means that there is a limited number of possibilities.5) 31 . it is generic for a range of different problems.x dx + w h h| x= L = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . The Galerkin problem for an elastic bar (equation (2. 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. uh could be a combination of low order polynomial functions.1 Approximate solution First.2) (3.x Eu.3 The Galerkin method The finite element method is one particular Galerkin method. 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. consider the approximate solution to some problem. being able to solve a greater range of problems.x Eu. the finite-dimensional trial and weight functions are denoted uh and wh . 3. the above equation is expressed in the abstract format as: find uh ∈ S h such that B wh . For example.23). Considering now the elasticity problem in equation (2.12)) involves: find uh ∈ S h such that − L 0 h h w. respectively. In a multidimensional context. named after the Russian engineer Galerkin. (3.4) L 0 h h w. Commonly. as developed in the previous chapter. uh = L wh where B wh .x dx ∀w h ∈ V h (3.

For the one-dimensional problem. A basic question which arises when computing an approximate solution is how uh relates to the exact solution u.2. this will be investigated using the abstract notation.2 January 21. why it doesn’t work). uh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. this implies that: B wh .7) The Galerkin method (more specifically. uh and w h will be simple continuous. Different Galerkin-based methods are defined by how the unknown field uh is represented. 2011 . B wh . piecewise low-order polynomials defined on ‘finite elements’. Inserting equation (3. the weight functions come from a different function space than the trial functions. 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. This is examined in the following section. In the abstract notation of equation 3. which solution does the method seek? Understanding this requires some basic error analysis. often in fluid mechanics.9) For generality. In Petrov-Galerkin method.8) where u is the exact solution and uh is the solution to equation (3.6) wh · b dΩ + Γh (3. uh = and L wh = Ω Ω ∇s wh : C : ǫh dΩ wh · h dΓ. e = B wh . 3.2). Spectral Galerkin methods for example use a truncated Fourier series as the basis. taking into account the special requirements on the weight and trial functions where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.11) 32 Version 0. In the finite element method. This method is used for special applications. The approximate solution is therefore equal to: uh = u − e (3. B w h . u − B wh .1). e − L wh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3.10) Since u is the exact solution. u − B wh . B wh .3 The Galerkin method where ǫ h = ∇s uh . 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. (3.9) into equation (3. Given a finite number of possibilities in S h . the Bubnov-Galerkin method) requires that the weight and trial functions come from the same finite-dimensional space.2 Basic error analysis It is interesting to check how the solution computed using the Galerkin procedure compares to the exact solution.

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

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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 wi i =1 n E ∑ Nj. i =1 n (4. Ω h h w. Ω ∑ Ni.x wi i =1 n h dΓ (4. the approximate displacement field uh is given by uh = ∑ Ni ( x) ui .4 Formulation of the finite element method nodes. i =1 n (4.4) Recalling the weak form for a one-dimensional elastic rod.x u j j =1 n dΩ = Ω ∑ Ni wi i =1 n f dΩ + Γh ∑ Ni.  x i − x i +1 − x i − x i +1     0 otherwise.x u j j =1 n dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ.7) 36 Version 0. For a one-dimensional bar. 2011 . (4.5) and inserting the expression for the expressions for the approximate displacement field and the weight function. Hence. the strain field can be computed easily by taking the derivative of the shape functions. (4. (4.6) for all possible values of wi . these basis functions are known as ‘shape functions’.1) where xi is the coordinate of node i. is given by  x x i −1   − x i −1 < x ≤ x i . an expression is needed for the weight function w h .2) where ui is the value of the field uh at node i. The basis function at node i. hence wh = ∑ Ni wi .x = dNi u. It is expressed using the same basis functions as the displacement field. ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni.x Eu.x dΩ = Ω w h f dΩ + Γh w h h dΓ ∀ wh ∈ V h .x E ∑ Nj. Given that wi is not a function of spatial position.   x i − x i −1 x i − x i −1   x i +1 x Ni = x i < x < x i +1 . In finite element analysis. From this expression.2 January 21. discretised with n nodal points. h ǫh = u. the approximate displacement field is given in terms of the shape functions and the approximate displacement at a finite number of points (nodes).3) To develop the Galerkin problem. it can be taken outside of the integrals. dx i i =1 ∑ n (4.

8) This equation must hold for all possible combinations of wi . this is relatively simple. A finite element mesh consists of nodal points and elements. and f = f i as the right-hand side (RHS) vector. which can be expressed as the system of equations. 2011 Version 0. If a boundary condition is applied at node k. where Kij = and fi = Ω Ω (4.x E Nj. Elements may not overlap. A typical finite element mesh is shown in Figure 4. and hence an expression for the approximate displacement field along the rod.x E Nj.2.4.2 General finite element basis functions Likewise. and the kth term is deleted from the vector f .x dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ. while elements are lines (1D). (4. It is useful to define shape functions on finite elements. A discussion of more general boundary conditions is delayed until the end of the chapter. Solving this linear system of equations provides u j . and n unknowns in the form of ui ). The problem has been divided into many quadrilateral elements. then the row and the column k is removed from the stiffness matrix.11) Nj f dΩ + Γh Nj h dΓ (4. A simple finite element January 21.x dΩ (4. Consider the case that all but one wi is equal to zero. For the zero Dirichlet conditions. Nodes are points in space. surfaces (2D) or volumes (3D) which are constructed by joining nodal points.10) Ni.x dΩ = Ω Ni f dΩ + Γh Ni h dΓ (4.x E Nj.9) must hold. u j can also be taken outside of the integrals. Therefore. Kij u j = f i .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. This yields n equations (one for each wi . In order the solve the linear system.12) The matrix K = Kij is commonly known as the stiffness matrix.2 37 . ∑ wi ∑ u j i =1 j =1 n n Ω Ni. Matrices and vectors can be built for each element before being assembled into global matrices and vectors. A mesh divides a body into a number of elements. for each i ∑ uj j =1 n Ω Ni. 4. Dirichlet boundary conditions must be enforced.

6 4 3 4 3 1 2 1 2 5 9 Figure 4.4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4.3: Simple two-dimensional finite element mesh.2: Typical two-dimensional finite element mesh. 7 8 5 7 8 6 38 Version 0.2 January 21. 2011 .

3. is equal to one at the node and zero at all other nodes. 2011 Version 0. linear one dimensional elements. denoted by the solid circles. Each shape function Ni is associated with a node i.4. shape functions are non-zero only close to their node. (4.13) January 21.4. Ni .2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 2 L x=0 Figure 4. the shape function associated with that node. For a node i. The displacement field is given by a linear combination of a finite number of basis functions (a summation of the basis functions. They are characterised by being equal to unity at their node. 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 . Having a compact support. Consider the one-dimensional bar element in Figure 4.1. 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. In Figure 4.1 One-dimensional bar elements To begin. each multiplied by a nodal value. as introduced in Section 4. the discretised field can be inserted into the weak governing equations. The bar has two nodes.3. and zero at all other nodes.4: One-dimensional linear bar element and associated shape functions. Once the displacement field uh and its derivatives ∇uh can be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns. the amplitude). Shape functions for various elements are discussed in detail in the following sections.2 39 . As in the one-dimensional case. A finite element shape function is only non-zero on elements to which it is attached. 4. In the finite element method. are examined. Both nodes and elements are numbered. Each element has three nodes. the mesh is constructed with triangular elements. the basis functions are defined on simple geometric elements.2. Finite element shape functions are typically piecewise continuous polynomial functions with a ‘compact support’. mesh is shown in Figure 4. known as finite elements.

as its shape functions are linear polynomials. the displacement field is expressed as: uh = Nae . 2011 . The shape functions corresponding to each node are given by: N1 = − N2 = Hence.16) with respect to x. the displacement and strain can be calculated in any part of the element.4 Formulation of the finite element method where ai is the displacement at node i (it is ‘stored’ at the node).22) (4.17) In the case of a linear displacement interpolation. where the matrix B is equal to: B= dN1 dx dN2 . in terms of nodal degrees of freedom ae . The matrix-vector notation for uh and ǫh may seem trivial for one-dimensional problems. It does however make the generalisation to multiple dimensions simple. Note also that these shape functions posses C0 continuity – they are continuous but their derivatives involve jumps across element boundaries. 40 Version 0. ǫh = duh dN1 dN2 1 1 = a + a2 = − a1 + a2 .15) x .2 January 21. a2 (4. to solve a problem.14) (4. the derivative of the shape function with respect to x is a constant function within an element. Now. dx (4.20) N2 . Taking the derivative of equation (4. the derivative of the displacement field with respect to x (the strain) is required. where N = N1 and ae = a1 . dx dx 1 dx L L (4.21) The shape functions for two linear elements are shown in Figure 4.19) (4. (4. L L (4.18) The strain is given by: ǫh = Bae . In matrix-vector notation. Therefore.5. L (4. uh = − x x + 1 a1 + a2 . The weak form of the governing equations involves derivatives with respect to the spatial position. L This type of element is known as a linear element.16) x + 1.

5: Shape functions for two one-dimensional linear bar elements.. The displacement field for an element is given by: uh = Nae .6 illustrates shape functions for quadratic and cubic elements. the N matrix has the form: N = N1 N2 N3 .2 41 . each unknown field (such as displacement in each direction) is interpolated using the polynomial shape functions.23) Therefore.27) January 21. Nnn (4.26) (4. 2011 Version 0. More nodes through which the shape function must interpolate naturally means a higher-order polynomial is required. For a one-dimensional quadratic element.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 L1 L2 Figure 4. In two dimensions.. (4.2 Two-dimensional continuum elasticity elements In two or more dimensions.. obviously the strain field is linear. Higher-order one-dimensional elements It is possible to develop one-dimensional elements with higher-order polynomial interpolations.2.24) and the B matrix has a similar form. (4. Nnn 0 0 . linear and quadratic (and even higher) variations in the unknown field can be described within an element. 4. Figure 4. the displacement field is given by: uh = ∑ Ni (x) ai . The interpolation basis for higher-order elements is richer since both constant. Since the displacement field is quadratic.. . it has the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 .4. i =1 3 (4. and the strain field (using engineering notation) is given by: ǫ h = Bae . Higher-order elements simply have more nodes.25) The matrix N contains the element shape functions.

0   ∂x ∂x ∂x    ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂Nnn    0 .6: Higher-order one-dimensional elements..  ∂y ∂y ∂y     ∂N1 ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂Nnn  .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 4.28) B= 0 ..    a1 x   a    1y         a2 x      a2 y . (4. the matrix B has the form:   ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂N1 0 0 . It is shown in Figure 4.. where nn is the numbers of nodes of the element.         ann x        ann y 42 Version 0.   . For a two-dimensional problem.2 January 21..   .. For two-dimensional problems. 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. 0 (4..29) ae =  . 2011 .7. ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x The simplest element in two-dimensions is the three-node triangle.

(4. (4. y2 ) = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 = 0. yi ) is the location of the ith node. the coefficients c can be found by solving a linear system of equations. N1 ( x2 . Figure 4. Its shape function must satisfy: N1 ( x1 . This can be cast in a matrix form as:      x 1 y 1 1  c 1  1   x2 y2 1 c2 = 0 .2 General finite element basis functions ( x3 .4.7: Three-node triangular element.1 Consider the element in Figure 4.34)     c3 x3 y3 1 0 January 21.33) Solving the above system of equations yields the coefficients for the shape function of node 1.8: Shape function for a three-node element. N1 ( x3 .7.7. y2 ) Figure 4. Example 4.8. y3 ) 3 1 2 ( x1 . y1 ) = c1 x1 + c2 y2 + c3 = 1. N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 . Consider node 1 in Figure 4. hence the strain in the element is constant. 2011 Version 0. Given that a shape function should have a value of unity at its node and zero at other nodes. y1 ) ( x2 .2 43 . Given the following coordinates of each of where ( xi .31) (4. It is clear from the linear form of the shape functions for the three-node triangle that the derivatives are constant.30) The shape function for a node is illustrated in Figure 4. y3 ) = c1 x3 + c2 y3 + c3 = 0.32) (4. (4.

Unlike the three-node triangle.x and the B matrix is of the form:  N1. A shape function for a four-node element is shown in Figure 4.y N2. A four-node quadrilateral element is shown in Figure 4.y  N3.35) It is also know as a bilinear element.y A very commonly used element in finite element analysis is the four-node quadrilateral.4 Formulation of the finite element method the nodes.      1 2 1  c1  0 4 1 1  c 2 = 1     c3 2 3 1 0 Solving this system of equations gives: N2 = 0. 3) To find the coefficients. (4. the strain in this element is not constant.y B= 0 N1.y 0 N2. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xy + c2 x + c3 y + c4 . y1 ) = (1.25 Once the shape functions have been computed for each node. plane and three-dimensional elements can have higher-order interpolations. y2 ) = (4.x 0 N1. find the shape function for node 2. 2011 .25y + 0. the N and B matrices can be formed. ( x1 . the only non-zero term on the RHS corresponds to node 2. due to the presence of the xy terms in the shape functions.36) 44 Version 0. Higher-order solid elements As in one-dimensional problems. 1) ( x3 .34)) is formed. 2) ( x2 .9.10. Since the shape function for node 2 is being calculated.2 January 21.x 0 N2.x 0 N3. a system of equations (see equation (4. The N matrix for this element is of the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 N3 0 0 N3  0 N3.25x − 0.y N1.x N3.x N2. 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. y3 ) = (2.

