The Finite Element Method: An Introduction

Dr. Garth N. Wells

University of Cambridge and Delft University of Technology

c G. N. Wells 2009


. . . . .3 Local-global . . . . . . . . .5 Regularity requirements . .2 Vector calculus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Finite element method with piecewise linear basis functions 4. . . . . . Basic error analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . 5.1 Tensor basics . . . .7 Exercises . . . . .4 Isoparametric mapping . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . .Contents 1 Introduction 1. . . . .4 Galerkin method Approximate solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Numerical integration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Implementation of the finite element 5. . . .2 Program flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . .6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Stiffness matrix storage . . . . . . . 4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Essentials from continuum mechanics 1. . . . .3 Linear algebra .5 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . .3 Governing equations . . . . .1 3. . . . 6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 5 .6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 One-dimensional bar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Poisson equation . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Post-processing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 3. . . . . . 2. . . . . . . .4 Minimisation of potential energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The 3. . . 2. . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . 2. .2 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . .2 Continuum elasticity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Preprocessing . . . . . . . . . . . method . . . 5. . . . . . . . Convergence of the Galerkin method Exercises . . . . . 2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations 2. . . . . .2 General finite element basis functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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

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

i =1 n (1. (1.2 January 21. A vector a in an n-dimensional space R n can be expressed in terms of its components. a2 (1.3) Consider the dot product between two vectors a and b. and is defined through the operation which gives the length x of a vector x.1 Introduction x2 a e2 = [0 1 0] e1 = [1 0 0] x1 e3 = [0 0 1] x3 Figure 1.7) 8 Version 0. x = √ x · x.6) ∑ a i b i = a 1 b1 + a 2 b2 + a 3 b3 . ai where i runs from one to n.5) ∑ a i bi . where repeated indices imply summation: a·b = For n = 3.1: Example of orthonormal base vectors. 2011 . a= a1 .4) The dot product of two vectors is given by: a · b = a i bi . which is denoted a · b. i =1 3 (1. a·b = (1. In the case n = 2.

The second-order tensor A in R3 can be expressed as   A11 A12 A13 A = Aij =  A21 A22 A23  . which is expressed as D = AB. A second-order tensor A takes the vector b and transforms it into the vector a. allowing the base vectors to be discarded and the more familiar notation a · b = ai b j δij = ai bi .12) Second-order tensors are linear operators that act upon vectors. a second-order tensor A can be expressed in terms of components. in the vein of matrix multiplication. (1. Aij . K. Consider the case a = ABc = Dc.11) (1.16) (1. The symbol δij is known as the Kronecker delta: δij = 1 if i = j. 0 if i = j.15) (1.14) January 21.1 Tensor basics For an orthonormal basis.17) (1. M. It is defined by: a · Bc = Bc · a = c · B T a. and in index notation as Dij = Aik Bkj .9) Second-order tensors (which possess some similar properties to matrices) are generally denoted by uppercase bold characters.13) where n is the dimension of the vector b.10) As with vectors.1. (1. R (1. ei · e j = δij . A = Aij .8) can be used.2 9 . A31 A32 A33 (1. Second-order tensors can be multiplied. a = Ab = Aij b j = ∑ Aij bj j =1 n (1. (1. A. The transpose of a tensor is denoted by the superscript ‘T’. At times. 2011 Version 0. the dot product maybe written as a T b.

2011 . (1. This is equivalent to A : B = Aij Bij . this implies: tr ( A) = A11 + A22 + A33 .19) Second-order tensors can be formed through the dyadic production of two vectors.1 Introduction In terms of indices: Aij T = A ji . (1.2 January 21. It also yields a scalar. A useful identity involving the transpose is: ( AB) T = B T A T . (1. (1. is provided for two second-order tensors. an operation similar to the dot product of two vectors. The repeated i and j indices implies: Aij Bij = (1. (1.25) ∑ ∑ Aij Bij .20) The trace of a second-order tensor is essentially the summation of its diagonal components. tr ( a ⊗ b) = ai bi and tr ( A) = Aii . For example.28) 10 Version 0. i =1 j =1 n n (1.26) (1. which is equivalent to Aij = ai b j . For two second-order tensors in R2 . It is defined by: A : B = tr A T B .27) This operation has no equivalent in matrix-vector convention. A : B = A11 B11 + A12 B12 + A21 B21 + A22 B22 . an inner product.18) The transpose of a second-order tensor implies interchanging the rows and columns of its components. For a second-order tensor A in R3 .24) (1. = ai b j . A = a ⊗ b.22) Using the trace.23) (1.21) (1.

29) A second-order tensor A. k} is even. and if the permutation {i. The components of E are given by: [E ] = Eijk = ei · e j × ek .37) 11 . The cross product can be introduced via the third-order tensor E . AA−1 = A−1 A = I. Eijk = 0. Another important operation is the cross. a tensor Aij is symmetric if: Aij = A ji . a 1 b2 − a 2 b1 Such a definition however is not convenient for manipulation. A third-order tensor can be defined which will make manipulations more convenient. j. k} is odd. If the permutation {i. is equal to the identity tensor. A common third-order tensor is the alternating (or permutation) tensor E . E : ( a ⊗ b) = a × b. Eijk = 1. Using index notation.33) (1. and is equal to I = δij ei ⊗ e j . Eijk = −1. (1. 2011 Version 0. product. If any of the indices are repeated.35) [ a × b ] =  a 3 b1 − a 1 b3  .1 Tensor basics The identity tensor I is defined by: a = Ia. A third-order tensor maps a second-order tensor to a first order tensor.30) (1. It is defined for a. (1. January 21. A matrix A is symmetric if: A T = A.36) The expression for E in terms of the basis ei is lengthy and not shown here. A tensor A is orthogonal if: A T = A −1 .32) As will be shown in the following section. multiplied by its inverse A−1 .1. j. (1. The cross product of two vectors yields a vector.34) (1. (1. or vector. matrices which rotate the reference frame are orthogonal.2 (1. b ∈ R3 by:   a 2 b3 − a 3 b2 (1. The result of the above equation is rather simple.31) Second-order tensors are often characterised by their special properties.

2 January 21. Defining Qij by Qij = ei · e′j . C = Cijkl . in terms of indices. (1. the stress and strain are second-order tensors. ′ the components ai are given by ′ ai = Q ji a j . due to physical symmetries.2: Rotation between coordinate systems. it is convenient to rotate the coordinate frame. They are related to each other via a fourth-order tensor. (1.39) Fortunately. (1. it will not be necessary to manipulate fourthorder tensors directly.2.38) In elasticity.1 Introduction x2 ′ e2 = [− sin θ cos θ ] e2 = [0 1] ′ e1 = [cos θ sin θ ] θ e1 = [1 0] x1 Figure 1. Coordinate transformations For many problems. Consider the orthonormal coordinate systems in Figure 1. which is orthogonal.41) 12 Version 0. denoted here as C . This operation is particularly important when considering moments. the components in ei system are known.40) (1. Vector and tensor components can be rotated (change of basis) using a rotation matrix Q. Consider that for a vector a. It may prove convenient to transform vector components relative to the ei system to components ′ in the ei system. 2011 . ′ and it would be convenient to have the components in the ei system. A : B = Aijk Bjk . For an orthonormal basis.

Q= ′ e1 · e1 ′ e2 · e1 ′ e1 · e2 cos θ ′ = sin θ e2 · e2 (1. ∂x∂y ∂x∂y2 (1. (1. 0 .xy .47) (1. = u. ∂x2 ∂x4 ∂2 u ∂3 u = u. It is convenient to rotate the ′ reference such such the position along the bar is given by [ x]′ = x1 . 0. This is done by the operation: A′ = Q T AQ.2 Vector calculus Subscripts are commonly used as a short-hand notation for derivatives.xx . Some of its derivatives can be written as: ∂u = u. QQ T = Q T Q = I. components in the rotated reference frame can be transformed back to the original reference frame by: a = Qa′ . (1. 1. which effectively reduces the three-dimensional problem to a one-dimensional problem.43) and note that Q is orthogonal.46) Often coordinate transforms are used to simplify a problem. ∂x ∂4 u ∂2 u = u.x .44) Therefore. Considering the coordinate systems illustrated in Figure 1. = u.2.45) At times it is necessary to also rotate the components of a second-order tensor from one coordinate system to another.1. The divergence of a vector field a yields a scalar.2 Vector calculus which can also be expressed as: a′ = Q T a. (1.49) 13 . January 21. It is expressed as: ∇ · a. Characters after a comma in the subscript denote differentiation with respect to that variable. 2011 Version 0. An important operator is the divergence.xyy . cos θ (1.2 (1. Consider a function u which is dependent on the position x.xxxx . An example is a onedimensional rod element in a three-dimensional space.48) This notation is used commonly throughout these notes.42) − sin θ . and A = QA′ Q T .

j . ∇a =  (1. ∇·a = ∂ay ∂a ∂a x ∂a ∂az ∂a1 + 2+ 3 = + + .51) The divergence of a second-order tensor is given by: ∇·A = ∂Aij = Aij. the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a  ∂x     ∂a  (1. ∂x j (1.1 Introduction In terms of indices. In a three-dimensional space.54) which yields a vector. ∂x j (1. ∂xi (1.i . ∂x1 ∂x2 ∂x3 ∂x ∂y ∂z (1. The gradient of a scalar a is given by: ∇a = ∂a = a.55) ∇a =   . the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a1 ∂a1 ∂a1  ∂x ∂y ∂z     ∂a2 ∂a2 ∂a2   . 2011 . ∇ · A =  ∂A 1 ∂A22 21 ∂x + ∂x 1 2 (1.  ∂y      ∂a ∂z The gradient of a vector is given by: ∇a = ∂ai = ai.2 January 21.57) ∂y ∂z   ∂x   ∂a3 ∂a3 ∂a3  ∂x ∂y ∂z 14 Version 0. ∂xi (1.53) Another important operator is the gradient.50) In a three-dimensional space R3 .j .   ∂A11 + ∂A12 ∂x ∂x2  . In a three-dimensional space.52) For a two-dimensional tensor A.56) which yields a second-order tensor.i . ∇ · a is equal to ∇·a = ∂ai = ai.

3 Linear algebra n Ω Γ Figure 1. 1. The outward unit normal to the body is denoted n. It implies that: Ω a · (∇ · B) dΩ = − Ω ∇ a : B dΩ + ∂Ω a · Bn dΓ. The surface of Ω is given by ∂Ω. Consider the body Ω in Figure 1. An essential theorem in formulating the finite element method is the divergence theorem (also known as Gauss’s theorem).61) and then applying the divergence theorem.60) The above equation also holds for the case in which a is replaced by a scalar and B is replaced by a vector. The above formula is simple to derive by using the product rule for differentiation to expand Ω ∇ · ( aB ) dΩ = Ω ∂ a B dΩ. (1.2 15 .1. the eigenvalues of the stress tensor are the principal stresses. (1. The boundary of the body Ω is denoted Γ = ∂Ω.3.58) where n is the outward normal to the body Ω. It transforms a volume integral to a surface integral.3: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n bounded by Γ.3 Linear algebra The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix provide information as to its properties. For example. (1.59) Integration by parts is used frequently in the formulation of the finite element method. and the January 21. 2011 Version 0. The divergence theorem states: Ω ∇ · A dΩ = ∂Ω An dΓ. ∂x j i ij (1. Ω ∇ · a dΩ = ∂Ω a · n dΓ. For a vector a.

A system of n linear equations can be expressed as: Ku = f . the roots of a cubic equation must be found. and is unique. special numerical algorithms are used to calculate the eigenvalues. The solution u is given by: u = K −1 f . The strain ǫ is defined as the symmetric gradient of the displacement vector: ǫij = 1 u + u j. all eigenvalues are positive and real.j (1. This section is intended to cover only the important concepts which are used later in these notes. (1. Also.64) where K is an n × n matrix. which guarantees that the inverse of A exists. the system of equations in a finite element equation will be very large. This requires some background in continuum mechanics and linear-elasticity.65) Typically. For a positive definite matrix A. (1. (1. 2011 . For a matrix A.62) are known as eigenvectors and eigenvalues.i . For a symmetric matrix. finding λ requires finding the roots of a quadratic equation. vectors b and scalars λ which satisfy ( A − λI ) b = 0 (1. 1. 2 i. The system of equations is usually solved using a direct method (such as Gauss elimination or LU decomposition) or an approximate iterative method. It is not a comprehensive coverage of the topic.66) 16 Version 0.63) For a 2 × 2 matrix. In the context of the finite element method. 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).4 Essentials from continuum mechanics The finite element method is used in these notes to solve primarily problems in continuum mechanics. Eigenvalue tests are often used in studying the matrices arising in the finite element method. respectively. The polynomial is known as the characteristic equation of A. all eigenvalues are real. the eigenvalues of a matrix indicates if a matrix has a unique inverse. A zero eigenvalue implies that the matrix A has a linearly dependent column. For a 3 × 3 matrix.1 Introduction corresponding eigenvectors are the principal stress directions. Solvers for finite element problems are discussed in Chapter 8.62) implies that: det ( A − λI ) = 0.2 January 21. Equation (1. K will often be referred to as the ‘stiffness matrix’ and f the ‘right-hand side vector’. of A. For large matrices. and u and f are vectors of length n.

linear-elastic continua. Due to symmetry. this can be written as: σ = C : ǫ.2 17 .69) where n is the unit normal vector to the surface. In a homogeneous body. the symmetric gradient using index notation will be expressed as: u(i.68) where the bracket around the subscript denotes the symmetric gradient.j (1. it is defined by: Cijkl = µ δik δjl + δil δjk + λδij δkl where λ= and µ= E 2 (1 + ν ) (1. in three-dimensions the stress and strain tensors have only six independent components. 2 i. the stress tensor is symmetric (which can be proved by considering the balance of angular momentum. For linear elasticity. Obviously. 2011 Version 0. this reduces to four. For convenience. For solid.73) (1. Similar to the strain tensor.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics which is clearly a second-order tensor. the strain tensor is symmetric. σn = t (1. σij = Cijkl ǫkl where C is a fourth-order tensor.j) = 1 u + u j. In two-dimensions. Lam´ constants are indepene e dent of the position.1.67) For convenience.i .70) with E the Young’s modulus and ν Poisson’s ratio. A constitutive equation relates the stresses in a material to the strain. or in index notation. In compact notation. The constants λ and µ are often referred to as Lam´ constants. the above expression can be written as: ǫ = ∇s u = 1 ∇u + (∇u) T . January 21.72) (1. as will be shown in the next chapter). 2 (1. The stress tensor is defined through the traction vector t (force per unit area) on a surface.74) νE (1 + ν) (1 − 2ν) (1.71) (1.

       ǫ11   ǫ11   u.   σ11      σ22        σ33 (1. particular attention will be paid to solving elastic continuum problems. This approximation is good for very thin members. the constitutive relationship can be written as: σ = Dǫ (1. 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. (1. the normal stress out-of-plane is assumed to be zero. In this case. In this case. 2011 .77) When reducing a three-dimensional problem to two-dimensions.75) = = ǫ= 2ǫ12  γ12   u.2 January 21. For isotropic linear-elasticity.y γ23 2ǫ23 The stress tensor is expressed in a vector form. This assumes that the normal strain in the out-of-plane direction is zero (ǫ33 = 0). in which the stress and strain are represented as vectors. such as a dam wall.78) D=  0 0 0 µ 0 0    0 0 0 0 µ 0 0 0 0 0 0 µ 18 Version 0.76) σ= σ12        σ13      σ23 Using the vector format for stress and strain.y + v. although without the factor ‘2’ on the shear terms.x                    2ǫ13  γ13  u. In these notes.y                        u. the strain in the out-of-plane direction is dependent on the distance from an axis of rotation.z + w.z + w. there are three possibilities. The first is known as plane strain.x           ǫ22   ǫ22   v. An axisymmetric formulation is for example commonly used when simulating a circular foundation. such as many beams. The third possibility is axisymmetric. It is then likely that the stress in the out-of-plane direction is not equal to zero.x              v. containing components of the fourthorder tensor C . The second possibility is plane stress (σ33 = 0).1 Introduction ‘engineering’ notation is often adopted. This is reasonable for problems which are relatively thick in the third direction.z ǫ33 ǫ33 . This will require identification of the equations which govern equilibrium of where the matrix D is the constitutive matrix.

