The Finite Element Method: An Introduction

Dr. Garth N. Wells

University of Cambridge and Delft University of Technology

c G. N. Wells 2009


. . . . .1 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Regularity requirements . . . . . .2 Program flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . method . . 2. Basic error analysis . . . .4 Galerkin method Approximate solution .3 Poisson equation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Numerical integration .1 One-dimensional bar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 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 . . . . . .1 Finite element method with piecewise linear basis functions 4. . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 3.2 Continuum elasticity . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 3. . . . . . . 6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 5 . . . . . . . . . 2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Implementation of the finite element 5. . . . . . . . . . 3 The 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Convergence of the Galerkin method Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . 4. . . . . . . .3 Local-global . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Preprocessing . . . .4 Stiffness matrix storage . . . . 5. . . . 2.4 Isoparametric mapping . . . . . . 1. . . . . . .2 General finite element basis functions . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . .5 Post-processing . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Minimisation of potential energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Linear algebra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Tensor basics .Contents 1 Introduction 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Vector calculus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Exercises . . . . . . . 4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Essentials from continuum mechanics 1. 4. . . . . . . . . . .3 Governing equations . .

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

such as ‘Finite element methods for nonlinear analysis’ (CT5142). which for simplicity is assumed to be orthonormal. It also provides a reference point for later developments in the text. When applied for solving problems in solid and structural mechanics. 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. f . b. The finite element method differs from the commonly used finite difference method as it is based on a variational formulation. The procedure can be largely automatised. and are generally denoted by lowercase bold characters. Scalars are denoted by italic type face. s. This course also provides a foundation to the more advanced courses. (1. It is particularly suited for solving partial differential equations on complex geometries.1) Vectors involve components and a basis. making it well suited to efficient computer implementation.2) 7 . as are commonly encountered in solid and structural mechanics. and possibly an extension of familiar concepts. u. a. x. it is closely related to the concepts of energy and virtual work. a. This simplifies vector and tensor operations considerably as the basis vectors can be ignored and operations expressed in terms of indices only.1.1 Introduction This course provides an introduction to the finite element method for linear problems. a Cartesian.1 Tensor basics Throughout these notes. The material should serve as a review. b. What is the finite element method? The finite element method (FEM) is a numerical method for solving partial differential equations. orthonormal basis is assumed. (1. 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. Students will develop an understanding of the fundamentals underlying the finite element method and commercial finite element software. The underlying mathematics of the method are introduced and details of its computer implementation are discussed.

6) ∑ a i b i = a 1 b1 + a 2 b2 + a 3 b3 .2 January 21. where repeated indices imply summation: a·b = For n = 3.5) ∑ a i bi . i =1 n (1.1: Example of orthonormal base vectors. a·b = (1. a= a1 . A vector a in an n-dimensional space R n can be expressed in terms of its components. x = √ x · x. In the case n = 2. a2 (1. (1.7) 8 Version 0. ai where i runs from one to n.3) Consider the dot product between two vectors a and b.1 Introduction x2 a e2 = [0 1 0] e1 = [1 0 0] x1 e3 = [0 0 1] x3 Figure 1. which is denoted a · b. and is defined through the operation which gives the length x of a vector x. i =1 3 (1.4) The dot product of two vectors is given by: a · b = a i bi . 2011 .

8) can be used. It is defined by: a · Bc = Bc · a = c · B T a.11) (1. R (1. 0 if i = j.16) (1. M. and in index notation as Dij = Aik Bkj . A.1 Tensor basics For an orthonormal basis. a = Ab = Aij b j = ∑ Aij bj j =1 n (1.12) Second-order tensors are linear operators that act upon vectors. allowing the base vectors to be discarded and the more familiar notation a · b = ai b j δij = ai bi .14) January 21. ei · e j = δij . a second-order tensor A can be expressed in terms of components. Second-order tensors can be multiplied. The second-order tensor A in R3 can be expressed as   A11 A12 A13 A = Aij =  A21 A22 A23  . (1.13) where n is the dimension of the vector b.1. A second-order tensor A takes the vector b and transforms it into the vector a.17) (1. The symbol δij is known as the Kronecker delta: δij = 1 if i = j. Consider the case a = ABc = Dc. A31 A32 A33 (1.15) (1.2 9 . At times. A = Aij . (1. Aij . in the vein of matrix multiplication. The transpose of a tensor is denoted by the superscript ‘T’. which is expressed as D = AB. 2011 Version 0.9) Second-order tensors (which possess some similar properties to matrices) are generally denoted by uppercase bold characters. K. (1. the dot product maybe written as a T b.10) As with vectors.

A useful identity involving the transpose is: ( AB) T = B T A T .1 Introduction In terms of indices: Aij T = A ji . an inner product. A = a ⊗ b. (1. (1.24) (1. (1. It also yields a scalar.26) (1. this implies: tr ( A) = A11 + A22 + A33 . The repeated i and j indices implies: Aij Bij = (1. an operation similar to the dot product of two vectors. tr ( a ⊗ b) = ai bi and tr ( A) = Aii .19) Second-order tensors can be formed through the dyadic production of two vectors.25) ∑ ∑ Aij Bij . which is equivalent to Aij = ai b j .28) 10 Version 0. = ai b j . For two second-order tensors in R2 . For example. 2011 . This is equivalent to A : B = Aij Bij . i =1 j =1 n n (1. For a second-order tensor A in R3 . It is defined by: A : B = tr A T B . (1. A : B = A11 B11 + A12 B12 + A21 B21 + A22 B22 .20) The trace of a second-order tensor is essentially the summation of its diagonal components.23) (1.27) This operation has no equivalent in matrix-vector convention.2 January 21. is provided for two second-order tensors.21) (1.18) The transpose of a second-order tensor implies interchanging the rows and columns of its components.22) Using the trace. (1.

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

For an orthonormal basis. Vector and tensor components can be rotated (change of basis) using a rotation matrix Q. denoted here as C .2: Rotation between coordinate systems. the stress and strain are second-order tensors. It may prove convenient to transform vector components relative to the ei system to components ′ in the ei system. (1. 2011 . They are related to each other via a fourth-order tensor. Coordinate transformations For many problems.41) 12 Version 0. This operation is particularly important when considering moments.39) Fortunately.40) (1. ′ the components ai are given by ′ ai = Q ji a j . Defining Qij by Qij = ei · e′j . (1. due to physical symmetries. which is orthogonal. in terms of indices. A : B = Aijk Bjk . C = Cijkl .1 Introduction x2 ′ e2 = [− sin θ cos θ ] e2 = [0 1] ′ e1 = [cos θ sin θ ] θ e1 = [1 0] x1 Figure 1.2 January 21. (1. Consider that for a vector a. ′ and it would be convenient to have the components in the ei system. Consider the orthonormal coordinate systems in Figure 1.2. it will not be necessary to manipulate fourthorder tensors directly. it is convenient to rotate the coordinate frame. the components in ei system are known.38) In elasticity.

49) 13 .2 Vector calculus which can also be expressed as: a′ = Q T a.xy .xxxx . 2011 Version 0. which effectively reduces the three-dimensional problem to a one-dimensional problem. It is expressed as: ∇ · a. = u. components in the rotated reference frame can be transformed back to the original reference frame by: a = Qa′ .47) (1.42) − sin θ . and A = QA′ Q T . Q= ′ e1 · e1 ′ e2 · e1 ′ e1 · e2 cos θ ′ = sin θ e2 · e2 (1.2 (1. cos θ (1. Characters after a comma in the subscript denote differentiation with respect to that variable. = u. An example is a onedimensional rod element in a three-dimensional space.44) Therefore.43) and note that Q is orthogonal. It is convenient to rotate the ′ reference such such the position along the bar is given by [ x]′ = x1 . January 21.xx .2 Vector calculus Subscripts are commonly used as a short-hand notation for derivatives. 0 .2. QQ T = Q T Q = I. Considering the coordinate systems illustrated in Figure 1.48) This notation is used commonly throughout these notes. 0.45) At times it is necessary to also rotate the components of a second-order tensor from one coordinate system to another. Consider a function u which is dependent on the position x.xyy . (1. This is done by the operation: A′ = Q T AQ.1. 1. The divergence of a vector field a yields a scalar. ∂x ∂4 u ∂2 u = u.x . (1. ∂x2 ∂x4 ∂2 u ∂3 u = u.46) Often coordinate transforms are used to simplify a problem. (1. ∂x∂y ∂x∂y2 (1. An important operator is the divergence. Some of its derivatives can be written as: ∂u = u.

the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a  ∂x     ∂a  (1.55) ∇a =   . ∂xi (1.50) In a three-dimensional space R3 . ∂x j (1. ∂x j (1.   ∂A11 + ∂A12 ∂x ∂x2  .52) For a two-dimensional tensor A. ∇·a = ∂ay ∂a ∂a x ∂a ∂az ∂a1 + 2+ 3 = + + .51) The divergence of a second-order tensor is given by: ∇·A = ∂Aij = Aij. ∇ · a is equal to ∇·a = ∂ai = ai.56) which yields a second-order tensor.j .j .  ∂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. the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a1 ∂a1 ∂a1  ∂x ∂y ∂z     ∂a2 ∂a2 ∂a2   .53) Another important operator is the gradient.2 January 21. ∂x1 ∂x2 ∂x3 ∂x ∂y ∂z (1.54) which yields a vector.i .i . ∇a =  (1. In a three-dimensional space. ∇ · A =  ∂A 1 ∂A22 21 ∂x + ∂x 1 2 (1.57) ∂y ∂z   ∂x   ∂a3 ∂a3 ∂a3  ∂x ∂y ∂z 14 Version 0.1 Introduction In terms of indices. ∂xi (1. In a three-dimensional space. 2011 .

2011 Version 0. The surface of Ω is given by ∂Ω. The outward unit normal to the body is denoted n.3.58) where n is the outward normal to the body Ω.59) Integration by parts is used frequently in the formulation of the finite element method.2 15 . An essential theorem in formulating the finite element method is the divergence theorem (also known as Gauss’s theorem). It transforms a volume integral to a surface integral. For a vector a. and the January 21. Ω ∇ · a dΩ = ∂Ω a · n dΓ. (1. the eigenvalues of the stress tensor are the principal stresses. For example.60) The above equation also holds for the case in which a is replaced by a scalar and B is replaced by a vector.61) and then applying the divergence theorem. It implies that: Ω a · (∇ · B) dΩ = − Ω ∇ a : B dΩ + ∂Ω a · Bn dΓ. (1. The divergence theorem states: Ω ∇ · A dΩ = ∂Ω An dΓ. The above formula is simple to derive by using the product rule for differentiation to expand Ω ∇ · ( aB ) dΩ = Ω ∂ a B dΩ. Consider the body Ω in Figure 1.3 Linear algebra The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix provide information as to its properties.1. The boundary of the body Ω is denoted Γ = ∂Ω. ∂x j i ij (1.3 Linear algebra n Ω Γ Figure 1. (1. 1.3: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n bounded by Γ.

the eigenvalues of a matrix indicates if a matrix has a unique inverse.i . For a symmetric matrix. 1. all eigenvalues are positive and real. finding λ requires finding the roots of a quadratic equation. For a positive definite matrix A. (1. This section is intended to cover only the important concepts which are used later in these notes. The strain ǫ is defined as the symmetric gradient of the displacement vector: ǫij = 1 u + u j. In the context of the finite element method. It is not a comprehensive coverage of the topic. The polynomial is known as the characteristic equation of A. Equation (1.1 Introduction corresponding eigenvectors are the principal stress directions. The system of equations is usually solved using a direct method (such as Gauss elimination or LU decomposition) or an approximate iterative method.66) 16 Version 0. For large matrices. vectors b and scalars λ which satisfy ( A − λI ) b = 0 (1.65) Typically. and u and f are vectors of length n. of A.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics The finite element method is used in these notes to solve primarily problems in continuum mechanics. Also. For a matrix A.2 January 21. all eigenvalues are real. Eigenvalue tests are often used in studying the matrices arising in the finite element method. respectively. The solution u is given by: u = K −1 f . A system of n linear equations can be expressed as: Ku = f . and is unique. A zero eigenvalue implies that the matrix A has a linearly dependent column. 2 i. which guarantees that the inverse of A exists. 2011 . special numerical algorithms are used to calculate the eigenvalues. the system of equations in a finite element equation will be very large. 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). For a 3 × 3 matrix.62) implies that: det ( A − λI ) = 0. the roots of a cubic equation must be found.62) are known as eigenvectors and eigenvalues.63) For a 2 × 2 matrix. K will often be referred to as the ‘stiffness matrix’ and f the ‘right-hand side vector’. (1. (1.64) where K is an n × n matrix.j (1. Solvers for finite element problems are discussed in Chapter 8. This requires some background in continuum mechanics and linear-elasticity.

2 (1. σij = Cijkl ǫkl where C is a fourth-order tensor. Similar to the strain tensor.i . In a homogeneous body. The stress tensor is defined through the traction vector t (force per unit area) on a surface. or in index notation.71) (1.j) = 1 u + u j.2 17 . For linear elasticity.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics which is clearly a second-order tensor. the strain tensor is symmetric. In two-dimensions. 2011 Version 0.70) with E the Young’s modulus and ν Poisson’s ratio. Obviously. The constants λ and µ are often referred to as Lam´ constants.j (1.72) (1. it is defined by: Cijkl = µ δik δjl + δil δjk + λδij δkl where λ= and µ= E 2 (1 + ν ) (1. the above expression can be written as: ǫ = ∇s u = 1 ∇u + (∇u) T . Lam´ constants are indepene e dent of the position. For solid.69) where n is the unit normal vector to the surface.74) νE (1 + ν) (1 − 2ν) (1. in three-dimensions the stress and strain tensors have only six independent components. January 21.1. the symmetric gradient using index notation will be expressed as: u(i.67) For convenience. this can be written as: σ = C : ǫ. the stress tensor is symmetric (which can be proved by considering the balance of angular momentum. For convenience.73) (1. A constitutive equation relates the stresses in a material to the strain. σn = t (1. In compact notation. as will be shown in the next chapter). Due to symmetry.68) where the bracket around the subscript denotes the symmetric gradient. 2 i. this reduces to four. linear-elastic continua.

y                        u. there are three possibilities.77) When reducing a three-dimensional problem to two-dimensions.z + w.x              v.   σ11      σ22        σ33 (1.2 January 21. It is then likely that the stress in the out-of-plane direction is not equal to zero. 2011 . The first is known as plane strain. containing components of the fourthorder tensor C . This approximation is good for very thin members. such as many beams.z + w.x           ǫ22   ǫ22   v.z ǫ33 ǫ33 . such as a dam wall. the strain in the out-of-plane direction is dependent on the distance from an axis of rotation.y + v. particular attention will be paid to solving elastic continuum problems.x                    2ǫ13  γ13  u. The second possibility is plane stress (σ33 = 0).y γ23 2ǫ23 The stress tensor is expressed in a vector form. although without the factor ‘2’ on the shear terms. (1. The third possibility is axisymmetric. For isotropic linear-elasticity. This assumes that the normal strain in the out-of-plane direction is zero (ǫ33 = 0).1 Introduction ‘engineering’ notation is often adopted. 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   (1.76) σ= σ12        σ13      σ23 Using the vector format for stress and strain. in which the stress and strain are represented as vectors.        ǫ11   ǫ11   u. In these notes. the constitutive relationship can be written as: σ = Dǫ (1.78) D=  0 0 0 µ 0 0    0 0 0 0 µ 0 0 0 0 0 0 µ 18 Version 0. This will require identification of the equations which govern equilibrium of where the matrix D is the constitutive matrix.75) = = ǫ= 2ǫ12  γ12   u. In this case. the normal stress out-of-plane is assumed to be zero. An axisymmetric formulation is for example commonly used when simulating a circular foundation. In this case. This is reasonable for problems which are relatively thick in the third direction.