Linear. Each time the order of a triangle is increased.10: A shape function for four-node quadrilateral element.11 The polynomial terms needed for triangular elements can be taken from a Pascal triangle (see Figure 4. a new ‘row’ of terms from the Pascal triangle is added to the shape functions.9: Four-node quadrilateral element. Several serendipity and Lagrange finite elements are shown in Figure 4. the coefficients can be found by solving a linear system of equations. whereas Lagrange elements have nodes on the element interior. Note that serendipity     1  c1  1                 1  c2  0               c  0 1  3     . They belong to one of two families: serendipity or Lagrange. Serendipity elements have nodes only on element boundaries.2 45 . A Pascal triangle for serendipity elements is shown in Figure 4. Solving the below system of equations would yield the coefficients for node 1. Figure 4.12). 2011 Version 0.15. As with the three-node triangle.37) January 21.4. Higher-order quadrilateral elements can also be constructed. =  1  c4  0                 1  c5  0                  c6  0 1 (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. Note that triangular elements are complete – that is the shape functions contain all polynomial terms up to a given order. quadratic and cubic triangular elements are shown in Figure 4.2 General finite element basis functions 4 3 1 2 Figure 4.14.

12: Pascal triangle – polynomial terms for triangular elements of order n.... .. . Figure 4. 1 x x2 x3 x4 . xy xy2 xy3 ..2 January 21...11: Two shape functions for a six-node triangular element. y y2 y3 y4 .... x3 y .13: Linear.. 2011 . Figure 4.. x2 y x 2 y2 .. quadratic and cubic triangular elements.4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4.. 46 Version 0.

14: Serendipity (a) and Lagrange (b) quadrilateral finite elements. y y2 y3 y4 .16. Internal nodes must be introduced to ensure all polynomial terms are included.2 47 .15: Pascal triangle for serendipity elements.. 1 x x2 x3 x4 . x3 y x2 y xy xy2 xy3 ..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 . The elements do not suffer from the limitation of missing polynomial terms for any order interpolation. .and nine-node quadrilateral elements are commonly used in finite element analysis. Eight. (4.. 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 . The Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements is shown in Figure 4.. (4... Figure 4.4.2 General finite element basis functions (a) (b) Figure 4. 2011 Version 0..39) January 21. elements of order higher than three ’miss’ polynomial terms. and are therefore not recommended..

they often have more degrees of freedom per node. Not only do the elements tend to have more nodes. A four-node tetrahedral element has linear shape functions... Also... These two elements are shown in Figure 4... wedge type elements are often used for generating meshes for complex geometries. . the derivatives of the shape functions are constant within an element.. Figure 4.. . x3 y x 3 y2 x 3 y3 x2 y x 2 y2 x 2 y3 .. The numbers of nodes per element increases rapidly. They are of the form: N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 z + c4 . 2011 .2 January 21.. They can be formed in the same fashion as one. Figure 4.40) Similar to the three-node triangle.3 Three-dimensional elements Three-dimensional elements are increasingly used in engineering analysis.17: Tetrahedral and brick three-dimensional finite elements. y y2 y3 . The computational effort required for three-dimensional analysis can become high. xy xy2 xy3 .4 Formulation of the finite element method 1 x x2 x3 ..2.and two-dimensional elements.17. 4. Higher-order version of both tetrahedral and brick elements also exist.41) This is known as a ‘trilinear element’. 48 Version 0. The simplest brick element has eight nodes. (4.16: Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xyz + c2 xy + c3 xz + c4 yz + c5 x + c6 y + c7 z + c8 .. Commonly used shapes are tetrahedra and bricks. (4.

3 Governing equations At this point. The discretised governing equation for the element is expressed as: l2 l1 ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh. 2011 Version 0. Take a single element (of any order) which extends from l1 to l2 (see Figure 4.46) January 21. (4. (4.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ.2 49 . and can therefore be eliminated.18).43) ∇ w = Bbe .44) where the integral over Γh.1)) is considered.e is only non-zero if the boundary of the element coincides with the boundary Γh . The discrete nodal values can be removed from the integrals.42) (4. 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. The weight (test) functions are discretised in the same fashion as the unknown field uh . l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = Γh. wh = Nbe . for the multi-dimensional case within an element. Therefore.4. (4.45) The be terms appear on both sides of the equality. (4.18: One-dimensional bar showing the element that extends from x = l1 to x = l2 . 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. Now. What remains is the insertion of the discretised field uh into the governing weak equation. 1989) 4.3 Governing equations x=0 x x = l1 x = l2 x=L Figure 4.e N T h dΓ. 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). the one-dimensional governing equation for an elastic rod (equation (3. 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).e N T h dΓ.

Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for an element. This approach has a number of advantages.4 Formulation of the finite element method The term ke = l2 l1 B T EB dΩ (4. e= (4.2 January 21. 4. the point ( x. This yields: Ωe ( Bbe ) T DBae dΩ = Γh. This is denoted symbolically by the operation: K = Ane 1 ke . Following the same steps as for the onedimensional problem. and similarly for J. irrespective of the exact shape of the element. For a continuum elasticity problem. It also allows the simple application of numerical integration. An isoparametric mapping is defined via a mapping using the nodal shape functions. The assembly process is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. isoparametric elements are used in finite element software.49) Ωe Γh. A third advantage is that isoparametric mapping allows higher-order elements to have curved edges. 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. local node i has global node number I. For a two dimensional problem.47) is known as the ‘element stiffness matrix’.e Ωe Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for each element in the problem.48) (recall that b denotes the body force). 2011 . For an element stiffness matrix. In the global mesh. (4.5). it must be assembled into the global stiffness matrix. The component k ij is added to the location K I J . as is discussed in the following section. the discretised displacement and strain fields are inserted into equation (3. the term k ij relates local nodes i and j. it requires the programming of only one function to evaluate the shape functions of a type of element. From the point of view of implementation. e= f = Ane 1 f e . y) in the ‘physical’ Cartesian 50 Version 0.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ + Ωe ( Nbe ) T b dΩ (4.51) where A represents the assembly operation and ne is the number of elements in the mesh. its contribution is added to the ‘global’ stiffness matrix K. the element stiffness matrix is expressed as: B T DB dΩ ae = N T h dΓ + N T b dΩ.4 Isoparametric mapping In practice.

2011 Version 0.53) The difficulty that arises is when computing derivatives with respect to the real coordinates.19: Isoparametric mapping for a bi-unit square. i =1 nn i =1 (4. Using an isoparametric mapping. The mapping for a four-node quadrilateral element is illustrated in Figure 4. derivatives of the unknown field with respect to x and y are required. i =1 (4. The map x takes a point within the bi-unit square in the (ξ. η ) yi . consider the application of the product rule for differentia- January 21.−1) x 1 ξ Figure 4. and nn is number of nodes of the element. ξ and η.1) (1. The position on the bi-unit square is given by the natural coordinates. y) system. where (ξ. To proceed. η ) are known as the ‘natural coordinates’. The map ξ is the inverse of x. such as the bi-unit square.4 Isoparametric mapping x 3 (−1. For example the displacement in the x-direction at a point is given by: nn uh = ∑ Ni (ξ.−1) y 2 (1.52) ∑ Ni (ξ.4. as the shape functions are defined in terms of the natural coordinates. η ) xi . y) system and mapping to a point (ξ. η ) aix . η ) in the bi-unit square. configuration is given by: nn x= y= ∑ Ni (ξ. In the governing weak equations.2 51 . shape functions can be defined on simple shapes. taking a point in the real Cartesian ( x. η ) domain and maps it to a point in the ‘real’ element in the Cartesian ( x.1) 2 4 4 3 η ξ 1 (−1.19.

η y j  =  . ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + .η x j     ∑nn1 Nj. Taking the inverse of the Jacobian. (4.60)  ∂Ni  j − ∑nn Nj. ∂η ∂η i i =1 nn ∂Ni ∂y =∑ y.58) In light of the isoparametric mapping (equation (4.       ∂Ni   nn  ∂Ni  nn    − ∑ j=1 Nj.      ∂y  ∂ f  ∂y ∂f      −  ∂x  ∂ξ   ∂ξ  1  ∂η  =  . ∂ξ ∂x ∂ξ ∂y ∂ξ ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + .2 January 21. defined in terms of ξ and η.56) where the matrix J is commonly known as the Jacobian matrix.57) ∂x   ∂ f  ∂f  j  ∂x         − ∂y ∂η ∂ξ ∂η J where j = det J.55) (4. (4.  ∂ f   ∂x ∂y   ∂ f          ∂η ∂η ∂η ∂y J (4.ξ x j  ∂Ni      j =1 j= ∂y ∂η 52 Version 0. Using the shape function.54) (4.4 Formulation of the finite element method tion for a function f . nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x. ∂η ∂η i i =1 (4. ∂η ∂x ∂η ∂y ∂η This can be written in matrix form as:      ∂x ∂y  ∂ f  ∂f       ∂ξ   ∂ξ ∂ξ   ∂x   = . ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂y ∂Ni =∑ y. from equation (4.57) the derivatives of the shape function of node i with respect to x and y can be computed.59) Once terms of the matrix J have been formed.52)).ξ y j  ∂ξ    ∂x  1 ∑ j=1 Nj. 2011 . ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x. (4. the terms in the matrix J can be computed.

and an eight-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a six-node triangular element. η ) = 1 (1 + ξ i ξ ) (1 + ηi η ) .4 Isoparametric mapping s (0. While this procedure may seen complex. once the derivatives of the shape functions have been calculated on the simple isoparametric domain. A popular approach is to ‘degenerate’ a quadrilateral element to a triangular element (Bathe. Quadrilateral elements The shape functions for quadrilateral elements on a bi-unit square is particularly simple. 4 (4.62) January 21. Now. For the bi-unit quadrilateral in Figure 4. Hughes.4. Triangular elements Isoparametric mappings are also applied for triangular elements.0) r 1 (0. 1987).1) 3 3 6 5 2 1 (0. The latter approach is followed here. where: t = 1 − r − s. This way. the shape function of the ith node is given by: Ni (ξ.0) (1. (4. s and t. The position of a point inside the triangle is given by r.2 53 .20: Three-node and six-node triangles using area coordinates. 1987).19. 1996.and nine-node elements (Hughes.20. they can be calculated for the real configuration. a four-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a threenode triangular element.0) 4 2 (1.0) r Figure 4. Consider the triangle in Figure 4. Is is also possible to directly address isoparametric triangular elements. it can be implemented in a computer code in a simple and compact fashion.1) s (0. 2011 Version 0. Triangular elements are often described using area coordinates.61) Similar formulae can be found for eight.

numerical integration in one-dimension is considered. 1987.3). For the integration of a function f (ξ ) from −1 to 1. 166).5 Numerical integration At this stage. N2 = r.66) N3 = 2s2 − s.20. (4. (4. For a quadratic (six-node) triangular element. N3 = s. To evaluate the stiffness matrix of an element. While the displacement field has been discretised. To make the formulation fully discrete (and amendable to computer implementation). Numerical integration is illustrated in Figure 4.67) i =1 where ξ i are discrete points on the integral domain.64) (4. the element stiffness matrices and RHS vectors still involve integration over volumes and surfaces (see section 4.68) 54 Version 0.20 are then: N1 = t. N2 = 2r − r.21. There is a formula for the shape functions of arbitrary order in terms of r. (4. To do this. Two schemes which arise in finite element analysis are Newton-Cotes and Gauss integration. 4. the shape functions are equal to: N1 = 2t2 − t. Different integration schemes specify where the points are located and the weight associated with each point. 2011 . consider in two dimensions that: B T DB dΩ = 1 1 Ωe −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη. numerical integration is applied. 1 nint −1 f (ξ ) dξ ≃ ∑ f ( ξ i ) wi . s and t on triangles (Hughes. Before proceeding to the element matrices. N6 = 4st. 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 Formulation of the finite element method The shape functions for the nodes of the element in Figure 4. the problem is not yet fully discrete.2 January 21.65) Note the numbering of the nodes for the quadratic triangle in Figure 4.63) (4. (4. N5 = 4rs. 2 N4 = 4rt. p. It is common for higher-order elements that the apexes are first numbered (corner nodes in the case of quadrilateral elements). then the mid-side nodes. η ) domain. it convenient to integrate in the (ξ.