80)) is satisfied. and not specific to elasticity. the partial differential equation of equilibrium is given by equation (1. Then.). Application of the divergence theorem to the integral over ∂Ω gives: Ω ∇ · σ + b dΩ = 0 (1. This will also be referred to as the ‘strong’ governing equation. In order to derive the governing partial differential equation. and applying the divergence theorem. consider first translational equilibrium (balance of linear momentum) of a body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ = ∂Ω. Therefore. the first term in equation (1. Note that this equation is general. Ω r × (∇ · σ + b) dΩ + Ω E : σ T dΩ = 0 (1. since E : σ T = 0. 1. For three-dimensions (i = 1 → 3.2 19 . moment equilibrium is satisfied if the stress tensor is symmetric. etc. if σ is symmetric.83) is zero.1.80).5 Exercises elastic bodies.81) Consider now moment equilibrium (balance of angular momentum). Therefore.80).83) If translational equilibrium (equation (1. the integral can be removed from equation(1. 2011 Version 0. which requires that ∂Ω t dΓ + Ω b dΩ = ∂Ω σn dΓ + Ω b dΩ = 0 (1.82) where r is the position vector of a point on ∂Ω.79) where b is a body force. How many independent components does a symmetric second-order tensor in R n have? January 21. expand the terms: a) b) c) d) e) f) a i bi ai b j Aij Bij Cij bi Cij b j Fik Gkj 2.5 Exercises 1.80) Balance of linear momentum should also be satisfied for any subdomain of Ω. Moment equilibrium of the body Ω requires that: ∂Ω r × t dΓ + Ω r × b dΩ = ∂Ω r × σn dΓ + Ω r × b dΩ = 0 (1. Considering that t = σn. leading to: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω (1.

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

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

This is the weak form of the governing equation. derivatives of order 22 Version 0.x .9) where ‘∀w ∈ V ’ means ‘for all w ∈ V ’. A Neumann (natural) boundary condition prescribes the applied traction. −wσ.8) To develop the weak form of the governing equation.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations prescribes the displacement at one end of the bar in Figure 2. then − wσ. σn = h at x = L. applying a force at the end of the bar is equivalent to prescribing u. An important requirement on the space V is that functions w be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.x .x dx = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V .x n = h 0 < x < L.x = w f L 0 ∀w ∈ V . The above boundary condition sets the applied traction at x = L equal to h.60). both sides of equation (2.x dx = L 0 w. at x = 0.3).x n| x=0 is not included as by definition the weight function w is equal to zero at x = 0.7) (2.5) where n is the outward normal to the bar (equal to 1 in this case).6) (2. (2. Taking guidance from equation (1. at x = L. Since both sides of the equation are multiplied by the weight function.2 January 21.12) where S is an appropriately defined space of functions which satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions. Note that in the strong form. (2. The mathematical problem can now be summarised as: find u such that: − Eu. 2011 .10) can be integrated by parts and the Neumann boundary condition from equation (2. the equation must still hold for all admissible weight function (this is a technical point which is discussed in section 2.1 to be equal to zero.11) Note the term wEu. which has an infinite number of members).6) are multiplied by a scalar weight function w ∈ V (w ∈ V means that w comes from the appropriately defined space of functions V . L 0 (2.1) by w. solving the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that L 0 w. (2.xx = f u=0 Eu. If equation (2. which yields: − L 0 wσ. equation (2.10) is also true. after inserting the constitutive relationship (2. Considering that σ = Eu.x σ dx − wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V .6). (2. (2.x dx = w f dx ∀w ∈ V .8) inserted.9) must hold point-wise.x Eu.x . Multiplying equation (2. Inserting now the constitutive relationship σ = Eu.

xx + f )2 ≥ 0. Eu.2 Continuum elasticity A more complicated example is continuum elasticity.13) Note again that no terms at x = 0 appear. consider a weight function w ∈ V which is equal to φ ( Eu. Since the weak form is derived from the strong form. it follows that a solution of the strong form is also a solution of the weak form. 2. where φ is greater than zero over the interval ]0.2 Continuum elasticity two with respect to x appear.x n| x= L = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L . January 21. The basic form of the equations is the same as the one-dimensional bar in the previous section. as by construction. at least in a generalised sense). 2011 Version 0. (2. The strong governing equation for this problem was developed in the previous chapter.16) proving that the Neumann boundary conditions are satisfied.12) yields − L 0 wEu. − L 0 φ ( Eu.14) which can be rearranged to give L 0 φ ( Eu. Following Hughes (1987).2. L[ and zero outside (specifically at x = 0 and x = L).2 (2.xx + f ). In the weak form (2.xx dx = L 0 φ ( Eu.xx = f . Returning to equation (2. it is now proven that the first term is equal to zero. only first derivatives with respect to x appear. for any allowable weight function at x = L.15) Since φ > 0 and ( Eu. For a more elaborate mathematical treatment. Consider now the continuous body in Figure 2.17) 23 . see Brenner and Scott (1994). w(0) = 0.xx + f )2 dx = 0.xx + f ) Eu.13).12).x n = h. 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. satisfying the strong governing equation (in a distributional sense). What remains now is to ensure that the Neumann boundary condition is satisfied (Dirichlet boundary conditions are satisfied by construction). (2. the above equation can only hold if − Eu. Hence.2. Recall that the governing equation is given by: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω. (2. Assuming that E is constant and integrating by parts the first term in (2. (2.xx + f ) f dx.13). Inserting the weight function into equation (2.xx dx + wEu. The complication arises from the three-dimensional setting.

yielding: − Ω ∇w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0.19) On the remaining boundary.21) The first term in equation (2. (2. the governing equation is multiplied by a weight function w ∈ V . the same steps as in the case of the one-dimensional bar are followed. Boundary conditions are still required to complete the problem. First. σ = C : ǫ. and integrating over the body Ω yields: Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . For a linearelastic material. 2011 . (2.2. (2.60)). a constitutive relationship is required. (2. Note that in this case. In Figure 2. u=g on Γg . (2.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations h Γh Ω Γg n Figure 2. and integrated over the body. Γg ∩ Γh = ∅).17) by w ∈ V . To derive the weak form. On part of the boundary. where again V is an appropriately defined function space (w = 0 on Γg ). t=h on Γh .21) can be integrated by parts (see equation (1.22) 24 Version 0. As in the one-dimensional case. tractions (potentially zero) are applied (traction ≡ force per unit area on a surface).18) where C is a fourth-order tensor.2 January 21. the weight function w is a vector.2: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ (Γ = Γg ∪ Γh . Multiplying equation (2. Γh . the part of the boundary where displacements are prescribed is denoted Γg .20) The boundary-value problem is now complete. the displacements are prescribed (Dirichlet boundary conditions).

For Darcy’s law.23). the symmetric gradient of w. January 21. 2011 Version 0.24) which is the equation of virtual work.3 Poisson equation where σn has been replaced by the prescribed traction h (the Neumann boundary condition). For linear heat conduction. Therefore ∇s w ≡ δǫ. q is the flow rate. For an isotropic medium. where κ is the thermal conductivity. The equation of virtual work is therefore the weak form of the governing equation. In the case of heat conductivity. κ = κI. 2.18).25) yields a Poisson equation. (2. 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 . It is simple to show that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric (see exercise 1). Inserting now the constitutive relationship from equation (2. In Darcy’s law.j ) (2. Consider now w as a ‘virtual displacement’ δu. This is the weak equilibrium equation for a stationary continuous elastic body. The constitutive relationship depends on the problem being solved. (2. u is the hydraulic head and κ is known as the hydraulic conductivity. Inserting this into equation (2. Inserting the constitutive equation into (2. The constitutive relationship is given by: q = −κ ∇ u (qi = −κij u. A wide range of physical phenomena are governed by this equation. including steady-state heat conduction and flow in permeable media (Darcy’s law). Consider the following equation: −∇ · q + f = 0 in Ω (2.23) where S is an appropriate space of functions which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions.25) where q is a flux vector and f is a source term. the scalar u is the temperature.2 25 . Ω δǫ : C : ǫ dΩ = Ω δu · b dΩ + Γh δu · h dΓ. Consistency can be proven in the same fashion as was used for the onedimensional problem. There exists a close link between weak forms and virtual work for a range of problems. the variational framework is more general.3 Poisson equation An equation which is often solved using the finite element method is the Poisson equation. The previous example of continuum elasticity was an example of a system of Poisson equations – one for each spatial direction.2. Here the Poisson equation is addressed in a more generic fashion.26) where u is a potential. q is the heat flux vector. Often the term ∇w is written as ∇s w. However.

Multiplying equation (2. and consider the potential energy functional I. (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 .4 Minimisation of potential energy For particular equations. The Dirichlet conditions impose: u=g on Γg (2. suppose that u is the solution to the weak problem. For Darcy flow.32) The potential energy for another displacement field. there exists a close link between minimisation of energy and solution of the weak form.27) which prescribes the potential on the boundary. 2011 . 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. (2.31) which is the weak form of the Poisson equation. and for Darcy flow is it the inflow/outflow across a boundary. In the case of heat conduction. (2. 2.2). such as equilibrium of an elastic body. For heat conduction. this imposes the heat flux on Γh . I (u) = 1 2 Ω ∇s u : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω u · b dΩ − ∂Ω u · h dΩ. it is the hydraulic head.28) where n is the outward normal to the surface Γh (see Figure 2. The weak form of the Poisson equation is derived following the same steps as in the previous two examples. − Ω w (∇ · q) dΩ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . this is the temperature on the boundary Γg . (2.29) 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 . For an elastic body Ω.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations As for all previous examples. The Neumann boundary condition requires that: −q · n = h on Γh (2. w = u + v.33) 26 Version 0. the boundary-value problem requires boundary conditions.

it is clear that it is simple to take the first derivative of the function f .23). As will be seen in the following chapters. In summary.3.x x Figure 2.3) to make sense. the weak form allows for more possible solutions. Therefore a function like f is a possible solution of the weak form and a possible weight function.3 is a continuous. 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. but their first derivatives are not. In finite element analysis. The function shown in Figure 2. If a function is C n . 2. this means that its nth derivative is continuous. in a classical sense. From Figure 2. Consider now if the function f is a possible solution u of the strong equation for a bar (equation (2. since for equation (2.12)).2.5 Regularity requirements A common topic in finite element analysis is continuity. Continuity refers to whether or not the derivatives of a function are continuous. However. Functions are often classified as being C n continuous.3: Example of a C0 function f . This is a classic mathematical property of weak forms. its second derivative does not exist. 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. It is not a possible solution.34) Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ.xx ) must exist. 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. 2011 Version 0. This means that the functions are continuous.3)). and is essential for the finite element method.3. this is a commonly used function in finite element analysis.5 Regularity requirements f f . functions which are C0 are most commonly used. January 21. which proves that solution of the weak form corresponds to minimisation of the potential energy. and the last term Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ ≥ 0.2 27 . Examining now the weak form for the rod (equation (2. piecewise linear function. the second derivative of f with respect to x ( f .

(2. since a fundamental step in the finite element method will involve finite-dimensional function spaces. When solving second-order differential equations. (2. such functions may be discontinuous. A function u is said to be square integrable if: Ω (u)2 dx < ∞. the requirement that the trial functions be square-integrable implies that energy must be finite. there do however exist functions from H 1 (Ω) which are not C0 continuous. Clearly.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’. In physical terms. (2. It is useful to define function spaces. The notation u ∈ H 1 means that u comes from (is an element of) H 1 . w| Γg = 0}.37) This says that the S is a collection of functions from H 1 (Ω) which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions (technically this is not a space if g = 0. but this point is not important here). 28 Version 0. u| Γg = g}. Functions spaces can be considered the ‘family’ of functions from which u and w can come. This is of crucial importance. Note that C0 functions belong to H 1 .x )2 dΩ < ∞ (2. Trial functions u come from the space S (u ∈ S ). Functions for which: Ω (u)2 + (u.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. That is. Sobolev spaces are infinite-dimensional.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. an infinite number of different functions belong to a given Sobolev space. functions which have square-integrable derivatives are of interest. which is defined by: V = {w | w ∈ H 1 (Ω) .35) Functions which are square integrable come from the Hilbert space known as L2 (Ω). 2011 . which is denoted H 1 (Ω). from which the trial and weight functions come. The weight functions come from the space V (w ∈ V ).36) are known as members of the Sobolev space on degree one. For multiple spatial dimensions. This can be seen in the well-known Sobolev embedding theorem.2 January 21. 2. Importantly. The function space S is defined by: S = {u | u ∈ H 1 (Ω) . Consider first a scalar problem in an n-dimensional domain Ω.

40) Further details can be found in texts on functional analysis and the mathematical analysis of the finite element method.39) V = {wi | wi ∈ H 1 (Ω) .) 2. a = b) 5. (Hint: use index notation.2. The Helmholtz equation is given by: ∇ · (∇φ) + kφ = 0 and is often used in wave propagation problems. wi | Γg = 0}.23) for elasticity using index notation. 3. Solutions for the displacement field from linear-elastic fracture mechanics often √ involve a term r. u ∈ S where S = {ui | ui ∈ H 1 (Ω) . Derive the weak equilibrium equation (2.7 Exercises 1. (2. prove that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric. 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. is u a possible trial solution? January 21. ui | Γg = gi } and similarly for weight functions w ∈ V . 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.2 29 . 4. 2.7 Exercises In multiple dimensions. where r is the distance from the crack tip (r ≥ 0). For 3 × 3 second-order tensors (matrices). (2. 2011 Version 0.


3 The Galerkin method The finite element method is one particular Galerkin method. the above equation is expressed in the abstract format as: find uh ∈ S h such that B wh .x Eu. 3.x Eu.x dx ∀w h ∈ V h (3. Furthermore. In a multidimensional context. This means that there is a limited number of possibilities. uh ∈ S h . Considering now the elasticity problem in equation (2. respectively. 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. where S h ⊂ S is a finite-dimensional space.1 Approximate solution First. uh = and L wh = wh h| x= L . it is generic for a range of different problems. The Galerkin problem for an elastic bar (equation (2.x dx + w h h| x= L = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . being able to solve a greater range of problems.12)) involves: find uh ∈ S h such that − L 0 h h w. (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. The Galerkin method is however more general. consider the approximate solution to some problem. as developed in the previous chapter. (3. uh could be a combination of low order polynomial functions. Commonly.2) (3.3) This abstract format is introduced to keep the derivation of some later developments compact.23). uh = L wh where B wh . It is a method for finding approximate solutions to partial differential equations. For example. the finite-dimensional trial and weight functions are denoted uh and wh . The essence of the Galerkin method involves taking the weak form of the governing equation.1) where V h ⊂ V is a finite dimensional space.4) L 0 h h w.5) 31 . and finding the best solution to a problem given a collection of functions. named after the Russian engineer Galerkin.

often in fluid mechanics. A basic question which arises when computing an approximate solution is how uh relates to the exact solution u. the Bubnov-Galerkin method) requires that the weight and trial functions come from the same finite-dimensional space.8) where u is the exact solution and uh is the solution to equation (3. In the abstract notation of equation 3. e − L wh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3.2 January 21. the weight functions come from a different function space than the trial functions. the error in the displacement e at a point is defined by: e = u − uh (3. uh = and L wh = Ω Ω ∇s wh : C : ǫh dΩ wh · h dΓ. The approximate solution is therefore equal to: uh = u − e (3.6) wh · b dΩ + Γh (3.1). u − B wh . In the finite element method. Spectral Galerkin methods for example use a truncated Fourier series as the basis. u − L w h = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . Given a finite number of possibilities in S h . uh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. 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. Different Galerkin-based methods are defined by how the unknown field uh is represented. this will be investigated using the abstract notation. B wh . (3. B wh .2. taking into account the special requirements on the weight and trial functions where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. piecewise low-order polynomials defined on ‘finite elements’. e = B wh .9) For generality.2 Basic error analysis It is interesting to check how the solution computed using the Galerkin procedure compares to the exact solution. this implies that: B wh . This method is used for special applications.2). In Petrov-Galerkin method.7) The Galerkin method (more specifically. why it doesn’t work). 3. which solution does the method seek? Understanding this requires some basic error analysis. uh and w h will be simple continuous. B w h .9) into equation (3. 2011 . Inserting equation (3. This is examined in the following section. u − B wh .3 The Galerkin method where ǫ h = ∇s uh . For the one-dimensional problem.11) 32 Version 0.10) Since u is the exact solution.