79) where b is a body force. since E : σ T = 0. leading to: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω (1.2 19 . Therefore. Application of the divergence theorem to the integral over ∂Ω gives: Ω ∇ · σ + b dΩ = 0 (1. if σ is symmetric.5 Exercises 1. which requires that ∂Ω t dΓ + Ω b dΩ = ∂Ω σn dΓ + Ω b dΩ = 0 (1. Therefore. For three-dimensions (i = 1 → 3. In order to derive the governing partial differential equation. moment equilibrium is satisfied if the stress tensor is symmetric. This will also be referred to as the ‘strong’ governing equation. Then. the first term in equation (1.80).83) is zero. Ω r × (∇ · σ + b) dΩ + Ω E : σ T dΩ = 0 (1. etc. 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. and not specific to elasticity.5 Exercises elastic bodies. the integral can be removed from equation(1.).81) Consider now moment equilibrium (balance of angular momentum).83) If translational equilibrium (equation (1. Note that this equation is general.80).80)) is satisfied. 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. Considering that t = σn. How many independent components does a symmetric second-order tensor in R n have? January 21.82) where r is the position vector of a point on ∂Ω. the partial differential equation of equilibrium is given by equation (1.1. consider first translational equilibrium (balance of linear momentum) of a body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ = ∂Ω. 2011 Version 0.80) Balance of linear momentum should also be satisfied for any subdomain of Ω. 1. and applying the divergence theorem.

6.43) is orthogonal. Confirm that the rotation matrix R in equation (1.1 Introduction 3.60). derive the integration by parts formula in equation (1. Using the product rule for differentiation and the divergence theorem. Expand ∆u in a three-dimensional space using index notation. 7. 2011 . 5. A common and important operator in applied mathematics (and mechanics) is the Laplace operator ∆ (sometimes denoted ∇2 ). Derive the isotropic linear-elastic constitutive matrix D for plane stress and plane strain conditions 20 Version 0. It is equivalent to ∇ · ∇.2 January 21. What is the trace of the identity tensor I equal to in R n ? 4.

and leads to a form which is convenient for later numerical solution. (2. To do this. addressing the weak (variational) form of the relevant governing equation.1: One-dimensional bar. This is complemented by a constitutive relationship which gives the stress in the rod in terms of the strain. A Dirichlet (essential) boundary condition prescribes the displacement at a point.1. (2. The finite element method is a variational method. 21 .3) To complete the problem. The governing equation can then be expressed as: − Eu.1) where σ.1 One-dimensional bar Consider the one-dimensional bar in Figure 2.81)): −σ. The governing equation for a onedimensional rod element with unit cross-sectional area is (see equation (1. dx (2. This has the effect of reducing the order of the derivatives appearing in the equation. 2. the normal stress is given by: σ = Eǫ = E du .x = f . For a linear-elastic rod. the strong form is multiplied by a weight function and integrated by parts.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.x is the normal stress in the rod and f is a distributed load along the rod. The weak form is also commonly known as a the ‘variational form’ or a ‘variational equation’. boundary conditions must be specified.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’. For example.2) where E is the Young’s modulus.xx = f . u = 0 at x=0 (2.

−wσ.x σ dx − wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V . solving the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that L 0 w.6) (2. (2.8) To develop the weak form of the governing equation.x dx = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V . at x = 0. both sides of equation (2. Since both sides of the equation are multiplied by the weight function. A Neumann (natural) boundary condition prescribes the applied traction. Taking guidance from equation (1. An important requirement on the space V is that functions w be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.5) where n is the outward normal to the bar (equal to 1 in this case). σn = h at x = L. The mathematical problem can now be summarised as: find u such that: − Eu. which yields: − L 0 wσ.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations prescribes the displacement at one end of the bar in Figure 2.x .x dx = L 0 w. applying a force at the end of the bar is equivalent to prescribing u. Note that in the strong form.9) where ‘∀w ∈ V ’ means ‘for all w ∈ V ’.11) Note the term wEu.12) where S is an appropriately defined space of functions which satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions. then − wσ.7) (2. L 0 (2.x n| x=0 is not included as by definition the weight function w is equal to zero at x = 0.x .6).10) is also true.9) must hold point-wise. The above boundary condition sets the applied traction at x = L equal to h. after inserting the constitutive relationship (2.6) are multiplied by a scalar weight function w ∈ V (w ∈ V means that w comes from the appropriately defined space of functions V .x dx = w f dx ∀w ∈ V .1 to be equal to zero. the equation must still hold for all admissible weight function (this is a technical point which is discussed in section 2. Considering that σ = Eu. at x = L.x = w f L 0 ∀w ∈ V .8) inserted. If equation (2. Multiplying equation (2. (2.1) by w.xx = f u=0 Eu. (2. derivatives of order 22 Version 0.2 January 21. (2.x .x Eu.10) can be integrated by parts and the Neumann boundary condition from equation (2.x n = h 0 < x < L.60). This is the weak form of the governing equation. which has an infinite number of members). Inserting now the constitutive relationship σ = Eu. 2011 . (2. equation (2.3).

Returning to equation (2. consider a weight function w ∈ V which is equal to φ ( Eu.xx + f ) Eu.x n = h.xx dx = L 0 φ ( Eu. 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.xx dx + wEu.13). − L 0 φ ( Eu. What remains now is to ensure that the Neumann boundary condition is satisfied (Dirichlet boundary conditions are satisfied by construction). see Brenner and Scott (1994). only first derivatives with respect to x appear. January 21. Eu. satisfying the strong governing equation (in a distributional sense). The basic form of the equations is the same as the one-dimensional bar in the previous section.17) 23 .xx + f )2 ≥ 0. Following Hughes (1987).13).14) which can be rearranged to give L 0 φ ( Eu. The complication arises from the three-dimensional setting.2.xx + f ). (2. Consider now the continuous body in Figure 2. L[ and zero outside (specifically at x = 0 and x = L). 2. as by construction.2 Continuum elasticity A more complicated example is continuum elasticity.2. Hence. (2. For a more elaborate mathematical treatment.12).15) Since φ > 0 and ( Eu. 2011 Version 0.16) proving that the Neumann boundary conditions are satisfied. the above equation can only hold if − Eu.2 Continuum elasticity two with respect to x appear. it follows that a solution of the strong form is also a solution of the weak form. In the weak form (2.12) yields − L 0 wEu. Since the weak form is derived from the strong form. for any allowable weight function at x = L.13) Note again that no terms at x = 0 appear.xx + f ) f dx.2 (2.xx = f . The strong governing equation for this problem was developed in the previous chapter. (2. at least in a generalised sense).x n| x= L = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L . where φ is greater than zero over the interval ]0. w(0) = 0. Assuming that E is constant and integrating by parts the first term in (2. Recall that the governing equation is given by: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω. Inserting the weight function into equation (2.xx + f )2 dx = 0. (2. it is now proven that the first term is equal to zero.

22) 24 Version 0. t=h on Γh . First. where again V is an appropriately defined function space (w = 0 on Γg ). As in the one-dimensional case. (2. 2011 . (2. (2. and integrated over the body.18) where C is a fourth-order tensor. the governing equation is multiplied by a weight function w ∈ V . In Figure 2.20) The boundary-value problem is now complete. a constitutive relationship is required. To derive the weak form. For a linearelastic material. Note that in this case.19) On the remaining boundary.21) can be integrated by parts (see equation (1. (2.2: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ (Γ = Γg ∪ Γh . u=g on Γg . Γh . (2. the displacements are prescribed (Dirichlet boundary conditions). Multiplying equation (2.17) by w ∈ V .2. the part of the boundary where displacements are prescribed is denoted Γg . σ = C : ǫ. On part of the boundary. tractions (potentially zero) are applied (traction ≡ force per unit area on a surface).21) The first term in equation (2. the same steps as in the case of the one-dimensional bar are followed. the weight function w is a vector. yielding: − Ω ∇w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0.2 January 21. and integrating over the body Ω yields: Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . Γg ∩ Γh = ∅).2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations h Γh Ω Γg n Figure 2. Boundary conditions are still required to complete the problem.60)).

23).2 25 . For Darcy’s law. (2. the symmetric gradient of w. Consistency can be proven in the same fashion as was used for the onedimensional problem.25) yields a Poisson equation.26) where u is a potential.25) where q is a flux vector and f is a source term. 2. Consider now w as a ‘virtual displacement’ δu.18). It is simple to show that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric (see exercise 1). (2. Therefore ∇s w ≡ δǫ.3 Poisson equation where σn has been replaced by the prescribed traction h (the Neumann boundary condition).j ) (2. Consider the following equation: −∇ · q + f = 0 in Ω (2.24) which is the equation of virtual work. 2011 Version 0. January 21. In Darcy’s law. The constitutive relationship depends on the problem being solved. where κ is the thermal conductivity. κ = κI. In the case of heat conductivity. q is the flow rate. Here the Poisson equation is addressed in a more generic fashion. the scalar u is the temperature. Inserting this into equation (2. the variational framework is more general. There exists a close link between weak forms and virtual work for a range of problems. Inserting now the constitutive relationship from equation (2. A wide range of physical phenomena are governed by this equation. Inserting the constitutive equation into (2. The constitutive relationship is given by: q = −κ ∇ u (qi = −κij u. The equation of virtual work is therefore the weak form of the governing equation. Often the term ∇w is written as ∇s w. The previous example of continuum elasticity was an example of a system of Poisson equations – one for each spatial direction.23) where S is an appropriate space of functions which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. This is the weak equilibrium equation for a stationary continuous elastic body.2. Ω δǫ : C : ǫ dΩ = Ω δu · b dΩ + Γh δu · h dΓ. For an isotropic medium. 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 . q is the heat flux vector. However.3 Poisson equation An equation which is often solved using the finite element method is the Poisson equation. For linear heat conduction. u is the hydraulic head and κ is known as the hydraulic conductivity. including steady-state heat conduction and flow in permeable media (Darcy’s law).

The Neumann boundary condition requires that: −q · n = h on Γh (2. it is the hydraulic head. 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.25) by a weight function w and integrating over the body Ω. (2. and consider the potential energy functional I. and for Darcy flow is it the inflow/outflow across a boundary. this is the temperature on the boundary Γg . The Dirichlet conditions impose: u=g on Γg (2. (2. The weak form of the Poisson equation is derived following the same steps as in the previous two examples. suppose that u is the solution to the weak problem.28) where n is the outward normal to the surface Γh (see Figure 2.4 Minimisation of potential energy For particular equations. 2011 . I (u) = 1 2 Ω ∇s u : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω u · b dΩ − ∂Ω u · h dΩ. − Ω w (∇ · q) dΩ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . such as equilibrium of an elastic body. w = u + v. there exists a close link between minimisation of energy and solution of the weak form.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations As for all previous examples.33) 26 Version 0. For Darcy flow. 2. the boundary-value problem requires boundary conditions. For an elastic body Ω.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 . this imposes the heat flux on Γh . In the case of heat conduction. For heat conduction. Multiplying equation (2. (2. (2.32) The potential energy for another displacement field.27) which prescribes the potential on the boundary.31) which is the weak form of the Poisson equation. (2.2 January 21.30) 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 .2).

and the last term Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ ≥ 0. piecewise linear function. Therefore a function like f is a possible solution of the weak form and a possible weight function. Consider now if the function f is a possible solution u of the strong equation for a bar (equation (2.34) Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ.23). 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) to make sense. In summary. 2. It is not a possible solution. As will be seen in the following chapters. the weak form allows for more possible solutions. the second derivative of f with respect to x ( f .5 Regularity requirements f f . If a function is C n . Continuity refers to whether or not the derivatives of a function are continuous. since for equation (2.3 is a continuous.2. January 21.2 27 .3. Examining now the weak form for the rod (equation (2. 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. in a classical sense.3)). functions which are C0 are most commonly used. its second derivative does not exist. and is essential for the finite element method. The function shown in Figure 2. this is a commonly used function in finite element analysis.xx ) must exist. This is a classic mathematical property of weak forms. A C0 function is shown in Figure 2. it is clear that it involves only first derivatives with respect to x of u and w.3: Example of a C0 function f . Functions are often classified as being C n continuous. This means that the functions are continuous. this means that its nth derivative is continuous. but their first derivatives are not.x x Figure 2. which proves that solution of the weak form corresponds to minimisation of the potential energy. In finite element analysis.3.12)).5 Regularity requirements A common topic in finite element analysis is continuity. 2011 Version 0. it is clear that it is simple to take the first derivative of the function f . From Figure 2. However.

The notation u ∈ H 1 means that u comes from (is an element of) H 1 . w| Γg = 0}. which is denoted H 1 (Ω). Sobolev spaces are infinite-dimensional. Consider first a scalar problem in an n-dimensional domain Ω. functions which have square-integrable derivatives are of interest.2 January 21. Clearly. there do however exist functions from H 1 (Ω) which are not C0 continuous. For multiple spatial dimensions. Note that C0 functions belong to H 1 .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. A function u is said to be square integrable if: Ω (u)2 dx < ∞. Importantly. It is useful to define function spaces. (2. 2011 . The function space S is defined by: S = {u | u ∈ H 1 (Ω) .35) Functions which are square integrable come from the Hilbert space known as L2 (Ω). In physical terms. Functions for which: Ω (u)2 + (u. (2. which is defined by: V = {w | w ∈ H 1 (Ω) .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 = 0.36) are known as members of the Sobolev space on degree one. but this point is not important here). such functions may be discontinuous. This can be seen in the well-known Sobolev embedding theorem.x )2 dΩ < ∞ (2. This is of crucial importance. since a fundamental step in the finite element method will involve finite-dimensional function spaces. The weight functions come from the space V (w ∈ V ). Trial functions u come from the space S (u ∈ S ). from which the trial and weight functions come. u| Γg = g}. Functions spaces can be considered the ‘family’ of functions from which u and w can come. the requirement that the trial functions be square-integrable implies that energy must be finite. 2.2 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. (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’. an infinite number of different functions belong to a given Sobolev space. 28 Version 0. That is.

(2. 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 form. Solutions for the displacement field from linear-elastic fracture mechanics often √ involve a term r. where r is the distance from the crack tip (r ≥ 0). For 3 × 3 second-order tensors (matrices). 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. a = b) 5. is u a possible trial solution? January 21. u ∈ S where S = {ui | ui ∈ H 1 (Ω) . Derive the weak equilibrium equation (2. (Hint: use index notation. 4. wi | Γg = 0}.40) Further details can be found in texts on functional analysis and the mathematical analysis of the finite element method.2 29 .7 Exercises In multiple dimensions.7 Exercises 1. The Helmholtz equation is given by: ∇ · (∇φ) + kφ = 0 and is often used in wave propagation problems. 3.2. ui | Γg = gi } and similarly for weight functions w ∈ V . 2011 Version 0.) 2. 2.39) V = {wi | wi ∈ H 1 (Ω) .23) for elasticity using index notation. prove that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric. (2.


For example. uh could be a combination of low order polynomial functions. as developed in the previous chapter.x dx ∀w h ∈ V h (3. (3. 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. 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 = L wh where B wh . it is generic for a range of different problems. It is a method for finding approximate solutions to partial differential equations. Considering now the elasticity problem in equation (2. This means that there is a limited number of possibilities. consider the approximate solution to some problem. uh ∈ S h . (3. where S h ⊂ S is a finite-dimensional space. The Galerkin method is however more general. respectively. Commonly. named after the Russian engineer Galerkin.12)) involves: find uh ∈ S h such that − L 0 h h w. 3. Furthermore.23).x dx + w h h| x= L = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h .5) 31 .4) L 0 h h w.x Eu.x Eu. being able to solve a greater range of problems. and finding the best solution to a problem given a collection of functions. the above equation is expressed in the abstract format as: find uh ∈ S h such that B wh . The essence of the Galerkin method involves taking the weak form of the governing equation.3) This abstract format is introduced to keep the derivation of some later developments compact. the finite-dimensional trial and weight functions are denoted uh and wh .2) (3.1 Approximate solution First.1) where V h ⊂ V is a finite dimensional space.3 The Galerkin method The finite element method is one particular Galerkin method. uh = and L wh = wh h| x= L . In a multidimensional context. The Galerkin problem for an elastic bar (equation (2.

u − B wh . This is examined in the following section. B wh . (3. which solution does the method seek? Understanding this requires some basic error analysis.2).6) wh · b dΩ + Γh (3. In the abstract notation of equation 3. Given a finite number of possibilities in S h . e = B wh .9) For generality.2. Different Galerkin-based methods are defined by how the unknown field uh is represented.1). The approximate solution is therefore equal to: uh = u − e (3. often in fluid mechanics. the error in the displacement e at a point is defined by: e = u − uh (3. u − B wh . uh and w h will be simple continuous. the Bubnov-Galerkin method) requires that the weight and trial functions come from the same finite-dimensional space. taking into account the special requirements on the weight and trial functions where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. Spectral Galerkin methods for example use a truncated Fourier series as the basis. 2011 .7) The Galerkin method (more specifically. In Petrov-Galerkin method.2 Basic error analysis It is interesting to check how the solution computed using the Galerkin procedure compares to the exact solution.8) where u is the exact solution and uh is the solution to equation (3.3 The Galerkin method where ǫ h = ∇s uh . A basic question which arises when computing an approximate solution is how uh relates to the exact solution u. 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.9) into equation (3. uh = and L wh = Ω Ω ∇s wh : C : ǫh dΩ wh · h dΓ. u − L w h = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . this implies that: B wh . In the finite element method. This method is used for special applications. piecewise low-order polynomials defined on ‘finite elements’. the weight functions come from a different function space than the trial functions.11) 32 Version 0. 3. e − L wh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. uh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3.10) Since u is the exact solution.2 January 21. this will be investigated using the abstract notation. B wh . why it doesn’t work). Inserting equation (3. B w h . For the one-dimensional problem.