To perform the numerical integration of the element stiffness matrix. Note the appearance of the determinant of the Jacobian. if the shape functions are linear. Application of numerical integration leads to: 1 1 −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη ≃ ∑ B (ξ i . (4. the last remaining issue is the selection of an appropriate integration scheme. However.5 Numerical integration f −1 ξ1 ξ2 ξ3 ξ4 1 ξ Figure 4. ηi ). The location and weights for Gauss integration in one dimension for up to three points are given in Table 4.1.21: Numerical integration of the function f . The question that arises in finite element analysis is: How many integration points should be used? Generally. Three points integrate as 5th order polynomial exactly in one dimension. the terms in B are constant and the stiffness matrix is also constant throughout the element.69) Note that B (ξ i . the one-dimensional scheme can be extended in each spatial direction. The integrand of the stiffness matrix is B T DB. two and three dimensions). ηi ) i n wi . It is also known as ‘Gauss quadrature’.2 55 . ηi ) j (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. containing derivatives of the shape functions with respect to x and y. Most commonly in finite element analysis. Gauss integration is used. For a (2n − 1)th-order polynomial. ηi ) is the usual B matrix. This is simple when using isoparametric elements. Therefore. Therefore. j. This is due to dx dy = j dξ dη (the substitution rule for integration has been applied). evaluated at the point (ξ i . For multi-dimensional problems. If the shape functions are quadratic. ηi )T DB (ξ i . Gauss quadrature is the optimal numerical integration scheme for polynomials in one dimension. full integration schemes are recommended for their robustness. where B contains derivatives of the shape functions. The sampling points and weights are listed in Table 4.2. 2011 Version 0. B contains linear terms. Gauss integration requires n points to integrate the polynomial exactly. which when squared give a January 21. one integration point is sufficient (in one. it requires the least number of points. in multiple dimensions Gauss integration is not necessarily the most efficient scheme. Importantly.4. Full integration means that the stiffness matrix is integrated exactly (assuming j = constant). Optimal means that to integrate a polynomial exactly.

1].2 January 21.2: Gauss integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1. 1].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. 56 Version 0. 2011 .1: Newton-Cotes integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−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.

This means that a deformation mode exists which does not contribute to the energy. Figure 4.3. although a 2 × 2 scheme is often used. They appear naturally in the weak formulation (hence the common name ‘natural boundary conditions’). two relating the translation (x and y directions) and one for rigid body rotation. In two dimensions. recommended integration schemes for commonly used one.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions Figure 4. although it is safer to use full integration.2 57 .6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions The imposition of Neumann (force) boundary conditions in the finite element method is straightforward.22: Spurious zero energy mode for the eight-node quadrilateral element when using 2 × 2 integration. The danger of underintegrating elements is that spurious modes may arise. there is likely a deficiency in the formulation. In one dimension. In summary.and twodimensional elements are shown in Table 4. two points are required in each direction. In the Galerkin method. although it is often integrated with just one point.22 shows the classic ‘hour-glass’ spurious mode for an eight-node quadrilateral when using reduced 2 × 2 integration. To integrate a quadratic function in two dimensions. there should only be one zero eigenvalue which corresponds to translation. This deformation mode can develop in an uncontrolled fashion.modes which do not contribute to the energy. the eight-node quadrilateral requires 3 × 3 points for full integration. 4. the trial functions (uh ) must satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. Reduced integration schemes can improve the performance of some elements for special applications. 2011 Version 0. A test for the element stiffness matrix is to calculate its eigenvalues. For some applications it may be advantageous to use reduced integration schemes in combination with particular elements. there should be only three zero eigenvalues. In solid and structural mechanics. Similarly. Non-zero Dirichlet boundary conditions are more complicated to enforce. If a two-dimensional element has more than three zero eigenvalues. January 21. It is often argued that a zero energy mode will be restrained by neighbouring elements. The number of zero eigenvalues indicates the number of rigid body modes . quadratic variation.4. The four-node quadrilateral element requires 2 × 2 points for full integration.

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. 58 Version 0. 2011 .3: Recommended integration schemes for commonly used elements.

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. and g are the applied Dirichlet boundary conditions. ke av = f e − ke g. 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. In discretised form at element level. f ie.mod = f ie − nn (4.2 59 .71) where av are the nodal unknowns at nodes where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. (4.75) Once the element stiffness matrix has been formed. vv vg In terms of indexes. Two common approached are outlined below.6. it is not included in the global system of equations to be solved. 4. January 21.70) where uh is the displacement. (4. the element RHS vector can be modified to enforce Dirichlet boundary conditions before assembly into the global RHS vector. Since g is known. 0 (4.74) j =1 ∑ ke ge . 2011 Version 0.73) where av is the only unknown. Since the weight function is defined to be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.1 Elimination of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom The displacement field can be expressed by: uh = vh + gh . ij j (4. It is possible to write: ke av + ke g = f v . ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv . ke a = ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv fg . vh is equal to zero where Dirichlet (displacement) boundary conditions are applied and gh satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions. vv vg (4.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions this means that the uh must satisfy the prescribed displacements where they are specified. Dirichlet boundary conditions can be enforced by modifying the RHS vector. the element RHS vector is modified.72) Since g is known.4.

symmetry is lost. Form the shape functions for a Lagrange nine-node quadrilateral element 3. Show why this is. and that the value of the Dirichlet boundary condition is returned in the solution vector which simplifies postprocessing. However.7 Exercises 1. 2004). compare the matrix K for the finite element method with linear elements and for the secondorder central finite difference method.2 January 21.2 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.4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. Under what conditions the matrix B T DB is symmetric? 5. In one dimension and for equally spaced nodal points (nodes are a distance h apart).6. 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. 4. at which points is the stress from the finite element solution not uniquely defined when using C0 elements? 2. 2011 . 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. except the diagonal term which is set equal to one. Consider the Laplace equation. The advantage of this scheme is its simplicity. which is given by: ∆u = ∇ · (∇u) = 0 To solve this problem. 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. 60 Version 0. 4. 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. both the finite element method and the finite difference method require the solution of a system of equations Ka = f . The value of Dirichlet boundary condition is then inserted into the vector f at position k. For a plane elasticity problem. The three-node triangle element is often referred to as the ‘constant strain triangle’ (CST).

8.7 using the nodal coordinates in Example 4.2. 2011 Version 0.7 Exercises 6.4. Calculate the eigenvalues of the stiffness matrix and comment on their significance. Formulate the stiffness matrix for the element in Figure 4.2 61 . Calculate and plot the shape functions for the eight-node quadrilateral element on a bi-unit square.1 and for E = 1 and ν = 0. January 21. Form the stiffness matrix for a four-node quadrilateral on a bi-unit square. Calculate its eigenvalues using one-point and 2 × 2 integration. 7.


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

2 January 21.0 0. For each node. In addition to nodal coordinates and the connectivity.2.1 is given in Figure 5.5 2.2: Nodal coordinates.82 1. The problem in Figure 5.2 Program flow Once the input for a finite element analysis has been prepared. the calculation phase can begin. the is Young’s modulus. First. The list in Figure 5. % 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. The connectivity list for Figure 5. the x and y coordinate is given.5 0. 5.76 2. This is either a prescribed force or the prescribed displacement. the nodal coordinates is shown in Figure 5. although the numbering must process in an anti-clockwise direction (to avoid calculating a negative volume and hence a negative element stiffness). 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). the node to which a boundary condition is applied is listed.7 0. The list can begin with any node of the element.0 0.3: Element connectivity. The second column gives the boundary condition type: Dirichlet (displacement) = 1 and Neumann (force) = 0. the Poisson’s ratio and the density of the material.0 0.4 gives the applied boundary condition.0 0. boundary conditions must be specified. the node numbers are listed. The final column is the value of the applied boundary condition.8 2.0 1. For each element.1 y 0.0 2.3.6 0.1 2.0 0. For an isotropic linear-elastic analysis.5 Implementation of the finite element method % node 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 x 0.1 involves both Dirichlet (displacement) and Neumann (force) boundary conditions.0 Figure 5. The preprocessing is completed by specify the material data. The outline of a typical finite element program for linear static problems 64 Version 0. The density is necessary when taking the self-weight into account. 2011 .1 2.

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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68 Version 0.9: Formation of element stiffness matrix. % 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 5.8: Set-up of local element arrays for element i.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. 2011 .k) ~= 0 a_e(jj) = a( ID(connect(i.j).dof_per_node + k if ID(connect(i.2 January 21.j).:) % 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) ) else a_e(jj) = g_e(jj) % displacement is prescribed end end end % return to main program Figure 5.:) = x(connect(i.j).

dof_per_node + k for l=1:nodes_per_element for m=1:dof_per_node jj = ID(connect(i. 2011 Version 0.l). January 21. m) ll = l*dof_per_node . 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 5.5.3 Local-global % impose Dirichlet boundary conditions for i=1:nodes_per_element*dof_per_node f_e(:) = f_e(:) .i)*g_e(i) end % return to main program Figure 5.k_e(:.dof_per_node + m if ii~=0 & jj~=0 K(ii.jj) + k_e(kk.j).10: Imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions.2 69 .jj) = K(ii. % 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.11: Assembly of local arrays into global arrays.

mesh generation programs will label nodes optimally.12 is well-numbered. The dimension of the matrix is 1530 × 1530 (giving a total of 2 340 900 entries).12 represents graphically the structure of the stiffness matrix for a problem involving 700 four-noded quadrilateral elements. Taking advantage of the sparse nature of the stiffness matrix yields significant computational savings. or have the option to relabel nodes to minimise the stiffness matrix bandwidth.12: Graphical representation of a stiffness matrix 5. storing the whole matrix would require almost 18 megabytes of memory. Yet further savings can be achieved by taking into account symmetry of the stiffness matrix. Non-zero terms are marked by a dot.5 Implementation of the finite element method 0 500 1000 1500 0 500 1000 1500 Figure 5. as all non-zero terms are close to the diagonal which minimises the bandwidth. and hence the computational time. only 23 638 entries are non-zero (1% of the total matrix elements). This is relatively small for a finite element analysis. Figure 5. 2011 . Many finite element programs store the stiffness matrix in a skyline format. solvers are implemented such that operations are not performed on non-zero terms which reduces the number of floating point operations required. This essentially requires that the node numbers of nodes which are close to each should also be close. Assuming double precision storage. the mesh must be constructed in an ‘optimal’ fashion to minimise the bandwidth of the stiffness matrix. This means that the stiffness matrix contains many zeros. 70 Version 0. However.2 January 21. Storing only the non zero terms requires on 283 kilobytes of memory! In addition. For this method to be efficient. The stiffness matrix in Figure 5. both in terms of memory and computational time. significantly. Typically.4 Stiffness matrix storage A feature of the finite element method is that the stiffness matrix is sparse.

January 21. The internal force vector for an element is given by: int fe = Ωe B T σ dΩ + Ωe N T b dΩ (5.2 71 . For static problems.1) Once assembled for all elements (at all nodes. stresses and reaction forces. It is important to realise that the stress computed at a point is not always reliable.5 Post-processing 5. 2011 Version 0.5. it gives the reaction force at each node. post-processing of the data is required. 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. More reliable are the reaction forces at nodes where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.5 Post-processing After a calculation has been completed. including where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied). the internal force vector should be zero where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.


