The Finite Element Method: An Introduction

Dr. Garth N. Wells

University of Cambridge and Delft University of Technology

c G. N. Wells 2009


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Regularity requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. 4. . 4 Formulation of the finite element method 4.4 Isoparametric mapping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Post-processing . . . . . . . . . .3 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Implementation of the finite element 5. . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions .4 Galerkin method Approximate solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Continuum elasticity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Linear algebra . . . . . . . . 2. .4 Stiffness matrix storage . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Governing equations . . . . . . . . . . .1 3.3 Local-global . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations 2. 3 The 3. . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 General finite element basis functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Numerical integration . . . . . . . . . . 1. . .3 Poisson equation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Finite element method with piecewise linear basis functions 4. 2. . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . .2 3. . . . . 4. . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . .4 Essentials from continuum mechanics 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces . . .1 Preprocessing . . . . . . . Convergence of the Galerkin method Exercises . .1 One-dimensional bar . . . 7 7 13 15 16 19 21 21 23 25 26 27 28 29 31 31 32 33 34 35 35 37 49 50 54 57 60 63 63 64 65 70 71 73 . . .2 Program flow . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Tensor basics . . . . . . . . . . . . method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Minimisation of potential energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Vector calculus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Basic error analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Contents 1 Introduction 1. . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . Exercises . . . . . . . .2 A posteriori error estimation . .2 Iterative solvers . . . . . . . . 104 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . .3 Adaptivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 6. . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Heat equation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 A priori error estimation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 . . . . . . . . . 73 . . . . . . . . . Plate . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . .6 Space-time formulations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Rod elements in space Beams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . 2011 . . . . . . . . . .Contents 6. . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5 Time stepping algorithms . . . . . . 112 9 Time-dependent problems 9. 104 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shell elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. .1 LU-decomposition . . . . . . .4 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . .2 January 21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 6. . .2 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 8. . . 105 105 107 108 109 7 Analysis of the finite element method 7. 8 Solvers for large linear systems 111 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. .1 Elastodynamics . 113 113 116 117 118 119 124 124 125 6 Version 0. .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . 76 . . . . . . . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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

where repeated indices imply summation: a·b = For n = 3. and is defined through the operation which gives the length x of a vector x.6) ∑ a i b i = a 1 b1 + a 2 b2 + a 3 b3 . x = √ x · x.7) 8 Version 0.3) Consider the dot product between two vectors a and b. a= a1 . A vector a in an n-dimensional space R n can be expressed in terms of its components. ai where i runs from one to n.4) The dot product of two vectors is given by: a · b = a i bi . a2 (1.2 January 21.1 Introduction x2 a e2 = [0 1 0] e1 = [1 0 0] x1 e3 = [0 0 1] x3 Figure 1. which is denoted a · b. In the case n = 2. i =1 n (1.1: Example of orthonormal base vectors. a·b = (1. i =1 3 (1. (1. 2011 .5) ∑ a i bi .

allowing the base vectors to be discarded and the more familiar notation a · b = ai b j δij = ai bi .1. M. and in index notation as Dij = Aik Bkj . (1. The second-order tensor A in R3 can be expressed as   A11 A12 A13 A = Aij =  A21 A22 A23  .17) (1. 2011 Version 0.16) (1. ei · e j = δij . The transpose of a tensor is denoted by the superscript ‘T’.15) (1. A = Aij . A31 A32 A33 (1.2 9 . A. It is defined by: a · Bc = Bc · a = c · B T a. the dot product maybe written as a T b.10) As with vectors. 0 if i = j. (1. a second-order tensor A can be expressed in terms of components. R (1.9) Second-order tensors (which possess some similar properties to matrices) are generally denoted by uppercase bold characters. in the vein of matrix multiplication. Consider the case a = ABc = Dc.13) where n is the dimension of the vector b. Second-order tensors can be multiplied. K. a = Ab = Aij b j = ∑ Aij bj j =1 n (1. Aij .8) can be used. At times.12) Second-order tensors are linear operators that act upon vectors. (1. which is expressed as D = AB.11) (1.1 Tensor basics For an orthonormal basis.14) January 21. A second-order tensor A takes the vector b and transforms it into the vector a. The symbol δij is known as the Kronecker delta: δij = 1 if i = j.

19) Second-order tensors can be formed through the dyadic production of two vectors. an operation similar to the dot product of two vectors.21) (1.24) (1. this implies: tr ( A) = A11 + A22 + A33 .22) Using the trace. A useful identity involving the transpose is: ( AB) T = B T A T .25) ∑ ∑ Aij Bij . (1. It is defined by: A : B = tr A T B . an inner product.23) (1. (1. The repeated i and j indices implies: Aij Bij = (1. For example. (1. is provided for two second-order tensors. = ai b j .18) The transpose of a second-order tensor implies interchanging the rows and columns of its components. A = a ⊗ b. (1. (1. For two second-order tensors in R2 .27) This operation has no equivalent in matrix-vector convention. For a second-order tensor A in R3 . This is equivalent to A : B = Aij Bij . 2011 .2 January 21. A : B = A11 B11 + A12 B12 + A21 B21 + A22 B22 .1 Introduction In terms of indices: Aij T = A ji . It also yields a scalar.20) The trace of a second-order tensor is essentially the summation of its diagonal components.26) (1. which is equivalent to Aij = ai b j . i =1 j =1 n n (1.28) 10 Version 0. tr ( a ⊗ b) = ai bi and tr ( A) = Aii .

is equal to the identity tensor.32) As will be shown in the following section. (1. k} is odd. A matrix A is symmetric if: A T = A.1 Tensor basics The identity tensor I is defined by: a = Ia. (1. If the permutation {i. or vector. b ∈ R3 by:   a 2 b3 − a 3 b2 (1. E : ( a ⊗ b) = a × b. A third-order tensor can be defined which will make manipulations more convenient. A third-order tensor maps a second-order tensor to a first order tensor.30) (1. multiplied by its inverse A−1 . Another important operation is the cross. AA−1 = A−1 A = I. and is equal to I = δij ei ⊗ e j .36) The expression for E in terms of the basis ei is lengthy and not shown here. 2011 Version 0. matrices which rotate the reference frame are orthogonal.35) [ a × b ] =  a 3 b1 − a 1 b3  .29) A second-order tensor A. Using index notation.33) (1. Eijk = 0. The cross product of two vectors yields a vector. j. It is defined for a. A tensor A is orthogonal if: A T = A −1 .1. The components of E are given by: [E ] = Eijk = ei · e j × ek . A common third-order tensor is the alternating (or permutation) tensor E . product. (1. If any of the indices are repeated. Eijk = −1.37) 11 .31) Second-order tensors are often characterised by their special properties. a 1 b2 − a 2 b1 Such a definition however is not convenient for manipulation.34) (1. The cross product can be introduced via the third-order tensor E . and if the permutation {i. The result of the above equation is rather simple. j. (1. a tensor Aij is symmetric if: Aij = A ji . Eijk = 1. January 21.2 (1. k} is even.

2. it will not be necessary to manipulate fourthorder tensors directly. C = Cijkl . For an orthonormal basis.1 Introduction x2 ′ e2 = [− sin θ cos θ ] e2 = [0 1] ′ e1 = [cos θ sin θ ] θ e1 = [1 0] x1 Figure 1. the stress and strain are second-order tensors. A : B = Aijk Bjk . denoted here as C . it is convenient to rotate the coordinate frame. (1. Defining Qij by Qij = ei · e′j .40) (1.38) In elasticity. (1. Consider the orthonormal coordinate systems in Figure 1.41) 12 Version 0. due to physical symmetries. They are related to each other via a fourth-order tensor. ′ the components ai are given by ′ ai = Q ji a j .2 January 21. This operation is particularly important when considering moments. which is orthogonal. (1. Coordinate transformations For many problems.39) Fortunately. ′ and it would be convenient to have the components in the ei system. 2011 . It may prove convenient to transform vector components relative to the ei system to components ′ in the ei system. the components in ei system are known.2: Rotation between coordinate systems. Vector and tensor components can be rotated (change of basis) using a rotation matrix Q. Consider that for a vector a. in terms of indices.