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

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


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

∀w h ∈ V h


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

= 1 B (v, v) 2


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

≤ u − wh


∀w h ∈ V h


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

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

January 21, 2011

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

lim uh = u


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

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


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January 21, 2011

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

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


1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0








1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0

L Figure 4.1: One-dimensional bar.


The basis function at node i.   x i − x i −1 x i − x i −1   x i +1 x Ni = x i < x < x i +1 . 2011 . For a one-dimensional bar. i =1 n (4.x wi i =1 n h dΓ (4.x = dNi u. Ω h h w. the strain field can be computed easily by taking the derivative of the shape functions. discretised with n nodal points.x u j j =1 n dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ.2 January 21. the approximate displacement field is given in terms of the shape functions and the approximate displacement at a finite number of points (nodes).x u j j =1 n dΩ = Ω ∑ Ni wi i =1 n f dΩ + Γh ∑ Ni.1) where xi is the coordinate of node i. (4.7) 36 Version 0.x wi i =1 n E ∑ Nj. (4. these basis functions are known as ‘shape functions’. From this expression. h ǫh = u. an expression is needed for the weight function w h . the approximate displacement field uh is given by uh = ∑ Ni ( x) ui .x E ∑ Nj. i =1 n (4.4 Formulation of the finite element method nodes. it can be taken outside of the integrals.3) To develop the Galerkin problem.  x i − x i +1 − x i − x i +1     0 otherwise. ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni. In finite element analysis.x Eu. is given by  x x i −1   − x i −1 < x ≤ x i .2) where ui is the value of the field uh at node i.4) Recalling the weak form for a one-dimensional elastic rod. Given that wi is not a function of spatial position. Hence. hence wh = ∑ Ni wi .x dΩ = Ω w h f dΩ + Γh w h h dΓ ∀ wh ∈ V h .5) and inserting the expression for the expressions for the approximate displacement field and the weight function. (4. Ω ∑ Ni.6) for all possible values of wi . dx i i =1 ∑ n (4. It is expressed using the same basis functions as the displacement field.

which can be expressed as the system of equations.2 General finite element basis functions Likewise.10) Ni.4. and f = f i as the right-hand side (RHS) vector. If a boundary condition is applied at node k. where Kij = and fi = Ω Ω (4. (4. Dirichlet boundary conditions must be enforced. while elements are lines (1D).8) This equation must hold for all possible combinations of wi . Consider the case that all but one wi is equal to zero. Nodes are points in space. For the zero Dirichlet conditions. A finite element mesh consists of nodal points and elements. and n unknowns in the form of ui ). u j can also be taken outside of the integrals.x dΩ = Ω Ni f dΩ + Γh Ni h dΓ (4.x E Nj.x E Nj.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.x E Nj. ∑ wi ∑ u j i =1 j =1 n n Ω Ni.12) The matrix K = Kij is commonly known as the stiffness matrix. Elements may not overlap. A mesh divides a body into a number of elements. Matrices and vectors can be built for each element before being assembled into global matrices and vectors. Kij u j = f i . for each i ∑ uj j =1 n Ω Ni. The problem has been divided into many quadrilateral elements. 4. Solving this linear system of equations provides u j .2. surfaces (2D) or volumes (3D) which are constructed by joining nodal points. Therefore. In order the solve the linear system.x dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ.11) Nj f dΩ + Γh Nj h dΓ (4. then the row and the column k is removed from the stiffness matrix. 2011 Version 0. This yields n equations (one for each wi . It is useful to define shape functions on finite elements. A simple finite element January 21.9) must hold.x dΩ (4.2 37 . A discussion of more general boundary conditions is delayed until the end of the chapter. A typical finite element mesh is shown in Figure 4. and the kth term is deleted from the vector f . this is relatively simple. and hence an expression for the approximate displacement field along the rod.

2011 .2: Typical two-dimensional finite element mesh.3: Simple two-dimensional finite element mesh. 7 8 5 7 8 6 38 Version 0. 6 4 3 4 3 1 2 1 2 5 9 Figure 4.4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4.2 January 21.

the shape function associated with that node.4. They are characterised by being equal to unity at their node. The displacement field is given by a linear combination of a finite number of basis functions (a summation of the basis functions. Finite element shape functions are typically piecewise continuous polynomial functions with a ‘compact support’. The bar has two nodes. 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. Each shape function Ni is associated with a node i. A finite element shape function is only non-zero on elements to which it is attached. Consider the one-dimensional bar element in Figure 4.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 2 L x=0 Figure 4.1 One-dimensional bar elements To begin. Both nodes and elements are numbered. Having a compact support. For a node i.4.3. the amplitude). (4. is equal to one at the node and zero at all other nodes. 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 . Shape functions for various elements are discussed in detail in the following sections.4: One-dimensional linear bar element and associated shape functions. In the finite element method. denoted by the solid circles. the basis functions are defined on simple geometric elements.13) January 21.1. are examined. 2011 Version 0. Each element has three nodes. the discretised field can be inserted into the weak governing equations. As in the one-dimensional case. each multiplied by a nodal value.2 39 . In Figure 4.2. linear one dimensional elements. 4.3. known as finite elements. Once the displacement field uh and its derivatives ∇uh can be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns. Ni . and zero at all other nodes. shape functions are non-zero only close to their node. mesh is shown in Figure 4. the mesh is constructed with triangular elements. as introduced in Section 4.

in terms of nodal degrees of freedom ae .19) (4. the displacement and strain can be calculated in any part of the element. 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. In matrix-vector notation. to solve a problem. Taking the derivative of equation (4.4 Formulation of the finite element method where ai is the displacement at node i (it is ‘stored’ at the node). The shape functions corresponding to each node are given by: N1 = − N2 = Hence. 2011 .14) (4. L L (4. as its shape functions are linear polynomials. L (4. The matrix-vector notation for uh and ǫh may seem trivial for one-dimensional problems. (4.17) In the case of a linear displacement interpolation. dx dx 1 dx L L (4.22) (4.20) N2 . The weak form of the governing equations involves derivatives with respect to the spatial position.2 January 21.16) x + 1.16) with respect to x. the derivative of the displacement field with respect to x (the strain) is required. dx (4. a2 (4.18) The strain is given by: ǫh = Bae . where N = N1 and ae = a1 . uh = − x x + 1 a1 + a2 . where the matrix B is equal to: B= dN1 dx dN2 . Therefore.15) x . L This type of element is known as a linear element.21) The shape functions for two linear elements are shown in Figure 4.5. Now. ǫh = duh dN1 dN2 1 1 = a + a2 = − a1 + a2 . 40 Version 0. the displacement field is expressed as: uh = Nae . the derivative of the shape function with respect to x is a constant function within an element.

Since the displacement field is quadratic. 4.26) (4..23) Therefore. each unknown field (such as displacement in each direction) is interpolated using the polynomial shape functions.2. Higher-order elements simply have more nodes. . the N matrix has the form: N = N1 N2 N3 . (4. obviously the strain field is linear.27) January 21. i =1 3 (4. (4. Nnn 0 0 ..2 Two-dimensional continuum elasticity elements In two or more dimensions. it has the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 .6 illustrates shape functions for quadratic and cubic elements. 2011 Version 0.5: Shape functions for two one-dimensional linear bar elements. Figure 4. More nodes through which the shape function must interpolate naturally means a higher-order polynomial is required.25) The matrix N contains the element shape functions. In two dimensions.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 L1 L2 Figure 4. Nnn (4. The interpolation basis for higher-order elements is richer since both constant. For a one-dimensional quadratic element.. linear and quadratic (and even higher) variations in the unknown field can be described within an element. The displacement field for an element is given by: uh = Nae . the displacement field is given by: uh = ∑ Ni (x) ai .2 41 . Higher-order one-dimensional elements It is possible to develop one-dimensional elements with higher-order polynomial interpolations.24) and the B matrix has a similar form..4. and the strain field (using engineering notation) is given by: ǫ h = Bae .

.   . ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x The simplest element in two-dimensions is the three-node triangle.29) ae =  .         ann x        ann y 42 Version 0..    a1 x   a    1y         a2 x      a2 y . 2011 ..  ∂y ∂y ∂y     ∂N1 ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂Nnn  .   . For a two-dimensional problem.. For two-dimensional problems.28) B= 0 .2 January 21. (4.6: Higher-order one-dimensional elements.. 0   ∂x ∂x ∂x    ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂Nnn    0 .4 Formulation of the finite element method 1 1 1 1 2 3 quadratic shape functions 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 cubic shape functions Figure 4. where nn is the numbers of nodes of the element. 0 (4. It is shown in Figure 4. the matrix B has the form:   ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂N1 0 0 .. Its shape functions are of the form: The nodal degrees of freedom (normally one for each spatial dimension at each node for elasticity problems) are stored in a vector a.7.

30) The shape function for a node is illustrated in Figure 4. y2 ) = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 = 0.32) (4. y3 ) = c1 x3 + c2 y3 + c3 = 0.8: Shape function for a three-node element.4. the coefficients c can be found by solving a linear system of equations.31) (4. N1 ( x3 . hence the strain in the element is constant. Its shape function must satisfy: N1 ( x1 . yi ) is the location of the ith node. (4. This can be cast in a matrix form as:      x 1 y 1 1  c 1  1   x2 y2 1 c2 = 0 . (4. y1 ) ( x2 . Consider node 1 in Figure 4. y1 ) = c1 x1 + c2 y2 + c3 = 1.1 Consider the element in Figure 4.2 43 .2 General finite element basis functions ( x3 . Example 4. N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 . y3 ) 3 1 2 ( x1 . N1 ( x2 .7.34)     c3 x3 y3 1 0 January 21. (4.8. It is clear from the linear form of the shape functions for the three-node triangle that the derivatives are constant. Figure 4.7. y2 ) Figure 4. Given that a shape function should have a value of unity at its node and zero at other nodes.33) Solving the above system of equations yields the coefficients for the shape function of node 1. Given the following coordinates of each of where ( xi . 2011 Version 0.7: Three-node triangular element.

2 January 21. (4.4 Formulation of the finite element method the nodes. the N and B matrices can be formed. ( x1 .y 0 N2. 2011 . 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.y N2.x 0 N3. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xy + c2 x + c3 y + c4 .34)) is formed.x 0 N2. A shape function for a four-node element is shown in Figure 4. Since the shape function for node 2 is being calculated.y N1. a system of equations (see equation (4.36) 44 Version 0.x and the B matrix is of the form:  N1. Unlike the three-node triangle.      1 2 1  c1  0 4 1 1  c 2 = 1     c3 2 3 1 0 Solving this system of equations gives: N2 = 0. y2 ) = (4.y A very commonly used element in finite element analysis is the four-node quadrilateral.y  N3.x 0 N1. y3 ) = (2.35) It is also know as a bilinear element. 1) ( x3 . find the shape function for node 2.25y + 0.25x − 0. 3) To find the coefficients.25 Once the shape functions have been computed for each node.y B= 0 N1.9. the only non-zero term on the RHS corresponds to node 2. the strain in this element is not constant. due to the presence of the xy terms in the shape functions. 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. plane and three-dimensional elements can have higher-order interpolations. A four-node quadrilateral element is shown in Figure 4.x N3. y1 ) = (1. 2) ( x2 .x N2. Higher-order solid elements As in one-dimensional problems.10.

37) January 21.11 The polynomial terms needed for triangular elements can be taken from a Pascal triangle (see Figure 4.12). Note that serendipity     1  c1  1                 1  c2  0               c  0 1  3     .15. They belong to one of two families: serendipity or Lagrange. quadratic and cubic triangular elements are shown in Figure 4. Solving the below system of equations would yield the coefficients for node 1.13. 2011 Version 0.10: A shape function for four-node quadrilateral element.14.2 45 . Linear. Serendipity elements have nodes only on element boundaries. whereas Lagrange elements have nodes on the element interior. A Pascal triangle for serendipity elements is shown in Figure 4.2 General finite element basis functions 4 3 1 2 Figure 4. As with the three-node triangle. =  1  c4  0                 1  c5  0                  c6  0 1 (4.9: Four-node quadrilateral element.  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. Several serendipity and Lagrange finite elements are shown in Figure 4. Each time the order of a triangle is increased. the coefficients can be found by solving a linear system of equations. Higher-order quadrilateral elements can also be constructed.4. Note that triangular elements are complete – that is the shape functions contain all polynomial terms up to a given order. Figure 4. a new ‘row’ of terms from the Pascal triangle is added to the shape functions.

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

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.15: Pascal triangle for serendipity elements.. The shape functions for the eight-node serendipity quadrilateral have the form: N = c1 x2 y + c2 xy2 + c3 x2 + c4 y2 + c5 xy + c6 x + c7 y + c8 .. 1 x x2 x3 x4 ..4.2 General finite element basis functions (a) (b) Figure 4. Internal nodes must be introduced to ensure all polynomial terms are included. and are therefore not recommended. Figure 4.. The Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements is shown in Figure 4..and nine-node quadrilateral elements are commonly used in finite element analysis. (4.. elements of order higher than three ’miss’ polynomial terms.. 2011 Version 0..2 47 .39) January 21. . (4. y y2 y3 y4 . Eight.14: Serendipity (a) and Lagrange (b) quadrilateral finite elements.16.