That is. in contrast to continuum elasticity problems which involve only second-order derivatives. 73 . Hence.2. Each element is rotated to a convenient coordinate system. with simplifications and assumptions which are applicable for common structural problems. The use of truss elements in a two. These elements are derived from different governing equations. For a truss structure in F Figure 6.1 Rod elements in space In Chapter 4. plate and shell elements. 6. 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. a one-dimensional rod element was developed that could only transmit normal forces.1: Two-dimensional truss structure. This has serious consequences for the shape functions which can be employed. The most convenient system is one in which the axis of the truss element is aligned with the x coordinate axis.1. The formulation of structural elements tends to be more complex than continuum elements. Joints (nodes) of the truss can translate in both the x. Their governing equations derive from the governing equation of elastostatics. which is oriented in the three-dimensional space. Examples are beam. 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. It is however possible to assemble this element into a truss structure in two or three dimensions.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Special finite elements are often used in structural mechanics. the strong governing equations involve fourth-order derivatives. A particular problem is that classical thin bending problems in structural mechanics are governed by fourth-order equations.and y-directions.or three dimensional structure relies upon a rotation between different coordinate systems. Consider the truss element in Figure 6. a finite element model will require two degrees of freedom at each node. A simple two-dimensional truss structure is shown in Figure 6.

displacements in the y⋆ -direction are not resisted by an element. the above problem can be reduced to give:    a1x      a1y a1x⋆ Q11 Q21 0 0 . (6.2 January 21.and y⋆ -directions are given by:      Q Q21 0 0  a1x   a1x⋆       ⋆   11   a1y Q Q22 0 0  a1y  =  12 . (6. and in two dimensions.1) The vector ae holds the displacement components at the nodes of an element. the rotation matrix has the form: QT = cos θ − sin θ sin θ cos θ (6. Since truss elements are based on the assumption that only normal forces (σx⋆ ) can be transmitted. For a two dimensional truss structure.4) The following definitions are now adopted: 74 Version 0. 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⋆ . Given that the only displacements of interest are the in x ⋆ -direction. (6. The displacement components can be rotated using the matrix Q (see section 1. 2011 .1) to give the nodal displacements in terms of the coordinate system aligned with the axis of the truss element. the vector ae has four components (a component in the x and y direction at each node).2: Linear truss element in three-dimensional space. three dimensions. two degrees of freedom. Therefore. in the x ⋆ .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Fx* x* y* y z* z x Figure 6. Denoting the angle between the x-axis and the x ⋆ -axis as θ.2) 0 Q11 Q21   a2x   a2x⋆   0      ⋆   0 0 Q12 Q22 a2y a2y where Qij are components of the matrix Q. The displacements at nodes one and two. a node will have three degrees of freedom. the rotation is particularly simple. of a linear bar.

(6.8) into the weak governing equation (2.x⋆⋆ = B⋆ qae (6. the stiffness matrix for a one-dimensional element can be formed.7) and (6.2 75 .1 Rod elements in space and q= Q11 0 Q21 0 0 Q11 0 . the derivative of a weight function w can be expressed in the local coordinate system in terms of the global degrees of freedom.10) Ωe This is equivalent to ke = q T k⋆ q. Inserting the relationships in equations (6. Clearly. It is important to ensure that a truss structure does not form a mechanism. Ωe ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. and eliminating be .7) Similarly.6.8) (recall that be is a variation).x⋆ = B⋆ qbe ⋆ (6. Inserting now the discretised fields into the weak governing equation for a onedimensional bar. and with the aid of the matrix q it can be transformed into the global. h w. January 21. e (6. where k⋆ is the standard one-dimensional stiffness e e matrix for a bar.9) where the LHS of equation (6. The ‘star’ denotes that the shape functions are constructed relative to the coordinate system on the bar.9) is the stiffness matrix. the element stiffness matrix is equal to: ke = q T B⋆ T EB⋆ q dΩ. (6. The strain in the x ⋆ -direction is therefore given by: h ǫh⋆ = u.19) for a linear element). Q21 (6. multidimensional coordinate system.5) The displacement in the x ⋆ -direction along the bar is therefore given by: uh⋆ = N ⋆ a⋆ = N ⋆ qae . 2011 Version 0.6) where N ⋆ contains the shape functions for a one-dimensional bar (see equation (4.12). A classic sign of a mechanism is singularity of the global stiffness matrix of the structure.

The second is the Timoshenko beam.3: Plane beam element Ω = ( x1 . The governing equation is identified and then the weak form developed.2.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis y fy Fy x T x = x1 x = x2 Figure 6. straight.2 Beams Two types of beams are considered in this section. 2011 . The first is the classic BernoulliEuler beam.x y x Figure 6. For a transverse displacement v. Consistent with previous sections.4: Rotation of a line normal to the axis in a beam segment. The outward normal is denoted n. 6. x2 ). and its ends (the boundary of Ω) are denoted Γ = x1 ∪ x2 . Figure 6.2 January 21. which is valid for relatively slender beams. Consider now a fibre in a beam 76 Version 0.4 shows the rotation of the plane due to a rigid body rotation. Such a beam is illustrated in Figure 6. x2 ). is denoted Ω = ( x1 . 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. which takes into account shear deformations. in-plane beams are considered. the ‘domain’ of the beam. v. For simplicity. 6. The development of beam elements follows the same steps as for continuum elements.x v.3.

5: Beam segment subjected to pure shear.13) Figure 6.6.5. which will be followed here.2 Beams γ v. equilibrium of a beam can be considered directly. which together with some assumptions as to the stress in different directions can be inserted into the elasticity equations from Chapter 1.2 77 . it is clear January 21. Subjecting a segment from a beam to pure shear. Considering translational equilibrium of a beam segment Ω. a plane which remains perpendicular to the axis undergoes a rotation γ.2. The bending moment m in a beam is defined as m= h/2 (6.11) − h/2 σxx y dy. (6. In the second method. as illustrated in Figure 6. For a beam segment subjected to both rotation and shear deformation. The fibre is indicated by the heavy line. which is initially perpendicular to the beam axis. (6.7 show the ‘resultant’ force Q and moment M due to a moment m and a shear force q in a beam. Relative to the fibre which has not rotated.x − γ. 6. It is clear from Figure 6.2 Equilibrium of a beam The equilibrium equations for a beam can be developed in two ways.x y x Figure 6.6 that θ = v. the fibre will not rotate.6. 2011 Version 0. the rotation θ of a fibre which is initially perpendicular to the beam’s axis is shown in Figure 6. The first is to elaborate the kinematics of the beam. Note that M = m n and Q = q n. where n is the outward unit normal vector.12) and the shear stress q is defined by q= h/2 − h/2 σxy dy.

+Q n y n +M x Figure 6.6: Rotation of fibre in a beam.2 January 21.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γ θ v. 78 Version 0.7: Sign conventions for a bending moment and shear force resultant.x y x Figure 6. 2011 .

it is clear that Ω Ω q.x − q = 0.20b) Denoting applied end forces Fy . distributed loads f y and applied moments T (all shown in Figure 6.20a) (6. January 21.15) Since equilibrium must hold for an infinitely small segment of a beam. therefore rotational equilibrium requires that m.3).21c) (6. and boundary conditions.x + f y = 0.21d) These equations. For rotational equilibrium. (6.2 Beams that: q n dΓ + dΩ dΩ Ω f y dΩ = 0. are valid for both Bernoulli-Euler and Timoshenko beam theories.x Ω Ω Ω Ω (6.18) Satisfaction of the translational equilibrium equation implies that 0. Γv ∩ ΓQ = ∅.2 79 .x dΩ + f y dΩ = 0.x dΩ − q dΩ − q.6. (6.21a) (6.21b) (6. 2011 Version 0.x x dΩ − f y x dΩ = 0. Γθ ∪ ΓM = Γ. Ω (q. (6. on Γθ . on ΓM .19) (6. Γθ ∩ ΓM = ∅ + f y ) x dΩ = (6.16) dΩ dΩ Ω This expression can be rearranged such that m. translational equilibrium requires that q. (6. the boundary conditions are v = gv θn = gθ mn = T q n = Fy on Γv .17) (6. it is required that: m n dΓ − q nx dΓ − f y x dΩ = 0.14) Noting that q n dΓ = q| x= L2 − q| x= L1 . on ΓQ . The boundary Γ of a beam is partitioned such that: Γv ∪ ΓQ = Γ.

23) The bending moment in the beam is related to the curvature by: m = − EIκ = − EI (6. The negative sign is due to the sign convention in which the rotation and the resultant moment are in opposite directions. dx d2 v .21a) and (6.21b)).26) which is the strong equation of equilibrium for a Bernoulli-Euler beam.25) by a weight function v.24). 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.2. and inserting the constitutive relationship from equation (6. and Neumann involve either the shear force or moment (equations (6. Taking now the derivative of all terms in equation (6. With appropriate boundary conditions. and then inserting equation (6. Being a fourth-order equation. Weak governing equation Following the procedures from Chapter 2. This assumption implies that the shear rotation γ is equal to zero. θ= dv . so the rotation can be directly related to the displacement v. − EI d4 v + f y = 0.3 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.22) which also implies that κ= (6. (6. dx4 (6.24) where I is the moment of inertia of the beam.2 January 21. the boundary value problem is complete and can be solved.25) Assuming EI to be constant.xx dΩ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.16) yields: d2 m + f y = 0.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. Dirichlet boundary conditions involve the prescription of the displacement or the rotation (equations (6. dx2 (6. from an appropriately defined space. dx2 (6. two boundary conditions are required at both ends of the beam. 2011 .21c) and (6. Multiplying equation (6.21d)). dx2 d2 v .19) with respect to x.27) 80 Version 0. the weak form of equilibrium for a beam ¯ can be developed.

v = 0 on Γv . ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .34) which is the equation of virtual work for a Bernoulli-Euler beam beam.21c) and (6. continuity) than for classical continuum problems.2 81 . this time to the term Ω ¯ v. the trial functions (v ∈ S ) and the ¯ weight (test) functions (v ∈ V ) must possess a higher degree of regularity (roughly speaking. January 21.32b) For the case of an elastic continuum. ¯ Ω v. which contains functions satisfying: Ω v2 + v2 + v2 dx < ∞. 2011 Version 0.30) where S and V are appropriately defined spaces. Consistency of the above weak form can be proven following the same procedure as in in Section 2.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. v. For completeness. after integrating by parts twice.2 Beams Integrating by parts the term involving the moment M once yields: − Ω ¯ v.xx dΩ = − ΓM δv. solving the governing weak equation for a beam involves: find v ∈ S such that − Ω ¯ v.28) Applying integrating by parts again.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x dΩ.31) In one dimension this is equivalent to the trial and test functions being at least C1 continuous. the spaces S and V are formally defined by: S = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) . it implies that the weak form of the governing equation is identical to the equation of virtual work. The existence of second-order derivatives in the weak form deserves some special attention. (6. This is in contrast to second-order problems.30) gives: Ω (6. For the weak form to ‘make sense’.33) δv. v. Both S and V must be subspaces of the Sobolev space H 2 (Ω).x mn dΓ + Γ ¯ vm. v = gv on Γv .32a) (6.xx (6.x = 0 on Γθ . which means that both their first and second derivatives exist. (6. which require C0 continuity only. (6.xx EIv. .x dΩ + Γ ¯ vm.x = 0 on Γθ .x m.x m.21d).x T dΓ + ΓQ δvFy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6.xx EIv. it was shown that if the weight function could be considered as a ‘virtual displacement’. The integration domain for the ¯ ¯ boundary integrals has been changed since v = 0 on Γv . Note that a fourth-order problem.x = gθ on Γθ .xx m dΩ − Γ ¯ v.x .24). Consider now: ¯ v ≡ δv Inserting this relationship into equation (6. and inserting the constitutive relation in equation (6.6. has second-order derivatives in its weak form.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vFy dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀v ∈ V . (6.xx dΩ − ΓM ¯ v.29) Inserting now the Neumann (natural) boundary conditions from equations (6. and v.1.

and are hence suitable for relatively short beams. has been introduced.38) and considering v and θ to be the fundamental unknowns. (6. Recall from equation (6.37) dv −θ . This means that shear deformations can be taken into account.39) (6.11) that rotation θ of a plane is given by θ= dv − γ. GAS (6. the shear strain γ.40) + fy = 0 which are two coupled second-order equations. in Ω. dx (6.2 January 21.19) and (6.16) leads to: d2 θ − GAs dx2 dθ d2 v − dx dx2 dv −θ dx − EI GAs =0 in Ω. Relative to the Bernoulli-Euler theory. 82 Version 0. Together with the previously defined boundary conditions.35) where γ is the rotation due to shear. but not necessarily normal. the first for the rotation θ. Planes must remain plane. 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. dx (6. In terms of the shear force and properties of the beam.4 Timoshenko beam Timoshenko beams are more general Bernoulli-Euler beams as they allow for shear deformation. They also provide a solid introduction to moderately thick plate theories where the advantage of shear deformable theories will become more apparent.16) with the constitutive relationships m = − EIκ. an additional unknown.2. The governing equations are given by the equilibrium conditions in equations (6.36) where G is the shear modulus and As is the effective shear area. Inserting the constitutive relationships into the equilibrium equations in (6. and the second for the displacement v. 2011 .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. it is related to the shear force by the constitutive relationship: γ= q .19) and (6. the problem is complete. q = GAs γ = GAs (6.