QQ T = Q T Q = I. (1. (1.42) − sin θ . which effectively reduces the three-dimensional problem to a one-dimensional problem. It is convenient to rotate the ′ reference such such the position along the bar is given by [ x]′ = x1 . 1. Characters after a comma in the subscript denote differentiation with respect to that variable. The divergence of a vector field a yields a scalar.xy .43) and note that Q is orthogonal.47) (1. ∂x ∂4 u ∂2 u = u.48) This notation is used commonly throughout these notes. It is expressed as: ∇ · a. = u. = u. 2011 Version 0. and A = QA′ Q T .x .2 (1.2.44) Therefore. ∂x∂y ∂x∂y2 (1.xx . ∂x2 ∂x4 ∂2 u ∂3 u = u. This is done by the operation: A′ = Q T AQ. Q= ′ e1 · e1 ′ e2 · e1 ′ e1 · e2 cos θ ′ = sin θ e2 · e2 (1.2 Vector calculus Subscripts are commonly used as a short-hand notation for derivatives. components in the rotated reference frame can be transformed back to the original reference frame by: a = Qa′ . An important operator is the divergence. cos θ (1. 0 . (1.49) 13 .xxxx . Consider a function u which is dependent on the position x. January 21.2 Vector calculus which can also be expressed as: a′ = Q T a. Some of its derivatives can be written as: ∂u = u. An example is a onedimensional rod element in a three-dimensional space.46) Often coordinate transforms are used to simplify a problem. Considering the coordinate systems illustrated in Figure 1. 0.xyy .1.45) At times it is necessary to also rotate the components of a second-order tensor from one coordinate system to another.

j . ∂xi (1. the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a  ∂x     ∂a  (1. ∇ · a is equal to ∇·a = ∂ai = ai.53) Another important operator is the gradient.   ∂A11 + ∂A12 ∂x ∂x2  .56) which yields a second-order tensor. ∇a =  (1.j .  ∂y      ∂a ∂z The gradient of a vector is given by: ∇a = ∂ai = ai.50) In a three-dimensional space R3 . ∂x j (1. ∂x1 ∂x2 ∂x3 ∂x ∂y ∂z (1. the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a1 ∂a1 ∂a1  ∂x ∂y ∂z     ∂a2 ∂a2 ∂a2   . In a three-dimensional space. ∂x j (1.1 Introduction In terms of indices.2 January 21. ∂xi (1.52) For a two-dimensional tensor A.54) which yields a vector.i .57) ∂y ∂z   ∂x   ∂a3 ∂a3 ∂a3  ∂x ∂y ∂z 14 Version 0. The gradient of a scalar a is given by: ∇a = ∂a = a.51) The divergence of a second-order tensor is given by: ∇·A = ∂Aij = Aij.i . In a three-dimensional space.55) ∇a =   . ∇·a = ∂ay ∂a ∂a x ∂a ∂az ∂a1 + 2+ 3 = + + . ∇ · A =  ∂A 1 ∂A22 21 ∂x + ∂x 1 2 (1. 2011 .

∂x j i ij (1.3 Linear algebra The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix provide information as to its properties. 2011 Version 0. The above formula is simple to derive by using the product rule for differentiation to expand Ω ∇ · ( aB ) dΩ = Ω ∂ a B dΩ. The outward unit normal to the body is denoted n. 1. and the January 21.61) and then applying the divergence theorem.1.3 Linear algebra n Ω Γ Figure 1.58) where n is the outward normal to the body Ω. (1. The boundary of the body Ω is denoted Γ = ∂Ω. An essential theorem in formulating the finite element method is the divergence theorem (also known as Gauss’s theorem). It transforms a volume integral to a surface integral.59) Integration by parts is used frequently in the formulation of the finite element method. (1. Consider the body Ω in Figure 1. For a vector a. (1.2 15 . Ω ∇ · a dΩ = ∂Ω a · n dΓ.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 divergence theorem states: Ω ∇ · A dΩ = ∂Ω An dΓ. For example.3: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n bounded by Γ. the eigenvalues of the stress tensor are the principal stresses. It implies that: Ω a · (∇ · B) dΩ = − Ω ∇ a : B dΩ + ∂Ω a · Bn dΓ. The surface of Ω is given by ∂Ω.3.

63) For a 2 × 2 matrix. all eigenvalues are real. The system of equations is usually solved using a direct method (such as Gauss elimination or LU decomposition) or an approximate iterative method.62) implies that: det ( A − λI ) = 0. For a 3 × 3 matrix. (1. For a symmetric matrix. For large matrices. 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.65) Typically. and is unique. The polynomial is known as the characteristic equation of A. (1. For a matrix A. special numerical algorithms are used to calculate the eigenvalues. finding λ requires finding the roots of a quadratic equation. the system of equations in a finite element equation will be very large. which guarantees that the inverse of A exists.1 Introduction corresponding eigenvectors are the principal stress directions. all eigenvalues are positive and real. 1. vectors b and scalars λ which satisfy ( A − λI ) b = 0 (1.i . This requires some background in continuum mechanics and linear-elasticity. It is not practical to compute the inverse of the matrix K as it is computationally expensive (both in terms of the number of operations required and the memory required). For a positive definite matrix A. This section is intended to cover only the important concepts which are used later in these notes.2 January 21. Equation (1.66) 16 Version 0. The solution u is given by: u = K −1 f . K will often be referred to as the ‘stiffness matrix’ and f the ‘right-hand side vector’. of A.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics The finite element method is used in these notes to solve primarily problems in continuum mechanics. respectively. A system of n linear equations can be expressed as: Ku = f . the roots of a cubic equation must be found. 2 i. Solvers for finite element problems are discussed in Chapter 8. The strain ǫ is defined as the symmetric gradient of the displacement vector: ǫij = 1 u + u j. 2011 . and u and f are vectors of length n. In the context of the finite element method.64) where K is an n × n matrix. (1. It is not a comprehensive coverage of the topic.62) are known as eigenvectors and eigenvalues. Also. Eigenvalue tests are often used in studying the matrices arising in the finite element method.j (1.

1. the strain tensor is symmetric.67) For convenience. For solid. In a homogeneous body. For convenience. the above expression can be written as: ǫ = ∇s u = 1 ∇u + (∇u) T .70) with E the Young’s modulus and ν Poisson’s ratio.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics which is clearly a second-order tensor.j) = 1 u + u j.68) where the bracket around the subscript denotes the symmetric gradient.71) (1.i . Lam´ constants are indepene e dent of the position. For linear elasticity. In two-dimensions. 2 (1. as will be shown in the next chapter). the stress tensor is symmetric (which can be proved by considering the balance of angular momentum. this reduces to four. January 21. 2011 Version 0. or in index notation. In compact notation.69) where n is the unit normal vector to the surface. A constitutive equation relates the stresses in a material to the strain. this can be written as: σ = C : ǫ.72) (1.74) νE (1 + ν) (1 − 2ν) (1. The constants λ and µ are often referred to as Lam´ constants. σn = t (1. in three-dimensions the stress and strain tensors have only six independent components. σij = Cijkl ǫkl where C is a fourth-order tensor. it is defined by: Cijkl = µ δik δjl + δil δjk + λδij δkl where λ= and µ= E 2 (1 + ν ) (1. The stress tensor is defined through the traction vector t (force per unit area) on a surface.73) (1. the symmetric gradient using index notation will be expressed as: u(i. Obviously. 2 i.j (1. Due to symmetry. linear-elastic continua. Similar to the strain tensor.2 17 .

  σ11      σ22        σ33 (1.76) σ= σ12        σ13      σ23 Using the vector format for stress and strain. although without the factor ‘2’ on the shear terms. In this case.x           ǫ22   ǫ22   v. (1. such as many beams. the strain in the out-of-plane direction is dependent on the distance from an axis of rotation. This is reasonable for problems which are relatively thick in the third direction. For isotropic linear-elasticity. in which the stress and strain are represented as vectors. such as a dam wall. It is then likely that the stress in the out-of-plane direction is not equal to zero. 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. there are three possibilities.75) = = ǫ= 2ǫ12  γ12   u.        ǫ11   ǫ11   u.y γ23 2ǫ23 The stress tensor is expressed in a vector form.1 Introduction ‘engineering’ notation is often adopted. The second possibility is plane stress (σ33 = 0). In this case.z ǫ33 ǫ33 .77) When reducing a three-dimensional problem to two-dimensions. containing components of the fourthorder tensor C .z + w. the constitutive relationship can be written as: σ = Dǫ (1. particular attention will be paid to solving elastic continuum problems.x              v. In these notes.78) D=  0 0 0 µ 0 0    0 0 0 0 µ 0 0 0 0 0 0 µ 18 Version 0.2 January 21.y                        u. the normal stress out-of-plane is assumed to be zero.x                    2ǫ13  γ13  u. The third possibility is axisymmetric. This will require identification of the equations which govern equilibrium of where the matrix D is the constitutive matrix. An axisymmetric formulation is for example commonly used when simulating a circular foundation.y + v. This approximation is good for very thin members. 2011 . This assumes that the normal strain in the out-of-plane direction is zero (ǫ33 = 0). The first is known as plane strain.z + w.