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

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


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

∀w h ∈ V h


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

= 1 B (v, v) 2


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

≤ u − wh


∀w h ∈ V h


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

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

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.


2011 . hence wh = ∑ Ni wi .x dΩ = Ω w h f dΩ + Γh w h h dΓ ∀ wh ∈ V h .x wi i =1 n h dΓ (4. these basis functions are known as ‘shape functions’.3) To develop the Galerkin problem.6) for all possible values of wi . discretised with n nodal points. (4.x wi i =1 n E ∑ Nj.x u j j =1 n dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ. Ω h h w. Hence.1) where xi is the coordinate of node i. the approximate displacement field uh is given by uh = ∑ Ni ( x) ui . is given by  x x i −1   − x i −1 < x ≤ x i . In finite element analysis. i =1 n (4. the strain field can be computed easily by taking the derivative of the shape functions. For a one-dimensional bar. the approximate displacement field is given in terms of the shape functions and the approximate displacement at a finite number of points (nodes).x = dNi u.5) and inserting the expression for the expressions for the approximate displacement field and the weight function. It is expressed using the same basis functions as the displacement field. i =1 n (4.2) where ui is the value of the field uh at node i.x E ∑ Nj.x Eu.4) Recalling the weak form for a one-dimensional elastic rod. h ǫh = u. Given that wi is not a function of spatial position. The basis function at node i. an expression is needed for the weight function w h .  x i − x i +1 − x i − x i +1     0 otherwise. (4. From this expression. (4.x u j j =1 n dΩ = Ω ∑ Ni wi i =1 n f dΩ + Γh ∑ Ni. Ω ∑ Ni. dx i i =1 ∑ n (4.2 January 21.7) 36 Version 0. it can be taken outside of the integrals.   x i − x i −1 x i − x i −1   x i +1 x Ni = x i < x < x i +1 .4 Formulation of the finite element method nodes. ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni.

12) The matrix K = Kij is commonly known as the stiffness matrix. Therefore. this is relatively simple. For the zero Dirichlet conditions. u j can also be taken outside of the integrals. (4.2 General finite element basis functions The concept introduced in the previous section can be extended to higher spatial dimensions and more complex shape functions. then the row and the column k is removed from the stiffness matrix.11) Nj f dΩ + Γh Nj h dΓ (4. and hence an expression for the approximate displacement field along the rod.x E Nj. A simple finite element January 21. where Kij = and fi = Ω Ω (4.10) Ni. Dirichlet boundary conditions must be enforced. which can be expressed as the system of equations. It is useful to define shape functions on finite elements. and f = f i as the right-hand side (RHS) vector. Elements may not overlap. In order the solve the linear system.8) This equation must hold for all possible combinations of wi . A discussion of more general boundary conditions is delayed until the end of the chapter.x E Nj.2.x E Nj. while elements are lines (1D).x dΩ (4. ∑ wi ∑ u j i =1 j =1 n n Ω Ni. A finite element mesh consists of nodal points and elements. Solving this linear system of equations provides u j . 2011 Version 0.2 General finite element basis functions Likewise. Kij u j = f i . If a boundary condition is applied at node k. for each i ∑ uj j =1 n Ω Ni.9) must hold.2 37 . and n unknowns in the form of ui ).4. This yields n equations (one for each wi . and the kth term is deleted from the vector f . 4. Consider the case that all but one wi is equal to zero. Nodes are points in space. The problem has been divided into many quadrilateral elements. surfaces (2D) or volumes (3D) which are constructed by joining nodal points. Matrices and vectors can be built for each element before being assembled into global matrices and vectors. A mesh divides a body into a number of elements. A typical finite element mesh is shown in Figure 4.x dΩ = Ω Ni f dΩ + Γh Ni h dΓ (4.x dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ.

2 January 21. 2011 . 6 4 3 4 3 1 2 1 2 5 9 Figure 4.4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4.3: Simple two-dimensional finite element mesh.2: Typical two-dimensional finite element mesh. 7 8 5 7 8 6 38 Version 0.

1. 4. shape functions are non-zero only close to their node.4. A finite element shape function is only non-zero on elements to which it is attached.4. known as finite elements.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 2 L x=0 Figure 4. is equal to one at the node and zero at all other nodes.4: One-dimensional linear bar element and associated shape functions. Ni .2. as introduced in Section 4. Having a compact support.3. and zero at all other nodes. Both nodes and elements are numbered. Shape functions for various elements are discussed in detail in the following sections. the shape function associated with that node. 2011 Version 0. The displacement field is given by a linear combination of a finite number of basis functions (a summation of the basis functions. 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 . For a node i. Each shape function Ni is associated with a node i.13) January 21. The bar has two nodes. Finite element shape functions are typically piecewise continuous polynomial functions with a ‘compact support’. In the finite element method. They are characterised by being equal to unity at their node. denoted by the solid circles.1 One-dimensional bar elements To begin. linear one dimensional elements. mesh is shown in Figure 4. Each element has three nodes.2 39 . (4. Consider the one-dimensional bar element in Figure 4. In Figure 4. are examined. As in the one-dimensional case. the amplitude). the basis functions are defined on simple geometric elements.3. each multiplied by a nodal value. the discretised field can be inserted into the weak governing equations. 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. Once the displacement field uh and its derivatives ∇uh can be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns. the mesh is constructed with triangular elements.

to solve a problem. the displacement field is expressed as: uh = Nae .20) N2 .5.16) x + 1. uh = − x x + 1 a1 + a2 . as its shape functions are linear polynomials.22) (4. in terms of nodal degrees of freedom ae .19) (4. where N = N1 and ae = a1 .16) with respect to x. Now. (4. Note also that these shape functions posses C0 continuity – they are continuous but their derivatives involve jumps across element boundaries. the derivative of the shape function with respect to x is a constant function within an element. 2011 . The shape functions corresponding to each node are given by: N1 = − N2 = Hence.18) The strain is given by: ǫh = Bae . dx dx 1 dx L L (4. ǫh = duh dN1 dN2 1 1 = a + a2 = − a1 + a2 . L This type of element is known as a linear element. It does however make the generalisation to multiple dimensions simple. L (4.21) The shape functions for two linear elements are shown in Figure 4. L L (4. The matrix-vector notation for uh and ǫh may seem trivial for one-dimensional problems.17) In the case of a linear displacement interpolation.2 January 21. dx (4. the derivative of the displacement field with respect to x (the strain) is required.14) (4. The weak form of the governing equations involves derivatives with respect to the spatial position. In matrix-vector notation.4 Formulation of the finite element method where ai is the displacement at node i (it is ‘stored’ at the node).15) x . Therefore. where the matrix B is equal to: B= dN1 dx dN2 . Taking the derivative of equation (4. the displacement and strain can be calculated in any part of the element. a2 (4. 40 Version 0.

and the strain field (using engineering notation) is given by: ǫ h = Bae . More nodes through which the shape function must interpolate naturally means a higher-order polynomial is required. The interpolation basis for higher-order elements is richer since both constant.2 Two-dimensional continuum elasticity elements In two or more dimensions. the displacement field is given by: uh = ∑ Ni (x) ai . i =1 3 (4. Nnn (4. each unknown field (such as displacement in each direction) is interpolated using the polynomial shape functions. For a one-dimensional quadratic element. The displacement field for an element is given by: uh = Nae .26) (4. Figure 4.2 41 . 2011 Version 0.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 L1 L2 Figure 4.4. Higher-order elements simply have more nodes.27) January 21. Higher-order one-dimensional elements It is possible to develop one-dimensional elements with higher-order polynomial interpolations.23) Therefore. Nnn 0 0 ...2.5: Shape functions for two one-dimensional linear bar elements.24) and the B matrix has a similar form. it has the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 .. obviously the strain field is linear. Since the displacement field is quadratic. In two dimensions. the N matrix has the form: N = N1 N2 N3 . (4.25) The matrix N contains the element shape functions. 4. .6 illustrates shape functions for quadratic and cubic elements. linear and quadratic (and even higher) variations in the unknown field can be described within an element.. (4.

6: Higher-order one-dimensional elements...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.   ..29) ae =  . (4.         ann x        ann y 42 Version 0. For a two-dimensional problem.  ∂y ∂y ∂y     ∂N1 ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂Nnn  ..28) B= 0 . 2011 . 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. It is shown in Figure 4. ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x The simplest element in two-dimensions is the three-node triangle.7. the matrix B has the form:   ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂N1 0 0 . 0 (4. For two-dimensional problems..2 January 21.   .. 0   ∂x ∂x ∂x    ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂Nnn    0 . where nn is the numbers of nodes of the element.    a1 x   a    1y         a2 x      a2 y .

Its shape function must satisfy: N1 ( x1 . the coefficients c can be found by solving a linear system of equations. Figure 4. y3 ) = c1 x3 + c2 y3 + c3 = 0. It is clear from the linear form of the shape functions for the three-node triangle that the derivatives are constant.7: Three-node triangular element.2 General finite element basis functions ( x3 . (4. 2011 Version 0. Consider node 1 in Figure 4.32) (4. y2 ) Figure 4.7. y3 ) 3 1 2 ( x1 . (     c3 x3 y3 1 0 January 21. Given the following coordinates of each of where ( xi .8: Shape function for a three-node element. (4. y1 ) = c1 x1 + c2 y2 + c3 = 1.1 Consider the element in Figure 4. yi ) is the location of the ith node. N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 . y1 ) ( x2 . This can be cast in a matrix form as:      x 1 y 1 1  c 1  1   x2 y2 1 c2 = 0 .31) (4. hence the strain in the element is constant. Given that a shape function should have a value of unity at its node and zero at other nodes.8. Example 4. y2 ) = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 = 0.2 43 . N1 ( x3 .30) The shape function for a node is illustrated in Figure 4. N1 ( x2 .33) Solving the above system of equations yields the coefficients for the shape function of node 1.

y A very commonly used element in finite element analysis is the four-node quadrilateral. A four-node quadrilateral element is shown in Figure 4.9.x N3. Higher-order solid elements As in one-dimensional problems. A shape function for a four-node element is shown in Figure 4.      1 2 1  c1  0 4 1 1  c 2 = 1     c3 2 3 1 0 Solving this system of equations gives: N2 = 0.x N2. the N and B matrices can be formed.y N1.y N2. a system of equations (see equation (4.10. 1) ( x3 . find the shape function for node 2.25x − 0.25y + 0. plane and three-dimensional elements can have higher-order interpolations.2 January 21. y2 ) = (4.35) It is also know as a bilinear element.x 0 N3. the only non-zero term on the RHS corresponds to node 2.36) 44 Version 0.y 0 N2. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xy + c2 x + c3 y + c4 . 2011 . due to the presence of the xy terms in the shape functions.y B= 0 N1. (4. Since the shape function for node 2 is being calculated.4 Formulation of the finite element method the nodes. 2) ( x2 . 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. y1 ) = (1. ( x1 .25 Once the shape functions have been computed for each node.34)) is formed. y3 ) = (2. the strain in this element is not constant. 3) To find the coefficients. 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  N3.x and the B matrix is of the form:  N1.x 0 N1. Unlike the three-node triangle.x 0 N2.

14. Note that triangular elements are complete – that is the shape functions contain all polynomial terms up to a given order. Linear. quadratic and cubic triangular elements are shown in Figure 4. As with the three-node triangle.37) January 21. a new ‘row’ of terms from the Pascal triangle is added to the shape functions.4. They belong to one of two families: serendipity or Lagrange. =  1  c4  0                 1  c5  0                  c6  0 1 (4. Solving the below system of equations would yield the coefficients for node 1.15. Note that serendipity     1  c1  1                 1  c2  0               c  0 1  3     . Each time the order of a triangle is increased.11 The polynomial terms needed for triangular elements can be taken from a Pascal triangle (see Figure 4.10: A shape function for 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. 2011 Version 0. whereas Lagrange elements have nodes on the element interior. the coefficients can be found by solving a linear system of equations.2 General finite element basis functions 4 3 1 2 Figure 4.12). Higher-order quadrilateral elements can also be constructed. Serendipity elements have nodes only on element boundaries. Figure 4.9: Four-node quadrilateral element. A Pascal triangle for serendipity elements is shown in Figure 4. Several serendipity and Lagrange finite elements are shown in Figure 4.13.2 45 .

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

x3 y x2 y xy xy2 xy3 .2 General finite element basis functions (a) (b) Figure 4. (4.16. y y2 y3 y4 . (4.2 47 . Eight.38) and for the nine-node Lagrange quadrilateral the shape functions have one extra term and are of the form: N = c1 x2 y2 + c2 x2 y + c3 xy2 + c4 x2 + c5 y2 + c6 xy + c7 x + c8 y + c9 .and nine-node quadrilateral elements are commonly used in finite element analysis. and are therefore not recommended.....39) January 21. The shape functions for the eight-node serendipity quadrilateral have the form: N = c1 x2 y + c2 xy2 + c3 x2 + c4 y2 + c5 xy + c6 x + c7 y + c8 . elements of order higher than three ’miss’ polynomial terms. Figure 4. 2011 Version 0..4. The Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements is shown in Figure 4. 1 x x2 x3 x4 . Internal nodes must be introduced to ensure all polynomial terms are included.14: Serendipity (a) and Lagrange (b) quadrilateral finite elements...15: Pascal triangle for serendipity elements. The elements do not suffer from the limitation of missing polynomial terms for any order interpolation.. .

.41) This is known as a ‘trilinear element’. Commonly used shapes are tetrahedra and bricks.2 January 21..and two-dimensional elements. xy xy2 xy3 . Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xyz + c2 xy + c3 xz + c4 yz + c5 x + c6 y + c7 z + c8 .3 Three-dimensional elements Three-dimensional elements are increasingly used in engineering analysis. Figure 4. 2011 . Also.. Figure 4.17: Tetrahedral and brick three-dimensional finite elements. (4. They can be formed in the same fashion as one.. Higher-order version of both tetrahedral and brick elements also exist. they often have more degrees of freedom per node. x3 y x 3 y2 x 3 y3 x2 y x 2 y2 x 2 y3 .. The computational effort required for three-dimensional analysis can become high. (4. y y2 y3 .16: Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements.. Not only do the elements tend to have more nodes.. The simplest brick element has eight nodes. wedge type elements are often used for generating meshes for complex geometries.. the derivatives of the shape functions are constant within an element. ..17.40) Similar to the three-node triangle. . These two elements are shown in Figure 4. A four-node tetrahedral element has linear shape functions. 4. The numbers of nodes per element increases rapidly..2.. They are of the form: N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 z + c4 .4 Formulation of the finite element method 1 x x2 x3 .. 48 Version 0.

which after some rearranging (using ( Ac) T = c T A T ) leads to: be T l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = be T Γh. Therefore. The three-dimensional equivalent of a Pascal triangle can be used to find the polynomial terms for higher-order three-dimensional elements (Zienkiewicz and Taylor. and can therefore be eliminated. it is known how the displacement and the displacement gradient at a point in space can be expressed in terms of the nodal variables (degrees of freedom).18).3 Governing equations x=0 x x = l1 x = l2 x=L Figure 4. the one-dimensional governing equation for an elastic rod (equation (3. The discrete nodal values can be removed from the integrals. 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).45) The be terms appear on both sides of the equality.18: One-dimensional bar showing the element that extends from x = l1 to x = l2 . (4.e N T h dΓ.46) January 21. 1989) 4. (4. 2011 Version 0. Now.44) where the integral over Γh.1)) is considered. The discretised governing equation for the element is expressed as: l2 l1 ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh.2 49 .e N T h dΓ. for the multi-dimensional case within an element. The weight (test) functions are discretised in the same fashion as the unknown field uh . Take a single element (of any order) which extends from l1 to l2 (see Figure 4.3 Governing equations At this point.42) (4. (4.e is only non-zero if the boundary of the element coincides with the boundary Γh .e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ.43) ∇ w = Bbe .4. (4. wh = Nbe . What remains is the insertion of the discretised field uh into the governing weak equation. l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = Γh.