41) (6.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vh Fy dΓ + Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀vh ∈ V h (6. The test and trial functions should be at least C0 continuous (in contrast to the C1 continuity for the Bernoulli-Euler theory). 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. 2011 Version 0. ¯ ¯ As before.x dΩ − Ω Ω ¯ θGAs (v.45) and (6. − Ω δκ m dΩ + Ω δγ q dΩ = − ΓM δθ T dΓ + ΓQ δv Fy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6. considering δθ ≡ θ and δv ≡ v.xx − θ.47) For many mechanical problems.48) January 21.x dΩ − Ω Ω Γ ¯ θEIθ.39) and (6.45) (6.2. adding the weak forms in equations (6. (6. consistency can be proven through the application of integration by parts.2 Beams Weak governing equations ¯ Multiplying equations (6.x − θ ) dΩ + ΓQ ΓM Ω ¯ θT dΓ = 0.xx dΩ − Ω ¯ θGAs (v. ¯ ∀θ ∈ Vθ ¯ ∀v ∈ Vv .x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vGAs (v.40) by appropriately defined weight functions θ ¯ and v. and v = 0 on Γv .x GAs (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. the weak form or virtual work expressions appear naturally and can be used as a starting point in developing a finite element model. 6. Ω (6.6. and using γ = v.46) − ¯ v.x GAs (v. ¯ θ.xx EIv.2 83 .x − θ ) n x dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x n dΓ − Γ Ω ¯ θGAs (v.x EIθ. As with all problems.xx dΩ = − ΓM ¯h v. Applying integration by parts once.x ) dΩ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x EIθ.43) (6.46) is equivalent to the virtual work equation.42) ¯ vGAs (v. − Ω Ω ¯ θEIθ.44) − ¯ v. Ω (6.x − θ. It is however assumed that θ = 0 on Γθ and that θ satisfies ¯ the rotation boundary condition.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 ) dΩ = 0.x − θ ) dΩ = 0. and v satisfies the transverse displacement boundary condition.

The displacement at a point in the beam is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6.50c) M1 = h2 ( x − x1 )2 ( x − x2 ) M2 = (6.x M2. This results in a cubic interpolation of the displacement along the element.x  v2      θ2 84 Version 0.50b) h3 ( x − x1 ) ( x − x2 ) 2 (6. we wish to express the displacement field v in terms of shape functions and nodal degrees of freedom.2 January 21. Hermitian polynomials are C1 functions. convergence of the solution is not assured for interpolations with insufficient continuity. Such shape functions can be constructed relatively easily in one dimension (the extension to multiple dimensions is however far from trivial). However. and involve both displacement and rotational degrees of freedom. A Hermitian beam element with two nodes has four degrees of freedom (two displacement degrees of freedom and two rotation degrees of freedom). The above equation requires the evaluation of the second derivative of the interpolated displacement field. The use of C0 interpolations for fourth-order problems is not mathematically consistent and can lead to unpredictable results.x M1.49) where vi and θi are degrees of freedom associated with node i.x N2. The displacement field vh is given by: vh ( x ) = ∑ ( Ni ( x ) vi + Mi ( x ) θi ) . Crucially.50d) h2 for an element of length h with ends from x1 to x2 (x2 > x1 ). 2011 . The problem that arises is that simple C0 finite element shape functions are not suitable. As for continuum elements. 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 = (6.51) 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.52) v. The solution is to use C1 shape functions. i 2 (6. The first derivative is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6.x = N.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis where S h ⊂ S and V h ⊂ V are finite-dimensional spaces. and the shape functions are equal to: − ( x − x2 )2 (− h + 2 ( x1 − x )) (6.x ae = N1.

56) and the RHS vector by: fe = ΓQ N T Fy dΓ − ΓM N T T dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.xx be ) T EI N.xx dΩ. January 21.xx M2.53) h h Now that vh . Ω N. they can be inserted into the Galerkin problem.xx (6.xx T EI N.x be ) T T dΓ + ΓQ ( Nbe ) T Fy dΓ Ω + ( Nbe ) T f y dΩ (6.54) After some rearranging.xx M1.57) The operation to form the RHS vector essentially translates the applied loads into equivalent nodal shear forces and moments.xx N2.x and v. (6.6.xx ae dΩ = − ΓM ( N.xx T EI N.2 Beams The second derivative of v is given by:    v1      θ1    v2    θ2 h v. v. 2011 Version 0.2 85 .xx ae = N1. Ω ( N.xx can be computed given ae . (6.xx = N. (6.xx dΩ ae = − ΓM N.x T T dΓ + ΓQ N T Fy dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.55) The element stiffness matrix is given by: ke = Ω N.

x = h2 2 (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) .xx = − .58c) (6.x = − .58e) (6. Considering just the second derivatives with respect to x. h2 2 ( x − x1 ) (3x − h − x1 − 2x2 ) N2.2 January 21.58h) Assuming the centre of the element is at x = 0 (x2 + x1 = 0.xx = 2 + .58a) (6. M2. M2. h h (6.59a) (6.xx = 12x .58g) (6.58d) (6. h3 6x 1 M1. 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.56).x = (6.59d) Inserting these terms into equation (6.xx = h3 ( x − x2 ) (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) M1.xx = h2 N1. h h 12x N2. the above equations can be simplified significantly.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Taking derivatives of the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6. h3 2 (6x − h − 4x1 − 2x2 ) N2. h 6x 1 M2. N1. h3 2 (6x + h − 2x1 − 4x2 ) .x = .59b) (6. N1.59c) (6.xx = 2 − . (6.50).xx = .58b) (6. 2 ( x − x2 ) (3x + h − 2x1 − x2 ) . 2011 .xx = − 3 . h2 2 (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) M1.58f) (6.60) Integrating the terms in the stiffness matrix exactly from − h/2 to h/2 (assuming EI 86 Version 0. x1 = − h/2). h3 ( x − x1 ) (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) .

x − θ h dΩ = − ΓQ ΓM ¯ θ h T dΓ h ¯ ∀θ h ∈ Vθ .M N θ T dΓ. and corresponding derivatives.61) Timoshenko beams The finite element formulation for the Timoshenko beam is relatively simple. (6.64b) (6. 2011 Version 0. e N v bv . Inserting the expressions for the unknown fields in terms of nodal variables and variations into equations (6.63) 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. h h The Galerkin problem for the Timoshenko beam involves: find vh ∈ Sv and θ h ∈ Sθ such that Ω Ω h ¯h θ. in terms of shape functions and nodal variable.62) h ¯h v. T (6. A distinction is made between the shape functions for vh and θ h as these may differ.x − θ h dΩ = Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ + ¯ vh Fy dΓ h ¯ ∀v h ∈ Vv .Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe N v T f y dΩ.6. (6. − 6EI  h2  4EI h (6.x dΩ − Ω h ¯ θ h GAs v.64d) N θ aθ .x GAs v.2 Beams to be constant). v h = N v av .2 87 .x EIθ. 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) and (6.65) Ωe Bv T GAs Bv dΩav − e Ωe Bv T GAs N θ dΩaθ e = Γe. This will allow the use of the standard shape functions introduced in Chapter 4.63) Consider the representation of the fields vh and θ h .66) January 21. due to the second-order nature of the governing equations.64c) (6. e θ = ¯ v = ¯ θh = h h (6.64a) (6. (6. e θ θ N be .

T Bv T GAs Bv dΩ. Ideally. Timoshenko beam theory is superior to the Bernoulli-Euler theory in that it is valid for both short and slender beams.M N θ T dΓ. (6. N v T f y dΩ. This is the effect in which the shear contribution to the energy does not vanish.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe Note that the stiffness matrix is symmetric (kθv = kvθ ). This would be advantageous from the point of view of generality. Consider a Timoshenko beam element of length L.2 January 21.74) e  EI GAs L GAs L  EI + − + L 6 L 3   GAs GAs −  2 2  . The components of the stiffness matrix are given by:   GAs L EI GAs L EI − +  L + 3 L 6  . only a Timoshenko beam element would be necessary in practice. 2011 .67) where the components of the the element stiffness matrix are given by kθθ = Ωe Bθ EIBθ + N θ GAs N θ dΩ. and for simplicity as the Timoshenko element used C0 shape functions. the result are plagued by shear locking. Locking Conceptually.69) (6. Bv T GAs N θ dΩ.68) (6.6 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 (6.71) kθv = − kvθ = − kvv = Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ. kθθ =  (6.75) kθv =  e  GA GAs  s − 2 2 88 Version 0. and components of the element RHS vector are given by fθ = − fv = Γe. and both short and slender beams could be analysed. Ωe Ωe T T (6.70) (6. when applying Timoshenko elements for thin bending problems. However.73) Γe. resulting in an overly stiff response.72) (6. with linear shape functions for both the displacement and rotation. T T (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. the displacement v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/3) EIGAs /L2 + G2 A2 /12 s (6.2 89 . As L → 0. Even with a very fine mesh.78) Therefore.6.77) If at one end the beam is clamped.79) If L is large.80) which is independent of I. If the term Ωe N θT GAs N θ dΩ is evaluated using one-point numerical integration T January 21.81) which is the correct result.2 Beams and GAs  L =  GA s − L    GAs − L   GAs  L  GAs 2   GAs   −  2   GAs   − L   GAs  L kvv e (6. θ1 = v1 = 0.76) Therefore. v2 ≈ PL . EI GAs L  L + 3 ke =   GAs − 2 −  GAs     θ 0 2   2    =  GAs v2 P L (6. v2 ≈ 4PL . 2011 Version 0. GAs (6. will yield a very stiff response. this element will exhibit a very stiff response. and a shear load P is applied one end. GAs (6.

2 January 21.82) ke =    GAs  GAs GAs GAs   −  2 2 L L     GAs GAs GAs  GAs − − − 2 2 L L Now. 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. 90 Version 0.83) If L is very large. 2011 . The case is similar for quadratic elements. for the one element problem clamped at one end.85) When using reduced integration. v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/4) EIGAs /L2 (6. this element performs quite well when the mesh is sufficiently well-refined. v2 ≈ PL3 4EI (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis (which is reduced for this term).84) which qualitatively the desired response. and as L → 0. where selective integration (two-point) leads to a dramatic reduction in locking response. v2 ≈ PL GAs (6.

For convenience. In plate theory. More detailed coverage can be found in a number of books (Zienkiewicz and Taylor. The plate has a thickness t. They are flat two-dimensional entities. x2 and x3 . A serious problem stems from the need for C1 interpolations in the classic thin plate and shell bending theories. Also. It is convenient to express many relationships for plates using index notation. y and z.3 Plate Plates are effectively generalisations of beam elements to two spatial dimensions. the relevant dangers in analysing plate and shell structures with the finite element method are presented.3.86a) (6. The three coordinates are denoted x. 6. y) . respectively).9). (6. the displacement of a point is given by: uα = −zθα ( x. Similarly. or u1 . u2 and u3 when using indexes. or x1 . 1991. this section does not provide an exhaustive coverage. the convention differs from the right-hand rule. The adopted definitions simplify the formulation as it will avoid the need for a −1 factor on particular terms. and the boundary is Γ. 1987. u3 = u3 ( x.6. v and w (displacements in the x. Plate finite elements can be extremely complex and are an area of ongoing research. Hughes. (1989). 1996). y) . are are typically loaded out of plane. T When using Greek subscripts.1 Plate kinematics The adopted coordinate system and sign convention for rotations θα for plates is shown in Figure 6. Bathe. and the coordinate z = 0 corresponds to the mid-surface of the plate. displacement may be denoted u. y and z directions. The basic governing equations of shell and plate elements and the most common finite element approaches are discussed. 2011 Version 0.2 91 .8: Coordinate system for a plate. The surface of the plate in the x1 –x2 plane is denoted Ω. Given the enormous number of different plate and shell elements. The rotation of the January 21.86b) where θα is the rotation of a fibre in the plate (see Figure 6.3 Plate x3 p θ1 x2 t x1 θ2 Figure 6. A particularly accessible account can be found in Cook et al.8. summation is implied from one to two. 6.

2 January 21.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γα θ α w.9: Plate kinematics with shear deformation included. 2011 . 92 Version 0.α 1 w x3 xα Figure 6.

90) From symmetry of the stress tensor. The alternative approach would be to insert the plate kinematics into the elasticity equations.α 2 (6. From the displacement field in equations (6.86).2 Equilibrium of a plate The equilibrium equations for a plate are developed here in the same fashion as for plates.β (6.91) The different resultant moments and transverse forces acting on cross-sections of a plate are shown in Figure 6. It is useful to define a vector s which is normal to the vector n. 2011 Version 0.6. the strain field can be calculated at any point (recall ǫ = (1/2)(ui. (6.10 (‘resultants’ are forces which are equivalent to a moment or shear stress). then θα = w.2 93 .α = θ(α.α . γα = w. it is clear that the moment tensor is symmetric. This allows the definition of following notation for January 21.i )). The shear force vector qα is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σα3 dz (6. ǫαβ = ǫα3 = −z θα.α . and the shear strain is given by γα .88b) A useful quantity is the curvature.α 2 −θα + w.89) 6.β) .α − θα . and lies in the plane of Ω.3.88a) (6.3 Plate mid-surface of the plate is given by w. 2 α. which is a second-order tensor and at a point is given by: καβ = 1 θ + θ β.j + u j.87) Note that if γα = 0. The moment tensor mαβ in a plate is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σαβ z dz (6.β + θ β.

therefore qα. mns = mαβ n β sα .92f) (6. (6. w.2 January 21. θn = θα nα . mns.s = The quantities are illustrated in Figure 6.92e) (6.α dΩ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.93) Applying the divergence theorem to the term involving qα leads to Ω qα.α + pz = 0. ∂mnn .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 6.95) 94 Version 0. ∂s ∂mns .n = w. Translation equilibrium of a plate requires that: ∂Ω (6.94) which must also hold for an infinitesimally small piece of the plate.s = ∂s qn = qα nα .11. (6.92g) (6.92b) (6.92h) qα nα dΓ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.α sα mnn.92d) (6. 2011 .10: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on cross-sections of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).s = w.α nα w.92c) (6.92a) (6. quantities relative to an arbitrarily oriented plate edge: mnn = mαβ n β nα . (6.