Application of the divergence theorem to the integral over ∂Ω gives: Ω ∇ · σ + b dΩ = 0 (1. In order to derive the governing partial differential equation. the partial differential equation of equilibrium is given by equation (1.1. which requires that ∂Ω t dΓ + Ω b dΩ = ∂Ω σn dΓ + Ω b dΩ = 0 (1. if σ is symmetric. For three-dimensions (i = 1 → 3. leading to: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω (1.82) where r is the position vector of a point on ∂Ω.80) Balance of linear momentum should also be satisfied for any subdomain of Ω.2 19 .83) If translational equilibrium (equation (1.5 Exercises elastic bodies. consider first translational equilibrium (balance of linear momentum) of a body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ = ∂Ω. Considering that t = σn. the first term in equation (1.80). Note that this equation is general.5 Exercises 1. This will also be referred to as the ‘strong’ governing equation.81) Consider now moment equilibrium (balance of angular momentum). and applying the divergence theorem.83) is zero.). Therefore.80)) is satisfied. 1. How many independent components does a symmetric second-order tensor in R n have? January 21.79) where b is a body force. the integral can be removed from equation(1. expand the terms: a) b) c) d) e) f) a i bi ai b j Aij Bij Cij bi Cij b j Fik Gkj 2. Ω r × (∇ · σ + b) dΩ + Ω E : σ T dΩ = 0 (1.80). Therefore. since E : σ T = 0. Then. 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. moment equilibrium is satisfied if the stress tensor is symmetric. 2011 Version 0. etc. and not specific to elasticity.

A common and important operator in applied mathematics (and mechanics) is the Laplace operator ∆ (sometimes denoted ∇2 ). derive the integration by parts formula in equation (1. What is the trace of the identity tensor I equal to in R n ? 4. It is equivalent to ∇ · ∇.43) is orthogonal. Confirm that the rotation matrix R in equation (1. Expand ∆u in a three-dimensional space using index notation.60). 2011 . 5. 6.2 January 21.1 Introduction 3. 7. 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.

For example. The governing equation can then be expressed as: − Eu. This has the effect of reducing the order of the derivatives appearing in the equation. (2. addressing the weak (variational) form of the relevant governing equation.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. To do this. dx (2.x = f . The weak form is also commonly known as a the ‘variational form’ or a ‘variational equation’.1. the normal stress is given by: σ = Eǫ = E du . boundary conditions must be specified.xx = f . This is complemented by a constitutive relationship which gives the stress in the rod in terms of the strain.x is the normal stress in the rod and f is a distributed load along the rod.1 One-dimensional bar Consider the one-dimensional bar in Figure 2. The governing equation for a onedimensional rod element with unit cross-sectional area is (see equation (1. 2.1) where σ.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations An essential step in developing the finite element method is the identification of the governing equation and casting it in its ‘weak form’. the strong form is multiplied by a weight function and integrated by parts. u = 0 at x=0 (2.81)): −σ. (2. 21 .2) where E is the Young’s modulus.1: One-dimensional bar.3) To complete the problem. and leads to a form which is convenient for later numerical solution. A Dirichlet (essential) boundary condition prescribes the displacement at a point. The finite element method is a variational method. For a linear-elastic rod.

1 to be equal to zero. derivatives of order 22 Version 0.x n = h 0 < x < L. L 0 (2. the equation must still hold for all admissible weight function (this is a technical point which is discussed in section 2.6) (2.8) To develop the weak form of the governing equation. (2.x Eu.6) are multiplied by a scalar weight function w ∈ V (w ∈ V means that w comes from the appropriately defined space of functions V . solving the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that L 0 w.3).2 January 21. The above boundary condition sets the applied traction at x = L equal to h. which yields: − L 0 wσ.x . Multiplying equation (2. Since both sides of the equation are multiplied by the weight function.60). −wσ.x σ dx − wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V .12) where S is an appropriately defined space of functions which satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions.9) must hold point-wise. at x = 0.10) can be integrated by parts and the Neumann boundary condition from equation (2.x n| x=0 is not included as by definition the weight function w is equal to zero at x = 0. both sides of equation (2.x dx = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V . Taking guidance from equation (1. at x = L.xx = f u=0 Eu. which has an infinite number of members).x dx = L 0 w. equation (2.x = w f L 0 ∀w ∈ V . then − wσ.9) where ‘∀w ∈ V ’ means ‘for all w ∈ V ’.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations prescribes the displacement at one end of the bar in Figure 2. Note that in the strong form. (2.1) by w.5) where n is the outward normal to the bar (equal to 1 in this case). This is the weak form of the governing equation.x . (2.7) (2. A Neumann (natural) boundary condition prescribes the applied traction. Considering that σ = Eu. Inserting now the constitutive relationship σ = Eu.x dx = w f dx ∀w ∈ V . after inserting the constitutive relationship (2.10) is also true.6).11) Note the term wEu. (2. (2.x . If equation (2. 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. 2011 . The mathematical problem can now be summarised as: find u such that: − Eu. σn = h at x = L.8) inserted.

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

60)). To derive the weak form. For a linearelastic material.2: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ (Γ = Γg ∪ Γh .21) The first term in equation (2.2. Boundary conditions are still required to complete the problem. the displacements are prescribed (Dirichlet boundary conditions).2 January 21. 2011 .19) On the remaining boundary. and integrated over the body. σ = C : ǫ.22) 24 Version 0. (2. the weight function w is a vector. On part of the boundary. the governing equation is multiplied by a weight function w ∈ V .20) The boundary-value problem is now complete. Multiplying equation (2.17) by w ∈ V . (2. Γh . Γg ∩ Γh = ∅). (2. u=g on Γg . In Figure 2. Note that in this case. (2.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations h Γh Ω Γg n Figure 2. and integrating over the body Ω yields: Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . yielding: − Ω ∇w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0. (2.21) can be integrated by parts (see equation (1. the same steps as in the case of the one-dimensional bar are followed. tractions (potentially zero) are applied (traction ≡ force per unit area on a surface). t=h on Γh . a constitutive relationship is required. As in the one-dimensional case. First.18) where C is a fourth-order tensor. where again V is an appropriately defined function space (w = 0 on Γg ). the part of the boundary where displacements are prescribed is denoted Γg .

The previous example of continuum elasticity was an example of a system of Poisson equations – one for each spatial direction. Here the Poisson equation is addressed in a more generic fashion.25) where q is a flux vector and f is a source term.3 Poisson equation An equation which is often solved using the finite element method is the Poisson equation. A wide range of physical phenomena are governed by this equation. This is the weak equilibrium equation for a stationary continuous elastic body. where κ is the thermal conductivity. Therefore ∇s w ≡ δǫ. The constitutive relationship depends on the problem being solved. There exists a close link between weak forms and virtual work for a range of problems. In Darcy’s law. (2. the symmetric gradient of w.2.24) which is the equation of virtual work.26) where u is a potential. u is the hydraulic head and κ is known as the hydraulic conductivity. However.23) where S is an appropriate space of functions which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. In the case of heat conductivity. For linear heat conduction. Consistency can be proven in the same fashion as was used for the onedimensional problem. Often the term ∇w is written as ∇s w. (2. The constitutive relationship is given by: q = −κ ∇ u (qi = −κij u. κ = κI. q is the heat flux vector.18).j ) (2. including steady-state heat conduction and flow in permeable media (Darcy’s law).2 25 .23). Consider now w as a ‘virtual displacement’ δu. For an isotropic medium.3 Poisson equation where σn has been replaced by the prescribed traction h (the Neumann boundary condition). Inserting now the constitutive relationship from equation (2. January 21.25) yields a Poisson equation. Inserting the constitutive equation into (2. It is simple to show that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric (see exercise 1). Consider the following equation: −∇ · q + f = 0 in Ω (2. q is the flow rate. The equation of virtual work is therefore the weak form of the governing equation. For Darcy’s law. Ω δǫ : C : ǫ dΩ = Ω δu · b dΩ + Γh δu · h dΓ. 2011 Version 0. 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 . Inserting this into equation (2. 2. the variational framework is more general. the scalar u is the temperature.