This approach has a number of advantages. A third advantage is that isoparametric mapping allows higher-order elements to have curved edges. y) in the ‘physical’ Cartesian 50 Version 0. This is denoted symbolically by the operation: K = Ane 1 ke .4 Isoparametric mapping In practice. the point ( x. 2011 . The component k ij is added to the location K I J .e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ + Ωe ( Nbe ) T b dΩ (4. the term k ij relates local nodes i and j. The shape functions are formed for a simple element configuration (typically elements with unit length side and with sides aligned with the coordinate system and with a convenient origin). In the global mesh. From the point of view of implementation.4 Formulation of the finite element method The term ke = l2 l1 B T EB dΩ (4.2 January 21. isoparametric elements are used in finite element software. For a continuum elasticity problem. e= f = Ane 1 f e .50) (4. Following the same steps as for the onedimensional problem. (4. the element stiffness matrix is expressed as: B T DB dΩ ae = N T h dΓ + N T b dΩ. irrespective of the exact shape of the element. Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for an element. An isoparametric mapping is defined via a mapping using the nodal shape functions.51) where A represents the assembly operation and ne is the number of elements in the mesh. For an element stiffness matrix.49) Ωe Γh.48) (recall that b denotes the body force).47) is known as the ‘element stiffness matrix’. For a two dimensional problem. The assembly process is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. e= (4.e Ωe Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for each element in the problem. local node i has global node number I. It also allows the simple application of numerical integration. its contribution is added to the ‘global’ stiffness matrix K. it requires the programming of only one function to evaluate the shape functions of a type of element. This yields: Ωe ( Bbe ) T DBae dΩ = Γh. 4. the discretised displacement and strain fields are inserted into equation (3. as is discussed in the following section.5). it must be assembled into the global stiffness matrix. and similarly for J.

η ) in the bi-unit square. derivatives of the unknown field with respect to x and y are required.−1) y 2 (1.19: Isoparametric mapping for a bi-unit square.4 Isoparametric mapping x 3 (−1. shape functions can be defined on simple shapes. Using an isoparametric mapping. y) system. i =1 nn i =1 (4. η ) xi . In the governing weak equations.19.1) (1. where (ξ. taking a point in the real Cartesian ( x.2 51 . i =1 (4. such as the bi-unit square.−1) x 1 ξ Figure 4.53) The difficulty that arises is when computing derivatives with respect to the real coordinates. and nn is number of nodes of the element. ξ and η. y) system and mapping to a point (ξ. For example the displacement in the x-direction at a point is given by: nn uh = ∑ Ni (ξ. η ) domain and maps it to a point in the ‘real’ element in the Cartesian ( x. configuration is given by: nn x= y= ∑ Ni (ξ.4. 2011 Version 0. The map ξ is the inverse of x. η ) aix . consider the application of the product rule for differentia- January 21. The mapping for a four-node quadrilateral element is illustrated in Figure 4. η ) yi . To proceed.52) ∑ Ni (ξ. The map x takes a point within the bi-unit square in the (ξ. The position on the bi-unit square is given by the natural coordinates. η ) are known as the ‘natural coordinates’. as the shape functions are defined in terms of the natural coordinates.1) 2 4 4 3 η ξ 1 (−1.

nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x.ξ x j  ∂Ni      j =1 j= ∂y ∂η 52 Version 0. ∂η ∂η i i =1 (4.52)).       ∂Ni   nn  ∂Ni  nn    − ∑ j=1 Nj. ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + . (4.η x j     ∑nn1 Nj. from equation (4.2 January 21. ∂η ∂η i i =1 nn ∂Ni ∂y =∑ y.ξ y j  ∂ξ    ∂x  1 ∑ j=1 Nj. Using the shape function.59) Once terms of the matrix J have been formed. defined in terms of ξ and η.54) (4. ∂ξ ∂x ∂ξ ∂y ∂ξ ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + .58) In light of the isoparametric mapping (equation (4.4 Formulation of the finite element method tion for a function f .57) the derivatives of the shape function of node i with respect to x and y can be computed.  ∂ f   ∂x ∂y   ∂ f          ∂η ∂η ∂η ∂y J (4. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂y ∂Ni =∑ y.57) ∂x   ∂ f  ∂f  j  ∂x         − ∂y ∂η ∂ξ ∂η J where j = det J. (4. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x. ∂η ∂x ∂η ∂y ∂η This can be written in matrix form as:      ∂x ∂y  ∂ f  ∂f       ∂ξ   ∂ξ ∂ξ   ∂x   = . (4.56) where the matrix J is commonly known as the Jacobian matrix.60)  ∂Ni  j − ∑nn Nj.55) (4.η y j  =  . Taking the inverse of the Jacobian. 2011 . the terms in the matrix J can be computed.      ∂y  ∂ f  ∂y ∂f      −  ∂x  ∂ξ   ∂ξ  1  ∂η  =  .

Triangular elements Isoparametric mappings are also applied for triangular elements. and an eight-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a six-node triangular element. once the derivatives of the shape functions have been calculated on the simple isoparametric domain.20. Triangular elements are often described using area coordinates. 4 (4.61) Similar formulae can be found for eight. While this procedure may seen complex. Now.2 53 .20: Three-node and six-node triangles using area coordinates.0) r Figure 4.19. they can be calculated for the real configuration. η ) = 1 (1 + ξ i ξ ) (1 + ηi η ) . The latter approach is followed here.0) r 1 (0.4 Isoparametric mapping s (0. This way. a four-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a threenode triangular element. it can be implemented in a computer code in a simple and compact fashion. (4. Hughes. 1987).0) 4 2 (1.4. the shape function of the ith node is given by: Ni (ξ. Quadrilateral elements The shape functions for quadrilateral elements on a bi-unit square is particularly simple. Is is also possible to directly address isoparametric triangular elements. A popular approach is to ‘degenerate’ a quadrilateral element to a triangular element (Bathe. Consider the triangle in Figure 4. 1987).1) s (0.and nine-node elements (Hughes. For the bi-unit quadrilateral in Figure 4. s and t. 1996.1) 3 3 6 5 2 1 (0. where: t = 1 − r − s. The position of a point inside the triangle is given by r. 2011 Version 0.62) January 21.0) (1.

To make the formulation fully discrete (and amendable to computer implementation). For the integration of a function f (ξ ) from −1 to 1. the element stiffness matrices and RHS vectors still involve integration over volumes and surfaces (see section 4. Numerical integration is illustrated in Figure 4.68) 54 Version 0. N2 = 2r − r. (4. 4.64) (4.2 January 21. To evaluate the stiffness matrix of an element. It is common for higher-order elements that the apexes are first numbered (corner nodes in the case of quadrilateral elements). N5 = 4rs. numerical integration in one-dimension is considered. p. To do this. the shape functions are equal to: N1 = 2t2 − t. For a quadratic (six-node) triangular element. While the displacement field has been discretised. 166).65) Note the numbering of the nodes for the quadratic triangle in Figure 4. η ) domain.66) N3 = 2s2 − s. 1987.3). s and t on triangles (Hughes. consider in two dimensions that: B T DB dΩ = 1 1 Ωe −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη. nint is the number of discrete points (integration points) at which the function is evaluated and wi is the weight asnint signed to each point ∑i=1 wi = 2 . (4. it convenient to integrate in the (ξ. There is a formula for the shape functions of arbitrary order in terms of r. numerical integration is applied.67) i =1 where ξ i are discrete points on the integral domain. N6 = 4st. Before proceeding to the element matrices. then the mid-side nodes.4 Formulation of the finite element method The shape functions for the nodes of the element in Figure 4. 1 nint −1 f (ξ ) dξ ≃ ∑ f ( ξ i ) wi .5 Numerical integration At this stage.63) (4.20 are then: N1 = t. the problem is not yet fully discrete.20.21. Two schemes which arise in finite element analysis are Newton-Cotes and Gauss integration. Different integration schemes specify where the points are located and the weight associated with each point. (4. N2 = r. N3 = s. 2011 . 2 N4 = 4rt. (4.

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

1].1: Newton-Cotes integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1. 56 Version 0. 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. 2011 .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 4.2: Gauss integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1.2 January 21. 1].

Similarly. In the Galerkin method. In one dimension. For some applications it may be advantageous to use reduced integration schemes in combination with particular elements.and twodimensional elements are shown in Table 4.4. The number of zero eigenvalues indicates the number of rigid body modes . there should only be one zero eigenvalue which corresponds to translation.22 shows the classic ‘hour-glass’ spurious mode for an eight-node quadrilateral when using reduced 2 × 2 integration. They appear naturally in the weak formulation (hence the common name ‘natural boundary conditions’). This deformation mode can develop in an uncontrolled fashion. although it is often integrated with just one point.2 57 .3. although it is safer to use full integration. The four-node quadrilateral element requires 2 × 2 points for full integration.22: Spurious zero energy mode for the eight-node quadrilateral element when using 2 × 2 integration. the trial functions (uh ) must satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. Figure 4. 2011 Version 0. If a two-dimensional element has more than three zero eigenvalues. January 21.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions The imposition of Neumann (force) boundary conditions in the finite element method is straightforward. In solid and structural mechanics. In summary. two points are required in each direction. there should be only three zero eigenvalues. It is often argued that a zero energy mode will be restrained by neighbouring elements. This means that a deformation mode exists which does not contribute to the energy. two relating the translation (x and y directions) and one for rigid body rotation.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions Figure 4. although a 2 × 2 scheme is often used. recommended integration schemes for commonly used one. A test for the element stiffness matrix is to calculate its eigenvalues. there is likely a deficiency in the formulation. In two dimensions. the eight-node quadrilateral requires 3 × 3 points for full integration. Reduced integration schemes can improve the performance of some elements for special applications. To integrate a quadratic function in two dimensions. The danger of underintegrating elements is that spurious modes may arise.modes which do not contribute to the energy. Non-zero Dirichlet boundary conditions are more complicated to enforce. 4. quadratic variation.

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. 2011 . 58 Version 0.3: Recommended integration schemes for commonly used elements.

Dirichlet boundary conditions can be enforced by modifying the RHS vector. 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.73) where av is the only unknown. ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv . Since g is known.1 Elimination of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom The displacement field can be expressed by: uh = vh + gh . 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. vv vg (4. vh is equal to zero where Dirichlet (displacement) boundary conditions are applied and gh satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions.2 59 . (4.mod = f ie − nn (4.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions this means that the uh must satisfy the prescribed displacements where they are specified.75) Once the element stiffness matrix has been formed. In discretised form at element level. and g are the applied Dirichlet boundary conditions.74) j =1 ∑ ke ge . ke a = ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv fg . ke av = f e − ke g. ij j (4. the element RHS vector can be modified to enforce Dirichlet boundary conditions before assembly into the global RHS vector. 4. f ie. 0 (4.72) Since g is known. it is not included in the global system of equations to be solved.4. January 21. Since the weight function is defined to be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.6.71) where av are the nodal unknowns at nodes where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. 2011 Version 0. Two common approached are outlined below. It is possible to write: ke av + ke g = f v . the element RHS vector is modified. vv vg In terms of indexes.70) where uh is the displacement. (4.

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. 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. which is given by: ∆u = ∇ · (∇u) = 0 To solve this problem. 2011 . Under what conditions the matrix B T DB is symmetric? 5. symmetry is lost. However.7 Exercises 1. The value of Dirichlet boundary condition is then inserted into the vector f at position k.4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. both the finite element method and the finite difference method require the solution of a system of equations Ka = f . at which points is the stress from the finite element solution not uniquely defined when using C0 elements? 2. 2004). and that the value of the Dirichlet boundary condition is returned in the solution vector which simplifies postprocessing.6. Show why this is. The three-node triangle element is often referred to as the ‘constant strain triangle’ (CST). 4. except the diagonal term which is set equal to one. 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. Form the shape functions for a Lagrange nine-node quadrilateral element 3.2 January 21. In one dimension and for equally spaced nodal points (nodes are a distance h apart). For a plane elasticity problem. 4. 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. Consider the Laplace equation.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. compare the matrix K for the finite element method with linear elements and for the secondorder central finite difference method. 60 Version 0. The advantage of this scheme is its simplicity.

Formulate the stiffness matrix for the element in Figure 4.1 and for E = 1 and ν = 0.4. January 21.2 61 . 2011 Version 0. Calculate the eigenvalues of the stiffness matrix and comment on their significance.2.7 using the nodal coordinates in Example 4.7 Exercises 6. Calculate and plot the shape functions for the eight-node quadrilateral element on a bi-unit square. 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. 8.


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

5 Implementation of the finite element method % node 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 x 0.5 2.0 0.5 0.0 Figure 5. In addition to nodal coordinates and the connectivity. the is Young’s modulus.8 2.6 0. The final column is the value of the applied boundary condition. The connectivity list for Figure 5.0 0.3: Element connectivity.0 0.1 2.3. 5. the calculation phase can begin. The second column gives the boundary condition type: Dirichlet (displacement) = 1 and Neumann (force) = 0.7 0. The list in Figure 5.2 January 21. the nodal coordinates is shown in Figure 5. 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).4 gives the applied boundary condition. The outline of a typical finite element program for linear static problems 64 Version 0.2: Nodal coordinates. the x and y coordinate is given.2.1 y 0. 2011 . % 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. although the numbering must process in an anti-clockwise direction (to avoid calculating a negative volume and hence a negative element stiffness).76 2.0 1. The problem in Figure 5. the node numbers are listed. The preprocessing is completed by specify the material data.1 is given in Figure 5.0 2.2 Program flow Once the input for a finite element analysis has been prepared. The density is necessary when taking the self-weight into account.0 0.1 2. This is either a prescribed force or the prescribed displacement.82 1. For an isotropic linear-elastic analysis. the node to which a boundary condition is applied is listed.1 involves both Dirichlet (displacement) and Neumann (force) boundary conditions. The list can begin with any node of the element. First. For each element.0 0. boundary conditions must be specified. the Poisson’s ratio and the density of the material. For each node.

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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k) ~= 0 a_e(jj) = a( ID(connect(i.dof_per_node + k if ID(connect(i.j).j).8: Set-up of local element arrays for element i.j). % form element stiffness matrix ip_scheme % determine integration scheme for i=1:number_ip_points % loop over integration points ip_location % calculate position of integration point shape_function % evaluate shape functions at integration point form_B_matrix form_D_matrix k_e = k_e + B’*D*B*w(i)*xj(i) % add contribution of ip to k_e f_e = f_e + N’*b*w(i)*xj(i) % add contribution of ip to f_e if postprocess == true % if stress is required stress(i) = D*B*a_e end end % return to main program Figure 5.:) = x(connect(i. 2011 .2 January 21. k) ) else a_e(jj) = g_e(jj) % displacement is prescribed end end end % return to main program Figure 5.:) % 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 .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.9: Formation of element stiffness matrix. 68 Version 0.

% 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. k) kk = j*dof_per_node .10: Imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions.l).k_e(:. January 21.jj) + k_e(kk.5.i)*g_e(i) end % return to main program Figure 5.j).dof_per_node + k for l=1:nodes_per_element for m=1:dof_per_node jj = ID(connect(i. m) ll = l*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 5.11: Assembly of local arrays into global arrays.jj) = K(ii.3 Local-global % impose Dirichlet boundary conditions for i=1:nodes_per_element*dof_per_node f_e(:) = f_e(:) .dof_per_node + m if ii~=0 & jj~=0 K(ii. 2011 Version 0.

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

post-processing of the data is required.5 Post-processing After a calculation has been completed. For static problems. Three quantities of potential interest from a linear-elastic calculation are displacements. Reaction forces can be evaluates by calculating the so-called internal force vector f int . stresses and reaction forces. More reliable are the reaction forces at nodes where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.1) Once assembled for all elements (at all nodes. The internal force vector for an element is given by: int fe = Ωe B T σ dΩ + Ωe N T b dΩ (5.2 71 . it gives the reaction force at each node. January 21. including where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied). It is important to realise that the stress computed at a point is not always reliable.5 Post-processing 5. 2011 Version 0. the internal force vector should be zero where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.5. This means that the body is in equilibrium.