Since translation equilibrium requires that q β.β + pz = 0.PSfrag 6.11: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on an edge of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).96) ∂Ω ∂Ω Ω which leads to: Ω mαβ.β = q β xα. These constitutive relationships will also be elaborated upon in the context of the different theories. (6.98) The boundary conditions for a plate are more complicated that for a beam. is the equation for translational equilibrium. 2011 Version 0.β xα dΩ − Ω pz xα dΩ = 0.2 95 . Considering now rotational equilibrium.3 Thin plates .β dΩ − Ω qα dΩ − Ω q β.3. (6.β + q β.97) noting that q β xα . constitutive relationships are required which relate the moment tensor and the shear force to deformations. and are specific to the considered plate theory. hence boundary conditions are elaborated upon in the context of a given theory.α xα . (6.Kirchhoff theory The Kirchhoff plate model theory is analogous to the Bernoulli-Euler beam. mαβ n β dΓ − q β n β xα dΩ − pz xα dΩ = 0. Ironically.β − qα = 0. the outwardly simplest plate theory presents the most problems when formulating the finite January 21. It is applicable for thin plates where shear deformations are negligible. rotational equilibrium requires that mαβ.3 Plate q2 m21 m22 qn x3 x2 θ1 mns m11 q1 m12 s mnn n x1 θ2 Figure 6. To complete the problem.α xα = qα + q β. 6.

α (6. The shear force qα is no longer ‘independent’. ∇4 w = ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 .100) yields a fourthorder partial differential equation.106) As a fourth-order equation. and the Kirchhoff plate model requires two boundary conditions at all points 96 Version 0. Since shear deformations are zero. Et3 (6. 12 (6. It is often written in a shorthand format using the biharmonic operator ∇4 .101) (6.αβ + w. The goal is now to eliminate qα from the governing equations.αβ + pz = 0. 12 1 − ν2 ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 = pz . After some rearranging. four different types of boundary conditions are possible. Assuming transverse shear deformations are zero.95). the governing equation can be expressed in a particularly convenient form: w. ∂x y Et3 ∂x4 ∂y (6. This can be done by differentiating equation (6. the curvature κ is equal to: καβ = 1 w. equation (6. 2 (6.103) ¯ where λ = 2λµ/ (λ + 2µ).ααββ = 12 1 − ν2 pz . 2011 .98) and inserting equation (6.105) This equation is known as the ‘biharmonic equation’. where the constitutive tensor is equal to: (6.100) The moment is related to the curvature by mαβ = −Cαβγδ κγδ .102) Cαβγδ = t3 ¯ µ δαβ δβδ + δαδ δβγ + λδαβ δγδ .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis element method.87) reduces to: θα = w.2 January 21.99) 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. ∂x y ∂x4 ∂y (6.104) Expanding this equation. mαβ.102) into equation (6.βα . Inserting the constitutive relationship (6.

α mαβ n β dΓ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. Weak form The weak form of the governing equation for a thin plate is derived using the same processes applied for second-order problems. (6.s = Q on Γw on Γθ on ΓM on ΓQ (6. (6.n mnn dΓ + Γ ¯ w (mns.n = 0 on Γθ .β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. and the last two are Neumann boundary conditions. − Ω ¯ w. The problem here is that too many boundary terms appear in the first boundary integral.s + qn ) dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. (6. and integrating over the plate surface Ω.6.109) Using integration by parts again on the first term.112) January 21. − Γ ¯ w. (6.107b) (6. then integrated by parts. Multiplying by a weight ¯ function w.107c) (6.110) (ignoring the point terms).107d) The first two boundary conditions are Dirichlet boundary conditions. yields Ω ¯ w.107a) (6.s dΓ − wmns | B A (6.α mαβ n β dΓ = − Γ Γ ¯ w.105) by a weight function w.100). the boundary conditions are given by: w = gw θ n = gθ mnn = T qn + mns.n mnn dΓ − ¯ w.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. 2011 Version 0.s mns dΓ ¯ ¯ wmns.20). and integrating over the surface of the plate. Ω ¯ w. Inserting the above relationship into equation (6.n mnn dΓ + Γ Γ ¯ w.2 97 . and leads to the well known ‘corner forces’ in thin plate theory. Ω ¯ wmαβ.111) =− The last term will be ignored.αβ dΩ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.α mαβ.108) where Ω is the surface of the plate. Integrating the moment term by parts once. it is convenient to carry out the process on equation (6. Rather than multiplying the governing ¯ equation (6. The governing equation is multiplied by a weight function.β dΩ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. for which w = 0 on Γw and w. The moment can only be applied normal to the boundary (mαβ n β nα ). Considering the partition of the boundary in equation (6.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.110) which is the weak form of the governing equation for thin plate bending.3 Plate on the boundary. The last boundary condition is known as the ‘modified shear’ boundary condition.

α + pz = 0.n = 0 on Γθ . Unlike for thin plates.α as a virtual rotation δθα .α ). the spaces S and V for the weak form of Kirchhoff plate theory are defined as follows: S = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . and w.114) Ω ΓM ΓQ Ω Recall that the bending moment mαβ is a function of the curvature. w = gw on Γw . w. As such. hence the highest order derivatives in the weak governing equation are order two. (6.4 Moderately thick plates – Reissner-Mindlin theory The Reissner-Mindlin theory for plates includes shear deformation.β − qα = 0.3.3. For this theory. it is applicable for both thick and thin plates. The governing equations for a thick plate are those given in Section 6. some serious practical problems arise in finite element analysis when applying Reissner-Mindlin elements for the analysis of thin plates.n = gθ on Γθ . The rotation of the plate cannot be calculated simply as a derivative of the transverse displacement. w. (6. the above equation is the equation of virtual work for a plate: δκαβ mαβ dΩ − δθn T dΓ + δwQ dΓ + δwpz dΩ = 0 (6. the governing equations for equilibrium are the same as for the Kirchhoff theory. which depends on θα which is no longer calculated directly from w (θα = w. The equations of equilibrium are: mαβ.115a) (6. 2011 . w = 0 on Γw . The key to the success of this approach in a finite element context is that the moment tensor mαβ is calculated from the curvature.αβ mαβ dΩ − ΓM ¯ w. (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Inserting the Neumann boundary conditions. w. 6.n T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ V . For completeness. w and θα . ¯ ¯ ¯ Considering w as a virtual displacement δw.113) where the functions in S satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions.αβ as the virtual curvature. solving the weak problems then involves: find w ∈ S such that Ω ¯ w.2 January 21.116b) 98 Version 0. the governing equations cannot be further reduced since θα is not a direct function of w. which in turn involves second derivatives of w. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . The difference lies in the kinematics and the constitutive model. The problem now involves two different unknowns.115b) Consistency can proven through the repeated application of integration by parts.2.116a) (6. δκαβ . It is analogous to the Timoshenko beam. However. qα.

119b) (6.119a) (6. This is due to θα and w being decoupled.β dΩ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. (6.αβ − θ β.β − Cαβ w.2 99 .118) (6. Firstly.117) Cαβ w. The ‘naturally’ occurring boundary conditions involve w = gw θα = gαθ mαn = Tα qn = Q on Γw . three boundary conditions must be applied at all points on the boundary.122) ¯ Inserting now Neumann boundary conditions (θα = 0 where θα is prescribed) yields: − Ω ¯ θα.β − θ β dΩ = 0. both equations (6.3 Plate In addition to the constitutive relationship relating moment and curvature (equation (6.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. This set of equations can be reduced by eliminating qα .120b) (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. Weak form To derive the weak form.119a) and (6. This set of equations cannot be reduced further. This means than the governing equations are being solved in their irreducible form.120d) Given that one of the unknowns. qα = Cαβ γβ = Cαβ w. 2011 Version 0. on Γθ . a constitutive relation relating the shear forces to the shear strain is introduced.102)). on ΓM . and k is a correction factor which is equal to 5/6.120a) (6.β − θ β . Ω ¯ θα mαβ. ¯ equation (6.120c) (6.β − θ β dΩ = 0. θα .β − θ β dΩ = 0.123) January 21. (6.6.119b) are addressed.α + pz = 0 It is these equations which will be solved. (6. − Ω ¯ θ(α.β − θ β = 0 (6. where Cαβ = ktµδαβ .β) mαβ dΩ + Γ ¯ θα mαβ n β dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.121) Integrating the above equation by parts. (6. is a vector. mαβ.119a) is multiplied by a weight function θα . on ΓQ .

124) Ω Ω Integrating the above equation by parts yields: − Ω ¯ w. Note that different to the virtual work equation for a Kirchhoff plate (6.α − θα .127b) that are solved using the finite element method. C0 shape functions can be applied. This will require the interpolation of both the transverse displacement w and the rotation θα .119b) by a ¯ weight function w. (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis which is the weak form of equation (6. the highest order derivative appearing for both terms is one. Hence.119a). adopting ¯ ¯ ¯ the notation δw = w. (6.α Cαβ w.αβ − θ( β. It is equations (6. Multiplying now equation (6.126) which is the weak form of equation (6.α Cαβ w.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ Vw (6. ¯ ∀θα ∈ Vθ (6. ¯ wCαβ w. However.β − θ β dΩ + Γ ¯ wCαβ γβ nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.125) ¯ Inserting again Neumann boundary conditions (w = 0 where w is prescribed).128) − which is the equation of virtual work for a Reissner-Mindlin plate.β − θ β dΩ = 0.127a) and (6.α Cαβ w. The weak problem therefore involves: find θα ∈ Sθ and w ∈ Sw such that: − Ω ¯ θα.α) dΩ + ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. 2011 .114).127b) by minus one). the above equation includes a contribution to the energy due to shear ( Ω δγα qα dΩ). yields: Ω −δκαβ mαβ dΩ + Ω δγα qα dΩ + ΓM δθα Tα dΓ − ΓQ Ω δwQ dΓ δwpz dΩ = 0 (6. − Ω ¯ w. (6. 100 Version 0.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.2 January 21.127b) Note that both weak equations contains derivatives no higher than order one.β) and δγα = w. δκαβ = θ(α. and taking advantage of the symmetry of mαβ . Combining both equations (multiplying equation (6.127a) − Ω ¯ w.119b).

In the context of plates. 2κ12 ) T . some non-conforming elements yield satisfactory results. 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. none of which are of general applicability. The complications are rooted in the need for C1 continuity.131) Kirchhoff plate elements There are few reliable. symmetry of mαβ and καβ allows the use of simplified ‘engineering’ notation. κ22 . There exists a range of Kirchhoff plate elements.6. q = D s γ.5 Plate finite elements As in elasticity. (6. The matrix D b has the form: 1 ν 1 0 0 0 Et3 D = 12 (1 − ν2 ) b  ν    0 (1 − ν ) 2   . 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 . It does not however satisfy C1 continuity. 2011 Version 0.3. However.129) where m = (m11 . a less severe requirement is that elements satisfy a ‘patch test’. constant strain implies constant curvature. The majority of Kirchhoff plate elements are non-conforming – this means that they do not satisfy C1 continuity. The element is still useful as it passes the patch test.2 101 . flexible and robust Kirchhoff plate elements.130) For the shear forces qα .132) (6.3 Plate 6. m22 . m12 ) T and κ = (κ11 . January 21.   (6. it tests whether an element can represent rigid body modes and a state of constant strain. tkµ (6. m = −Db κ   (6. In place of requiring C1 continuity.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. where Ds = tkµ 0 0 . A common Kirchhoff plate element is rectangular and has four nodes and twelve degrees of freedom. In particular.