The weak form of the Poisson equation is derived following the same steps as in the previous two examples. the boundary-value problem requires boundary conditions. it is the hydraulic head. The Neumann boundary condition requires that: −q · n = h on Γh (2. For heat conduction. Multiplying equation (2. this is the temperature on the boundary Γg . (2.27) which prescribes the potential on the boundary. is given by I (u) ≤ I (u + v) = 1 2 Ω ∇s (u + v) : C : ∇s (u + v) dΩ − Ω (u + v) · b dΩ − ∂Ω (u + v) · h dΩ. 2. In the case of heat conduction. (2.4 Minimisation of potential energy For particular equations.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 . suppose that u is the solution to the weak problem. (2. w = u + v. (2.33) 26 Version 0.2). (2. 2011 .2 January 21. such as equilibrium of an elastic body. and for Darcy flow is it the inflow/outflow across a boundary.28) where n is the outward normal to the surface Γh (see Figure 2.25) by a weight function w and integrating over the body Ω. − Ω w (∇ · q) dΩ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . there exists a close link between minimisation of energy and solution of the weak form. For an elastic body Ω.32) The potential energy for another displacement field. and consider the potential energy functional I.31) which is the weak form of the Poisson equation.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 .2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations As for all previous examples. I (u) = 1 2 Ω ∇s u : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω u · b dΩ − ∂Ω u · h dΩ. For Darcy flow. this imposes the heat flux on Γh . The Dirichlet conditions impose: u=g on Γg (2.

which is equal to I (u) ≤ I (u + v) x = I (u) + + 1 2 Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω v · b dΩ − ∂Ω v · h dΩ (2. the weak form allows for more possible solutions.x x Figure 2.xx ) must exist. 2. Consider now if the function f is a possible solution u of the strong equation for a bar (equation (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. This means that the functions are continuous. This is a classic mathematical property of weak forms. it is clear that it involves only first derivatives with respect to x of u and w. and is essential for the finite element method.3. which proves that solution of the weak form corresponds to minimisation of the potential energy. 2011 Version 0.5 Regularity requirements f f . piecewise linear function. It is not a possible solution. functions which are C0 are most commonly used. January 21. its second derivative does not exist. Therefore a function like f is a possible solution of the weak form and a possible weight function. However.2.2 27 . From Figure 2. Examining now the weak form for the rod (equation (2. As will be seen in the following chapters. since for equation (2. A C0 function is shown in Figure 2. In finite element analysis. In summary. this is a commonly used function in finite element analysis. Functions are often classified as being C n continuous.3)).23).12)). 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. and the last term Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ ≥ 0.3) to make sense.34) Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ.3. the second derivative of f with respect to x ( f . but their first derivatives are not. If a function is C n .3: Example of a C0 function f .3 is a continuous. this means that its nth derivative is continuous. in a classical sense. The function shown in Figure 2. it is clear that it is simple to take the first derivative of the function f .

Consider first a scalar problem in an n-dimensional domain Ω. In physical terms. the requirement that the trial functions be square-integrable implies that energy must be finite. The weight functions come from the space V (w ∈ V ). (2.35) Functions which are square integrable come from the Hilbert space known as L2 (Ω). That is. but this point is not important here). 2.6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces There are certain mathematical requirements that must be met by the trial and weight functions for the weak form to ‘make sense’. since a fundamental step in the finite element method will involve finite-dimensional function spaces. Sobolev spaces are infinite-dimensional. 28 Version 0. such functions may be discontinuous. functions which have square-integrable derivatives are of interest. This is of crucial importance. Importantly. there do however exist functions from H 1 (Ω) which are not C0 continuous. Functions spaces can be considered the ‘family’ of functions from which u and w can come. which is defined by: V = {w | w ∈ H 1 (Ω) .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. The function space S is defined by: S = {u | u ∈ H 1 (Ω) . which is denoted H 1 (Ω). u| Γg = g}. Functions for which: Ω (u)2 + (u. For multiple spatial dimensions. Trial functions u come from the space S (u ∈ S ). When solving second-order differential equations. 2011 . Clearly. This can be seen in the well-known Sobolev embedding theorem. It is useful to define function spaces. A function u is said to be square integrable if: Ω (u)2 dx < ∞. w| Γg = 0}. The notation u ∈ H 1 means that u comes from (is an element of) H 1 . (2. an infinite number of different functions belong to a given Sobolev space.2 January 21.37) This says that the S is a collection of functions from H 1 (Ω) which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions (technically this is not a space if g = 0.36) are known as members of the Sobolev space on degree one. from which the trial and weight functions come.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. Note that C0 functions belong to H 1 .x )2 dΩ < ∞ (2. (2.

(2. For 3 × 3 second-order tensors (matrices). 3.2.7 Exercises In multiple dimensions. 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. (Hint: use index notation. 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). a = b) 5. 2. is u a possible trial solution? January 21. prove that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric. The Helmholtz equation is given by: ∇ · (∇φ) + kφ = 0 and is often used in wave propagation problems. u ∈ S where S = {ui | ui ∈ H 1 (Ω) .2 29 .39) V = {wi | wi ∈ H 1 (Ω) . 4.7 Exercises 1. Solutions for the displacement field from linear-elastic fracture mechanics often √ involve a term r. wi | Γg = 0}. Derive the weak equilibrium equation (2.) 2.40) Further details can be found in texts on functional analysis and the mathematical analysis of the finite element method. where r is the distance from the crack tip (r ≥ 0). 2011 Version 0. (2. Derive the weak form.23) for elasticity using index notation.


The essence of the Galerkin method involves taking the weak form of the governing equation.2) (3. as developed in the previous chapter.4) L 0 h h w. Considering now the elasticity problem in equation (2. respectively. and finding the best solution to a problem given a collection of functions.x Eu.x dx ∀w h ∈ V h (3. the finite-dimensional trial and weight functions are denoted uh and wh . being able to solve a greater range of problems. consider the approximate solution to some problem. (3. uh ∈ S h . The Galerkin problem for an elastic bar (equation (2. 3.12)) involves: find uh ∈ S h such that − L 0 h h w. This means that there is a limited number of possibilities. named after the Russian engineer Galerkin. the above equation is expressed in the abstract format as: find uh ∈ S h such that B wh .5) 31 .x dx + w h h| x= L = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . It is a method for finding approximate solutions to partial differential equations.1 Approximate solution First. For example.3 The Galerkin method The finite element method is one particular Galerkin method. uh = L wh where B wh . uh could be a combination of low order polynomial functions. (3. Furthermore. The Galerkin method is however more general. In a multidimensional context. where S h ⊂ S is a finite-dimensional space.3) This abstract format is introduced to keep the derivation of some later developments compact.23).x Eu. 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 (3.1) where V h ⊂ V is a finite dimensional space. it is generic for a range of different problems. It is closely related to the Rayleigh-Ritz method which involves choosing functions (a basis) for the solution and finding the amplitude of each function by minimising the energy. uh = and L wh = wh h| x= L . Commonly.

2 Basic error analysis It is interesting to check how the solution computed using the Galerkin procedure compares to the exact solution.7) The Galerkin method (more specifically. uh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3.9) into equation (3. e − L wh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. the Bubnov-Galerkin method) requires that the weight and trial functions come from the same finite-dimensional space. Different Galerkin-based methods are defined by how the unknown field uh is represented. This is examined in the following section. u − B wh . u − B wh . why it doesn’t work). B wh . piecewise low-order polynomials defined on ‘finite elements’. often in fluid mechanics.8) where u is the exact solution and uh is the solution to equation (3.2). 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. Given a finite number of possibilities in S h . u − L w h = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . A basic question which arises when computing an approximate solution is how uh relates to the exact solution u.10) Since u is the exact solution. this will be investigated using the abstract notation. B w h . Inserting equation (3.3 The Galerkin method where ǫ h = ∇s uh . In the finite element method. B wh . which solution does the method seek? Understanding this requires some basic error analysis. this implies that: B wh . In the abstract notation of equation 3. 2011 . the error in the displacement e at a point is defined by: e = u − uh (3. 3.6) wh · b dΩ + Γh (3.9) For generality.2. For the one-dimensional problem.1). the weight functions come from a different function space than the trial functions. uh and w h will be simple continuous.2 January 21. This method is used for special applications. The approximate solution is therefore equal to: uh = u − e (3. uh = and L wh = Ω Ω ∇s wh : C : ǫh dΩ wh · h dΓ. (3. taking into account the special requirements on the weight and trial functions where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. e = B wh . Spectral Galerkin methods for example use a truncated Fourier series as the basis.11) 32 Version 0. In Petrov-Galerkin method.