Each element is rotated to a convenient coordinate system. They are used in situations where conventional solid elements perform poorly with a practicably allowable number of elements. which are closely related to classical equations from structural mechanics.1 Rod elements in space In Chapter 4.1: Two-dimensional truss structure. a one-dimensional rod element was developed that could only transmit normal forces. Consider the truss element in Figure 6. in contrast to continuum elasticity problems which involve only second-order derivatives. For a truss structure in F Figure 6.or three dimensional structure relies upon a rotation between different coordinate systems. the strong governing equations involve fourth-order derivatives. The use of truss elements in a two.2.1. These elements are derived from different governing equations. Joints (nodes) of the truss can translate in both the x. The formulation of structural elements tends to be more complex than continuum elements. It is however possible to assemble this element into a truss structure in two or three dimensions. 73 . Examples are beam. A simple two-dimensional truss structure is shown in Figure 6. A particular problem is that classical thin bending problems in structural mechanics are governed by fourth-order equations. Hence. The most convenient system is one in which the axis of the truss element is aligned with the x coordinate axis. which is oriented in the three-dimensional space.and y-directions. 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. 6. This has serious consequences for the shape functions which can be employed. a finite element model will require two degrees of freedom at each node. That is. 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. Their governing equations derive from the governing equation of elastostatics. plate and shell elements.

6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Fx* x* y* y z* z x Figure 6.1) The vector ae holds the displacement components at the nodes of an element. Denoting the angle between the x-axis and the x ⋆ -axis as θ. For a two dimensional truss structure. (6.4) The following definitions are now adopted: 74 Version 0. Therefore. the rotation matrix has the form: QT = cos θ − sin θ sin θ cos θ (6. Given that the only displacements of interest are the in x ⋆ -direction.3) = a2x⋆ 0 0 Q11 Q21  a2x      a2y a⋆ = e a1x⋆ a2x⋆ . and in two dimensions. 2011 . three dimensions. the vector ae has four components (a component in the x and y direction at each node). two degrees of freedom. (6.2 January 21. the rotation is particularly simple.1) to give the nodal displacements in terms of the coordinate system aligned with the axis of the truss element. a node will have three degrees of freedom. the above problem can be reduced to give:    a1x      a1y a1x⋆ Q11 Q21 0 0 . (6. The only displacement of any consequence for an element is in the x ⋆ -direction.and y⋆ -directions are given by:      Q Q21 0 0  a1x   a1x⋆       ⋆   11   a1y Q Q22 0 0  a1y  =  12 . The displacement components can be rotated using the matrix Q (see section 1. The displacements at nodes one and two.2) 0 Q11 Q21   a2x   a2x⋆   0      ⋆   0 0 Q12 Q22 a2y a2y where Qij are components of the matrix Q. in the x ⋆ . of a linear bar. displacements in the y⋆ -direction are not resisted by an element. Since truss elements are based on the assumption that only normal forces (σx⋆ ) can be transmitted.2: Linear truss element in three-dimensional space.

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. the stiffness matrix for a one-dimensional element can be formed.8) (recall that be is a variation). 2011 Version 0.8) into the weak governing equation (2.7) and (6.12). Ωe ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. Inserting the relationships in equations (6. where k⋆ is the standard one-dimensional stiffness e e matrix for a bar. multidimensional coordinate system. The strain in the x ⋆ -direction is therefore given by: h ǫh⋆ = u. The ‘star’ denotes that the shape functions are constructed relative to the coordinate system on the bar. (6.19) for a linear element).1 Rod elements in space and q= Q11 0 Q21 0 0 Q11 0 .10) Ωe This is equivalent to ke = q T k⋆ q. e (6.9) is the stiffness matrix. (6. It is important to ensure that a truss structure does not form a mechanism.7) Similarly. the element stiffness matrix is equal to: ke = q T B⋆ T EB⋆ q dΩ. and eliminating be .x⋆ = B⋆ qbe ⋆ (6. the derivative of a weight function w can be expressed in the local coordinate system in terms of the global degrees of freedom. h w.x⋆⋆ = B⋆ qae (6.6) where N ⋆ contains the shape functions for a one-dimensional bar (see equation (4. Clearly. A classic sign of a mechanism is singularity of the global stiffness matrix of the structure. Q21 (6.6. January 21. Inserting now the discretised fields into the weak governing equation for a onedimensional bar.2 75 .9) where the LHS of equation (6.

there are no out-of plane forces or moments. For a transverse displacement v.2 Beams Two types of beams are considered in this section. For simplicity. x2 ). v.2. the ‘domain’ of the beam.2 January 21. Consistent with previous sections. The governing equation is identified and then the weak form developed. is denoted Ω = ( x1 .4 shows the rotation of the plane due to a rigid body rotation.3. x2 ). which takes into account shear deformations. The development of beam elements follows the same steps as for continuum elements. which is valid for relatively slender beams. The second is the Timoshenko beam. Consider now a fibre in a beam 76 Version 0.3: Plane beam element Ω = ( x1 . Figure 6. in-plane beams are considered. The first is the classic BernoulliEuler beam.x y x Figure 6.4: Rotation of a line normal to the axis in a beam segment. and its ends (the boundary of Ω) are denoted Γ = x1 ∪ x2 .x v. straight. 6. Such a beam is illustrated in Figure 6.1 Kinematics of a beam Beam theory is based upon the assumption that planes which are normal to the beam’s axis remain plane. The outward normal is denoted n. 2011 .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis y fy Fy x T x = x1 x = x2 Figure 6. 6.

11) − h/2 σxx y dy. Subjecting a segment from a beam to pure shear.2 Beams γ v.2 77 . which together with some assumptions as to the stress in different directions can be inserted into the elasticity equations from Chapter 1.13) Figure 6. 6.6. Considering translational equilibrium of a beam segment Ω. (6. it is clear January 21. The fibre is indicated by the heavy line. It is clear from Figure 6.7 show the ‘resultant’ force Q and moment M due to a moment m and a shear force q in a beam. as illustrated in Figure 6. In the second method. Relative to the fibre which has not rotated. The first is to elaborate the kinematics of the beam. Note that M = m n and Q = q n. which will be followed here. which is initially perpendicular to the beam axis. equilibrium of a beam can be considered directly. the rotation θ of a fibre which is initially perpendicular to the beam’s axis is shown in Figure 6.2 Equilibrium of a beam The equilibrium equations for a beam can be developed in two ways.6 that θ = v. 2011 Version 0. (6. where n is the outward unit normal vector.12) and the shear stress q is defined by q= h/2 − h/2 σxy dy.6.x y x Figure 6. the fibre will not rotate.2.5: Beam segment subjected to pure shear. a plane which remains perpendicular to the axis undergoes a rotation γ.5.x − γ. For a beam segment subjected to both rotation and shear deformation. The bending moment m in a beam is defined as m= h/2 (6.

x y x Figure 6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γ θ v.6: Rotation of fibre in a beam. 2011 .7: Sign conventions for a bending moment and shear force resultant. +Q n y n +M x Figure 6. 78 Version 0.2 January 21.

x dΩ + f y dΩ = 0. (6. For rotational equilibrium. are valid for both Bernoulli-Euler and Timoshenko beam theories. distributed loads f y and applied moments T (all shown in Figure 6.21d) These equations.20b) Denoting applied end forces Fy .20a) (6. Γv ∩ ΓQ = ∅. on ΓQ . Γθ ∩ ΓM = ∅ + f y ) x dΩ = (6. it is clear that Ω Ω q.x + f y = 0.3). it is required that: m n dΓ − q nx dΓ − f y x dΩ = 0.18) Satisfaction of the translational equilibrium equation implies that 0.19) (6.x x dΩ − f y x dΩ = 0. Ω (q. (6. (6. Γθ ∪ ΓM = Γ.2 79 .x Ω Ω Ω Ω (6.17) (6. (6. The boundary Γ of a beam is partitioned such that: Γv ∪ ΓQ = Γ. 2011 Version 0.14) Noting that q n dΓ = q| x= L2 − q| x= L1 .2 Beams that: q n dΓ + dΩ dΩ Ω f y dΩ = 0. translational equilibrium requires that q.x dΩ − q dΩ − q.16) dΩ dΩ Ω This expression can be rearranged such that m. the boundary conditions are v = gv θn = gθ mn = T q n = Fy on Γv .x − q = 0.21a) (6.15) Since equilibrium must hold for an infinitely small segment of a beam. therefore rotational equilibrium requires that m. and boundary conditions.6.21b) (6.21c) (6. January 21. on Γθ . on ΓM .

dx2 (6.24).24) where I is the moment of inertia of the beam.25) Assuming EI to be constant.25) by a weight function v. so the rotation can be directly related to the displacement v. dx d2 v . Being a fourth-order equation. (6. − EI d4 v + f y = 0. 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. Multiplying equation (6. dx2 (6. from an appropriately defined space. dx4 (6.2. dx2 d2 v . and then inserting equation (6. and Neumann involve either the shear force or moment (equations (6. Taking now the derivative of all terms in equation (6.26) which is the strong equation of equilibrium for a Bernoulli-Euler beam.xx dΩ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.21b)). the boundary value problem is complete and can be solved.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.21d)).23) The bending moment in the beam is related to the curvature by: m = − EIκ = − EI (6. With appropriate boundary conditions. This assumption implies that the shear rotation γ is equal to zero.21c) and (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6.19) with respect to x.16) yields: d2 m + f y = 0. 2011 . Dirichlet boundary conditions involve the prescription of the displacement or the rotation (equations (6.21a) and (6. Weak governing equation Following the procedures from Chapter 2. two boundary conditions are required at both ends of the beam.22) which also implies that κ= (6. and inserting the constitutive relationship from equation (6.2 January 21. The negative sign is due to the sign convention in which the rotation and the resultant moment are in opposite directions.27) 80 Version 0. θ= dv . the weak form of equilibrium for a beam ¯ can be developed.

and inserting the constitutive relation in equation (6.x = 0 on Γθ .6. (6. ¯ Ω v.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x m. The integration domain for the ¯ ¯ boundary integrals has been changed since v = 0 on Γv .2 Beams Integrating by parts the term involving the moment M once yields: − Ω ¯ v. solving the governing weak equation for a beam involves: find v ∈ S such that − Ω ¯ v. it implies that the weak form of the governing equation is identical to the equation of virtual work. . v = 0 on Γv . continuity) than for classical continuum problems.21d). v. Both S and V must be subspaces of the Sobolev space H 2 (Ω). For the weak form to ‘make sense’.x = 0 on Γθ . (6. (6. Consistency of the above weak form can be proven following the same procedure as in in Section 2.33) δv. January 21.29) Inserting now the Neumann (natural) boundary conditions from equations (6. 2011 Version 0. and v. For completeness. Note that a fourth-order problem. which contains functions satisfying: Ω v2 + v2 + v2 dx < ∞.xx EIv.1.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vFy dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀v ∈ V .30) gives: Ω (6.21c) and (6. this time to the term Ω ¯ v.x = gθ on Γθ .28) Applying integrating by parts again.x mn dΓ + Γ ¯ vm.xx dΩ − ΓM ¯ v.x dΩ.32a) (6.x m. which require C0 continuity only.34) which is the equation of virtual work for a Bernoulli-Euler beam beam. it was shown that if the weight function could be considered as a ‘virtual displacement’. v = gv on Γv . has second-order derivatives in its weak form.x T dΓ + ΓQ δvFy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6.x . after integrating by parts twice.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.31) In one dimension this is equivalent to the trial and test functions being at least C1 continuous. the trial functions (v ∈ S ) and the ¯ weight (test) functions (v ∈ V ) must possess a higher degree of regularity (roughly speaking. v.24). which means that both their first and second derivatives exist.x dΩ + Γ ¯ vm. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .xx (6.xx dΩ = − ΓM δv. The existence of second-order derivatives in the weak form deserves some special attention.2 81 . (6.32b) For the case of an elastic continuum. Consider now: ¯ v ≡ δv Inserting this relationship into equation (6.xx m dΩ − Γ ¯ v.30) where S and V are appropriately defined spaces. the spaces S and V are formally defined by: S = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) . This is in contrast to second-order problems.xx EIv.

19) and (6.11) that rotation θ of a plane is given by θ= dv − γ. and the second for the displacement v.2 January 21. Inserting the constitutive relationships into the equilibrium equations in (6. 82 Version 0.2. Recall from equation (6. 2011 . This means that shear deformations can be taken into account. They also provide a solid introduction to moderately thick plate theories where the advantage of shear deformable theories will become more apparent. the first for the rotation θ. Together with the previously defined boundary conditions. in Ω. it is related to the shear force by the constitutive relationship: γ= q . and are hence suitable for relatively short beams.38) and considering v and θ to be the fundamental unknowns. (6. Relative to the Bernoulli-Euler theory. The governing equations are given by the equilibrium conditions in equations (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6.16) leads to: d2 θ − GAs dx2 dθ d2 v − dx dx2 dv −θ dx − EI GAs =0 in Ω. In terms of the shear force and properties of the beam. the problem is complete.36) where G is the shear modulus and As is the effective shear area.39) (6. Planes must remain plane.4 Timoshenko beam Timoshenko beams are more general Bernoulli-Euler beams as they allow for shear deformation.19) and (6.16) with the constitutive relationships m = − EIκ. dx (6.37) dv −θ . 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. has been introduced. q = GAs γ = GAs (6.35) where γ is the rotation due to shear. GAS (6. but not necessarily normal. an additional unknown. dx (6. the shear strain γ.40) + fy = 0 which are two coupled second-order equations.

46) is equivalent to the virtual work equation.x − θ ) dΩ = 0. consistency can be proven through the application of integration by parts. − Ω Ω ¯ θEIθ.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vGAs (v.40) by appropriately defined weight functions θ ¯ and v.41) (6. adding the weak forms in equations (6.45) and (6.x − θ ) dΩ + ΓQ ΓM Ω ¯ θT dΓ = 0.44) − ¯ v.x n dΓ − Γ Ω ¯ θGAs (v. (6.43) (6.x − θ ) n x dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.47) For many mechanical problems.2.x ) dΩ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x dΩ − Ω Ω Γ ¯ θEIθ.xx EIv. ¯ ¯ As before.42) ¯ vGAs (v. Applying integration by parts once. ¯ θ.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vh Fy dΓ + Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀vh ∈ V h (6.6. and v satisfies the transverse displacement boundary condition. the weak form or virtual work expressions appear naturally and can be used as a starting point in developing a finite element model.xx dΩ − Ω ¯ θGAs (v. 2011 Version 0. − Ω δκ m dΩ + Ω δγ q dΩ = − ΓM δθ T dΓ + ΓQ δv Fy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6. 6. considering δθ ≡ θ and δv ≡ 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.48) January 21.x EIθ.39) and (6. 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. and v = 0 on Γv .2 Beams Weak governing equations ¯ Multiplying equations (6. The test and trial functions should be at least C0 continuous (in contrast to the C1 continuity for the Bernoulli-Euler theory). As with all problems.x EIθ.46) − ¯ v. ¯ ∀θ ∈ Vθ ¯ ∀v ∈ Vv .x GAs (v. and using γ = v.x GAs (v. It is however assumed that θ = 0 on Γθ and that θ satisfies ¯ the rotation boundary condition.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.xx dΩ = − ΓM ¯h v.x dΩ − Ω Ω ¯ θGAs (v.x − θ. Ω (6.xx − θ.2 83 .x − θ ) dΩ = 0.45) (6. Ω (6.