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

9) where k is the polynomial order.5) which now includes the gradient of e. Inserting now equation (7.6) which involves only a particular order derivative. (7. the question of determining an error estimate is no longer a finite element question. setting n = 0 gives: 1/2 e 0 = Ω (e · e) dΩ . k + 1 > m. A Sobolev semi-norm is given by |u|n = Ω ( D n u)2 dΩ 1/2 . (7.2 (7. thereby introducing a measure of the error in the strain. Note that to ensure convergence.4) which is a measure of the error in the displacements.7) where r is the order of the derivatives appearing in the weak form. c is an unknown constant. it holds that u − uh E ≤ u − uI E. (7. (7. An important semi-norm is the energy norm. Interpolation theory provides the inequality u − uI m ≤ chk+1−m |u|k+1 . Consider the nodal interpolate u I . 1/2 e 1 = Ω (e · e + ∇e : ∇e) dΩ . 2011 . (7.10) This means that the finite element solution is at least as accurate as the nodal interpolate in terms if energy.8) The nodal interpolate is equal to the exact solution at the nodes (u − u I = 0 at the nodes). uI = ∑ Ni aiI .7 Analysis of the finite element method involve n = 0 and n = 1. u − uh 106 r ≤ Chk+1−r |u|k+1 .11) January 21. Setting n = 1. It is defined by: u 2 E = | u |2 = r Ω ( Dr u)2 dΩ. Version 0. For example. Given that a finite solution is known to be the best possible solution from the finite-dimensional space S h . and h is a measure of the element size. (7. In this way. i (7. rather a question which can be answered from interpolation theory.10) into the above expression. hence it interpolates the exact solution using the provided shape functions.

1/2 . In elasticity. The error in the displacements is given by e 0 . This is error analysis. (7. (7. 2(k + 1 − r )). For k ≥ 1. the displacement error is: which is equal to Ω e · e dΩ e 0 ≤ Chk+1 |u|k+1 . a natural question is how close the solution is to the exact solution. hence it represents the error in the energy. January 21. For linear elements. such as the error in the displacement. (7. e 1 (7. An estimate can be obtained using ‘Nitsche’s trick’ (see Strang and Fix (1973) for details). It would be useful to find an estimate in terms of lower norms. 2011 Version 0. independent of h. e e 0 1 ≤ Ch2 |u|2 ≤ Ch|u|2 . there may be no gain in accuracy through increasing the polynomial order. If the exact solution is not sufficiently smooth. u − uh 0 . The order of convergence of a particular element type indicates how quickly the exact solution is approached.2 A posteriori error estimation Once a finite element solution has been calculated.1. (7. This result is however conditional upon the seminorm |u|k+1 existing. The notation O(h a ) means that the error is ‘of the order h a ’. which tells ‘how good’ the calculated solution is. and O(h) in terms of strains.7. the two quantities of special interest are the displacements and the strains (and hence the stresses).13) where β = min (k + 1 − s. k = 1. Therefore. The convergence order for different polynomial orders is given in Table 7. this norm is dominated by the error in the strain. For practical purposes. hence u − uh 1 ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . the greater a the smaller the error. Larger a implies faster convergence.2 107 . It leads to the estimate: u − uh s ≤ Ch β |u|k+1 . Of course as h becomes small. r = 1.14) In terms of the strain. For an elasticity problem.12) This implies that the solution converges in this norm at a rate equal to the polynomial order.16) Hence linear elements are known as being O(h2 ) in terms of displacements. but does not tell how far the computed solution is from the exact solution. ≤ Chk |u|k+1 .2 A posteriori error estimation where C is a constant. 7.15) which implies that the approximate strains converge to the exact result slower than the approximate displacements.

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

2011 Version 0. how much smaller would you expect the error in the displacements and the stresses to be if all the elements are made 2. January 21. Give the order of convergence in terms of the strain for the following element: a) b) c) d) e) T3 Q4 T6 Q8 Q9 2.2 109 .4 Exercises helps to know how quickly the error reduces for a particular element.4 Exercises 1.7 times smaller? 3. When using Q4 elements. List some advantages and disadvantages of p.7. 7.and h-adaptivity.


The motivation is that it is relatively simple to solve triangular matrices. To find the finite element solution to a problem. the matrix is also banded. Large systems require significant memory to store the matrices and large computational effort to solve the system. Gauss elimination is rarely used. if nodes are numbered in an efficient manner. 111 . This is a consequence of using a Galerkin formulation. unlike finite difference methods. Gauss elimination – number of operations O n3 In finite element code however.1) The stiffness matrix K typically has a number of special properties. It varies for different meshes. 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). The system of equations Ka = f is rewritten as: LUa = f (8.2) where L is a lower triangular matrix with ones on the diagonal and U is an upper diagonal matrix. the stiffness matrix is symmetric. Furthermore. Storing only non-zero elements in the computer memory leads to enormous savings in memory. Direct solvers yield a result with a known number of steps.1 LU-decomposition A commonly used direct solution technique is known as LU-decomposition. Further savings can be achieved for symmetric matrices by storing only the diagonal terms and non-zero terms above the diagonal. the following system needs to be solved: Ka = f (8. For all problems examined in these notes. This mean that nonzero terms are located close to the diagonal.8 Solvers for large linear systems Note: This chapter is still being developed. 8. a general method is required to solve the system of equations. However. the system of equations is sparse. Another special property is symmetry. This means that the stiffness matrix contains many zero elements. The finite element solution of practical problems often leads to very large systems of equations. Iterative solvers approach the exact solution. Typically more efficient direct or iterative solvers are used. the exact structure of the stiffness matrix is not constant. The number of steps performed depends on the desired accuracy. Due to the compact support of finite element shape functions. Therefore.

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

0) = u0 ( x) u ( x.9 Time-dependent problems Until now.1 Elastodynamics The majority of this chapter deals with elastodynamics problems. With elliptic problems. modal analysis. less subtle.1 Governing equation and the weak form for elastodynamics The equation of motion is given by: ρu = ∇ · σ + b ¨ (9. In mathematical ¨ terms. 9. the finite element method has been applied only for time-independent problems. Similar to static problems. These are initial conditions. σn = h on Γh (9. The first. The second. u=g on Γg .1) where ρ is the density and u = ∂2 u/∂t2 is the acceleration vector. In this chapter. when a load is applied at the 113 . this equation differs significantly from the static case as the governing equation is hyperbolic. approach is more general and suited to wave propagation problems. All problems up to this chapter were elliptic.4b) where v is the velocity (v = ∂u/∂t). therefore two initial conditions are required: u ( x. For example.1.4a) (9. time-dependent Dirichlet boundary conditions are prescribed. On parts of the boundary. its is complemented by boundary conditions. information travels through the domain immediately. Two approaches will be elaborated. 9. relies on linearity of the underlying problem and is suited to vibration analysis.3) Dynamic problems require some ‘extra’ information compared to their quasi-static counterparts. the unsteady heat equation and elastodynamics are considered in which the time dimension must be addressed. Initial conditions correspond to the conditions at time zero (t = 0). time-dependent Neumann boundary conditions are applied. 0) = v0 ( x) ˙ (9. Elastodynamics involves the second derivative of the displacement with respect to time. (9.2) On other parts of the boundary.

a stress wave will travel through the bar and a force at the restrained end will not be felt until the stress wave arrives. ¨ ¨ h (9.9) 114 Version 0. The velocity and acceleration fields are represented using the shape functions. which when considering the semidiscrete formulations are constant in time. To solve dynamic problems using a computer. (9. This is again done using finite element shape functions. solving the weak form involves: for a given t > 0. and integrating gives: Ω ρw · u dΩ = ¨ Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ (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 . like for the static case the governing equation must be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns and basis functions. From the weak from in the previous section.8a) (9.2 January 21.8b) where ae = dae /dt and ae = d2 ae /dt2 .6) 9. With hyperbolic problems ‘information’ travels at finite speeds. Inserting the discretised displacement field ˙ ¨ and the expression for the acceleration field into equation (9.7) which is known as ‘semi-discrete’.1) by a weight function w. a reaction force is felt immediately at the other end. This stems from the fact that the dependence on time t has not been addressed in the same fashion as the spatial dependency x. Ωe N T ρN dΩ ae = − ¨ Ωe B T DB dΩ ae + Ωe N T b dΩ + Γh. 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 .7) and rearranging. the finite-dimensional velocity and acceleration fields in an element are given by: uh = N ae . The equations for elastodynamics are hyperbolic. for an element. the Galerkin form must be developed. (9. and inserting Neumann boundary conditions. The time dimension is left continuous.1. which is independent of time.5) Integrating by parts. Multiplying equation (9. ˙ ˙ u = N ae . using the same steps outlined in Chapter 2. 2011 . If a bar. is hit with a hammer at the free end.e N T h dΓ.2 Semi-discrete Galerkin form To reach a finite element formulation. Therefore.9 Time-dependent problems free end of a restrained rod. restrained at one end. Deriving the weak form for dynamic problems follows the familiar procedure. (9.

2011 Version 0. Perhaps the simplest procedure to form lumped mass matrices is to form the matrices using numerical integration. This property is highly advantageous in combination with some time integration schemes.9. It is however possible that nodes will have zero or negative masses. Before the variational basis of the finite element method was properly understood.10) where Me is the element mass matrix. for a given time tn M an + Kan = f n . As with the element stiffness matrix. Since shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. 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.3 Mass matrix There are several methods to form the mass matrix. This procedure however can lead to negative masses on the diagonal. the lumped mass matrix has non-zero terms only on the diagonal. The obvious choice from the variational approach is the consistent mass matrix.1. Another procedure is based on summing rows of the consistent mass matrix. This equation can be written is a shorthand format as: Me a e + k e a e = f e ¨ (9. Since lumped schemes do not follow naturally from the variational formulation.2 115 . cons = Me Ωe ρN T N dΩ. a strategy is required to deal with the time derivatives of a. it was not entirely clear how the mass matrix should be formed. A common approach was to form a lumped mass matrix. This corresponds to having discrete.13) where n is the dimension of the mass matrix. (9.12) This is typically formed by integrating numerically. 9. All off-diagonal terms are equal to zero. this will yield a diagonal mass matrix.11) Before this equation can be solved. ¨ (9. lumped masses at each node. in the same fashion as for the element stiffness matrix. as will be discussed in the following sections. Other more January 21. Once the element contributions have been assembled into the global mass and stiffness matrices and the global RHS vector. Mii lump = j =1 cons ∑ Mij n (9. the mass matrix is symmetric and will have off-diagonal terms.1 Elastodynamics This equation is commonly called the ‘semi-discrete’ equation. there is some freedom in determining exactly how the lumped mass matrix should be calculated. but with integration points located only at element nodes.

3. (1989). Given that only the first derivative with respect to time is involved. Damping is often included by adding the term C a to the governing equations.1.2 January 21. and initial conditions. u is the temperature.17) 116 Version 0. namely the temperature at t = 0. The problem requires boundary conditions. It will become clear when addressing particular time integration schemes why lumped mass matrices are popular. The contribution of the stiffness matrix to the damping matrix increases damping with increasing frequency.16) where in the context of diffusion of heat. The performance of lumped mass matrices is guided primarily by experience. Conversely. (9. Damping due to the material response can also be included. the contribution of the mass matrix increases damping with decreasing frequency.3.4 Damping Problems in structural dynamics often involve damping.2 Heat equation The heat equation is introduced here as a step to the problems in elastodynamics. The choice of the parameters τ and ψ is certainly arbitrary. ¨ ˙ (9. A discussion can be found in Cook et al. unsteady heat diffusion is governed by: ˙ ρcu + ∇ · q = f . as outlined in Section 2. This is known as Rayleigh damping. it involves first order derivatives with respect to time. only one type of initial condition may be provided. or through the constitutive model relating stress and strain. This topic is left to other courses which address non-linear material behaviour. 9. kappa is the conductivity. Unlike elastodynamics. q = −κ ∇u is the heat flux. representing the uncertainty in the source of damping. The precise source of damping and its mathematical form is often vague. In strong form.14) where the matrix C represents the sources of damping in the structure. c is the ‘capacity’. 9.9 Time-dependent problems sophisticated lumping schemes are possible which will avoid negative masses. It can be included through the damping matrix C.15) where τ and ψ are user chosen parameters. There is no rich theory underlying the choices. They two key points are that zero and negative masses on the diagonal should be avoided. t) = u0 ( x) . (9. A simple method of introducing damping is to say: C = τM + ψK. The steady-state version of the equation was introduced in Section 2. ˙ M a + C a + Ka = f . u ( x. 2011 . (9.