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

The discretised governing equation for the element is expressed as: l2 l1 ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh. (4. it is known how the displacement and the displacement gradient at a point in space can be expressed in terms of the nodal variables (degrees of freedom).e N T h dΓ. 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.e is only non-zero if the boundary of the element coincides with the boundary Γh . 1989) 4. for the multi-dimensional case within an element. wh = Nbe .3 Governing equations x=0 x x = l1 x = l2 x=L Figure 4.46) January 21. The discrete nodal values can be removed from the integrals. (4.2 49 .42) (4. s h where the notation has been ‘abused’ as ∇s wh is being expressed as a vector (recall that this is possible due to symmetry).e N T h dΓ. and can therefore be eliminated.1)) is considered. 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. 2011 Version 0.18: One-dimensional bar showing the element that extends from x = l1 to x = l2 . Take a single element (of any order) which extends from l1 to l2 (see Figure 4.4.44) where the integral over Γh.45) The be terms appear on both sides of the equality. l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = Γh.3 Governing equations At this point.18). What remains is the insertion of the discretised field uh into the governing weak equation. (4. Therefore.43) ∇ w = Bbe . The weight (test) functions are discretised in the same fashion as the unknown field uh . Now. (4.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. the one-dimensional governing equation for an elastic rod (equation (3.

the discretised displacement and strain fields are inserted into equation (3. isoparametric elements are used in finite element software. A third advantage is that isoparametric mapping allows higher-order elements to have curved edges. For a two dimensional problem. and similarly for J. This approach has a number of advantages.47) is known as the ‘element stiffness matrix’.4 Isoparametric mapping In practice. the element stiffness matrix is expressed as: B T DB dΩ ae = N T h dΓ + N T b dΩ. it requires the programming of only one function to evaluate the shape functions of a type of element. the term k ij relates local nodes i and j. For a continuum elasticity problem. This yields: Ωe ( Bbe ) T DBae dΩ = Γh. For an element stiffness matrix. It also allows the simple application of numerical integration.51) where A represents the assembly operation and ne is the number of elements in the mesh. it must be assembled into the global stiffness matrix. y) in the ‘physical’ Cartesian 50 Version 0. as is discussed in the following section. e= (4.4 Formulation of the finite element method The term ke = l2 l1 B T EB dΩ (4.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ + Ωe ( Nbe ) T b dΩ (4. 2011 .e Ωe Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for each element in the problem. e= f = Ane 1 f e . The assembly process is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. In the global mesh. This is denoted symbolically by the operation: K = Ane 1 ke .2 January 21. the point ( x.49) Ωe Γh. An isoparametric mapping is defined via a mapping using the nodal shape functions. (4. local node i has global node number I. The component k ij is added to the location K I J .5). 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). 4.50) (4. Following the same steps as for the onedimensional problem. its contribution is added to the ‘global’ stiffness matrix K. From the point of view of implementation. Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for an element.48) (recall that b denotes the body force). irrespective of the exact shape of the element.

derivatives of the unknown field with respect to x and y are required.2 51 . η ) aix . The mapping for a four-node quadrilateral element is illustrated in Figure 4. as the shape functions are defined in terms of the natural coordinates. The position on the bi-unit square is given by the natural coordinates. y) system. η ) yi . For example the displacement in the x-direction at a point is given by: nn uh = ∑ Ni (ξ. configuration is given by: nn x= y= ∑ Ni (ξ. shape functions can be defined on simple shapes.52) ∑ Ni (ξ. such as the bi-unit square.−1) y 2 (1.4. and nn is number of nodes of the element. taking a point in the real Cartesian ( x. To proceed. 2011 Version 0. η ) domain and maps it to a point in the ‘real’ element in the Cartesian ( x. η ) are known as the ‘natural coordinates’. y) system and mapping to a point (ξ. i =1 nn i =1 (4. where (ξ. The map ξ is the inverse of x.1) (1. η ) xi . In the governing weak equations.1) 2 4 4 3 η ξ 1 (−1. η ) in the bi-unit square. The map x takes a point within the bi-unit square in the (ξ.−1) x 1 ξ Figure 4. ξ and η.53) The difficulty that arises is when computing derivatives with respect to the real coordinates. Using an isoparametric mapping.19: Isoparametric mapping for a bi-unit square. consider the application of the product rule for differentia- January 21. i =1 (4.19.4 Isoparametric mapping x 3 (−1.

52)).ξ y j  ∂ξ    ∂x  1 ∑ j=1 Nj.59) Once terms of the matrix J have been formed.ξ x j  ∂Ni      j =1 j= ∂y ∂η 52 Version 0.2 January 21. (4. ∂η ∂η i i =1 nn ∂Ni ∂y =∑ y. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x. from equation (4. ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + .58) In light of the isoparametric mapping (equation (4.57) ∂x   ∂ f  ∂f  j  ∂x         − ∂y ∂η ∂ξ ∂η J where j = det J. (4.  ∂ f   ∂x ∂y   ∂ f          ∂η ∂η ∂η ∂y J (4.      ∂y  ∂ f  ∂y ∂f      −  ∂x  ∂ξ   ∂ξ  1  ∂η  =  . nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x. defined in terms of ξ and η. ∂η ∂x ∂η ∂y ∂η This can be written in matrix form as:      ∂x ∂y  ∂ f  ∂f       ∂ξ   ∂ξ ∂ξ   ∂x   = . ∂η ∂η i i =1 (4. the terms in the matrix J can be computed. 2011 .55) (4. ∂ξ ∂x ∂ξ ∂y ∂ξ ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + . (4.60)  ∂Ni  j − ∑nn Nj. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂y ∂Ni =∑ y. Using the shape function.       ∂Ni   nn  ∂Ni  nn    − ∑ j=1 Nj.4 Formulation of the finite element method tion for a function f . Taking the inverse of the Jacobian.η x j     ∑nn1 Nj.η y j  =  .57) the derivatives of the shape function of node i with respect to x and y can be computed.56) where the matrix J is commonly known as the Jacobian matrix.54) (4.

4. 2011 Version 0.61) Similar formulae can be found for eight. 4 (4.1) s (0. where: t = 1 − r − s. Quadrilateral elements The shape functions for quadrilateral elements on a bi-unit square is particularly simple. Triangular elements Isoparametric mappings are also applied for triangular elements. they can be calculated for the real configuration.2 53 . Now. The position of a point inside the triangle is given by r. 1987). the shape function of the ith node is given by: Ni (ξ.0) r Figure 4. 1996. once the derivatives of the shape functions have been calculated on the simple isoparametric domain. (4. Consider the triangle in Figure 4. For the bi-unit quadrilateral in Figure 4.4 Isoparametric mapping s (0. Is is also possible to directly address isoparametric triangular elements. 1987). it can be implemented in a computer code in a simple and compact fashion. Triangular elements are often described using area coordinates.1) 3 3 6 5 2 1 (0.20: Three-node and six-node triangles using area coordinates.and nine-node elements (Hughes. η ) = 1 (1 + ξ i ξ ) (1 + ηi η ) .0) 4 2 (1. and an eight-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a six-node triangular element.20. s and t.0) (1. The latter approach is followed here.0) r 1 (0.19. Hughes. A popular approach is to ‘degenerate’ a quadrilateral element to a triangular element (Bathe. This way. a four-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a threenode triangular element.62) January 21. While this procedure may seen complex.

N6 = 4st. N2 = r.4 Formulation of the finite element method The shape functions for the nodes of the element in Figure 4. N2 = 2r − r.5 Numerical integration At this stage.63) (4. There is a formula for the shape functions of arbitrary order in terms of r. numerical integration in one-dimension is considered. the element stiffness matrices and RHS vectors still involve integration over volumes and surfaces (see section 4. it convenient to integrate in the (ξ.68) 54 Version 0.21. To evaluate the stiffness matrix of an element. p. For the integration of a function f (ξ ) from −1 to 1. 166). (4. (4. 2011 .64) (4. consider in two dimensions that: B T DB dΩ = 1 1 Ωe −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη. Two schemes which arise in finite element analysis are Newton-Cotes and Gauss integration.20. 2 N4 = 4rt. For a quadratic (six-node) triangular element. the shape functions are equal to: N1 = 2t2 − t. N3 = s.67) i =1 where ξ i are discrete points on the integral domain. η ) domain.66) N3 = 2s2 − s. Numerical integration is illustrated in Figure 4.2 January 21. Different integration schemes specify where the points are located and the weight associated with each point. It is common for higher-order elements that the apexes are first numbered (corner nodes in the case of quadrilateral elements). (4. then the mid-side nodes. (4. numerical integration is applied. 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 .3). s and t on triangles (Hughes. 1987. While the displacement field has been discretised. To make the formulation fully discrete (and amendable to computer implementation).20 are then: N1 = t. the problem is not yet fully discrete.65) Note the numbering of the nodes for the quadratic triangle in Figure 4. 1 nint −1 f (ξ ) dξ ≃ ∑ f ( ξ i ) wi . 4. Before proceeding to the element matrices. N5 = 4rs. To do this.

Full integration means that the stiffness matrix is integrated exactly (assuming j = constant). For multi-dimensional problems. The location and weights for Gauss integration in one dimension for up to three points are given in Table 4.5 Numerical integration f −1 ξ1 ξ2 ξ3 ξ4 1 ξ Figure 4.2. The question that arises in finite element analysis is: How many integration points should be used? Generally. For a (2n − 1)th-order polynomial. Optimal means that to integrate a polynomial exactly.69) Note that B (ξ i . containing derivatives of the shape functions with respect to x and y. ηi ) j (ξ i . Therefore. However. ηi ) i n wi . the last remaining issue is the selection of an appropriate integration scheme. full integration schemes are recommended for their robustness. ηi ) is the usual B matrix. if the shape functions are linear. B contains linear terms. ηi ).4. which when squared give a January 21. in multiple dimensions Gauss integration is not necessarily the most efficient scheme. 2011 Version 0. If the shape functions are quadratic. Three points integrate as 5th order polynomial exactly in one dimension. (4. Application of numerical integration leads to: 1 1 −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη ≃ ∑ B (ξ i . evaluated at the point (ξ i . A Newton-Cotes scheme uses equally spaced integration points. To perform the numerical integration of the element stiffness matrix. Gauss integration is used.1. the one-dimensional scheme can be extended in each spatial direction. Importantly. The integrand of the stiffness matrix is B T DB. Most commonly in finite element analysis. Gauss integration requires n points to integrate the polynomial exactly. the terms in B are constant and the stiffness matrix is also constant throughout the element. Note the appearance of the determinant of the Jacobian. Gauss quadrature is the optimal numerical integration scheme for polynomials in one dimension. where B contains derivatives of the shape functions. This is simple when using isoparametric elements.21: Numerical integration of the function f .2 55 . This is due to dx dy = j dξ dη (the substitution rule for integration has been applied). two and three dimensions). (n + 1) integration points are required when using a Newton-Cotes scheme to integrate an nth-order polynomial. ηi )T DB (ξ i . j. Therefore. It is also known as ‘Gauss quadrature’. it requires the least number of points. one integration point is sufficient (in one. The sampling points and weights are listed in Table 4.

1].2: Gauss integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1. 1].2 January 21. 2011 . n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 −√ 3 1 √ 3 3 − 5 0 3 5 weight wi 2 1 1 5 9 8 9 5 9 3 Table 4.1: Newton-Cotes integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1. 56 Version 0.4 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.

January 21. In the Galerkin method. 2011 Version 0.and twodimensional elements are shown in Table 4. A test for the element stiffness matrix is to calculate its eigenvalues. Figure 4. This means that a deformation mode exists which does not contribute to the energy. This deformation mode can develop in an uncontrolled fashion.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. two relating the translation (x and y directions) and one for rigid body rotation. recommended integration schemes for commonly used one.3. In two dimensions. It is often argued that a zero energy mode will be restrained by neighbouring elements. For some applications it may be advantageous to use reduced integration schemes in combination with particular elements. although it is safer to use full integration.modes which do not contribute to the energy. The four-node quadrilateral element requires 2 × 2 points for full integration. If a two-dimensional element has more than three zero eigenvalues. although it is often integrated with just one point. there should be only three zero eigenvalues. In one dimension. In solid and structural mechanics.4. Non-zero Dirichlet boundary conditions are more complicated to enforce. To integrate a quadratic function in two dimensions. although a 2 × 2 scheme is often used.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions Figure 4.22 shows the classic ‘hour-glass’ spurious mode for an eight-node quadrilateral when using reduced 2 × 2 integration. Reduced integration schemes can improve the performance of some elements for special applications. two points are required in each direction. 4. In summary. there is likely a deficiency in the formulation. Similarly. They appear naturally in the weak formulation (hence the common name ‘natural boundary conditions’). quadratic variation. there should only be one zero eigenvalue which corresponds to translation. the eight-node quadrilateral requires 3 × 3 points for full integration. the trial functions (uh ) must satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions.2 57 . The number of zero eigenvalues indicates the number of rigid body modes .

2011 .3: Recommended integration schemes for commonly used elements. 58 Version 0.2 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.

and g are the applied Dirichlet boundary conditions.72) Since g is known. the element RHS vector is modified. vv vg (4.70) where uh is the displacement.4.71) where av are the nodal unknowns at nodes where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. 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.2 59 . In discretised form at element level. 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. the element RHS vector can be modified to enforce Dirichlet boundary conditions before assembly into the global RHS vector. Two common approached are outlined below. (4. it is not included in the global system of equations to be solved. 2011 Version 0. It is possible to write: ke av + ke g = f v .1 Elimination of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom The displacement field can be expressed by: uh = vh + gh . ke a = ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv fg .mod = f ie − nn (4. Since the weight function is defined to be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.6.75) Once the element stiffness matrix has been formed. January 21. ij j (4. Since g is known. (4. ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv . f ie.73) where av is the only unknown. Dirichlet boundary conditions can be enforced by modifying the RHS vector. ke av = f e − ke g. vv vg In terms of indexes.74) j =1 ∑ ke ge . 0 (4. 4. vh is equal to zero where Dirichlet (displacement) boundary conditions are applied and gh satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions this means that the uh must satisfy the prescribed displacements where they are specified.

both the finite element method and the finite difference method require the solution of a system of equations Ka = f . In one dimension and for equally spaced nodal points (nodes are a distance h apart). 4.6. Show why this is. 2004). For a plane elasticity problem. The three-node triangle element is often referred to as the ‘constant strain triangle’ (CST). compare the matrix K for the finite element method with linear elements and for the secondorder central finite difference method. 4. which is given by: ∆u = ∇ · (∇u) = 0 To solve this problem.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. 60 Version 0. modern iterative linear solvers can deal with the consequences of boundary conditions being applied in this fashion is a very efficient manner (Ern and Guermond.4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. The advantage of this scheme is its simplicity. 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. 2011 .7 Exercises 1. The value of Dirichlet boundary condition is then inserted into the vector f at position k. 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. Under what conditions the matrix B T DB is symmetric? 5. symmetry is lost.2 January 21. Form the shape functions for a Lagrange nine-node quadrilateral element 3. Consider the Laplace equation. and that the value of the Dirichlet boundary condition is returned in the solution vector which simplifies postprocessing. However. 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. except the diagonal term which is set equal to one. at which points is the stress from the finite element solution not uniquely defined when using C0 elements? 2.

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 using the nodal coordinates in Example 4.7 Exercises 6. 8. Formulate the stiffness matrix for the element in Figure 4.1 and for E = 1 and ν = 0. Calculate and plot the shape functions for the eight-node quadrilateral element on a bi-unit square. Calculate the eigenvalues of the stiffness matrix and comment on their significance.4. 7. 2011 Version 0.2 61 .2. January 21.


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

1 2.2 January 21.1 is given in Figure 5. The preprocessing is completed by specify the material data.76 2. 5.0 0. In addition to nodal coordinates and the connectivity. The outline of a typical finite element program for linear static problems 64 Version 0.4 gives the applied boundary condition.1 2.2: Nodal coordinates. For each node.0 0. boundary conditions must be specified.5 2. The problem in Figure 5.5 0. The second column gives the boundary condition type: Dirichlet (displacement) = 1 and Neumann (force) = 0. This is either a prescribed force or the prescribed displacement.0 0.82 1. the node to which a boundary condition is applied is listed. the is Young’s modulus. The density is necessary when taking the self-weight into account.0 0. the nodal coordinates is shown in Figure 5.7 0.1 y 0.3: Element connectivity. The list can begin with any node of the element.0 Figure 5. the Poisson’s ratio and the density of the material. % element 1 2 3 4 node1 2 3 9 5 node 2 1 2 4 6 node 3 6 5 5 7 node 4 5 4 8 8 Figure 5.3. 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). although the numbering must process in an anti-clockwise direction (to avoid calculating a negative volume and hence a negative element stiffness).2 Program flow Once the input for a finite element analysis has been prepared. The connectivity list for Figure 5. For an isotropic linear-elastic analysis.5 Implementation of the finite element method % node 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 x 0.0 2. The final column is the value of the applied boundary condition.1 involves both Dirichlet (displacement) and Neumann (force) boundary conditions. First.2.0 1. For each element.8 2. the x and y coordinate is given.0 0. The list in Figure 5. the calculation phase can begin.6 0. 2011 . the node numbers are listed.

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

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

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

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5 Implementation of the finite element method

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

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

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


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

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

4(8) 3 (5)

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

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j).8: Set-up of local element arrays for element i.:) % 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 .dof_per_node + k if ID(connect(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 .j).j). 68 Version 0. % 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. k) ) else a_e(jj) = g_e(jj) % displacement is prescribed end end end % return to main program Figure 5.9: Formation of element stiffness matrix.k) ~= 0 a_e(jj) = a( ID(connect(i.:) = x(connect(i.2 January 21.