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

Version 0.2


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.


i =1 n (4. discretised with n nodal points.x u j j =1 n dΩ = Ω ∑ Ni wi i =1 n f dΩ + Γh ∑ Ni. Given that wi is not a function of spatial position. The basis function at node i. hence wh = ∑ Ni wi . Ω h h w.x = dNi u. (4. dx i i =1 ∑ n (4.6) for all possible values of wi .x E ∑ Nj. 2011 . From this expression. i =1 n (4. the strain field can be computed easily by taking the derivative of the shape functions.2) where ui is the value of the field uh at node i. ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni. h ǫh = u. Ω ∑ Ni. Hence.x wi i =1 n h dΓ (4.  x i − x i +1 − x i − x i +1     0 otherwise.2 January 21.x Eu.   x i − x i −1 x i − x i −1   x i +1 x Ni = x i < x < x i +1 .x wi i =1 n E ∑ Nj. the approximate displacement field uh is given by uh = ∑ Ni ( x) ui .x dΩ = Ω w h f dΩ + Γh w h h dΓ ∀ wh ∈ V h . (4. these basis functions are known as ‘shape functions’.1) where xi is the coordinate of node i. For a one-dimensional bar. It is expressed using the same basis functions as the displacement field.4) Recalling the weak form for a one-dimensional elastic rod.5) and inserting the expression for the expressions for the approximate displacement field and the weight function.3) To develop the Galerkin problem.x u j j =1 n dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ. is given by  x x i −1   − x i −1 < x ≤ x i .7) 36 Version 0. (4.4 Formulation of the finite element method nodes. it can be taken outside of the integrals. In finite element analysis. an expression is needed for the weight function w h . the approximate displacement field is given in terms of the shape functions and the approximate displacement at a finite number of points (nodes).

If a boundary condition is applied at node k.8) This equation must hold for all possible combinations of wi . while elements are lines (1D). For the zero Dirichlet conditions. Kij u j = f i . which can be expressed as the system of equations. A discussion of more general boundary conditions is delayed until the end of the chapter. It is useful to define shape functions on finite elements. This yields n equations (one for each wi .10) Ni.x dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ. 2011 Version 0. A finite element mesh consists of nodal points and elements. and the kth term is deleted from the vector f . A typical finite element mesh is shown in Figure 4. Consider the case that all but one wi is equal to zero. Therefore. Solving this linear system of equations provides u j .11) Nj f dΩ + Γh Nj h dΓ (4. ∑ wi ∑ u j i =1 j =1 n n Ω Ni.x E Nj.2 General finite element basis functions Likewise. and hence an expression for the approximate displacement field along the rod.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. u j can also be taken outside of the integrals.x E Nj.x dΩ = Ω Ni f dΩ + Γh Ni h dΓ (4. for each i ∑ uj j =1 n Ω Ni. 4.x E Nj.9) must hold. and n unknowns in the form of ui ).x dΩ (4.12) The matrix K = Kij is commonly known as the stiffness matrix. The problem has been divided into many quadrilateral elements. Nodes are points in space. where Kij = and fi = Ω Ω (4.4. this is relatively simple. Dirichlet boundary conditions must be enforced. then the row and the column k is removed from the stiffness matrix.2. surfaces (2D) or volumes (3D) which are constructed by joining nodal points. (4. A simple finite element January 21.2 37 . In order the solve the linear system. Elements may not overlap. Matrices and vectors can be built for each element before being assembled into global matrices and vectors. and f = f i as the right-hand side (RHS) vector. A mesh divides a body into a number of elements.

2 January 21.2: Typical two-dimensional finite element mesh. 7 8 5 7 8 6 38 Version 0.3: Simple two-dimensional finite element mesh.4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4. 6 4 3 4 3 1 2 1 2 5 9 Figure 4. 2011 .

A finite element shape function is only non-zero on elements to which it is attached.3. denoted by the solid circles. For a node i. shape functions are non-zero only close to their node. Shape functions for various elements are discussed in detail in the following sections. 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. The displacement field is given by a linear combination of a finite number of basis functions (a summation of the basis functions.13) January 21. the basis functions are defined on simple geometric elements. The bar has two nodes. the amplitude). as introduced in Section 4. Once the displacement field uh and its derivatives ∇uh can be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns. linear one dimensional elements. and zero at all other nodes. Having a compact support. Consider the one-dimensional bar element in Figure 4. Finite element shape functions are typically piecewise continuous polynomial functions with a ‘compact support’. mesh is shown in Figure 4. are examined.4.1 One-dimensional bar elements To begin. Both nodes and elements are numbered.1. Each shape function Ni is associated with a node i.2. the mesh is constructed with triangular elements. Each element has three nodes. As in the one-dimensional case. 2011 Version 0. In the finite element method. known as finite elements. the shape function associated with that node. (4.4: One-dimensional linear bar element and associated shape functions. Ni . is equal to one at the node and zero at all other nodes. 4.2 39 . the discretised field can be inserted into the weak governing equations.3. They are characterised by being equal to unity at their node.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 2 L x=0 Figure 4. In Figure 4. each multiplied by a nodal value. 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 .4.

uh = − x x + 1 a1 + a2 . (4. L L (4.16) with respect to x. L (4. Therefore. ǫh = duh dN1 dN2 1 1 = a + a2 = − a1 + a2 .19) (4. the displacement field is expressed as: uh = Nae .14) (4. the displacement and strain can be calculated in any part of the element. a2 (4. In matrix-vector notation.2 January 21. The shape functions corresponding to each node are given by: N1 = − N2 = Hence. where N = N1 and ae = a1 . where the matrix B is equal to: B= dN1 dx dN2 .18) The strain is given by: ǫh = Bae .22) (4. as its shape functions are linear polynomials.15) x . the derivative of the displacement field with respect to x (the strain) is required.4 Formulation of the finite element method where ai is the displacement at node i (it is ‘stored’ at the node). Now. The weak form of the governing equations involves derivatives with respect to the spatial position.17) In the case of a linear displacement interpolation. the derivative of the shape function with respect to x is a constant function within an element. 40 Version 0. Note also that these shape functions posses C0 continuity – they are continuous but their derivatives involve jumps across element boundaries. to solve a problem. L This type of element is known as a linear element. dx (4. It does however make the generalisation to multiple dimensions simple.5.21) The shape functions for two linear elements are shown in Figure 4. Taking the derivative of equation (4.20) N2 . 2011 . The matrix-vector notation for uh and ǫh may seem trivial for one-dimensional problems. dx dx 1 dx L L (4. in terms of nodal degrees of freedom ae .16) x + 1.

2..23) Therefore.6 illustrates shape functions for quadratic and cubic elements. the displacement field is given by: uh = ∑ Ni (x) ai . (4. The interpolation basis for higher-order elements is richer since both constant..4. linear and quadratic (and even higher) variations in the unknown field can be described within an element.. In two dimensions. i =1 3 (4.26) (4.24) and the B matrix has a similar form. Nnn (4. each unknown field (such as displacement in each direction) is interpolated using the polynomial shape functions.5: Shape functions for two one-dimensional linear bar elements. Since the displacement field is quadratic. Nnn 0 0 . 4. Higher-order elements simply have more nodes. Higher-order one-dimensional elements It is possible to develop one-dimensional elements with higher-order polynomial interpolations..2 41 . For a one-dimensional quadratic element. More nodes through which the shape function must interpolate naturally means a higher-order polynomial is required.27) January 21. Figure 4.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 L1 L2 Figure 4. 2011 Version 0. . and the strain field (using engineering notation) is given by: ǫ h = Bae .25) The matrix N contains the element shape functions. obviously the strain field is linear. the N matrix has the form: N = N1 N2 N3 . it has the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 .2 Two-dimensional continuum elasticity elements In two or more dimensions. The displacement field for an element is given by: uh = Nae . (4.

  .2 January 21. the matrix B has the form:   ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂N1 0 0 .    a1 x   a    1y         a2 x      a2 y .         ann x        ann y 42 Version 0.   . Its shape functions are of the form: The nodal degrees of freedom (normally one for each spatial dimension at each node for elasticity problems) are stored in a vector a.....  ∂y ∂y ∂y     ∂N1 ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂Nnn  .. For a two-dimensional problem.28) B= 0 .7. ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x The simplest element in two-dimensions is the three-node triangle. 0 (4.. 2011 . where nn is the numbers of nodes of the element. It is shown in Figure 4.29) ae =  . (4. For two-dimensional problems. 0   ∂x ∂x ∂x    ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂Nnn    0 .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.