the second derivative of a C0 continuous function does not exist in a classical sense.x N2. and involve both displacement and rotational degrees of freedom.50c) M1 = h2 ( x − x1 )2 ( x − x2 ) M2 = (6. Such shape functions can be constructed relatively easily in one dimension (the extension to multiple dimensions is however far from trivial).50a) h3 ( x − x1 )2 ( h + 2 ( x2 − x )) N2 = (6.2 January 21. 2011 . The displacement at a point in the beam is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6. The solution is to use C1 shape functions. However.x  v2      θ2 84 Version 0. The use of C0 interpolations for fourth-order problems is not mathematically consistent and can lead to unpredictable results. As for continuum elements. and the shape functions are equal to: − ( x − x2 )2 (− h + 2 ( x1 − x )) (6. The above equation requires the evaluation of the second derivative of the interpolated displacement field.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.49) where vi and θi are degrees of freedom associated with node i.x ae = N1. i 2 (6. The displacement field vh is given by: vh ( x ) = ∑ ( Ni ( x ) vi + Mi ( x ) θi ) .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis where S h ⊂ S and V h ⊂ V are finite-dimensional spaces.x M1.50b) h3 ( x − x1 ) ( x − x2 ) 2 (6. The problem that arises is that simple C0 finite element shape functions are not suitable.52) v.x M2. This results in a cubic interpolation of the displacement along the element. A Hermitian beam element with two nodes has four degrees of freedom (two displacement degrees of freedom and two rotation degrees of freedom). The first derivative is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6.x = N. Hermitian polynomials are C1 functions.50d) h2 for an element of length h with ends from x1 to x2 (x2 > x1 ). convergence of the solution is not assured for interpolations with insufficient continuity. we wish to express the displacement field v in terms of shape functions and nodal degrees of freedom. Crucially.

xx ae dΩ = − ΓM ( N.xx (6.x T T dΓ + ΓQ N T Fy dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.54) After some rearranging.xx dΩ.xx be ) T EI N.xx dΩ ae = − ΓM N.xx T EI N.2 Beams The second derivative of v is given by:    v1      θ1    v2    θ2 h v.x be ) T T dΓ + ΓQ ( Nbe ) T Fy dΓ Ω + ( Nbe ) T f y dΩ (6. (6.55) The element stiffness matrix is given by: ke = Ω N. 2011 Version 0. (6.xx M1.57) The operation to form the RHS vector essentially translates the applied loads into equivalent nodal shear forces and moments. Ω ( N.xx can be computed given ae . Ω N.xx T EI N. (6. v.xx = N.56) and the RHS vector by: fe = ΓQ N T Fy dΓ − ΓM N T T dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.6. they can be inserted into the Galerkin problem.x and v.xx N2.xx ae = N1. January 21.53) h h Now that vh .2 85 .xx M2.

h3 6x 1 M1.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Taking derivatives of the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6. N1.58b) (6. h h 12x N2. N1.60) Integrating the terms in the stiffness matrix exactly from − h/2 to h/2 (assuming EI 86 Version 0.xx = − .xx = .xx = 2 + .58h) Assuming the centre of the element is at x = 0 (x2 + x1 = 0.x = − .x = .x = h2 2 (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) .x = (6. Considering just the second derivatives with respect to x. h h (6.xx = 2 − .50).xx = h2 N1.2 January 21.58f) (6. h3 ( x − x1 ) (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) . h3 2 (6x − h − 4x1 − 2x2 ) N2.xx = 12x . M2. 2 ( x − x2 ) (3x + h − 2x1 − x2 ) .58a) (6.xx = − 3 .59a) (6. (6.xx = h3 ( x − x2 ) (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) M1.59d) Inserting these terms into equation (6. 2011 .58g) (6. M2.56). the above equations can be simplified significantly.58c) (6.59b) (6. h2 2 ( x − x1 ) (3x − h − x1 − 2x2 ) N2. h2 2 (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) M1. h 6x 1 M2.58d) (6. x1 = − h/2).59c) (6.58e) (6. h3 2 (6x + h − 2x1 − 4x2 ) . 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.

x − θ h dΩ = − ΓQ ΓM ¯ θ h T dΓ h ¯ ∀θ h ∈ Vθ . This will allow the use of the standard shape functions introduced in Chapter 4. v h = N v av . e θ = ¯ v = ¯ θh = h h (6. − 6EI  h2  4EI h (6.x GAs v. and corresponding derivatives. h h The Galerkin problem for the Timoshenko beam involves: find vh ∈ Sv and θ h ∈ Sθ such that Ω Ω h ¯h θ. 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  . e N v bv . (6. in terms of shape functions and nodal variable. due to the second-order nature of the governing equations.61) Timoshenko beams The finite element formulation for the Timoshenko beam is relatively simple.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. (6. Inserting the expressions for the unknown fields in terms of nodal variables and variations into equations (6.63) Consider the representation of the fields vh and θ h .62) h ¯h v. T (6.64c) (6. e θ θ N be .65) Ωe Bv T GAs Bv dΩav − e Ωe Bv T GAs N θ dΩaθ e = Γe.x EIθ.64d) N θ aθ .x − θ h dΩ = Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ + ¯ vh Fy dΓ h ¯ ∀v h ∈ Vv .2 87 . A distinction is made between the shape functions for vh and θ h as these may differ.x dΩ − Ω h ¯ θ h GAs v.6. (6. 2011 Version 0.62) and (6.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe N v T f y dΩ.66) January 21.64b) (6.2 Beams to be constant).64a) (6.M N θ T dΓ.

However. This is the effect in which the shear contribution to the energy does not vanish. Consider a Timoshenko beam element of length L. only a Timoshenko beam element would be necessary in practice. Timoshenko beam theory is superior to the Bernoulli-Euler theory in that it is valid for both short and slender beams. Ideally.70) (6. and both short and slender beams could be analysed. T T (6.2 January 21.72) (6. 2011 .67) where the components of the the element stiffness matrix are given by kθθ = Ωe Bθ EIBθ + N θ GAs N θ dΩ.74) e  EI GAs L GAs L  EI + − + L 6 L 3   GAs GAs −  2 2  . and for simplicity as the Timoshenko element used C0 shape functions. Ωe Ωe T T (6.75) kθv =  e  GA GAs  s − 2 2 88 Version 0. kθθ =  (6. T Bv T GAs Bv dΩ. Bv T GAs N θ dΩ.69) (6. and components of the element RHS vector are given by fθ = − fv = Γe.M N θ T dΓ. N v T f y dΩ. with linear shape functions for both the displacement and rotation. This would be advantageous from the point of view of generality.73) Γe.68) (6.71) kθv = − kvθ = − kvv = Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ. Locking Conceptually.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe Note that the stiffness matrix is symmetric (kθv = kvθ ). The components of the stiffness matrix are given by:   GAs L EI GAs L EI − +  L + 3 L 6  .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis The stiffness matrix of an element is of the form kθθ kvθ kθv kvv f aθ = θ fv av (6. (6. the result are plagued by shear locking. when applying Timoshenko elements for thin bending problems. resulting in an overly stiff response.

79) If L is large.80) which is independent of I. this element will exhibit a very stiff response. 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. Even with a very fine mesh. GAs (6. v2 ≈ 4PL .77) If at one end the beam is clamped. GAs (6. and a shear load P is applied one end.76) Therefore. EI GAs L  L + 3 ke =   GAs − 2 −  GAs     θ 0 2   2    =  GAs v2 P L (6.2 89 . 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 (6.81) which is the correct result. As L → 0. 2011 Version 0. v2 ≈ PL .78) Therefore. will yield a very stiff response. If the term Ωe N θT GAs N θ dΩ is evaluated using one-point numerical integration T January 21. θ1 = v1 = 0.6.

v2 ≈ PL GAs (6.82) ke =    GAs  GAs GAs GAs   −  2 2 L L     GAs GAs GAs  GAs − − − 2 2 L L Now. 2011 . v2 ≈ PL3 4EI (6. The case is similar for quadratic elements. 90 Version 0. v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/4) EIGAs /L2 (6. for the one element problem clamped at one end.84) which qualitatively the desired response.85) When using reduced integration. and as L → 0.2 January 21. where selective integration (two-point) leads to a dramatic reduction in locking response. this element performs quite well when the mesh is sufficiently well-refined.83) If L is very large. 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 (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis (which is reduced for this term).

Hughes.86b) where θα is the rotation of a fibre in the plate (see Figure 6. are are typically loaded out of plane. 1987.1 Plate kinematics The adopted coordinate system and sign convention for rotations θα for plates is shown in Figure 6. y) . Bathe. the relevant dangers in analysing plate and shell structures with the finite element method are presented.6. 1991.86a) (6. or x1 . 6. Similarly. y and z directions.2 91 . Plate finite elements can be extremely complex and are an area of ongoing research. displacement may be denoted u. summation is implied from one to two. The surface of the plate in the x1 –x2 plane is denoted Ω. v and w (displacements in the x. A serious problem stems from the need for C1 interpolations in the classic thin plate and shell bending theories.3. More detailed coverage can be found in a number of books (Zienkiewicz and Taylor. T When using Greek subscripts. the displacement of a point is given by: uα = −zθα ( x. Also. The plate has a thickness t. The adopted definitions simplify the formulation as it will avoid the need for a −1 factor on particular terms. A particularly accessible account can be found in Cook et al. x2 and x3 . 6. (6. It is convenient to express many relationships for plates using index notation. The three coordinates are denoted x. For convenience. The rotation of the January 21.8: Coordinate system for a plate. or u1 . this section does not provide an exhaustive coverage. 2011 Version 0. y and z. u2 and u3 when using indexes. Given the enormous number of different plate and shell elements. the convention differs from the right-hand rule. respectively).8. and the coordinate z = 0 corresponds to the mid-surface of the plate. u3 = u3 ( x.9). In plate theory.3 Plate Plates are effectively generalisations of beam elements to two spatial dimensions. y) . (1989). 1996). The basic governing equations of shell and plate elements and the most common finite element approaches are discussed. They are flat two-dimensional entities. and the boundary is Γ.3 Plate x3 p θ1 x2 t x1 θ2 Figure 6.

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

2 α.β (6.α 2 (6. and lies in the plane of Ω.β) .88a) (6.α . which is a second-order tensor and at a point is given by: καβ = 1 θ + θ β. The moment tensor mαβ in a plate is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σαβ z dz (6. It is useful to define a vector s which is normal to the vector n.i )).2 93 .10 (‘resultants’ are forces which are equivalent to a moment or shear stress). The alternative approach would be to insert the plate kinematics into the elasticity equations.3. 2011 Version 0. The shear force vector qα is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σα3 dz (6.j + u j. This allows the definition of following notation for January 21. γα = w. the strain field can be calculated at any point (recall ǫ = (1/2)(ui.88b) A useful quantity is the curvature. (6.89) 6.87) Note that if γα = 0.α = θ(α. it is clear that the moment tensor is symmetric. From the displacement field in equations (6.α 2 −θα + w. ǫαβ = ǫα3 = −z θα.91) The different resultant moments and transverse forces acting on cross-sections of a plate are shown in Figure 6. and the shear strain is given by γα .6. then θα = w.2 Equilibrium of a plate The equilibrium equations for a plate are developed here in the same fashion as for plates.α .β + θ β.3 Plate mid-surface of the plate is given by w.90) From symmetry of the stress tensor.86).α − θα .

s = w.93) Applying the divergence theorem to the term involving qα leads to Ω qα. Translation equilibrium of a plate requires that: ∂Ω (6.92h) qα nα dΓ + Ω pz dΩ = 0. mns = mαβ n β sα .92b) (6.92f) (6.s = ∂s qn = qα nα . quantities relative to an arbitrarily oriented plate edge: mnn = mαβ n β nα .92e) (6.94) which must also hold for an infinitesimally small piece of the plate.s = The quantities are illustrated in Figure 6.92a) (6. ∂s ∂mns . (6.95) 94 Version 0.11.92d) (6. therefore qα. 2011 . θn = θα nα . (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis q2 m21 m22 m11 x3 m12 x2 θ1 q1 q2 m11 q1 m12 m22 m21 x1 θ2 Figure 6.2 January 21. (6. mns.α dΩ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.α + pz = 0.n = w. ∂mnn .92g) (6. w.α sα mnn.10: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on cross-sections of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).92c) (6.α nα w.

3.3 Plate q2 m21 m22 qn x3 x2 θ1 mns m11 q1 m12 s mnn n x1 θ2 Figure 6. Considering now rotational equilibrium. and are specific to the considered plate theory. is the equation for translational equilibrium.11: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on an edge of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)). hence boundary conditions are elaborated upon in the context of a given theory. constitutive relationships are required which relate the moment tensor and the shear force to deformations.α xα = qα + q β. It is applicable for thin plates where shear deformations are negligible. (6. the outwardly simplest plate theory presents the most problems when formulating the finite January 21. Since translation equilibrium requires that q β.β dΩ − Ω qα dΩ − Ω q β. To complete the problem.β − qα = 0.β + pz = 0.β xα dΩ − Ω pz xα dΩ = 0.2 95 .3 Thin plates . These constitutive relationships will also be elaborated upon in the context of the different theories.PSfrag 6. rotational equilibrium requires that mαβ. 2011 Version 0. mαβ n β dΓ − q β n β xα dΩ − pz xα dΩ = 0. Ironically.98) The boundary conditions for a plate are more complicated that for a beam. (6.96) ∂Ω ∂Ω Ω which leads to: Ω mαβ.Kirchhoff theory The Kirchhoff plate model theory is analogous to the Bernoulli-Euler beam. 6.97) noting that q β xα .α xα . (6.β + q β.β = q β xα.

mαβ. and the Kirchhoff plate model requires two boundary conditions at all points 96 Version 0. the governing equation can be expressed in a particularly convenient form: w.102) into equation (6.αβ + pz = 0.104) Expanding this equation. Et3 (6.100) The moment is related to the curvature by mαβ = −Cαβγδ κγδ .βα . Assuming transverse shear deformations are zero.ααββ = 12 1 − ν2 pz . It is often written in a shorthand format using the biharmonic operator ∇4 . the curvature κ is equal to: καβ = 1 w.2 January 21.102) Cαβγδ = t3 ¯ µ δαβ δβδ + δαδ δβγ + λδαβ δγδ .100) yields a fourthorder partial differential equation. ∇4 w = ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 .105) This equation is known as the ‘biharmonic equation’.98) and inserting equation (6. 12 (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis element method. 12 1 − ν2 ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 = pz . This can be done by differentiating equation (6.103) ¯ where λ = 2λµ/ (λ + 2µ).αβ + w. four different types of boundary conditions are possible. Inserting the constitutive relationship (6. 2 (6.101) (6. 2011 . Since shear deformations are zero.106) As a fourth-order equation. ∂x y Et3 ∂x4 ∂y (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. After some rearranging.95).87) reduces to: θα = w. equation (6. where the constitutive tensor is equal to: (6. The goal is now to eliminate qα from the governing equations.α (6. The shear force qα is no longer ‘independent’. ∂x y ∂x4 ∂y (6.

α mαβ. and integrating over the plate surface Ω.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w.2 97 . − Ω ¯ w. then integrated by parts. the boundary conditions are given by: w = gw θ n = gθ mnn = T qn + mns.n = 0 on Γθ .n mnn dΓ + Γ ¯ w (mns.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.α mαβ n β dΓ = − Γ Γ ¯ w. and integrating over the surface of the plate.107b) (6.αβ dΩ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. The problem here is that too many boundary terms appear in the first boundary integral. The moment can only be applied normal to the boundary (mαβ n β nα ).3 Plate on the boundary.110) which is the weak form of the governing equation for thin plate bending.s + qn ) dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. 2011 Version 0. Rather than multiplying the governing ¯ equation (6. The last boundary condition is known as the ‘modified shear’ boundary condition.n mnn dΓ + Γ Γ ¯ w.α mαβ n β dΓ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. (6.s dΓ − wmns | B A (6. (6.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.s = Q on Γw on Γθ on ΓM on ΓQ (6.111) =− The last term will be ignored.20). it is convenient to carry out the process on equation (6.107d) The first two boundary conditions are Dirichlet boundary conditions.112) January 21. and leads to the well known ‘corner forces’ in thin plate theory. Integrating the moment term by parts once.107a) (6. Inserting the above relationship into equation (6.6. Ω ¯ wmαβ.108) where Ω is the surface of the plate. The governing equation is multiplied by a weight function. − Γ ¯ w.107c) (6. Ω ¯ w.109) Using integration by parts again on the first term. (6.n mnn dΓ − ¯ w. and the last two are Neumann boundary conditions. Considering the partition of the boundary in equation (6. Multiplying by a weight ¯ function w.100). (6. for which w = 0 on Γw and w.105) by a weight function w. yields Ω ¯ 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.s mns dΓ ¯ ¯ wmns.β dΩ + Γ ¯ wmαβ.110) (ignoring the point terms).