2011 Version 0. m) ll = l*dof_per_node . January 21.jj) + k_e(kk.jj) = K(ii.k_e(:.dof_per_node + m if ii~=0 & jj~=0 K(ii. k) kk = j*dof_per_node .2 69 .ll) end end end if ii ~= 0 f(ii) = f(ii) + f_e(kk) end end end % return to main program Figure 5.i)*g_e(i) end % return to main program Figure 5.5.j).3 Local-global % impose Dirichlet boundary conditions for i=1:nodes_per_element*dof_per_node f_e(:) = f_e(:) .dof_per_node + k for l=1:nodes_per_element for m=1:dof_per_node jj = ID(connect(i.10: Imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions.11: Assembly of local arrays into global arrays.l). % 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.

The dimension of the matrix is 1530 × 1530 (giving a total of 2 340 900 entries). or have the option to relabel nodes to minimise the stiffness matrix bandwidth. This essentially requires that the node numbers of nodes which are close to each should also be close. Storing only the non zero terms requires on 283 kilobytes of memory! In addition. The stiffness matrix in Figure 5. This is relatively small for a finite element analysis. significantly. only 23 638 entries are non-zero (1% of the total matrix elements). This means that the stiffness matrix contains many zeros. as all non-zero terms are close to the diagonal which minimises the bandwidth. However. and hence the computational time. mesh generation programs will label nodes optimally. Assuming double precision storage. both in terms of memory and computational time. For this method to be efficient. solvers are implemented such that operations are not performed on non-zero terms which reduces the number of floating point operations required. Yet further savings can be achieved by taking into account symmetry of the stiffness matrix.5 Implementation of the finite element method 0 500 1000 1500 0 500 1000 1500 Figure 5. 70 Version 0. the mesh must be constructed in an ‘optimal’ fashion to minimise the bandwidth of the stiffness matrix.12: Graphical representation of a stiffness matrix 5. Non-zero terms are marked by a dot. 2011 .4 Stiffness matrix storage A feature of the finite element method is that the stiffness matrix is sparse.2 January 21. storing the whole matrix would require almost 18 megabytes of memory.12 represents graphically the structure of the stiffness matrix for a problem involving 700 four-noded quadrilateral elements. Figure 5.12 is well-numbered. Many finite element programs store the stiffness matrix in a skyline format. Taking advantage of the sparse nature of the stiffness matrix yields significant computational savings. Typically.

it gives the reaction force at each node.5 Post-processing After a calculation has been completed. the internal force vector should be zero where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. including where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied). It is important to realise that the stress computed at a point is not always reliable. The internal force vector for an element is given by: int fe = Ωe B T σ dΩ + Ωe N T b dΩ (5. This means that the body is in equilibrium. January 21.1) Once assembled for all elements (at all nodes.5 Post-processing 5. More reliable are the reaction forces at nodes where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.2 71 . post-processing of the data is required. stresses and reaction forces.5. For static problems. Reaction forces can be evaluates by calculating the so-called internal force vector f int . Three quantities of potential interest from a linear-elastic calculation are displacements. 2011 Version 0.


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

a node will have three degrees of freedom.3) = a2x⋆ 0 0 Q11 Q21  a2x      a2y a⋆ = e a1x⋆ a2x⋆ . 2011 . Since truss elements are based on the assumption that only normal forces (σx⋆ ) can be transmitted. the above problem can be reduced to give:    a1x      a1y a1x⋆ Q11 Q21 0 0 . Therefore. of a linear bar.2) 0 Q11 Q21   a2x   a2x⋆   0      ⋆   0 0 Q12 Q22 a2y a2y where Qij are components of the matrix Q. three dimensions. displacements in the y⋆ -direction are not resisted by an element. (6. Denoting the angle between the x-axis and the x ⋆ -axis as θ. The displacements at nodes one and two.2: Linear truss element in three-dimensional space.and y⋆ -directions are given by:      Q Q21 0 0  a1x   a1x⋆       ⋆   11   a1y Q Q22 0 0  a1y  =  12 . The only displacement of any consequence for an element is in the x ⋆ -direction. the rotation matrix has the form: QT = cos θ − sin θ sin θ cos θ (6. (6. (6. and in two dimensions. the vector ae has four components (a component in the x and y direction at each node). in the x ⋆ . For a two dimensional truss structure.2 January 21.1) to give the nodal displacements in terms of the coordinate system aligned with the axis of the truss element.1) The vector ae holds the displacement components at the nodes of an element. the rotation is particularly simple. The displacement components can be rotated using the matrix Q (see section 1.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Fx* x* y* y z* z x Figure 6. two degrees of freedom. Given that the only displacements of interest are the in x ⋆ -direction.4) The following definitions are now adopted: 74 Version 0.

1 Rod elements in space and q= Q11 0 Q21 0 0 Q11 0 .7) and (6. A classic sign of a mechanism is singularity of the global stiffness matrix of the structure. h w. (6. 2011 Version 0.x⋆⋆ = B⋆ qae (6. January 21. Ωe ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. the stiffness matrix for a one-dimensional element can be formed. (6. The strain in the x ⋆ -direction is therefore given by: h ǫh⋆ = u. It is important to ensure that a truss structure does not form a mechanism.8) (recall that be is a variation). multidimensional coordinate system. the derivative of a weight function w can be expressed in the local coordinate system in terms of the global degrees of freedom.19) for a linear element). Inserting the relationships in equations (6.9) where the LHS of equation (6. Inserting now the discretised fields into the weak governing equation for a onedimensional bar.2 75 . where k⋆ is the standard one-dimensional stiffness e e matrix for a bar. Clearly. the element stiffness matrix is equal to: ke = q T B⋆ T EB⋆ q dΩ. The ‘star’ denotes that the shape functions are constructed relative to the coordinate system on the bar.9) is the stiffness matrix. e (6.6.7) Similarly.6) where N ⋆ contains the shape functions for a one-dimensional bar (see equation (4.8) into the weak governing equation (2.5) The displacement in the x ⋆ -direction along the bar is therefore given by: uh⋆ = N ⋆ a⋆ = N ⋆ qae . and with the aid of the matrix q it can be transformed into the global.x⋆ = B⋆ qbe ⋆ (6.12). Q21 (6. and eliminating be .10) Ωe This is equivalent to ke = q T k⋆ q.

in-plane beams are considered.4: Rotation of a line normal to the axis in a beam segment. there are no out-of plane forces or moments. which is valid for relatively slender beams. The governing equation is identified and then the weak form developed.2. straight.2 Beams Two types of beams are considered in this section. Such a beam is illustrated in Figure 6. The outward normal is denoted n.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis y fy Fy x T x = x1 x = x2 Figure 6.4 shows the rotation of the plane due to a rigid body rotation. x2 ). The first is the classic BernoulliEuler beam.2 January 21. 2011 . Figure 6. the ‘domain’ of the beam. v. is denoted Ω = ( x1 . For simplicity. 6.3: Plane beam element Ω = ( x1 . Consider now a fibre in a beam 76 Version 0. and its ends (the boundary of Ω) are denoted Γ = x1 ∪ x2 . Consistent with previous sections. x2 ). For a transverse displacement v.x y x Figure 6. which takes into account shear deformations. 6. The second is the Timoshenko beam.3.x v. The development of beam elements follows the same steps as for continuum elements.1 Kinematics of a beam Beam theory is based upon the assumption that planes which are normal to the beam’s axis remain plane.

2. It is clear from Figure 6. Relative to the fibre which has not rotated. The bending moment m in a beam is defined as m= h/2 (6. 6. which is initially perpendicular to the beam axis. equilibrium of a beam can be considered directly.5. which together with some assumptions as to the stress in different directions can be inserted into the elasticity equations from Chapter 1. For a beam segment subjected to both rotation and shear deformation. In the second method. Subjecting a segment from a beam to pure shear. the rotation θ of a fibre which is initially perpendicular to the beam’s axis is shown in Figure 6.6. 2011 Version 0. Considering translational equilibrium of a beam segment Ω. The fibre is indicated by the heavy line.6 that θ = v.12) and the shear stress q is defined by q= h/2 − h/2 σxy dy.2 Equilibrium of a beam The equilibrium equations for a beam can be developed in two ways. (6. Note that M = m n and Q = q n. which will be followed here.11) − h/2 σxx y dy. where n is the outward unit normal vector. as illustrated in Figure 6. it is clear January 21. the fibre will not rotate.6.2 Beams γ v.x y x Figure 6.5: Beam segment subjected to pure shear.2 77 . The first is to elaborate the kinematics of the beam. (6.x − γ.7 show the ‘resultant’ force Q and moment M due to a moment m and a shear force q in a beam.13) Figure 6. a plane which remains perpendicular to the axis undergoes a rotation γ.

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

x Ω Ω Ω Ω (6. (6.x + f y = 0. are valid for both Bernoulli-Euler and Timoshenko beam theories. on ΓM . Ω (q.x − q = 0. The boundary Γ of a beam is partitioned such that: Γv ∪ ΓQ = Γ.21b) (6.20a) (6.18) Satisfaction of the translational equilibrium equation implies that 0.16) dΩ dΩ Ω This expression can be rearranged such that m.21d) These equations.15) Since equilibrium must hold for an infinitely small segment of a beam.x x dΩ − f y x dΩ = 0. (6. Γθ ∪ ΓM = Γ.x dΩ − q dΩ − q.2 79 .20b) Denoting applied end forces Fy . distributed loads f y and applied moments T (all shown in Figure 6.3). 2011 Version 0. the boundary conditions are v = gv θn = gθ mn = T q n = Fy on Γv . translational equilibrium requires that q.21c) (6.2 Beams that: q n dΓ + dΩ dΩ Ω f y dΩ = 0. For rotational equilibrium. it is required that: m n dΓ − q nx dΓ − f y x dΩ = 0. on ΓQ .21a) (6.19) (6. January 21.17) (6. (6.x dΩ + f y dΩ = 0. (6. it is clear that Ω Ω q. Γθ ∩ ΓM = ∅ + f y ) x dΩ = (6. and boundary conditions. therefore rotational equilibrium requires that m.6. Γv ∩ ΓQ = ∅.14) Noting that q n dΓ = q| x= L2 − q| x= L1 . on Γθ .

The negative sign is due to the sign convention in which the rotation and the resultant moment are in opposite directions.2 January 21.22) which also implies that κ= (6. two boundary conditions are required at both ends of the beam. and then inserting equation (6. dx2 d2 v . dx d2 v . Multiplying equation (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6.xx dΩ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.2.21b)). − EI d4 v + f y = 0. the weak form of equilibrium for a beam ¯ can be developed.25) Assuming EI to be constant. Being a fourth-order equation. so the rotation can be directly related to the displacement v.21d)). dx4 (6. Dirichlet boundary conditions involve the prescription of the displacement or the rotation (equations (6. Weak governing equation Following the procedures from Chapter 2. the boundary value problem is complete and can be solved.16) yields: d2 m + f y = 0.24). dx2 (6. 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.26) which is the strong equation of equilibrium for a Bernoulli-Euler beam.27) 80 Version 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. (6.24) where I is the moment of inertia of the beam.21a) and (6. 2011 . With appropriate boundary conditions. from an appropriately defined space. This assumption implies that the shear rotation γ is equal to zero. Taking now the derivative of all terms in equation (6.21c) and (6. θ= dv .23) The bending moment in the beam is related to the curvature by: m = − EIκ = − EI (6. and Neumann involve either the shear force or moment (equations (6. dx2 (6.19) with respect to x.25) by a weight function v. and inserting the constitutive relationship from equation (6.

xx (6.29) Inserting now the Neumann (natural) boundary conditions from equations (6. this time to the term Ω ¯ v.32a) (6.21d).x . (6.30) gives: Ω (6. which means that both their first and second derivatives exist. continuity) than for classical continuum problems. which require C0 continuity only. the spaces S and V are formally defined by: S = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .x = gθ on Γθ .x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. ¯ Ω v.1.x T dΓ + ΓQ δvFy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6.x mn dΓ + Γ ¯ vm. The existence of second-order derivatives in the weak form deserves some special attention. 2011 Version 0.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vFy dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀v ∈ V .x m.x = 0 on Γθ .6.x dΩ + Γ ¯ vm.2 Beams Integrating by parts the term involving the moment M once yields: − Ω ¯ v. and inserting the constitutive relation in equation (6. and v. has second-order derivatives in its weak form.xx dΩ = − ΓM δv. (6.xx dΩ − ΓM ¯ v. For the weak form to ‘make sense’. Consistency of the above weak form can be proven following the same procedure as in in Section 2.xx m dΩ − Γ ¯ v. v = 0 on Γv . it implies that the weak form of the governing equation is identical to the equation of virtual work. v.21c) and (6. (6.x dΩ.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x = 0 on Γθ .32b) For the case of an elastic continuum. For completeness. Note that a fourth-order problem. which contains functions satisfying: Ω v2 + v2 + v2 dx < ∞.24).2 81 .31) In one dimension this is equivalent to the trial and test functions being at least C1 continuous. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) . . v = gv on Γv .33) δv.30) where S and V are appropriately defined spaces. (6. Consider now: ¯ v ≡ δv Inserting this relationship into equation (6. after integrating by parts twice.xx EIv.x m. This is in contrast to second-order problems. it was shown that if the weight function could be considered as a ‘virtual displacement’.28) Applying integrating by parts again.34) which is the equation of virtual work for a Bernoulli-Euler beam beam. Both S and V must be subspaces of the Sobolev space H 2 (Ω). January 21. solving the governing weak equation for a beam involves: find v ∈ S such that − Ω ¯ v. v. the trial functions (v ∈ S ) and the ¯ weight (test) functions (v ∈ V ) must possess a higher degree of regularity (roughly speaking. The integration domain for the ¯ ¯ boundary integrals has been changed since v = 0 on Γv .xx EIv.

19) and (6. q = GAs γ = GAs (6. Inserting the constitutive relationships into the equilibrium equations in (6. has been introduced. and the second for the displacement v. the problem is complete. The governing equations are given by the equilibrium conditions in equations (6.11) that rotation θ of a plane is given by θ= dv − γ.35) where γ is the rotation due to shear. Recall from equation (6. Planes must remain plane. but not necessarily normal.39) (6. Together with the previously defined boundary conditions. dx (6. GAS (6. 82 Version 0. the shear strain γ. it is related to the shear force by the constitutive relationship: γ= q .16) with the constitutive relationships m = − EIκ.37) dv −θ . In terms of the shear force and properties of the beam. This means that shear deformations can be taken into account. and are hence suitable for relatively short beams. an additional unknown.36) where G is the shear modulus and As is the effective shear area.2. Relative to the Bernoulli-Euler theory.40) + fy = 0 which are two coupled second-order equations.38) and considering v and θ to be the fundamental unknowns.4 Timoshenko beam Timoshenko beams are more general Bernoulli-Euler beams as they allow for shear deformation.2 January 21. dx (6.16) leads to: d2 θ − GAs dx2 dθ d2 v − dx dx2 dv −θ dx − EI GAs =0 in Ω. 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. in Ω. (6.19) and (6. They also provide a solid introduction to moderately thick plate theories where the advantage of shear deformable theories will become more apparent. 2011 . the first for the rotation θ.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6.