21) −ω 2 M + K a = 0. there are n eigenvalues λ (λ = ω 2 ). It turns out that for a lumped mass matrix. this is immediately felt (an infinitesimal amount) and increases with time. which ¯ are also known as natural modes. the highest frequency is equal to: ωe = 2 L E ρ E/ρ.19) In matrix form. it is important to know the highest natural frequency of the discrete problem. this can be expressed at time tn as: M an + Kan = f n .9. The difficulty is that the size of the problem in equation (9. The eigenvectors are a.11) and rearranging.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics The heat equation is parabolic. Non-trivial solutions (a = 0) require that: ¯ (9. For a one-dimensional linear element. 2 det ke − ωe me = 0 (9.25) √ for an element of length L.18) (9. 2011 Version 0.24) The highest frequency from all elements provides an upper bound to the highest frequency of the problem. For explicit time integration procedures. (9.23) where ω are the natural frequencies of the system. For the consistent mass matrix. The displacements at the nodes can be described by a = a cos (ωt − α) . 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 (9.23) can be very large.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics If an undamped system is allowed to vibrate freely (no forcing terms). The acceleration is therefore given by: (9. ¯ det K − ω 2 M = 0. (9. the semi-discrete Galerkin problem for the heat equation involves: for a given t > 0.22) which is a matrix eigenvalue problem. Following the usual processes in developing the weak form. it is relatively simple to calculate the natural frequencies. If one end of a rod is heated. ˙ 9. ¨ ¯ Inserting these results into equation (9. its motion is harmonic. If stiffness and mass matrices are of dimension n.20) where ω is the frequency (radians per second). ωe = 2 3/L January 21. ¯ a = −ω 2 a cos (ωt − α) . (9.2 117 . An upper bound to the highest frequency can be found by calculating the frequencies for all individual elements.

i = j. it is then possible to treat each mode individually. ¨ αi + ωi2 αi = Ψi T f . (9.26) Inserting the above equation into the unforced version ( f = 0) of equation (9. For linear problems. i = j. (9.4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics Modal analysis involves the dividing of the response of a structure into a number of modes. and ωi are the natural frequencies. ¨ Ψj T M ∑ αi Ψi + Ψj T K ∑ αi Ψi = Ψj T f i i (9. The sum of the modes gives the total displacement. 2011 . separate equations.30) 1 0 i = j.29) Orthogonality implies that the vibration modes do not interact with each other.33) 118 Version 0. The nodal displacements can be expressed as a summation of eigenfunctions. Consider a solution a = ψi cos (ωi t + θi ) . Inserting equation (9. This means that: Ψi T MΨj = and Ψi T KΨj = ωi2 0 i = j. (9. a (t) = ∑ αi (t) Ψi i (9.2 January 21. A special property of the eigenmodes Ψi is that they are orthogonal.31) Pre-multiplying both sides of this equation by Ψj T .32) The orthogonality property means that the equation has been decoupled into nm simple.11) .9 Time-dependent problems 9.28) where αi (t) is the amplitude of the ith eigenmode. (9. It is then possible to treat each mode separately. (9.27) where Ψi are eigenvectors. K − ωi2 M Ψi = 0. and are known as vibration modes.11) yields: ¨ M ∑ αi Ψi + K ∑ αi Ψi = f i i (9.28) into equation (9.

There are no known unconditionally stable explicit schemes. usually only the low frequency modes have a significant influence on the structural response. To do this. the orthogonality property does not hold. Given the values of an . implicit schemes generally require significantly extra computational effort. the computational effort lies in finding the eigenvectors and eigenvalues. For the unforced case. It provides a step towards the more complicated schemes for elastodynamics. and perhaps information at time step n and earlier steps. Time stepping schemes are distinguished by being either explicit or implicit. it will ‘blow-up’. the values an+1 . In structural analysis. which is O(∆t4 ) accurate). equation (9. ˙ ¨ a time stepping scheme is needed. Time is then incremented until the desired time is reached. Accuracy is not the difference between explicit and implicit schemes. and perhaps earlier steps (such as n − 1) to compute the solution at time step n + 1. Therefore. January 21. Hence.33) is only solved for a few modes. with the solution αi = c1 sin (ωi t) + c2 cos (ωi t) . Typically.5 Time stepping algorithms Now. Modal analysis relies on the orthogonality property of the eigenfunctions.34) Solutions for forced cases are dependent on the type of loading. this equation can be solved analytically.2 119 . 9. but due to their extremely poor stability properties they are useless. compared to explicit schemes.5. an+1 and an+1 at time tn+1 = tn + ∆t are needed. implicit schemes may have a low degree of accuracy (such as the backward Euler scheme. (1989). There are known schemes of exceptional accuracy. In applying modal analysis. Explicit schemes can be constructed to have a high degree of accuracy (such as the 4th order Runge-Kutta method. which is O(∆t) accurate). the above equation can be solved. the unsteady heat equation is first considered. an and an at time tn (and perhaps also at earlier times ˙ ¨ steps). Therefore it is limited to linear analysis. If an integrator is unstable. 9. Conversely. for each mode of interest.1 One-step algorithms for the heat equation To introduce time stepping algorithms. (9. For non-linear problems. 2011 Version 0. Implicit schemes rely on information at time step n + 1.9. rapidly diverging from any sensible result. Explicit integrators rely only on information at time step n. equation (9. Stability means the range of time steps ∆t for which an integrator will calculate a stable result (small errors do not grow exponentially). The difference between explicit and implicit schemes lies in stability.5 Time stepping algorithms Time stepping algorithms involve schemes to increment the time in discrete steps ∆t.33) is a homogeneous ordinary partial differential equation. Further discussion of modal methods can be found in Craig (1981) and Cook et al. This means a system of equations must be solved for implicit schemes.

40a) (9. a n +1 = ˙ 1 1 (1 − θ ) a − an − an . ˙ ˙ (9. well known integrators.39) (9. and the implicit trapezoidal (θ = 1/2) and backward Euler (θ = 1) methods.41b) (9. the problem to solve an+1 has become ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 . the trapezoidal method is particularly attractive as it is unconditionally stable. both explicit and implicit. The backward Euler method is also unconditionally stable. Newmark time integrators are a family of schemes.9 Time-dependent problems A popular family of algorithms are ‘generalised trapezoidal’ methods. the forward Euler is not particularly useful as its stability properties are poor. ˙ Rearranging equation (9. In practice. In matrix form. 1 1 (1 − θ ) M + K a n +1 = f n +1 + Man + M an .2 January 21. ˙ θ∆t θ∆t θ In compact notation.37) (9. ˙ 9.36) gives. where 1 ˆ K= M+K θ∆t 1 (1 − θ ) fˆn+1 = f n+1 + Man + M an . Choosing parameters appropriately for a Newmark algorithm yields a number of different. ˙ θ∆t n+1 θ∆t θ (9. the heat equation at time tn+1 must satisfy: M an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 . ˙ θ∆t θ and an is computed from equation (9. They involve: an+1 = an + ∆t ((1 − θ ) an + θ an+1 ) .38) 120 Version 0.2 One-step algorithms for elastodynamics The most commonly used time integration scheme in solid and structural mechanics is the generalised Newmark scheme.41a) (9.5.37). and is second-order accurate. but only first-order accurate.40b) (9. 2011 . 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 ) ˙ ¨ ¨ (9.36) and inserting the above result into equation (9. For the problems to be considered here. Well known methods are the explicit forward Euler (θ = 0) method.35).35) where 0 ≤ θ ≤ 1.

47) This integrator is implicit. It is necessary to express the terms a and a in terms of a. The term ω h can be estimated for linear elements as 2c/L.9. where c is the dilatational wave speed (c = E/ρ) and L is the length of an element.46a) into equation (9. Calculating the necessary terms using ˙ ¨ central differences. a n +1 = a n + ˙ ˙ a n +1 ∆t ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) .2 121 .42) For γ = 1/2. a Newmark scheme is second-order accurate. It corresponds to β = 1/4 and γ = 1/2 in the Newmark family of integrators. Its stability properties are attractive. 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. It is also energy conserving. 2 (9. Another commonly used time integrator is based on the trapezoidal rule. A commonly used time integrator is the central difference method. The Newmark method is unconditionally stale for: 2β ≥ γ ≥ 1 2 (9.45) which is the Courant. It is stable for: ∆t ≤ 2 ωh (9. an = ˙ an = ¨ a n +1 − a n −1 2∆t an−1 − 2an + an+1 . it requires the factorisation of a large matrix. ∆t ≤ L . ∆t2 (9. This method is unconditionally stable and the accuracy is O(∆t2 ).41) for β = 0 and γ = 1/2.43a) (9. but it is conditionally stable.46b) Inserting equation (9.5 Time stepping algorithms where β and γ are parameters which define the nature and properties of the algorithm. c (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). This scheme is O(∆t2 ) accurate.46a) (9. January 21. 2 ∆t ˙ ˙ = an + ( a n + a n +1 ) .46b). Friedrichs and Lewy (CFL) stability condition. Therefore.44) where ω h is the highest natural frequency (highest value from det K − ω 2 M = 0. but as will be shown later. 2011 Version 0. an+1 = an + ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) 4 (9.

it is not necessary to form the stiffness matrix K. In practice. (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).51) If both M and C are diagonal matrices.2 January 21. + C n +1 2 2∆t ∆t (9. the displacement vector a at step n + 1 is given by: ˆ an+1 = M −1 fˆn (9.53) 1 1 C M+ 2 2∆t ∆t (9.52) (9. with damping. A procedure is required to ‘start’ the 122 Version 0. M an−1 − 2an + an+1 a − a n −1 + Kan = f n .55) Ω A difficulty with explicit central-difference time integration is the need for information at n − 1 when starting a calculation. and unknown at step n + 1. Inserting the central difference expressions from equation (9. it is possible to calculate an+1 . (9. Given an and an−1 . 2∆t n−1 ∆t Then. 2011 . where ˆ M= and 1 1 fˆn = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n .9 Time-dependent problems Explicit time integration – central difference approach The system of equations to be solved.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. ¨ ˙ (9. 1 1 1 1 M+ C an+1 = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . The term Kan is equivalent to: Kan = B T σn dΩ.43). The above equations can be written in a shorthand format as: ˆ Man+1 = fˆn . an+1 can be calculated without solving a system of equations (hence the attractiveness of lumped mass matrices when using explicit time integrators).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. has the appearance: M an + C an + Kan = f n .54) (9.

M 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 + Kan+1 = f n+1 (9.58a) 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. an−1 = an − ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 an ¨ 2 (9.58b) These equations are then inserted into equation (9. 2011 Version 0.57).61) January 21. and all known quantities on the RHS. For simplicity. 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. The central difference procedure is popular in finite element analysis. In combination with a lumped mass matrix.5 Time stepping algorithms algorithm at t = 0.57) Rearranging the expressions in equation (9.9. Combining equations (9. damping is ignored. The significant drawback is the conditional stability. Furthermore.60) which in a short-hand notation can be expressed as: ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 (9.59) Rearranging such that all unknown quantities appear on the LHS.2 123 . The time step must be chosen carefully for a particular discretisation. it is very efficient and suitable for very large problems.41) for β = 0 to express the accelerations and velocity at step n + 1 in terms of step n and earlier.56) The vector an−1 can be used to start the time integration procedure. it is second-order accurate.43) it is possible to express an−1 in terms of quantities at n (time t = 0). This yields. 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. a n +1 = ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9. which are the initial conditions.

it is usually desirable to introduce some numerical damping to suppress spurious high-frequency modes. the terms in f are prescribed and both M and K can be formed. the α-Method reduces to the Newmark scheme.6 Space-time formulations Time as a degree of freedom. A number of algorithms have been developed to preserve second-order accuracy while allowing for the introduction of numerical damping.62) where f n+1+α = f n+1+θ∆t . One such algorithm is the α-Method.3 α-Method for elastodynamics In dynamic simulations. With the Newmark scheme. which is also known as the Hilber-Hughes-Taylor Method (Hughes. 1987).2 January 21. 3.5. ¨ (9. calculating an requires the solution of a system of equations. If −1/3 < α < 0. At time step n. 9. 2011 . Note that calculating the ‘new’ an+1 introduces a dependency ˙ on the parameter γ. Decreasing α increases the dissipation. It involves using a Newmark scheme to solve : M an+1 + (1 − α) Kan+1 − αKan = f n+1+α .41) to show for β = 0 and γ = 1/2 the scheme is equivalent to a central-difference procedure. 9. Solving the resulting system of equations yields an+1 .9 Time-dependent problems Since the stiffness matrix K is not diagonal. If α = 0. numerical damping can be introduced by choosing γ > 1/2. γ = (1 − 2α) /2 and β = (1 − α)2 /4. the algorithm is unconditionally stable and second-order accurate. Calculate the consistent and lumped mass matrices for the four-noded quadrilateral element. Derive the mass matrix for a two-noded beam element. 124 Version 0. 2. choosing γ = 1/2 reduces the integration scheme to first order accuracy O(t). Numerical dissipation can be controlled through the parameter α. Rearrange equation (9. 9.7 Exercises 1. Numerical damping aids in controlling undesirable spurious high frequency modes in the solution. the vector fˆ can be calculated from an . The problem with the Newmark scheme is that the introduction of any numerical damping reduces the order of accuracy from two to one. However.

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