Its shape function must satisfy: N1 ( x1 . Given the following coordinates of each of where ( xi .31) (4.2 General finite element basis functions ( x3 . y1 ) ( x2 . This can be cast in a matrix form as:      x 1 y 1 1  c 1  1   x2 y2 1 c2 = 0 . y2 ) Figure 4.7: Three-node triangular element. Given that a shape function should have a value of unity at its node and zero at other nodes.7. Consider node 1 in Figure 4. (4.7. yi ) is the location of the ith node. N1 ( x3 .33) Solving the above system of equations yields the coefficients for the shape function of node 1. y1 ) = c1 x1 + c2 y2 + c3 = 1.30) The shape function for a node is illustrated in Figure 4. the coefficients c can be found by solving a linear system of equations. hence the strain in the element is constant. ( (4. N1 ( x2 .1 Consider the element in Figure 4.34)     c3 x3 y3 1 0 January 21. y3 ) = c1 x3 + c2 y3 + c3 = 0. Example 4. It is clear from the linear form of the shape functions for the three-node triangle that the derivatives are constant. 2011 Version 0. Figure 4. (4. y3 ) 3 1 2 ( x1 . y2 ) = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 = 0.2 43 . N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 .8: Shape function for a three-node element.

y N1.10.25y + 0.2 January 21.y 0 N2.y A very commonly used element in finite element analysis is the four-node quadrilateral.36) 44 Version 0.34)) is formed. Higher-order solid elements As in one-dimensional problems. due to the presence of the xy terms in the shape functions. 3) To find the coefficients.9.x 0 N2.x 0 N1.25 Once the shape functions have been computed for each node.35) It is also know as a bilinear element. the strain in this element is not constant. y3 ) = (2. (4. Unlike the three-node triangle. find the shape function for node 2.y B= 0 N1.y  N3. the N and B matrices can be formed.x N2. y1 ) = (1. 2011 . Since the shape function for node 2 is being calculated.4 Formulation of the finite element method the nodes.x N3. The N matrix for this element is of the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 N3 0 0 N3  0 N3. plane and three-dimensional elements can have higher-order interpolations. A shape function for a four-node element is shown in Figure 4.25x − 0.y N2. The shape functions for a six-node triangle are of the form: N = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 xy + c4 x + c5 y + c6 (4. 2) ( x2 . A four-node quadrilateral element is shown in Figure 4.x 0 N3. y2 ) = (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. a system of equations (see equation (4. the only non-zero term on the RHS corresponds to node 2. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xy + c2 x + c3 y + c4 .x and the B matrix is of the form:  N1. ( x1 . 1) ( x3 .

Higher-order quadrilateral elements can also be constructed.11 The polynomial terms needed for triangular elements can be taken from a Pascal triangle (see Figure 4. As with the three-node triangle. Solving the below system of equations would yield the coefficients for node 1.4.  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 4.12).14. 2011 Version 0.15. quadratic and cubic triangular elements are shown in Figure 4. They belong to one of two families: serendipity or Lagrange. =  1  c4  0                 1  c5  0                  c6  0 1 (4. Several serendipity and Lagrange finite elements are shown in Figure 4.2 45 . Note that serendipity     1  c1  1                 1  c2  0               c  0 1  3     . Note that triangular elements are complete – that is the shape functions contain all polynomial terms up to a given order.13. the coefficients can be found by solving a linear system of equations. Linear.37) January 21. A Pascal triangle for serendipity elements is shown in Figure 4. a new ‘row’ of terms from the Pascal triangle is added to the shape functions. Figure 4. whereas Lagrange elements have nodes on the element interior.10: A shape function for four-node quadrilateral element. Each time the order of a triangle is increased. Serendipity elements have nodes only on element boundaries.2 General finite element basis functions 4 3 1 2 Figure 4.9: Four-node quadrilateral element.

.13: Linear. y y2 y3 y4 . xy xy2 xy3 .. . 1 x x2 x3 x4 .. Figure 4.. x3 y . x2 y x 2 y2 ....2 January 21.. 2011 . Figure 4.12: Pascal triangle – polynomial terms for triangular elements of order n... 46 Version 0. .11: Two shape functions for a six-node triangular element.4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4... quadratic and cubic triangular elements...

elements of order higher than three ’miss’ polynomial terms.. 2011 Version 0..2 47 . Figure 4.. y y2 y3 y4 . The Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements is shown in Figure 4.39) January 21.and nine-node quadrilateral elements are commonly used in finite element analysis.15: Pascal triangle for serendipity elements.. (4.. 1 x x2 x3 x4 . x3 y x2 y xy xy2 xy3 .4. Internal nodes must be introduced to ensure all polynomial terms are included. .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 ..14: Serendipity (a) and Lagrange (b) quadrilateral finite elements. The elements do not suffer from the limitation of missing polynomial terms for any order interpolation..16. (4. The shape functions for the eight-node serendipity quadrilateral have the form: N = c1 x2 y + c2 xy2 + c3 x2 + c4 y2 + c5 xy + c6 x + c7 y + c8 .2 General finite element basis functions (a) (b) Figure 4. Eight. and are therefore not recommended..

..2 January 21.. 48 Version 0. .. wedge type elements are often used for generating meshes for complex geometries. Commonly used shapes are tetrahedra and bricks. Figure 4. Also..17. Figure 4.3 Three-dimensional elements Three-dimensional elements are increasingly used in engineering analysis. The simplest brick element has eight nodes.2.. These two elements are shown in Figure 4. they often have more degrees of freedom per node. Higher-order version of both tetrahedral and brick elements also exist. the derivatives of the shape functions are constant within an element. The numbers of nodes per element increases rapidly. y y2 y3 .. The computational effort required for three-dimensional analysis can become high.4 Formulation of the finite element method 1 x x2 x3 .41) This is known as a ‘trilinear element’. .. A four-node tetrahedral element has linear shape functions. Not only do the elements tend to have more nodes. xy xy2 xy3 ..40) Similar to the three-node triangle. (4. (4.. 4. 2011 .16: Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements.and two-dimensional elements..17: Tetrahedral and brick three-dimensional finite elements. They can be formed in the same fashion as one. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xyz + c2 xy + c3 xz + c4 yz + c5 x + c6 y + c7 z + c8 . They are of the form: N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 z + c4 .. x3 y x 3 y2 x 3 y3 x2 y x 2 y2 x 2 y3 .

Take a single element (of any order) which extends from l1 to l2 (see Figure 4. (4. for the multi-dimensional case within an element.18: One-dimensional bar showing the element that extends from x = l1 to x = l2 .4. (4. wh = Nbe . 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).2 49 .42) (4. 2011 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. the one-dimensional governing equation for an elastic rod (equation (3. and can therefore be eliminated. 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. (4. Therefore. The discrete nodal values can be removed from the integrals.3 Governing equations At this point. The discretised governing equation for the element is expressed as: l2 l1 ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh.e N T h dΓ. s h where the notation has been ‘abused’ as ∇s wh is being expressed as a vector (recall that this is possible due to symmetry). What remains is the insertion of the discretised field uh into the governing weak equation.3 Governing equations x=0 x x = l1 x = l2 x=L Figure 4. Now. 1989) 4. (4. The weight (test) functions are discretised in the same fashion as the unknown field uh .18).44) where the integral over Γh.e is only non-zero if the boundary of the element coincides with the boundary Γh .46) January 21.1)) is considered.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = Γh.45) The be terms appear on both sides of the equality.e N T h dΓ.43) ∇ w = Bbe .

e= f = Ane 1 f e . 2011 .e Ωe Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for each element in the problem. This is denoted symbolically by the operation: K = Ane 1 ke . isoparametric elements are used in finite element software.4 Isoparametric mapping In practice. The component k ij is added to the location K I 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).e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ + Ωe ( Nbe ) T b dΩ (4. From the point of view of implementation.4 Formulation of the finite element method The term ke = l2 l1 B T EB dΩ (4. the discretised displacement and strain fields are inserted into equation (3. the point ( x.48) (recall that b denotes the body force).5). This approach has a number of advantages. e= (4. For a two dimensional problem. For a continuum elasticity problem. (4. the element stiffness matrix is expressed as: B T DB dΩ ae = N T h dΓ + N T b dΩ. It also allows the simple application of numerical integration. For an element stiffness matrix. local node i has global node number I.47) is known as the ‘element stiffness matrix’.2 January 21.50) (4. irrespective of the exact shape of the element. it must be assembled into the global stiffness matrix. The assembly process is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. it requires the programming of only one function to evaluate the shape functions of a type of element.51) where A represents the assembly operation and ne is the number of elements in the mesh. Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for an element. Following the same steps as for the onedimensional problem. its contribution is added to the ‘global’ stiffness matrix K. In the global mesh. This yields: Ωe ( Bbe ) T DBae dΩ = Γh. An isoparametric mapping is defined via a mapping using the nodal shape functions. and similarly for J. as is discussed in the following section. y) in the ‘physical’ Cartesian 50 Version 0. 4. A third advantage is that isoparametric mapping allows higher-order elements to have curved edges.49) Ωe Γh. the term k ij relates local nodes i and j.