The test and trial functions should be at least C0 continuous (in contrast to the C1 continuity for the Bernoulli-Euler theory).x − θ ) dΩ = 0. Ω (6. 6. adding the weak forms in equations (6.39) and (6.45) (6.2 83 .xx EIv. and using γ = v.6. considering δθ ≡ θ and δv ≡ v.46) − ¯ v. Applying integration by parts once.41) (6.44) − ¯ v.x − θ ) dΩ = 0. and v satisfies the transverse displacement boundary condition. As with all problems.x dΩ − Ω Ω Γ ¯ θEIθ. ¯ ∀θ ∈ Vθ ¯ ∀v ∈ Vv .45) and (6.46) is equivalent to the virtual work equation. the weak form or virtual work expressions appear naturally and can be used as a starting point in developing a finite element model.x dΩ − Ω Ω ¯ θGAs (v.xx − θ.x n dΓ − Γ Ω ¯ θGAs (v.x − θ.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vGAs (v.x EIθ.xx dΩ = − ΓM ¯h v.x ) dΩ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. It is however assumed that θ = 0 on Γθ and that θ satisfies ¯ the rotation boundary condition. − Ω δκ m dΩ + Ω δγ q dΩ = − ΓM δθ T dΓ + ΓQ δv Fy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6. ¯ θ. 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.42) ¯ vGAs (v.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vFy dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 A more precise definition of the necessary functions spaces should be provided to ¯ complete the problem.x − θ ) dΩ + ΓQ ΓM Ω ¯ θT dΓ = 0.x EIθ.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.43) (6. ¯ ¯ As before.2. Ω (6.47) For many mechanical problems.48) January 21. (6. − Ω Ω ¯ θEIθ. 2011 Version 0.x GAs (v.40) by appropriately defined weight functions θ ¯ and v. and v = 0 on Γv .xx dΩ − Ω ¯ θGAs (v.2 Beams Weak governing equations ¯ Multiplying equations (6.x GAs (v.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vh Fy dΓ + Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀vh ∈ V h (6. consistency can be proven through the application of integration by parts.x − θ ) n x dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.

As for continuum elements.49) where vi and θi are degrees of freedom associated with node i.50d) h2 for an element of length h with ends from x1 to x2 (x2 > x1 ).52) v. The solution is to use C1 shape functions. However. A Hermitian beam element with two nodes has four degrees of freedom (two displacement degrees of freedom and two rotation degrees of freedom). and involve both displacement and rotational degrees of freedom. This results in a cubic interpolation of the displacement along the element.x M1.x  v2      θ2 84 Version 0. i 2 (6. we wish to express the displacement field v in terms of shape functions and nodal degrees of freedom.x M2. Crucially.2 January 21.x ae = N1.50a) h3 ( x − x1 )2 ( h + 2 ( x2 − x )) N2 = (6.x N2.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis where S h ⊂ S and V h ⊂ V are finite-dimensional spaces. 2011 . and the shape functions are equal to: − ( x − x2 )2 (− h + 2 ( x1 − x )) (6. The first derivative is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6. The use of C0 interpolations for fourth-order problems is not mathematically consistent and can lead to unpredictable results.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. Such shape functions can be constructed relatively easily in one dimension (the extension to multiple dimensions is however far from trivial).50b) h3 ( x − x1 ) ( x − x2 ) 2 (6. The above equation requires the evaluation of the second derivative of the interpolated displacement field. the second derivative of a C0 continuous function does not exist in a classical sense. The problem that arises is that simple C0 finite element shape functions are not suitable.50c) M1 = h2 ( x − x1 )2 ( x − x2 ) M2 = (6. The displacement field vh is given by: vh ( x ) = ∑ ( Ni ( x ) vi + Mi ( x ) θi ) . Hermitian polynomials are C1 functions.x = N. convergence of the solution is not assured for interpolations with insufficient continuity. The displacement at a point in the beam is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6.

xx dΩ.xx can be computed given ae .xx ae = N1.xx M1.xx dΩ ae = − ΓM N.x T T dΓ + ΓQ N T Fy dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.xx T EI N.2 85 .xx M2. 2011 Version 0.xx T EI N. Ω N.54) After some rearranging. (6.xx N2.xx ae dΩ = − ΓM ( N.2 Beams The second derivative of v is given by:    v1      θ1    v2    θ2 h v.6.57) The operation to form the RHS vector essentially translates the applied loads into equivalent nodal shear forces and moments. (6. they can be inserted into the Galerkin problem.56) and the RHS vector by: fe = ΓQ N T Fy dΓ − ΓM N T T dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ. Ω ( N.x and v.xx be ) T EI N.55) The element stiffness matrix is given by: ke = Ω N.xx = N.xx (6. v.53) h h Now that vh . January 21. (6.x be ) T T dΓ + ΓQ ( Nbe ) T Fy dΓ Ω + ( Nbe ) T f y dΩ (6.

h h 12x N2.58h) Assuming the centre of the element is at x = 0 (x2 + x1 = 0. M2. h2 2 (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) M1.59a) (6.x = − .xx = − . x1 = − h/2). N1.50). M2.58a) (6.58c) (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Taking derivatives of the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6. 2011 . 2 ( x − x2 ) (3x + h − 2x1 − x2 ) .58d) (6.x = h2 2 (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) . Considering just the second derivatives with respect to x. the above equations can be simplified significantly.59c) (6.2 January 21.60) Integrating the terms in the stiffness matrix exactly from − h/2 to h/2 (assuming EI 86 Version 0. h2 2 ( x − x1 ) (3x − h − x1 − 2x2 ) N2.58g) (6. h3 6x 1 M1.58b) (6. h3 ( x − x1 ) (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) .x = .xx = − 3 . 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.59d) Inserting these terms into equation (6.56).xx = h2 N1. h3 2 (6x + h − 2x1 − 4x2 ) .x = (6.xx = 2 − . (6. h 6x 1 M2.58f) (6.xx = 2 + .xx = h3 ( x − x2 ) (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) M1.xx = 12x . N1.59b) (6. h3 2 (6x − h − 4x1 − 2x2 ) N2.xx = .58e) (6. h h (6.

x EIθ.2 Beams to be constant). e θ = ¯ v = ¯ θh = h h (6. e N v bv . 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  .61) Timoshenko beams The finite element formulation for the Timoshenko beam is relatively simple.x dΩ − Ω h ¯ θ h GAs v. v h = N v av .x − θ h dΩ = − ΓQ ΓM ¯ θ h T dΓ h ¯ ∀θ h ∈ Vθ . (6.x − θ h dΩ = Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ + ¯ vh Fy dΓ h ¯ ∀v h ∈ Vv . (6. A distinction is made between the shape functions for vh and θ h as these may differ.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.M N θ T dΓ.64c) (6.64a) (6.64d) N θ aθ . This will allow the use of the standard shape functions introduced in Chapter 4. in terms of shape functions and nodal variable. 2011 Version 0. h h The Galerkin problem for the Timoshenko beam involves: find vh ∈ Sv and θ h ∈ Sθ such that Ω Ω h ¯h θ.66) January 21. due to the second-order nature of the governing equations. and corresponding derivatives. Inserting the expressions for the unknown fields in terms of nodal variables and variations into equations (6.64b) (6. − 6EI  h2  4EI h (6.62) and (6.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe N v T f y dΩ. (6.2 87 . e θ θ N be .x GAs v. T (6.65) Ωe Bv T GAs Bv dΩav − e Ωe Bv T GAs N θ dΩaθ e = Γe.62) h ¯h v.63) Consider the representation of the fields vh and θ h .6.

69) (6.67) where the components of the the element stiffness matrix are given by kθθ = Ωe Bθ EIBθ + N θ GAs N θ dΩ. Ωe Ωe T T (6.74) e  EI GAs L GAs L  EI + − + L 6 L 3   GAs GAs −  2 2  .Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe Note that the stiffness matrix is symmetric (kθv = kvθ ).M N θ T dΓ.70) (6. and for simplicity as the Timoshenko element used C0 shape functions. only a Timoshenko beam element would be necessary in practice.71) kθv = − kvθ = − kvv = Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ. Bv T GAs N θ dΩ. (6. T T (6. Consider a Timoshenko beam element of length L. Ideally. resulting in an overly stiff response. and both short and slender beams could be analysed.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. and components of the element RHS vector are given by fθ = − fv = Γe. kθθ =  (6.2 January 21.75) kθv =  e  GA GAs  s − 2 2 88 Version 0. when applying Timoshenko elements for thin bending problems. However. the result are plagued by shear locking.72) (6.68) (6. T Bv T GAs Bv dΩ. Timoshenko beam theory is superior to the Bernoulli-Euler theory in that it is valid for both short and slender beams. with linear shape functions for both the displacement and rotation. N v T f y dΩ. This would be advantageous from the point of view of generality. 2011 . Locking Conceptually. This is the effect in which the shear contribution to the energy does not vanish. The components of the stiffness matrix are given by:   GAs L EI GAs L EI − +  L + 3 L 6  .73) Γe.

If the term Ωe N θT GAs N θ dΩ is evaluated using one-point numerical integration T January 21. will yield a very stiff response. GAs (6. and a shear load P is applied one end. As L → 0. θ1 = v1 = 0. 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. GAs (6.77) If at one end the beam is clamped. Even with a very fine mesh.81) which is the correct result.2 89 . v2 ≈ 4PL . 2011 Version 0. the displacement v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/3) EIGAs /L2 + G2 A2 /12 s (6.2 Beams and GAs  L =  GA s − L    GAs − L   GAs  L  GAs 2   GAs   −  2   GAs   − L   GAs  L kvv e (6. EI GAs L  L + 3 ke =   GAs − 2 −  GAs     θ 0 2   2    =  GAs v2 P L (6. this element will exhibit a very stiff response.80) which is independent of I.78) Therefore.6.79) If L is large. v2 ≈ PL .76) Therefore.

2011 . this element performs quite well when the mesh is sufficiently well-refined. v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/4) EIGAs /L2 (6.84) which qualitatively the desired response. and as L → 0. where selective integration (two-point) leads to a dramatic reduction in locking response.83) If L is very large. 90 Version 0.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis (which is reduced for this term).2 January 21. The case is similar for quadratic elements. the element stiffness matrix would have the form   EI GAs L EI GAs L GAs GAs + − + −  L 4 L 4 2 2     EI GAs L GAs L GAs  EI GAs   + + − −  4 L 4 2 2   L (6. v2 ≈ PL3 4EI (6.85) When using reduced integration.82) ke =    GAs  GAs GAs GAs   −  2 2 L L     GAs GAs GAs  GAs − − − 2 2 L L Now. v2 ≈ PL GAs (6. for the one element problem clamped at one end.

86a) (6. the relevant dangers in analysing plate and shell structures with the finite element method are presented. the displacement of a point is given by: uα = −zθα ( x. The surface of the plate in the x1 –x2 plane is denoted Ω. or u1 . Similarly. Plate finite elements can be extremely complex and are an area of ongoing research. the convention differs from the right-hand rule. They are flat two-dimensional entities. displacement may be denoted u. u3 = u3 ( x. The rotation of the January 21. y and z. The plate has a thickness t. The three coordinates are denoted x. and the coordinate z = 0 corresponds to the mid-surface of the plate. Hughes. More detailed coverage can be found in a number of books (Zienkiewicz and Taylor. 1996). 6. (6.6.1 Plate kinematics The adopted coordinate system and sign convention for rotations θα for plates is shown in Figure 6. this section does not provide an exhaustive coverage. are are typically loaded out of plane. Also.9). 6. T When using Greek subscripts. respectively). 1987. For convenience. 1991.2 91 . (1989). It is convenient to express many relationships for plates using index notation. y and z directions. y) .3 Plate Plates are effectively generalisations of beam elements to two spatial dimensions. Given the enormous number of different plate and shell elements. The adopted definitions simplify the formulation as it will avoid the need for a −1 factor on particular terms.3 Plate x3 p θ1 x2 t x1 θ2 Figure 6.3.8. or x1 . A serious problem stems from the need for C1 interpolations in the classic thin plate and shell bending theories.86b) where θα is the rotation of a fibre in the plate (see Figure 6. summation is implied from one to two. Bathe. and the boundary is Γ.8: Coordinate system for a plate. A particularly accessible account can be found in Cook et al. 2011 Version 0. v and w (displacements in the x. u2 and u3 when using indexes. y) . The basic governing equations of shell and plate elements and the most common finite element approaches are discussed. In plate theory. x2 and x3 .

α 1 w x3 xα Figure 6.2 January 21.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γα θ α w. 92 Version 0. 2011 .9: Plate kinematics with shear deformation included.

α − θα . γα = w. then θα = w.91) The different resultant moments and transverse forces acting on cross-sections of a plate are shown in Figure 6. 2 α.j + u j.6.β) . it is clear that the moment tensor is symmetric.89) 6.α .β (6.i )). and lies in the plane of Ω. The alternative approach would be to insert the plate kinematics into the elasticity equations. The shear force vector qα is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σα3 dz (6.10 (‘resultants’ are forces which are equivalent to a moment or shear stress).α = θ(α.2 Equilibrium of a plate The equilibrium equations for a plate are developed here in the same fashion as for plates.α .2 93 . (6. It is useful to define a vector s which is normal to the vector n. From the displacement field in equations (6. The moment tensor mαβ in a plate is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σαβ z dz (6.β + θ β. which is a second-order tensor and at a point is given by: καβ = 1 θ + θ β.90) From symmetry of the stress tensor.α 2 (6. ǫαβ = ǫα3 = −z θα.87) Note that if γα = 0. This allows the definition of following notation for January 21.88a) (6. 2011 Version 0.α 2 −θα + w.3 Plate mid-surface of the plate is given by w.86). the strain field can be calculated at any point (recall ǫ = (1/2)(ui. and the shear strain is given by γα .3.88b) A useful quantity is the curvature.

2011 .94) which must also hold for an infinitesimally small piece of the plate.93) Applying the divergence theorem to the term involving qα leads to Ω qα.α dΩ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.95) 94 Version 0.α nα w.10: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on cross-sections of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).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 6.92f) (6. Translation equilibrium of a plate requires that: ∂Ω (6. mns. (6.s = The quantities are illustrated in Figure 6. (6.s = w.92d) (6. ∂mnn . quantities relative to an arbitrarily oriented plate edge: mnn = mαβ n β nα . therefore qα.92b) (6. θn = θα nα .92g) (6.α sα mnn. mns = mαβ n β sα .92a) (6.92c) (6. (6. ∂s ∂mns . w.92e) (6.11.2 January 21.α + pz = 0.n = w.92h) qα nα dΓ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.s = ∂s qn = qα nα .

Ironically. and are specific to the considered plate theory.98) The boundary conditions for a plate are more complicated that for a beam. rotational equilibrium requires that mαβ.2 95 .β + pz = 0. mαβ n β dΓ − q β n β xα dΩ − pz xα dΩ = 0. 6. is the equation for translational equilibrium. the outwardly simplest plate theory presents the most problems when formulating the finite January 21. 2011 Version 0.β + q β. It is applicable for thin plates where shear deformations are negligible. (6.α xα = qα + q β.Kirchhoff theory The Kirchhoff plate model theory is analogous to the Bernoulli-Euler beam.β − qα = 0.3 Thin plates . constitutive relationships are required which relate the moment tensor and the shear force to deformations.β dΩ − Ω qα dΩ − Ω q β.11: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on an edge of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).β = q β xα.PSfrag 6.97) noting that q β xα .96) ∂Ω ∂Ω Ω which leads to: Ω mαβ. hence boundary conditions are elaborated upon in the context of a given theory. Since translation equilibrium requires that q β. (6. To complete the problem.α xα . Considering now rotational equilibrium.3 Plate q2 m21 m22 qn x3 x2 θ1 mns m11 q1 m12 s mnn n x1 θ2 Figure 6.β xα dΩ − Ω pz xα dΩ = 0.3. (6. These constitutive relationships will also be elaborated upon in the context of the different theories.

ααββ = 12 1 − ν2 pz .101) (6. Et3 (6. mαβ.102) Cαβγδ = t3 ¯ µ δαβ δβδ + δαδ δβγ + λδαβ δγδ . Since shear deformations are zero. the governing equation can be expressed in a particularly convenient form: w.95).103) ¯ where λ = 2λµ/ (λ + 2µ). ∂x y ∂x4 ∂y (6.2 January 21. equation (6. 2 (6. It is often written in a shorthand format using the biharmonic operator ∇4 .102) into equation (6. 12 (6. Inserting the constitutive relationship (6.βα .87) reduces to: θα = w. After some rearranging.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis element method. the curvature κ is equal to: καβ = 1 w. four different types of boundary conditions are possible. 12 1 − ν2 ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 = pz . ∇4 w = ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 .106) As a fourth-order equation.αβ + pz = 0. 2011 .100) yields a fourthorder partial differential equation.100) The moment is related to the curvature by mαβ = −Cαβγδ κγδ . Assuming transverse shear deformations are zero.105) This equation is known as the ‘biharmonic equation’.104) Expanding this equation.αβ + w. This can be done by differentiating equation (6.99) 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. The goal is now to eliminate qα from the governing equations. where the constitutive tensor is equal to: (6.98) and inserting equation (6.α (6. and the Kirchhoff plate model requires two boundary conditions at all points 96 Version 0. ∂x y Et3 ∂x4 ∂y (6. The shear force qα is no longer ‘independent’.