Unlike for thin plates. The rotation of the plate cannot be calculated simply as a derivative of the transverse displacement. The key to the success of this approach in a finite element context is that the moment tensor mαβ is calculated from the curvature.115a) (6. (6.α + pz = 0. 6. qα. which depends on θα which is no longer calculated directly from w (θα = w.115b) Consistency can proven through the repeated application of integration by parts. and w. solving the weak problems then involves: find w ∈ S such that Ω ¯ w.αβ mαβ dΩ − ΓM ¯ w. w.116b) 98 Version 0.116a) (6. w and θα . However. As such. ¯ ¯ ¯ Considering w as a virtual displacement δw. w. the governing equations for equilibrium are the same as for the Kirchhoff theory. some serious practical problems arise in finite element analysis when applying Reissner-Mindlin elements for the analysis of thin plates.n T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ V . (6. The difference lies in the kinematics and the constitutive model.4 Moderately thick plates – Reissner-Mindlin theory The Reissner-Mindlin theory for plates includes shear deformation. w = 0 on Γw . w. (6. The governing equations for a thick plate are those given in Section 6.α as a virtual rotation δθα .n = 0 on Γθ .n = gθ on Γθ . which in turn involves second derivatives of w. For this theory. δκαβ . the above equation is the equation of virtual work for a plate: δκαβ mαβ dΩ − δθn T dΓ + δwQ dΓ + δwpz dΩ = 0 (6. The problem now involves two different unknowns.114) Ω ΓM ΓQ Ω Recall that the bending moment mαβ is a function of the curvature.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Inserting the Neumann boundary conditions. the governing equations cannot be further reduced since θα is not a direct function of w.3. 2011 .113) where the functions in S satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. the spaces S and V for the weak form of Kirchhoff plate theory are defined as follows: S = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) .α ).3. hence the highest order derivatives in the weak governing equation are order two.β − qα = 0.αβ as the virtual curvature. For completeness. It is analogous to the Timoshenko beam.2 January 21. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . w = gw on Γw .2. The equations of equilibrium are: mαβ. it is applicable for both thick and thin plates.

Ω ¯ θα mαβ. and k is a correction factor which is equal to 5/6. (6. This set of equations can be reduced by eliminating qα .β − θ β .121) Integrating the above equation by parts. on Γθ .β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. Firstly. − Ω ¯ θ(α. This is due to θα and w being decoupled.β − Cαβ w.β − θ β dΩ = 0.2 99 . is a vector. 2011 Version 0.117) Cαβ w. on ΓQ .119a) (6. This set of equations cannot be reduced further. qα = Cαβ γβ = Cαβ w. (6. three boundary conditions must be applied at all points on the boundary. Weak form To derive the weak form.123) January 21. (6. This means than the governing equations are being solved in their irreducible form.119a) is multiplied by a weight function θα .6.118) (6.120b) (6.102)).120c) (6.120d) Given that one of the unknowns.120a) (6. where Cαβ = ktµδαβ . a constitutive relation relating the shear forces to the shear strain is introduced. both equations (6.122) ¯ Inserting now Neumann boundary conditions (θα = 0 where θα is prescribed) yields: − Ω ¯ θα. (6. on ΓM .119b) are addressed.β − θ β dΩ = 0.3 Plate In addition to the constitutive relationship relating moment and curvature (equation (6. The ‘naturally’ occurring boundary conditions involve w = gw θα = gαθ mαn = Tα qn = Q on Γw . 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.β − θ β = 0 (6. ¯ equation (6.β dΩ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.α + pz = 0 It is these equations which will be solved. mαβ.119a) and (6.119b) (6.β) mαβ dΩ + Γ ¯ θα mαβ n β dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. θα .β − θ β dΩ = 0.αβ − θ β.

127b) by minus one).α Cαβ w. 2011 . the above equation includes a contribution to the energy due to shear ( Ω δγα qα dΩ).β − θ β dΩ + Γ ¯ wCαβ γβ nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.β) and δγα = w.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.127b) Note that both weak equations contains derivatives no higher than order one. the highest order derivative appearing for both terms is one. and taking advantage of the symmetry of mαβ .2 January 21.119a). Multiplying now equation (6. However.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ Vw (6.α Cαβ w. Hence. (6. − Ω ¯ w. It is equations (6. The weak problem therefore involves: find θα ∈ Sθ and w ∈ Sw such that: − Ω ¯ θα.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis which is the weak form of equation (6.124) Ω Ω Integrating the above equation by parts yields: − Ω ¯ w. (6. (6.125) ¯ Inserting again Neumann boundary conditions (w = 0 where w is prescribed).127b) that are solved using the finite element method.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.126) which is the weak form of equation (6.127a) − Ω ¯ w.α − θα . δκαβ = θ(α. adopting ¯ ¯ ¯ the notation δw = w. ¯ wCαβ w.β − θ β dΩ = 0.119b).128) − which is the equation of virtual work for a Reissner-Mindlin plate. ¯ ∀θα ∈ Vθ (6.127a) and (6. 100 Version 0.α Cαβ w.α) dΩ + ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. This will require the interpolation of both the transverse displacement w and the rotation θα . Note that different to the virtual work equation for a Kirchhoff plate (6. C0 shape functions can be applied.119b) by a ¯ weight function w.114).αβ − θ( β. Combining both equations (multiplying equation (6. yields: Ω −δκαβ mαβ dΩ + Ω δγα qα dΩ + ΓM δθα Tα dΓ − ΓQ Ω δwQ dΓ δwpz dΩ = 0 (6.

2 101 . m22 .130) For the shear forces qα . The majority of Kirchhoff plate elements are non-conforming – this means that they do not satisfy C1 continuity. where Ds = tkµ 0 0 . The matrix D b has the form: 1 ν 1 0 0 0 Et3 D = 12 (1 − ν2 ) b  ν    0 (1 − ν ) 2   . some non-conforming elements yield satisfactory results. it tests whether an element can represent rigid body modes and a state of constant strain. The complications are rooted in the need for C1 continuity. tkµ (6. However. In place of requiring C1 continuity. a less severe requirement is that elements satisfy a ‘patch test’. The element is still useful as it passes the patch test. 2κ12 ) T .131) Kirchhoff plate elements There are few reliable.   (6. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 x3 y + c2 xy3 + c3 x3 + c4 y3 + c5 x2 y + c6 xy2 + c7 x2 + c8 y2 + c9 xy + c10 x + c11 y + c12 . 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. flexible and robust Kirchhoff plate elements.3. m12 ) T and κ = (κ11 . none of which are of general applicability. January 21.129) where m = (m11 . m = −Db κ   (6.3 Plate 6.133) 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.5 Plate finite elements As in elasticity. There exists a range of Kirchhoff plate elements. q = D s γ. A common Kirchhoff plate element is rectangular and has four nodes and twelve degrees of freedom.6. κ22 . constant strain implies constant curvature. In the context of plates. In particular. (6. It does not however satisfy C1 continuity.132) (6. symmetry of mαβ and καβ allows the use of simplified ‘engineering’ notation.

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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given a collection of basis functions. The order of convergence indicates how quickly the error reduces upon mesh refinement. We want to know if we halve the element size (leading to at least a doubling in computational effort). the Sobolev norm is equal to: 1/2 u 2 = Ω uu + u. This is known as the order of convergence – if the size of the element is halved. One is with which ‘norm’ the error is being measured. To give an indication of the size of the error.1 A priori error estimation A priori error estimation does not provide quantitative information as to the error in a finite element simulation.1) where u is the exact solution and uh is the approximate solution. Recall from Chapter 3 the error e at a point is defined as: e = u − uh . (7. The Sobolev norm. which is the type of norm which will be used here. What it does provide is the order of convergence. this does not tell how large the error is. Another factor is the smoothness of the exact solution. or the error in terms of the strain. (7. it is necessary to consider a norm of the error. Also.ij u. is given by: u n = α =0 Ω ∑ n 1/2 ( D u) dΩ α 2 . is the error in terms of displacements being measured. The subscript n indicates the type of norm. While the solution may be optimal. For example. how much smaller will the error be? 7. The order depends on several factors. e n . the order of convergence depends heavily on the type of element.i + u. Two norms of particular interest 105 . (7.7 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. it is useful to know ‘how accurate’ different elements are. For example. It is of course important to have some idea of the magnitude of the error and how it can be controlled and reduced. The magnitude of the error is quantified by calculating a norm of e. For finite element analysis.i u. setting n = 2.ij dΩ .3) This scalar value is a measure of the ‘magnitude’ of a function.2) where D α denotes the α derivative. how much smaller will the error be.

10) This means that the finite element solution is at least as accurate as the nodal interpolate in terms if energy. Consider the nodal interpolate u I . 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). Version 0. It is defined by: u 2 E = | u |2 = r Ω ( Dr u)2 dΩ. u − uh 106 r ≤ Chk+1−r |u|k+1 . it holds that u − uh E ≤ u − uI E.2 (7. In this way.5) which now includes the gradient of e. (7.9) where k is the polynomial order. (7. Given that a finite solution is known to be the best possible solution from the finite-dimensional space S h .6) which involves only a particular order derivative. Note that to ensure convergence. setting n = 0 gives: 1/2 e 0 = Ω (e · e) dΩ . Interpolation theory provides the inequality u − uI m ≤ chk+1−m |u|k+1 . i (7. (7. Setting n = 1. c is an unknown constant.10) into the above expression. k + 1 > m.7) where r is the order of the derivatives appearing in the weak form. (7. 1/2 e 1 = Ω (e · e + ∇e : ∇e) dΩ . For example. A Sobolev semi-norm is given by |u|n = Ω ( D n u)2 dΩ 1/2 . (7. Inserting now equation (7. hence it interpolates the exact solution using the provided shape functions.11) January 21. (7. rather a question which can be answered from interpolation theory. An important semi-norm is the energy norm. thereby introducing a measure of the error in the strain.4) which is a measure of the error in the displacements. uI = ∑ Ni aiI . 2011 . the question of determining an error estimate is no longer a finite element question.7 Analysis of the finite element method involve n = 0 and n = 1.

and O(h) in terms of strains. It would be useful to find an estimate in terms of lower norms. e e 0 1 ≤ Ch2 |u|2 ≤ Ch|u|2 . such as the error in the displacement. a natural question is how close the solution is to the exact solution. there may be no gain in accuracy through increasing the polynomial order. (7. The order of convergence of a particular element type indicates how quickly the exact solution is approached.1.15) which implies that the approximate strains converge to the exact result slower than the approximate displacements. 2011 Version 0. r = 1. Therefore. In elasticity. It leads to the estimate: u − uh s ≤ Ch β |u|k+1 . Larger a implies faster convergence. 7. hence u − uh 1 ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . hence it represents the error in the energy. e 1 (7. which tells ‘how good’ the calculated solution is. 1/2 .12) This implies that the solution converges in this norm at a rate equal to the polynomial order.2 A posteriori error estimation Once a finite element solution has been calculated. the greater a the smaller the error.13) where β = min (k + 1 − s.14) In terms of the strain. this norm is dominated by the error in the strain. (7. k = 1.2 107 .16) Hence linear elements are known as being O(h2 ) in terms of displacements.2 A posteriori error estimation where C is a constant.7. the two quantities of special interest are the displacements and the strains (and hence the stresses). 2(k + 1 − r )). independent of h. Of course as h becomes small. January 21. but does not tell how far the computed solution is from the exact solution. If the exact solution is not sufficiently smooth. This is error analysis. the displacement error is: which is equal to Ω e · e dΩ e 0 ≤ Chk+1 |u|k+1 . (7. The convergence order for different polynomial orders is given in Table 7. An estimate can be obtained using ‘Nitsche’s trick’ (see Strang and Fix (1973) for details). This result is however conditional upon the seminorm |u|k+1 existing. For an elasticity problem. The notation O(h a ) means that the error is ‘of the order h a ’. u − uh 0 . For k ≥ 1. ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . (7. The error in the displacements is given by e 0 . For linear elements. For practical purposes.

It has an extraordinary rate of convergence. the error can be estimated. Research is ongoing for more sophisticated error estimators for more complicated problems. It may be desirable to reduce the error to a specified value throughout a mesh.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. To halve the error in a particular problem using h-adaptivity. or to devise procedures which sub-divide elements where the error is large. That is. an adaptive scheme is required to reduce the error to the prescribed levels. A mathematically appealing concept is hp-adaptivity. but is challenging to implement. Based on an analysis of the error. Two forms of adaptivity are commonly used: p-adaptivity and h-adaptivity. 7.2 January 21. knowing the order of convergence of an element may prove useful. Error estimation is a rich field of applied mathematical research. 2011 . Hence. adaptivity can be employed to reduce the error where needed.1: Order of convergence O(hk ) for commonly used finite elements in terms of displacements and strain. At this point. Then. and adaptivity is employed. the problem is re-analysed. The most common is the Zienkiewicz-Zhu (ZZ) (Zienkiewicz and Zhu. adaptivity techniques can be employed in combination with an error estimator. It is based on the property that the stresses at certain points within an element are super-convergent. 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. It is possible to generate an entirely new mesh. padaptivity involves increasing the polynomial order of elements to reduce the error in the calculated solution. 1987) stress recovery error estimator. Fortunately. some relatively simple error estimators exist for linear problems. A posteriori error estimators are generally either residual-based or rely on stress recovery techniques. a new mesh must be constructed. The process can be repeated until the prescribed error tolerance is met. Given a measure of the error. a finite element mesh can be adapted to improve the solution. they converge faster toward the exact solution than other points.3 Adaptivity To improve the accuracy of a finite element solution. h-adaptivity uses another technique to reduce the error. It relies upon reducing the size of the element. it 108 Version 0. assuming that the exact solution is sufficiently smooth. by comparing the stresses interpolated from the super convergent points with the stress computed from the derivative of the displacement field. Then. the error is again estimated. Given a estimation of the error.

January 21.4 Exercises helps to know how quickly the error reduces for a particular element.7.7 times smaller? 3. 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.and h-adaptivity. how much smaller would you expect the error in the displacements and the stresses to be if all the elements are made 2. When using Q4 elements. List some advantages and disadvantages of p.4 Exercises 1.2 109 . 2011 Version 0. 7.


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

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

when a load is applied at the 113 . 0) = v0 ( x) ˙ (9.1. 9.1 Elastodynamics The majority of this chapter deals with elastodynamics problems. information travels through the domain immediately. its is complemented by boundary conditions. 9. Initial conditions correspond to the conditions at time zero (t = 0). 0) = u0 ( x) u ( x. the finite element method has been applied only for time-independent problems. therefore two initial conditions are required: u ( x. All problems up to this chapter were elliptic. relies on linearity of the underlying problem and is suited to vibration analysis. In mathematical ¨ terms.4b) where v is the velocity (v = ∂u/∂t). These are initial conditions.4a) (9. modal analysis.9 Time-dependent problems Until now. this equation differs significantly from the static case as the governing equation is hyperbolic. In this chapter. The second. time-dependent Dirichlet boundary conditions are prescribed.1) where ρ is the density and u = ∂2 u/∂t2 is the acceleration vector.3) Dynamic problems require some ‘extra’ information compared to their quasi-static counterparts. For example. σn = h on Γh (9. 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. time-dependent Neumann boundary conditions are applied. Two approaches will be elaborated. On parts of the boundary. The first. Similar to static problems. u=g on Γg . approach is more general and suited to wave propagation problems. (9.2) On other parts of the boundary.1 Governing equation and the weak form for elastodynamics The equation of motion is given by: ρu = ∇ · σ + b ¨ (9. less subtle. With elliptic problems.

which when considering the semidiscrete formulations are constant in time.2 Semi-discrete Galerkin form To reach a finite element formulation. a stress wave will travel through the bar and a force at the restrained end will not be felt until the stress wave arrives. (9.6) 9. Ωe N T ρN dΩ ae = − ¨ Ωe B T DB dΩ ae + Ωe N T b dΩ + Γh. solving the weak form involves: for a given t > 0. like for the static case the governing equation must be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns and basis functions. the Galerkin form must be developed.5) Integrating by parts. the finite-dimensional velocity and acceleration fields in an element are given by: uh = N ae .1. is hit with a hammer at the free end. and integrating gives: Ω ρw · u dΩ = ¨ Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ (9. which is independent of time. a reaction force is felt immediately at the other end.1) by a weight function w. Inserting the discretised displacement field ˙ ¨ and the expression for the acceleration field into equation (9. restrained at one end.e N T h dΓ. (9. 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. using the same steps outlined in Chapter 2.2 January 21. The velocity and acceleration fields are represented using the shape functions. The equations for elastodynamics are hyperbolic. for an element. 2011 . The time dimension is left continuous. From the weak from in the previous section. (9.9 Time-dependent problems free end of a restrained rod. Multiplying equation (9. If a bar.8a) (9. Therefore. To solve dynamic problems using a computer.8b) where ae = dae /dt and ae = d2 ae /dt2 . Deriving the weak form for dynamic problems follows the familiar procedure. This is again done using finite element shape functions.7) and rearranging.7) which is known as ‘semi-discrete’. ˙ ˙ u = N ae . With hyperbolic problems ‘information’ travels at finite speeds. ¨ ¨ h (9. and inserting Neumann boundary conditions.9) 114 Version 0. find u ∈ S such that Ω ρw · u dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ ∀w ∈ V .