η ) aix . To proceed. In the governing weak equations. The map x takes a point within the bi-unit square in the (ξ.52) ∑ Ni (ξ. and nn is number of nodes of the element. Using an isoparametric mapping.2 51 .19. consider the application of the product rule for differentia- January 21. as the shape functions are defined in terms of the natural coordinates. η ) yi .−1) x 1 ξ Figure 4. The map ξ is the inverse of x. y) system and mapping to a point (ξ.53) The difficulty that arises is when computing derivatives with respect to the real coordinates. η ) in the bi-unit square. For example the displacement in the x-direction at a point is given by: nn uh = ∑ Ni (ξ. 2011 Version 0. configuration is given by: nn x= y= ∑ Ni (ξ.1) 2 4 4 3 η ξ 1 (−1. such as the bi-unit square.19: Isoparametric mapping for a bi-unit square. The position on the bi-unit square is given by the natural coordinates. η ) domain and maps it to a point in the ‘real’ element in the Cartesian ( x. shape functions can be defined on simple shapes.1) (1. where (ξ. η ) xi . y) system. η ) are known as the ‘natural coordinates’.4 Isoparametric mapping x 3 (−1. ξ and η.−1) y 2 (1. taking a point in the real Cartesian ( x. i =1 (4. The mapping for a four-node quadrilateral element is illustrated in Figure 4.4. derivatives of the unknown field with respect to x and y are required. i =1 nn i =1 (4.

nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x. (4. ∂ξ ∂x ∂ξ ∂y ∂ξ ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + . from equation (4.η x j     ∑nn1 Nj. ∂η ∂x ∂η ∂y ∂η This can be written in matrix form as:      ∂x ∂y  ∂ f  ∂f       ∂ξ   ∂ξ ∂ξ   ∂x   = .57) ∂x   ∂ f  ∂f  j  ∂x         − ∂y ∂η ∂ξ ∂η J where j = det J. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂y ∂Ni =∑ y.ξ y j  ∂ξ    ∂x  1 ∑ j=1 Nj. (4.      ∂y  ∂ f  ∂y ∂f      −  ∂x  ∂ξ   ∂ξ  1  ∂η  =  . ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x.58) In light of the isoparametric mapping (equation (4.54) (4. ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + . ∂η ∂η i i =1 nn ∂Ni ∂y =∑ y. Using the shape function. ∂η ∂η i i =1 (4. (4.59) Once terms of the matrix J have been formed.56) where the matrix J is commonly known as the Jacobian matrix.60)  ∂Ni  j − ∑nn Nj.  ∂ f   ∂x ∂y   ∂ f          ∂η ∂η ∂η ∂y J (4. defined in terms of ξ and η.η y j  =  . Taking the inverse of the Jacobian.2 January 21. 2011 .55) (4.52)).       ∂Ni   nn  ∂Ni  nn    − ∑ j=1 Nj.4 Formulation of the finite element method tion for a function f .ξ x j  ∂Ni      j =1 j= ∂y ∂η 52 Version 0.57) the derivatives of the shape function of node i with respect to x and y can be computed. the terms in the matrix J can be computed.

61) Similar formulae can be found for eight. For the bi-unit quadrilateral in Figure 4. The position of a point inside the triangle is given by r.1) 3 3 6 5 2 1 (0.20. 4 (4. Triangular elements are often described using area coordinates. Is is also possible to directly address isoparametric triangular elements. the shape function of the ith node is given by: Ni (ξ.1) s (0. Now.19.2 53 . they can be calculated for the real configuration.0) (1. (4. 1987). it can be implemented in a computer code in a simple and compact fashion.4. While this procedure may seen complex. Quadrilateral elements The shape functions for quadrilateral elements on a bi-unit square is particularly simple.4 Isoparametric mapping s (0. This way. a four-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a threenode triangular element. once the derivatives of the shape functions have been calculated on the simple isoparametric domain. A popular approach is to ‘degenerate’ a quadrilateral element to a triangular element (Bathe.62) January 21.and nine-node elements (Hughes. 2011 Version 0. where: t = 1 − r − s. Hughes.0) 4 2 (1.20: Three-node and six-node triangles using area coordinates. Triangular elements Isoparametric mappings are also applied for triangular elements. Consider the triangle in Figure 4. The latter approach is followed here. 1996. η ) = 1 (1 + ξ i ξ ) (1 + ηi η ) . s and t. and an eight-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a six-node triangular element. 1987).0) r 1 (0.0) r Figure 4.

2 N4 = 4rt.67) i =1 where ξ i are discrete points on the integral domain. p. numerical integration is applied. 1 nint −1 f (ξ ) dξ ≃ ∑ f ( ξ i ) wi . (4. To do this. the problem is not yet fully discrete. While the displacement field has been discretised. then the mid-side nodes. N3 = s. Two schemes which arise in finite element analysis are Newton-Cotes and Gauss integration. (4.5 Numerical integration At this stage. 1987. For the integration of a function f (ξ ) from −1 to 1. the shape functions are equal to: N1 = 2t2 − t.2 January 21. It is common for higher-order elements that the apexes are first numbered (corner nodes in the case of quadrilateral elements). (4. Numerical integration is illustrated in Figure 4. N2 = 2r − r. the element stiffness matrices and RHS vectors still involve integration over volumes and surfaces (see section 4. 4. (4. N2 = r. numerical integration in one-dimension is considered.65) Note the numbering of the nodes for the quadratic triangle in Figure 4. N5 = 4rs. N6 = 4st. 166). consider in two dimensions that: B T DB dΩ = 1 1 Ωe −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη. For a quadratic (six-node) triangular element.64) (4. To make the formulation fully discrete (and amendable to computer implementation).66) N3 = 2s2 − s.21.68) 54 Version 0. 2011 .20. Different integration schemes specify where the points are located and the weight associated with each point. η ) domain.63) (4.3).20 are then: N1 = t. To evaluate the stiffness matrix of an element. s and t on triangles (Hughes.4 Formulation of the finite element method The shape functions for the nodes of the element in Figure 4. 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 . it convenient to integrate in the (ξ. Before proceeding to the element matrices. There is a formula for the shape functions of arbitrary order in terms of r.

If the shape functions are quadratic. Three points integrate as 5th order polynomial exactly in one dimension.2. containing derivatives of the shape functions with respect to x and y. It is also known as ‘Gauss quadrature’. the one-dimensional scheme can be extended in each spatial direction. the last remaining issue is the selection of an appropriate integration scheme. one integration point is sufficient (in one. Gauss integration requires n points to integrate the polynomial exactly. ηi ) j (ξ i . two and three dimensions). The integrand of the stiffness matrix is B T DB. if the shape functions are linear. 2011 Version 0. Therefore. which when squared give a January 21.2 55 . The sampling points and weights are listed in Table 4.69) Note that B (ξ i . ηi )T DB (ξ i . For a (2n − 1)th-order polynomial. For multi-dimensional problems.21: Numerical integration of the function f . ηi ) is the usual B matrix. This is simple when using isoparametric elements.4. The location and weights for Gauss integration in one dimension for up to three points are given in Table 4.1. However. Full integration means that the stiffness matrix is integrated exactly (assuming j = constant). Most commonly in finite element analysis.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 . The question that arises in finite element analysis is: How many integration points should be used? Generally. Optimal means that to integrate a polynomial exactly. Therefore. Application of numerical integration leads to: 1 1 −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη ≃ ∑ B (ξ i . in multiple dimensions Gauss integration is not necessarily the most efficient scheme. A Newton-Cotes scheme uses equally spaced integration points. Note the appearance of the determinant of the Jacobian. where B contains derivatives of the shape functions. B contains linear terms. full integration schemes are recommended for their robustness. ηi ) i n wi . j. Gauss integration is used. ηi ). the terms in B are constant and the stiffness matrix is also constant throughout the element. Importantly. This is due to dx dy = j dξ dη (the substitution rule for integration has been applied). Gauss quadrature is the optimal numerical integration scheme for polynomials in one dimension. To perform the numerical integration of the element stiffness matrix. (4. it requires the least number of points.