20). yields Ω ¯ w.6.s = Q on Γw on Γθ on ΓM on ΓQ (6.110) which is the weak form of the governing equation for thin plate bending.α mαβ n β dΓ = − Γ Γ ¯ w. Multiplying by a weight ¯ function w. Integrating the moment term by parts once.n = 0 on Γθ . then integrated by parts.s + qn ) dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.105) by a weight function w.107b) (6.n mnn dΓ + Γ ¯ w (mns. (6.107a) (6.2 97 .107c) (6.α mαβ n β dΓ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. − Ω ¯ w. Ω ¯ wmαβ. − Γ ¯ w.αβ dΩ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. the boundary conditions are given by: w = gw θ n = gθ mnn = T qn + mns.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. Weak form The weak form of the governing equation for a thin plate is derived using the same processes applied for second-order problems.100).107d) The first two boundary conditions are Dirichlet boundary conditions. Inserting the above relationship into equation (6. 2011 Version 0. Ω ¯ w.110) (ignoring the point terms).n mnn dΓ + Γ Γ ¯ w.3 Plate on the boundary.109) Using integration by parts again on the first term.s mns dΓ ¯ ¯ wmns. Considering the partition of the boundary in equation (6.n mnn dΓ − ¯ w. and integrating over the surface of the plate.β dΩ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. The moment can only be applied normal to the boundary (mαβ n β nα ).111) =− The last term will be ignored. for which w = 0 on Γw and w. Rather than multiplying the governing ¯ equation (6.s dΓ − wmns | B A (6. The last boundary condition is known as the ‘modified shear’ boundary condition. (6.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. (6. and the last two are Neumann boundary conditions.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. and integrating over the plate surface Ω. The governing equation is multiplied by a weight function.112) January 21. (6. and leads to the well known ‘corner forces’ in thin plate theory.α mαβ.108) where Ω is the surface of the plate. it is convenient to carry out the process on equation (6. The problem here is that too many boundary terms appear in the first boundary integral.

113) where the functions in S satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. w.2 January 21.114) Ω ΓM ΓQ Ω Recall that the bending moment mαβ is a function of the curvature.α as a virtual rotation δθα . and w. some serious practical problems arise in finite element analysis when applying Reissner-Mindlin elements for the analysis of thin plates.3. The rotation of the plate cannot be calculated simply as a derivative of the transverse displacement. the spaces S and V for the weak form of Kirchhoff plate theory are defined as follows: S = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . Unlike for thin plates. As such. w and θα . the governing equations for equilibrium are the same as for the Kirchhoff theory.αβ as the virtual curvature. w. The difference lies in the kinematics and the constitutive model.α ). qα. 2011 . (6. w. which in turn involves second derivatives of w.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Inserting the Neumann boundary conditions. For this theory. the governing equations cannot be further reduced since θα is not a direct function of w. w = 0 on Γw .115a) (6. δκαβ .4 Moderately thick plates – Reissner-Mindlin theory The Reissner-Mindlin theory for plates includes shear deformation.115b) Consistency can proven through the repeated application of integration by parts. (6. For completeness.3. The equations of equilibrium are: mαβ. The problem now involves two different unknowns. which depends on θα which is no longer calculated directly from w (θα = w.β − qα = 0. (6.n T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ V . The governing equations for a thick plate are those given in Section 6. the above equation is the equation of virtual work for a plate: δκαβ mαβ dΩ − δθn T dΓ + δwQ dΓ + δwpz dΩ = 0 (6. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) .αβ mαβ dΩ − ΓM ¯ w. w = gw on Γw .116b) 98 Version 0.116a) (6. it is applicable for both thick and thin plates. However. It is analogous to the Timoshenko beam.α + pz = 0. hence the highest order derivatives in the weak governing equation are order two.n = gθ on Γθ .n = 0 on Γθ . ¯ ¯ ¯ Considering w as a virtual displacement δw. The key to the success of this approach in a finite element context is that the moment tensor mαβ is calculated from the curvature. 6. solving the weak problems then involves: find w ∈ S such that Ω ¯ w.2.

2011 Version 0. both equations (6.119a) and (6.β − θ β dΩ = 0.121) Integrating the above equation by parts.2 99 .β − Cαβ w.118) (6. (6. and k is a correction factor which is equal to 5/6. mαβ.β dΩ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. This is due to θα and w being decoupled.117) Cαβ w.120b) (6.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.120c) (6. θα . (6.β) mαβ dΩ + Γ ¯ θα mαβ n β dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.120a) (6. on Γθ . Ω ¯ θα mαβ.α + pz = 0 It is these equations which will be solved.123) January 21. three boundary conditions must be applied at all points on the boundary.119b) (6.αβ − θ β. This set of equations cannot be reduced further.6. on ΓQ . ¯ equation (6.102)).122) ¯ Inserting now Neumann boundary conditions (θα = 0 where θα is prescribed) yields: − Ω ¯ θα.3 Plate In addition to the constitutive relationship relating moment and curvature (equation (6.119a) (6.120d) Given that one of the unknowns. This means than the governing equations are being solved in their irreducible form.119a) is multiplied by a weight function θα . Firstly. The ‘naturally’ occurring boundary conditions involve w = gw θα = gαθ mαn = Tα qn = Q on Γw . (6. qα = Cαβ γβ = Cαβ w. where Cαβ = ktµδαβ . a constitutive relation relating the shear forces to the shear strain is introduced. This set of equations can be reduced by eliminating qα . (6.β − θ β dΩ = 0. is a vector. 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.119b) are addressed. on ΓM .β − θ β = 0 (6.β − θ β . − Ω ¯ θ(α. Weak form To derive the weak form.β − θ β dΩ = 0.

126) which is the weak form of equation (6. Hence.α) dΩ + ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. − Ω ¯ w.αβ − θ( β. adopting ¯ ¯ ¯ the notation δw = w.114).β) and δγα = w. 2011 .127a) and (6.119b).127b) that are solved using the finite element method.124) Ω Ω Integrating the above equation by parts yields: − Ω ¯ w. δκαβ = θ(α.α Cαβ w.127b) by minus one). (6.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. yields: Ω −δκαβ mαβ dΩ + Ω δγα qα dΩ + ΓM δθα Tα dΓ − ΓQ Ω δwQ dΓ δwpz dΩ = 0 (6. the highest order derivative appearing for both terms is one.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. the above equation includes a contribution to the energy due to shear ( Ω δγα qα dΩ). ¯ ∀θα ∈ Vθ (6. Note that different to the virtual work equation for a Kirchhoff plate (6.127b) Note that both weak equations contains derivatives no higher than order one.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ Vw (6. However.β − θ β dΩ = 0.127a) − Ω ¯ w. The weak problem therefore involves: find θα ∈ Sθ and w ∈ Sw such that: − Ω ¯ θα.α Cαβ w.128) − which is the equation of virtual work for a Reissner-Mindlin plate.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis which is the weak form of equation (6.125) ¯ Inserting again Neumann boundary conditions (w = 0 where w is prescribed). 100 Version 0.α Cαβ w. ¯ wCαβ w.119a). This will require the interpolation of both the transverse displacement w and the rotation θα .β − θ β dΩ + Γ ¯ wCαβ γβ nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Multiplying now equation (6. (6. and taking advantage of the symmetry of mαβ . Combining both equations (multiplying equation (6.119b) by a ¯ weight function w. (6. It is equations (6. C0 shape functions can be applied.2 January 21.α − θα .

2011 Version 0. 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. κ22 . a less severe requirement is that elements satisfy a ‘patch test’. where Ds = tkµ 0 0 . 2κ12 ) T .   (6. The majority of Kirchhoff plate elements are non-conforming – this means that they do not satisfy C1 continuity. The matrix D b has the form: 1 ν 1 0 0 0 Et3 D = 12 (1 − ν2 ) b  ν    0 (1 − ν ) 2   .130) For the shear forces qα .2 101 . flexible and robust Kirchhoff plate elements.129) where m = (m11 . In the context of plates.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. There exists a range of Kirchhoff plate elements. In place of requiring C1 continuity. it tests whether an element can represent rigid body modes and a state of constant strain. However. m22 . tkµ (6. symmetry of mαβ and καβ allows the use of simplified ‘engineering’ notation. constant strain implies constant curvature. q = D s γ.6. some non-conforming elements yield satisfactory results. It does not however satisfy C1 continuity. The element is still useful as it passes the patch test. none of which are of general applicability. m = −Db κ   (6. m12 ) T and κ = (κ11 . (6. A common Kirchhoff plate element is rectangular and has four nodes and twelve degrees of freedom. January 21.3 Plate 6.132) (6. In particular.5 Plate finite elements As in elasticity.3. 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 .131) Kirchhoff plate elements There are few reliable. The complications are rooted in the need for C1 continuity.

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

7 Analysis of the finite element method involve n = 0 and n = 1.9) where k is the polynomial order. (7. (7. c is an unknown constant. Given that a finite solution is known to be the best possible solution from the finite-dimensional space S h . Note that to ensure convergence. it holds that u − uh E ≤ u − uI E. u − uh 106 r ≤ Chk+1−r |u|k+1 . rather a question which can be answered from interpolation theory. thereby introducing a measure of the error in the strain. A Sobolev semi-norm is given by |u|n = Ω ( D n u)2 dΩ 1/2 . Consider the nodal interpolate u I . An important semi-norm is the energy norm.10) into the above expression. (7.2 (7.5) which now includes the gradient of e. Interpolation theory provides the inequality u − uI m ≤ chk+1−m |u|k+1 . (7.4) which is a measure of the error in the displacements.10) This means that the finite element solution is at least as accurate as the nodal interpolate in terms if energy. It is defined by: u 2 E = | u |2 = r Ω ( Dr u)2 dΩ. In this way. For example. Setting n = 1. 1/2 e 1 = Ω (e · e + ∇e : ∇e) dΩ . setting n = 0 gives: 1/2 e 0 = Ω (e · e) dΩ . Inserting now equation (7. uI = ∑ Ni aiI .6) which involves only a particular order derivative. hence it interpolates the exact solution using the provided shape functions. and h is a measure of the element size.8) The nodal interpolate is equal to the exact solution at the nodes (u − u I = 0 at the nodes).7) where r is the order of the derivatives appearing in the weak form.11) January 21. 2011 . the question of determining an error estimate is no longer a finite element question. i (7. k + 1 > m. (7. Version 0. (7.

(7. Of course as h becomes small. 7. r = 1. In elasticity.7. It leads to the estimate: u − uh s ≤ Ch β |u|k+1 .13) where β = min (k + 1 − s. 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. the two quantities of special interest are the displacements and the strains (and hence the stresses). (7. a natural question is how close the solution is to the exact solution.12) This implies that the solution converges in this norm at a rate equal to the polynomial order. k = 1. For linear elements. the displacement error is: which is equal to Ω e · e dΩ e 0 ≤ Chk+1 |u|k+1 . hence it represents the error in the energy. hence u − uh 1 ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . independent of h. 2011 Version 0.1. If the exact solution is not sufficiently smooth. Therefore. there may be no gain in accuracy through increasing the polynomial order.2 A posteriori error estimation where C is a constant. The error in the displacements is given by e 0 . and O(h) in terms of strains. 1/2 . This is error analysis. such as the error in the displacement. (7.15) which implies that the approximate strains converge to the exact result slower than the approximate displacements. The notation O(h a ) means that the error is ‘of the order h a ’. For an elasticity problem. which tells ‘how good’ the calculated solution is. An estimate can be obtained using ‘Nitsche’s trick’ (see Strang and Fix (1973) for details). ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . It would be useful to find an estimate in terms of lower norms. e e 0 1 ≤ Ch2 |u|2 ≤ Ch|u|2 . This result is however conditional upon the seminorm |u|k+1 existing.16) Hence linear elements are known as being O(h2 ) in terms of displacements. January 21. The order of convergence of a particular element type indicates how quickly the exact solution is approached. but does not tell how far the computed solution is from the exact solution. e 1 (7. the greater a the smaller the error.2 A posteriori error estimation Once a finite element solution has been calculated.2 107 . u − uh 0 . (7.14) In terms of the strain. Larger a implies faster convergence. 2(k + 1 − r )). For k ≥ 1.

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

7. how much smaller would you expect the error in the displacements and the stresses to be if all the elements are made 2.7 times smaller? 3. 7.2 109 . January 21.and h-adaptivity.4 Exercises 1. List some advantages and disadvantages of p. When using Q4 elements.4 Exercises helps to know how quickly the error reduces for a particular element. 2011 Version 0. 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.


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

2011 .n) for i=k+1:min(k+p.k)*K(k.j) = K(i. a. although the time required for convergence depends heavily on the nature of the matrix K.k)/A(k.j) . for k=1:n-1 for i=k+1:min(k+p.4) which yields the solution to the original problem.2 January 21. 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. they can become prohibitively expensive for very large problems. The procedure can be implemented in a computer programming surprisingly simply. Unlike direct solvers.k) = K(i. However.8 Solvers for large linear systems The first step is to factorise the matrix K in L and U.3) is solved (the ‘result’ being y). the system of equations: Ly = f (8.j) end end end There are several variations on this procedure to improve its performance. The following step. 8. The following code extracts for solving a banded system are taken from Golub and Loan (1996). An alternative is the use of iterative solvers. is then to solve the system: Ua = y (8.2 Iterative solvers Direct solvers are relatively simple to program and are robust.k) end for j=k+1:min(k+q.K(i. This is step is known as ‘forward substitution. 112 Version 0. iterative solvers are generally faster than direct solvers. ‘backward substitution’. the factorised matrices can be stored in the memory allocated for K. for symmetric systems the algorithm can be modified. it is not possible to compute exactly the required computational effort before starting the computation. In a computer implementation. ‘Pivoting’ is often used to avoid numerical problems associated with large and small terms on the diagonal. Then. For large system of equations. yielding considerable computational savings. The process is stopped when the desired tolerance is reached. Also.n) K(i.n) K(i. Iterative solvers ‘iterate’ toward the exact solution.

The first. All problems up to this chapter were elliptic. In this chapter. Two approaches will be elaborated.2) On other parts of the boundary. time-dependent Dirichlet boundary conditions are prescribed. Initial conditions correspond to the conditions at time zero (t = 0). its is complemented by boundary conditions. the finite element method has been applied only for time-independent problems. 9. In mathematical ¨ terms.1 Governing equation and the weak form for elastodynamics The equation of motion is given by: ρu = ∇ · σ + b ¨ (9. less subtle. 0) = v0 ( x) ˙ (9. 0) = u0 ( x) u ( x. For example. Similar to static problems.3) Dynamic problems require some ‘extra’ information compared to their quasi-static counterparts. when a load is applied at the 113 . On parts of the boundary. this equation differs significantly from the static case as the governing equation is hyperbolic. approach is more general and suited to wave propagation problems. relies on linearity of the underlying problem and is suited to vibration analysis.4a) (9.1) where ρ is the density and u = ∂2 u/∂t2 is the acceleration vector. the unsteady heat equation and elastodynamics are considered in which the time dimension must be addressed. Elastodynamics involves the second derivative of the displacement with respect to time. 9.4b) where v is the velocity (v = ∂u/∂t).1. modal analysis.9 Time-dependent problems Until now. These are initial conditions. time-dependent Neumann boundary conditions are applied.1 Elastodynamics The majority of this chapter deals with elastodynamics problems. With elliptic problems. σn = h on Γh (9. The second. therefore two initial conditions are required: u ( x. u=g on Γg . information travels through the domain immediately. (9.