Since finite element shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. It is however possible that nodes will have zero or negative masses.11) Before this equation can be solved. lumped masses at each node. it was not entirely clear how the mass matrix should be formed. Perhaps the simplest procedure to form lumped mass matrices is to form the matrices using numerical integration. This equation can be written is a shorthand format as: Me a e + k e a e = f e ¨ (9.2 115 . in the same fashion as for the element stiffness matrix. Another procedure is based on summing rows of the consistent mass matrix. but with integration points located only at element nodes.10) where Me is the element mass matrix. All off-diagonal terms are equal to zero. the mass matrix is symmetric and will have off-diagonal terms.1. The obvious choice from the variational approach is the consistent mass matrix. This procedure however can lead to negative masses on the diagonal. there is some freedom in determining exactly how the lumped mass matrix should be calculated. Since lumped schemes do not follow naturally from the variational formulation. for a given time tn M an + Kan = f n . Once the element contributions have been assembled into the global mass and stiffness matrices and the global RHS vector.13) where n is the dimension of the mass matrix. as will be discussed in the following sections. ¨ (9.1 Elastodynamics This equation is commonly called the ‘semi-discrete’ equation. This property is highly advantageous in combination with some time integration schemes. (9. Other more January 21.9. Before the variational basis of the finite element method was properly understood. a strategy is required to deal with the time derivatives of a. Since shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. This corresponds to having discrete. this will yield a diagonal mass matrix. A common approach was to form a lumped mass matrix. This is formed similarly to the stiffness matrix. 2011 Version 0.3 Mass matrix There are several methods to form the mass matrix. 9. cons = Me Ωe ρN T N dΩ. the lumped mass matrix has non-zero terms only on the diagonal. Mii lump = j =1 cons ∑ Mij n (9. As with the element stiffness matrix.12) This is typically formed by integrating numerically.

In strong form. the contribution of the mass matrix increases damping with decreasing frequency. t) = u0 ( x) . (9. u is the temperature. 9. The problem requires boundary conditions. Conversely. Unlike elastodynamics. (1989). The precise source of damping and its mathematical form is often vague. The contribution of the stiffness matrix to the damping matrix increases damping with increasing frequency. (9. A simple method of introducing damping is to say: C = τM + ψK. ¨ ˙ (9. 2011 . and initial conditions.4 Damping Problems in structural dynamics often involve damping. There is no rich theory underlying the choices.2 Heat equation The heat equation is introduced here as a step to the problems in elastodynamics.15) where τ and ψ are user chosen parameters. Given that only the first derivative with respect to time is involved.3. The performance of lumped mass matrices is guided primarily by experience. u ( x. c is the ‘capacity’. unsteady heat diffusion is governed by: ˙ ρcu + ∇ · q = f . It can be included through the damping matrix C. namely the temperature at t = 0. 9. Damping due to the material response can also be included. They two key points are that zero and negative masses on the diagonal should be avoided. ˙ M a + C a + Ka = f . only one type of initial condition may be provided.17) 116 Version 0. Damping is often included by adding the term C a to the governing equations. as outlined in Section 2. or through the constitutive model relating stress and strain.1. The choice of the parameters τ and ψ is certainly arbitrary. It will become clear when addressing particular time integration schemes why lumped mass matrices are popular.9 Time-dependent problems sophisticated lumping schemes are possible which will avoid negative masses. This topic is left to other courses which address non-linear material behaviour. q = −κ ∇u is the heat flux.16) where in the context of diffusion of heat. This is known as Rayleigh damping. A discussion can be found in Cook et al. representing the uncertainty in the source of damping. kappa is the conductivity. The steady-state version of the equation was introduced in Section 2.14) where the matrix C represents the sources of damping in the structure.2 January 21.3. it involves first order derivatives with respect to time. (9.

(9.24) The highest frequency from all elements provides an upper bound to the highest frequency of the problem.11) and rearranging. If one end of a rod is heated.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics The heat equation is parabolic. The acceleration is therefore given by: (9. ¯ det K − ω 2 M = 0. For explicit time integration procedures. its motion is harmonic. it is relatively simple to calculate the natural frequencies. Non-trivial solutions (a = 0) require that: ¯ (9.20) where ω is the frequency (radians per second).23) where ω are the natural frequencies of the system. For the consistent mass matrix.22) which is a matrix eigenvalue problem. The difficulty is that the size of the problem in equation (9. ¨ ¯ Inserting these results into equation (9.9. this can be expressed at time tn as: M an + Kan = f n . it is important to know the highest natural frequency of the discrete problem.18) (9. ωe = 2 3/L January 21. The displacements at the nodes can be described by a = a cos (ωt − α) . find uh ∈ S h such that Ω ˙ w h ρcuh dΩ + Ω ∇wh · κ ∇uh dΩ − Γh w h h dΓ = Ω w h f dΩ ∀wh ∈ V h (9. the semi-discrete Galerkin problem for the heat equation involves: for a given t > 0.25) √ for an element of length L. which ¯ are also known as natural modes.19) In matrix form. ˙ 9. For a one-dimensional linear element. (9. 2 det ke − ωe me = 0 (9. An upper bound to the highest frequency can be found by calculating the frequencies for all individual elements. the highest frequency is equal to: ωe = 2 L E ρ E/ρ. If stiffness and mass matrices are of dimension n. this is immediately felt (an infinitesimal amount) and increases with time. It turns out that for a lumped mass matrix. there are n eigenvalues λ (λ = ω 2 ). 2011 Version 0. (9.21) −ω 2 M + K a = 0. The eigenvectors are a. Following the usual processes in developing the weak form. ¯ a = −ω 2 a cos (ωt − α) .2 117 .23) can be very large.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics If an undamped system is allowed to vibrate freely (no forcing terms).

2 January 21. and ωi are the natural frequencies.28) where αi (t) is the amplitude of the ith eigenmode.30) 1 0 i = j.4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics Modal analysis involves the dividing of the response of a structure into a number of modes. (9. The sum of the modes gives the total displacement.33) 118 Version 0. and are known as vibration modes. ¨ Ψj T M ∑ αi Ψi + Ψj T K ∑ αi Ψi = Ψj T f i i (9. ¨ αi + ωi2 αi = Ψi T f .11) . a (t) = ∑ αi (t) Ψi i (9. Consider a solution a = ψi cos (ωi t + θi ) . It is then possible to treat each mode separately.32) The orthogonality property means that the equation has been decoupled into nm simple.9 Time-dependent problems 9.26) Inserting the above equation into the unforced version ( f = 0) of equation (9. The nodal displacements can be expressed as a summation of eigenfunctions. i = j. (9. i = j. This means that: Ψi T MΨj = and Ψi T KΨj = ωi2 0 i = j.27) where Ψi are eigenvectors. (9. it is then possible to treat each mode individually.11) yields: ¨ M ∑ αi Ψi + K ∑ αi Ψi = f i i (9. A special property of the eigenmodes Ψi is that they are orthogonal. (9. K − ωi2 M Ψi = 0.28) into equation (9. (9.31) Pre-multiplying both sides of this equation by Ψj T . For linear problems. 2011 .29) Orthogonality implies that the vibration modes do not interact with each other. separate equations. Inserting equation (9.

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

and the implicit trapezoidal (θ = 1/2) and backward Euler (θ = 1) methods.39) (9.41a) (9. ˙ 9. and is second-order accurate. ˙ Rearranging equation (9. but only first-order accurate. 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 ) ˙ ¨ ¨ (9.2 One-step algorithms for elastodynamics The most commonly used time integration scheme in solid and structural mechanics is the generalised Newmark scheme. the problem to solve an+1 has become ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 . where 1 ˆ K= M+K θ∆t 1 (1 − θ ) fˆn+1 = f n+1 + Man + M an .37) (9. 1 1 (1 − θ ) M + K a n +1 = f n +1 + Man + M an .9 Time-dependent problems A popular family of algorithms are ‘generalised trapezoidal’ methods.40b) (9. For the problems to be considered here. ˙ θ∆t θ and an is computed from equation (9.2 January 21.5. Well known methods are the explicit forward Euler (θ = 0) method. ˙ ˙ (9. well known integrators.36) gives. In practice.41b) (9. Choosing parameters appropriately for a Newmark algorithm yields a number of different. a n +1 = ˙ 1 1 (1 − θ ) a − an − an . They involve: an+1 = an + ∆t ((1 − θ ) an + θ an+1 ) .35). the trapezoidal method is particularly attractive as it is unconditionally stable.36) and inserting the above result into equation (9.40a) (9.35) where 0 ≤ θ ≤ 1. the forward Euler is not particularly useful as its stability properties are poor.38) 120 Version 0. In matrix form. ˙ θ∆t θ∆t θ In compact notation.37). 2011 . Newmark time integrators are a family of schemes. The backward Euler method is also unconditionally stable. both explicit and implicit. the heat equation at time tn+1 must satisfy: M an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 . ˙ θ∆t n+1 θ∆t θ (9.

This scheme is O(∆t2 ) accurate.2 121 . but as will be shown later. 2 (9.46a) into equation (9. Its stability properties are attractive.46b) Inserting equation (9. where c is the dilatational wave speed (c = E/ρ) and L is the length of an element. Calculating the necessary terms using ˙ ¨ central differences. an+1 = an + ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) 4 (9.9. A commonly used time integrator is the central difference method.41) for β = 0 and γ = 1/2. 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).42) For γ = 1/2. It is stable for: ∆t ≤ 2 ωh (9.43b) It is possible to rearrange these terms and show that they are equivalent to equation (9.47) This integrator is implicit. a Newmark scheme is second-order accurate.43a) (9.5 Time stepping algorithms where β and γ are parameters which define the nature and properties of the algorithm. an = ˙ an = ¨ a n +1 − a n −1 2∆t an−1 − 2an + an+1 . ∆t ≤ L . This method is unconditionally stable and the accuracy is O(∆t2 ). but it is conditionally stable. It is necessary to express the terms a and a in terms of a. It is also energy conserving. Friedrichs and Lewy (CFL) stability condition. 2011 Version 0. It corresponds to β = 1/4 and γ = 1/2 in the Newmark family of integrators.46b).46a) (9. January 21. Another commonly used time integrator is based on the trapezoidal rule. ∆t2 (9. The term ω h can be estimated for linear elements as 2c/L. The Newmark method is unconditionally stale for: 2β ≥ γ ≥ 1 2 (9. a n +1 = a n + ˙ ˙ a n +1 ∆t ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) .44) where ω h is the highest natural frequency (highest value from det K − ω 2 M = 0.45) which is the Courant. it requires the factorisation of a large matrix. c (9. 2 ∆t ˙ ˙ = an + ( a n + a n +1 ) . Therefore. Appropriate choices of β and γ yield well known integration methods.

2011 .9 Time-dependent problems Explicit time integration – central difference approach The system of equations to be solved. Inserting the central difference expressions from equation (9. M an−1 − 2an + an+1 a − a n −1 + Kan = f n . (9. with damping. has the appearance: M an + C an + Kan = f n .50) 2 2∆t 2∆t n−1 ∆t ∆t Recall that the displacement vector a is known at step n and all previous steps.52) (9.2 January 21.49) Rearranging the above equation such that all terms at t + ∆t are on the LHS and all terms at time t are on the RHS.53) 1 1 C M+ 2 2∆t ∆t (9. 1 1 1 1 M+ C an+1 = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . The above equations can be written in a shorthand format as: ˆ Man+1 = fˆn . an+1 can be calculated without solving a system of equations (hence the attractiveness of lumped mass matrices when using explicit time integrators). it is not necessary to form the stiffness matrix K.43). A procedure is required to ‘start’ the 122 Version 0. the displacement vector a at step n + 1 is given by: ˆ an+1 = M −1 fˆn (9. and unknown at step n + 1. + C n +1 2 2∆t ∆t (9. (9. ¨ ˙ (9. In practice.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). Given an and an−1 . it is possible to calculate an+1 .55) Ω A difficulty with explicit central-difference time integration is the need for information at n − 1 when starting a calculation. 2∆t n−1 ∆t Then. where ˆ M= and 1 1 fˆn = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n .54) (9.51) If both M and C are diagonal matrices. The term Kan is equivalent to: Kan = B T σn dΩ.

41) for β = 0 to express the accelerations and velocity at step n + 1 in terms of step n and earlier.61) January 21. damping is ignored. The central difference procedure is popular in finite element analysis. In combination with a lumped mass matrix.5 Time stepping algorithms algorithm at t = 0. it is second-order accurate. and all known quantities on the RHS. it is very efficient and suitable for very large problems.57) Rearranging the expressions in equation (9. Furthermore. For simplicity. The significant drawback is the conditional stability.43) it is possible to express an−1 in terms of quantities at n (time t = 0). 2011 Version 0.58a) 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. 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. 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. which are the initial conditions.58b) These equations are then inserted into equation (9. Combining equations (9.2 123 .59) Rearranging such that all unknown quantities appear on the LHS. M 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 + Kan+1 = f n+1 (9.9.60) which in a short-hand notation can be expressed as: ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 (9. This yields.57).56) The vector an−1 can be used to start the time integration procedure. an−1 = an − ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 an ¨ 2 (9. The time step must be chosen carefully for a particular discretisation. a n +1 = ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9.

Rearrange equation (9. the α-Method reduces to the Newmark scheme. ¨ (9. However. 1987). 3. the algorithm is unconditionally stable and second-order accurate.3 α-Method for elastodynamics In dynamic simulations. Note that calculating the ‘new’ an+1 introduces a dependency ˙ on the parameter γ. calculating an requires the solution of a system of equations. If −1/3 < α < 0. 2011 . If α = 0. the vector fˆ can be calculated from an . 124 Version 0. A number of algorithms have been developed to preserve second-order accuracy while allowing for the introduction of numerical damping. the terms in f are prescribed and both M and K can be formed. It involves using a Newmark scheme to solve : M an+1 + (1 − α) Kan+1 − αKan = f n+1+α . which is also known as the Hilber-Hughes-Taylor Method (Hughes. choosing γ = 1/2 reduces the integration scheme to first order accuracy O(t). 2. Derive the mass matrix for a two-noded beam element. it is usually desirable to introduce some numerical damping to suppress spurious high-frequency modes. Solving the resulting system of equations yields an+1 . With the Newmark scheme. The problem with the Newmark scheme is that the introduction of any numerical damping reduces the order of accuracy from two to one. Calculate the consistent and lumped mass matrices for the four-noded quadrilateral element. numerical damping can be introduced by choosing γ > 1/2.2 January 21. One such algorithm is the α-Method. 9. Numerical dissipation can be controlled through the parameter α.7 Exercises 1.41) to show for β = 0 and γ = 1/2 the scheme is equivalent to a central-difference procedure.6 Space-time formulations Time as a degree of freedom.5. Numerical damping aids in controlling undesirable spurious high frequency modes in the solution. 9.9 Time-dependent problems Since the stiffness matrix K is not diagonal.62) where f n+1+α = f n+1+θ∆t . γ = (1 − 2α) /2 and β = (1 − α)2 /4. Decreasing α increases the dissipation. At time step n. 9.

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

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