6) 9.1) by a weight function w. 2011 . which is independent of time. The equations for elastodynamics are hyperbolic. ˙ ˙ u = N ae . like for the static case the governing equation must be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns and basis functions.1. a stress wave will travel through the bar and a force at the restrained end will not be felt until the stress wave arrives. The velocity and acceleration fields are represented using the shape functions.7) and rearranging. a reaction force is felt immediately at the other end. Deriving the weak form for dynamic problems follows the familiar procedure.8b) where ae = dae /dt and ae = d2 ae /dt2 . and integrating gives: Ω ρw · u dΩ = ¨ Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ (9. Inserting the discretised displacement field ˙ ¨ and the expression for the acceleration field into equation (9. solving the weak form involves: for a given t > 0. (9. and inserting Neumann boundary conditions. If a bar. 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 . This stems from the fact that the dependence on time t has not been addressed in the same fashion as the spatial dependency x. for an element. (9. which when considering the semidiscrete formulations are constant in time.8a) (9. To solve dynamic problems using a computer.7) which is known as ‘semi-discrete’.2 January 21. With hyperbolic problems ‘information’ travels at finite speeds. the finite-dimensional velocity and acceleration fields in an element are given by: uh = N ae . find u ∈ S such that Ω ρw · u dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ ∀w ∈ V . From the weak from in the previous section. The time dimension is left continuous. Therefore. Ωe N T ρN dΩ ae = − ¨ Ωe B T DB dΩ ae + Ωe N T b dΩ + Γh.2 Semi-discrete Galerkin form To reach a finite element formulation. restrained at one end. (9.9 Time-dependent problems free end of a restrained rod. using the same steps outlined in Chapter 2.e N T h dΓ. Multiplying equation (9. This is again done using finite element shape functions.9) 114 Version 0. ¨ ¨ h (9. is hit with a hammer at the free end.5) Integrating by parts. the Galerkin form must be developed.

but with integration points located only at element nodes. Since finite element shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. for a given time tn M an + Kan = f n . it was not entirely clear how the mass matrix should be formed. 2011 Version 0. Since lumped schemes do not follow naturally from the variational formulation.1 Elastodynamics This equation is commonly called the ‘semi-discrete’ equation. Since shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. As with the element stiffness matrix. This property is highly advantageous in combination with some time integration schemes. This is formed similarly to the stiffness matrix. Another procedure is based on summing rows of the consistent mass matrix.9. Perhaps the simplest procedure to form lumped mass matrices is to form the matrices using numerical integration. (9. Other more January 21. in the same fashion as for the element stiffness matrix. a strategy is required to deal with the time derivatives of a. as will be discussed in the following sections. Mii lump = j =1 cons ∑ Mij n (9. This procedure however can lead to negative masses on the diagonal. It is however possible that nodes will have zero or negative masses. the lumped mass matrix has non-zero terms only on the diagonal. this will yield a diagonal mass matrix. This corresponds to having discrete.11) Before this equation can be solved.2 115 . Once the element contributions have been assembled into the global mass and stiffness matrices and the global RHS vector. the mass matrix is symmetric and will have off-diagonal terms. The obvious choice from the variational approach is the consistent mass matrix.1. All off-diagonal terms are equal to zero. lumped masses at each node. A common approach was to form a lumped mass matrix. Before the variational basis of the finite element method was properly understood. cons = Me Ωe ρN T N dΩ. there is some freedom in determining exactly how the lumped mass matrix should be calculated. ¨ (9. 9.3 Mass matrix There are several methods to form the mass matrix.13) where n is the dimension of the mass matrix.12) This is typically formed by integrating numerically.10) where Me is the element mass matrix. This equation can be written is a shorthand format as: Me a e + k e a e = f e ¨ (9.

c is the ‘capacity’.1. t) = u0 ( x) .9 Time-dependent problems sophisticated lumping schemes are possible which will avoid negative masses. The contribution of the stiffness matrix to the damping matrix increases damping with increasing frequency. Given that only the first derivative with respect to time is involved.17) 116 Version 0. Damping is often included by adding the term C a to the governing equations. unsteady heat diffusion is governed by: ˙ ρcu + ∇ · q = f . It will become clear when addressing particular time integration schemes why lumped mass matrices are popular.3. q = −κ ∇u is the heat flux. 9. It can be included through the damping matrix C. Damping due to the material response can also be included.14) where the matrix C represents the sources of damping in the structure. kappa is the conductivity. (9. namely the temperature at t = 0. This is known as Rayleigh damping. and initial conditions. There is no rich theory underlying the choices. 2011 . The choice of the parameters τ and ψ is certainly arbitrary. They two key points are that zero and negative masses on the diagonal should be avoided. A discussion can be found in Cook et al. The precise source of damping and its mathematical form is often vague. The problem requires boundary conditions. This topic is left to other courses which address non-linear material behaviour.16) where in the context of diffusion of heat.15) where τ and ψ are user chosen parameters. Conversely.2 January 21. it involves first order derivatives with respect to time.4 Damping Problems in structural dynamics often involve damping. or through the constitutive model relating stress and strain. (9. only one type of initial condition may be provided. The performance of lumped mass matrices is guided primarily by experience. ¨ ˙ (9. The steady-state version of the equation was introduced in Section 2.2 Heat equation The heat equation is introduced here as a step to the problems in elastodynamics. Unlike elastodynamics. representing the uncertainty in the source of damping. as outlined in Section 2. A simple method of introducing damping is to say: C = τM + ψK. In strong form. ˙ M a + C a + Ka = f . u ( x.3. (9. 9. the contribution of the mass matrix increases damping with decreasing frequency. u is the temperature. (1989).

this is immediately felt (an infinitesimal amount) and increases with time. The acceleration is therefore given by: (9. its motion is harmonic. The eigenvectors are a. the semi-discrete Galerkin problem for the heat equation involves: for a given t > 0. ¯ det K − ω 2 M = 0.18) (9. The displacements at the nodes can be described by a = a cos (ωt − α) . ¨ ¯ Inserting these results into equation (9. (9. it is relatively simple to calculate the natural frequencies.19) In matrix form. there are n eigenvalues λ (λ = ω 2 ). 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. ωe = 2 3/L January 21. (9. For explicit time integration procedures.21) −ω 2 M + K a = 0. If one end of a rod is heated. Following the usual processes in developing the weak form. it is important to know the highest natural frequency of the discrete problem. which ¯ are also known as natural modes. An upper bound to the highest frequency can be found by calculating the frequencies for all individual elements.23) where ω are the natural frequencies of the system. The difficulty is that the size of the problem in equation (9.11) and rearranging. For a one-dimensional linear element. ¯ a = −ω 2 a cos (ωt − α) . ˙ 9.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics The heat equation is parabolic.25) √ for an element of length L.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics If an undamped system is allowed to vibrate freely (no forcing terms).22) which is a matrix eigenvalue problem. 2011 Version 0. 2 det ke − ωe me = 0 (9. this can be expressed at time tn as: M an + Kan = f n . the highest frequency is equal to: ωe = 2 L E ρ E/ρ. Non-trivial solutions (a = 0) require that: ¯ (9.9. For the consistent mass matrix. If stiffness and mass matrices are of dimension n. (9. It turns out that for a lumped mass matrix.20) where ω is the frequency (radians per second).23) can be very large.24) The highest frequency from all elements provides an upper bound to the highest frequency of the problem.2 117 .

(9. i = j. i = j. The sum of the modes gives the total displacement. A special property of the eigenmodes Ψi is that they are orthogonal. separate equations.28) where αi (t) is the amplitude of the ith eigenmode. and are known as vibration modes. It is then possible to treat each mode separately. (9.32) The orthogonality property means that the equation has been decoupled into nm simple.4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics Modal analysis involves the dividing of the response of a structure into a number of modes. Consider a solution a = ψi cos (ωi t + θi ) . it is then possible to treat each mode individually. 2011 . For linear problems.30) 1 0 i = j. and ωi are the natural frequencies. K − ωi2 M Ψi = 0.11) . This means that: Ψi T MΨj = and Ψi T KΨj = ωi2 0 i = j.31) Pre-multiplying both sides of this equation by Ψj T . Inserting equation (9. The nodal displacements can be expressed as a summation of eigenfunctions. ¨ Ψj T M ∑ αi Ψi + Ψj T K ∑ αi Ψi = Ψj T f i i (9.27) where Ψi are eigenvectors.28) into equation (9.11) yields: ¨ M ∑ αi Ψi + K ∑ αi Ψi = f i i (9. (9.26) Inserting the above equation into the unforced version ( f = 0) of equation (9.33) 118 Version 0.9 Time-dependent problems 9. a (t) = ∑ αi (t) Ψi i (9.29) Orthogonality implies that the vibration modes do not interact with each other. ¨ αi + ωi2 αi = Ψi T f .2 January 21. (9. (9.

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

41b) (9. the heat equation at time tn+1 must satisfy: M an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 .2 January 21. 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. ˙ θ∆t θ and an is computed from equation (9.35). ˙ Rearranging equation (9. For the problems to be considered here.37).35) where 0 ≤ θ ≤ 1. Well known methods are the explicit forward Euler (θ = 0) method. the trapezoidal method is particularly attractive as it is unconditionally stable. ˙ θ∆t n+1 θ∆t θ (9. a n +1 = ˙ 1 1 (1 − θ ) a − an − an . Newmark time integrators are a family of schemes.39) (9. In practice. 2011 .36) gives. and is second-order accurate. They involve: an+1 = an + ∆t ((1 − θ ) an + θ an+1 ) . the forward Euler is not particularly useful as its stability properties are poor. ˙ ˙ (9. where 1 ˆ K= M+K θ∆t 1 (1 − θ ) fˆn+1 = f n+1 + Man + M an . and the implicit trapezoidal (θ = 1/2) and backward Euler (θ = 1) methods. In matrix form. the problem to solve an+1 has become ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 . Choosing parameters appropriately for a Newmark algorithm yields a number of different. ˙ θ∆t θ∆t θ In compact notation.2 One-step algorithms for elastodynamics The most commonly used time integration scheme in solid and structural mechanics is the generalised Newmark scheme. 1 1 (1 − θ ) M + K a n +1 = f n +1 + Man + M an . ˙ 9.37) (9. well known integrators.40b) (9.38) 120 Version 0.36) and inserting the above result into equation (9.5. The backward Euler method is also unconditionally stable. both explicit and implicit. but only first-order accurate.41a) (9.9 Time-dependent problems A popular family of algorithms are ‘generalised trapezoidal’ methods.40a) (9.

a n +1 = a n + ˙ ˙ a n +1 ∆t ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) . The term ω h can be estimated for linear elements as 2c/L.44) where ω h is the highest natural frequency (highest value from det K − ω 2 M = 0.41) for β = 0 and γ = 1/2.45) which is the Courant. but as will be shown later. Therefore. 2011 Version 0. but it is conditionally stable. 2 ∆t ˙ ˙ = an + ( a n + a n +1 ) . A commonly used time integrator is the central difference method.5 Time stepping algorithms where β and γ are parameters which define the nature and properties of the algorithm.46a) into equation (9. an = ˙ an = ¨ a n +1 − a n −1 2∆t an−1 − 2an + an+1 . it requires the factorisation of a large matrix. It is necessary to express the terms a and a in terms of a.42) For γ = 1/2. It corresponds to β = 1/4 and γ = 1/2 in the Newmark family of integrators.46b) Inserting equation (9.43b) It is possible to rearrange these terms and show that they are equivalent to equation (9.47) This integrator is implicit. Calculating the necessary terms using ˙ ¨ central differences. c (9. Its stability properties are attractive. an+1 = an + ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) 4 (9.43a) (9. ∆t2 (9.46a) (9. Appropriate choices of β and γ yield well known integration methods. 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).9. ∆t ≤ L . Another commonly used time integrator is based on the trapezoidal rule. January 21. 2 (9. This method is unconditionally stable and the accuracy is O(∆t2 ). It is stable for: ∆t ≤ 2 ωh (9.2 121 . Friedrichs and Lewy (CFL) stability condition. The Newmark method is unconditionally stale for: 2β ≥ γ ≥ 1 2 (9. a Newmark scheme is second-order accurate. where c is the dilatational wave speed (c = E/ρ) and L is the length of an element. This scheme is O(∆t2 ) accurate.46b). It is also energy conserving.

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. The term Kan is equivalent to: Kan = B T σn dΩ.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. A procedure is required to ‘start’ the 122 Version 0.53) 1 1 C M+ 2 2∆t ∆t (9. and unknown at step n + 1. an+1 can be calculated without solving a system of equations (hence the attractiveness of lumped mass matrices when using explicit time integrators).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). has the appearance: M an + C an + Kan = f n . 2∆t n−1 ∆t Then. it is not necessary to form the stiffness matrix K.52) (9. the displacement vector a at step n + 1 is given by: ˆ an+1 = M −1 fˆn (9.43). (9. 1 1 1 1 M+ C an+1 = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . where ˆ M= and 1 1 fˆn = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . 2011 .9 Time-dependent problems Explicit time integration – central difference approach The system of equations to be solved. it is possible to calculate an+1 . 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. In practice. with damping.54) (9.51) If both M and C are diagonal matrices. + C n +1 2 2∆t ∆t (9. Given an and an−1 . The above equations can be written in a shorthand format as: ˆ Man+1 = fˆn . Inserting the central difference expressions from equation (9. (9.2 January 21.

an−1 = an − ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 an ¨ 2 (9. 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. This yields.60) which in a short-hand notation can be expressed as: ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 (9.2 123 . In combination with a lumped mass matrix.41) for β = 0 to express the accelerations and velocity at step n + 1 in terms of step n and earlier. The time step must be chosen carefully for a particular discretisation. For simplicity. damping is ignored.43) it is possible to express an−1 in terms of quantities at n (time t = 0).5 Time stepping algorithms algorithm at t = 0. Furthermore.59) Rearranging such that all unknown quantities appear on the LHS. The central difference procedure is popular in finite element analysis.56) The vector an−1 can be used to start the time integration procedure. The significant drawback is the conditional stability.61) January 21.58a) a n +1 = a n ˙ ˙ + ∆t (1 − γ) an + γ ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9.57). it is second-order accurate.57) Rearranging the expressions in equation (9. 2011 Version 0. 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. M 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 + Kan+1 = f n+1 (9. Combining equations (9.9. and all known quantities on the RHS. 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 ¨ ˙ (9.58b) These equations are then inserted into equation (9. it is very efficient and suitable for very large problems.

Decreasing α increases the dissipation. choosing γ = 1/2 reduces the integration scheme to first order accuracy O(t). Calculate the consistent and lumped mass matrices for the four-noded quadrilateral element. the α-Method reduces to the Newmark scheme. Note that calculating the ‘new’ an+1 introduces a dependency ˙ on the parameter γ. Numerical damping aids in controlling undesirable spurious high frequency modes in the solution. 2. If α = 0. At time step n. 1987). the algorithm is unconditionally stable and second-order accurate. the terms in f are prescribed and both M and K can be formed. 9.9 Time-dependent problems Since the stiffness matrix K is not diagonal.2 January 21.5.41) to show for β = 0 and γ = 1/2 the scheme is equivalent to a central-difference procedure.7 Exercises 1. A number of algorithms have been developed to preserve second-order accuracy while allowing for the introduction of numerical damping. Solving the resulting system of equations yields an+1 . The problem with the Newmark scheme is that the introduction of any numerical damping reduces the order of accuracy from two to one. 2011 . 3.6 Space-time formulations Time as a degree of freedom.62) where f n+1+α = f n+1+θ∆t . It involves using a Newmark scheme to solve : M an+1 + (1 − α) Kan+1 − αKan = f n+1+α .3 α-Method for elastodynamics In dynamic simulations. Rearrange equation (9. Derive the mass matrix for a two-noded beam element. numerical damping can be introduced by choosing γ > 1/2. One such algorithm is the α-Method. γ = (1 − 2α) /2 and β = (1 − α)2 /4. 9. ¨ (9. If −1/3 < α < 0. 124 Version 0. However. With the Newmark scheme. which is also known as the Hilber-Hughes-Taylor Method (Hughes. 9. the vector fˆ can be calculated from an . Numerical dissipation can be controlled through the parameter α. calculating an requires the solution of a system of equations. it is usually desirable to introduce some numerical damping to suppress spurious high-frequency modes.

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