2011 .2: Gauss integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1.2 January 21.1: Newton-Cotes integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1.4 Formulation of the finite element method n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 1 weight wi 2 1 1 1 3 4 3 1 3 1 4 3 4 3 4 1 4 3 −1 0 1 4 −1 − 1 3 1 3 1 Table 4. n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 −√ 3 1 √ 3 3 − 5 0 3 5 weight wi 2 1 1 5 9 8 9 5 9 3 Table 4. 1]. 56 Version 0. 1].

This deformation mode can develop in an uncontrolled fashion. The number of zero eigenvalues indicates the number of rigid body modes . This means that a deformation mode exists which does not contribute to the energy. To integrate a quadratic function in two dimensions.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions Figure 4. the eight-node quadrilateral requires 3 × 3 points for full integration. In solid and structural mechanics. Reduced integration schemes can improve the performance of some elements for special applications. A test for the element stiffness matrix is to calculate its eigenvalues. They appear naturally in the weak formulation (hence the common name ‘natural boundary conditions’). 4. although it is often integrated with just one point. January 21. In the Galerkin method. For some applications it may be advantageous to use reduced integration schemes in combination with particular elements. 2011 Version 0.22 shows the classic ‘hour-glass’ spurious mode for an eight-node quadrilateral when using reduced 2 × 2 integration. In summary.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions The imposition of Neumann (force) boundary conditions in the finite element method is straightforward.3. If a two-dimensional element has more than three zero eigenvalues. two relating the translation (x and y directions) and one for rigid body rotation.and twodimensional elements are shown in Table 4. Figure 4. Non-zero Dirichlet boundary conditions are more complicated to enforce. two points are required in each direction. The danger of underintegrating elements is that spurious modes may arise. It is often argued that a zero energy mode will be restrained by neighbouring elements. recommended integration schemes for commonly used one. In one dimension. there should only be one zero eigenvalue which corresponds to translation. In two dimensions. there should be only three zero eigenvalues. although it is safer to use full integration. although a 2 × 2 scheme is often used. there is likely a deficiency in the formulation.4.22: 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.modes which do not contribute to the energy.2 57 . Similarly. The four-node quadrilateral element requires 2 × 2 points for full integration. quadratic variation.

58 Version 0.4 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 4.2 January 21.3: Recommended integration schemes for commonly used elements. 2011 .

71) where av are the nodal unknowns at nodes where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. Two common approached are outlined below. January 21.2 59 . the element RHS vector is modified. ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv . 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. f ie. vv vg In terms of indexes. Since g is known. ij j (4. and g are the applied Dirichlet boundary conditions.1 Elimination of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom The displacement field can be expressed by: uh = vh + gh . (4. 2011 Version 0. (4.72) Since g is known.73) where av is the only unknown.70) where uh is the displacement.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions this means that the uh must satisfy the prescribed displacements where they are specified. 0 (4.mod = f ie − nn (4. In discretised form at element level. the element RHS vector can be modified to enforce Dirichlet boundary conditions before assembly into the global RHS vector.6.75) Once the element stiffness matrix has been formed. Since the weight function is defined to be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.74) j =1 ∑ ke ge . ke av = f e − ke g.4. vv vg (4. 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. It is possible to write: ke av + ke g = f v . vh is equal to zero where Dirichlet (displacement) boundary conditions are applied and gh satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions. it is not included in the global system of equations to be solved. 4. ke a = ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv fg .

In one dimension and for equally spaced nodal points (nodes are a distance h apart).7 Exercises 1. 2011 . at which points is the stress from the finite element solution not uniquely defined when using C0 elements? 2. except the diagonal term which is set equal to one. Consider the Laplace equation. 4. The value of Dirichlet boundary condition is then inserted into the vector f at position k. For a plane elasticity problem.2 Retention of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom A simpler approach to imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions is to set all terms on the row of the stiffness matrix corresponding to a node where a Dirichlet boundary condition is applied (row k) equal to zero. 2004).4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. which is given by: ∆u = ∇ · (∇u) = 0 To solve this problem. However. 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. Form the shape functions for a Lagrange nine-node quadrilateral element 3. compare the matrix K for the finite element method with linear elements and for the secondorder central finite difference method. 4. The advantage of this scheme is its simplicity. both the finite element method and the finite difference method require the solution of a system of equations Ka = f . 60 Version 0. The three-node triangle element is often referred to as the ‘constant strain triangle’ (CST).2 January 21.6. the difference equation for the second derivative is: d2 u dx2 = i 2ui+1 2ui−1 2ui + − h j h j +1 h j h j + h j +1 h j +1 h j + h j +1 Comment on the symmetry of the operators for finite elements and finite differences on unequally spaced grid. and that the value of the Dirichlet boundary condition is returned in the solution vector which simplifies postprocessing. 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. 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. symmetry is lost. Show why this is. Under what conditions the matrix B T DB is symmetric? 5.

2.7 using the nodal coordinates in Example 4. Calculate the eigenvalues of the stiffness matrix and comment on their significance.4. January 21. 2011 Version 0. 8. Calculate its eigenvalues using one-point and 2 × 2 integration. 7. Calculate and plot the shape functions for the eight-node quadrilateral element on a bi-unit square.2 61 . Formulate the stiffness matrix for the element in Figure 4.7 Exercises 6.1 and for E = 1 and ν = 0. Form the stiffness matrix for a four-node quadrilateral on a bi-unit square.


For simple problems with only a few elements. Mesh generation programs exist which produce meshes suitable for finite element analysis. To this point. In large finite element software packages. For problems typically analysed using the finite element method.5 Implementation of the finite element method This chapter addresses practical aspects of implementing the finite element method. A typical input file containing F= 5.1 shows a simple finite element mesh of four-noded quadrilaterals. Note: Code examples in the chapter does not reflect the structure of the current version of the Matlab code used in CT5123. This step involves generating a finite element mesh. this can be done by hand. 5. Both nodes and elements have been numbered. One of the strengths of the finite element method is the efficiency with which it can be implemented in a computer code. the underlying theory has been addressed and the discretised formulation for individual elements discussed. The notation used in this chapter follows as closely as possible the notation used in the accompanying Matlab code. often a mesh generator is included. a mesh is too complicated to produce by hand. The generated mesh files serve as input for a finite element program. 63 . A finite element mesh consists of nodal coordinates and a connectivity. This chapter describes how the finite element method can be implemented in a computer code.3 3 4 3 2 5 4 9 8 2 1 6 7 1 Figure 5. Also shown are the applied boundary conditions (both prescribed displacements and the applied force). It is illustrated with schematic extracts of computer code.1: Finite element mesh with elements and nodes numbered. Figure 5.1 Preprocessing The first step in finite element analysis is known as preprocessing.

0 0.0 1.1 is given in Figure 5.76 2. 5.1 involves both Dirichlet (displacement) and Neumann (force) boundary conditions. the is Young’s modulus. The list can begin with any node of the element. the x and y coordinate is given. the nodal coordinates is shown in Figure 5.0 0. The connectivity list for Figure 5. the node to which a boundary condition is applied is listed.2 January 21. 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).1 2.2: Nodal coordinates. The preprocessing is completed by specify the material data. boundary conditions must be specified. the Poisson’s ratio and the density of the material.5 Implementation of the finite element method % node 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 x 0. The final column is the value of the applied boundary condition. % element 1 2 3 4 node1 2 3 9 5 node 2 1 2 4 6 node 3 6 5 5 7 node 4 5 4 8 8 Figure 5. The outline of a typical finite element program for linear static problems 64 Version 0.4 gives the applied boundary condition. 2011 . For an isotropic linear-elastic analysis. The second column gives the boundary condition type: Dirichlet (displacement) = 1 and Neumann (force) = 0.1 y 0. For each node. the calculation phase can begin.0 0. The density is necessary when taking the self-weight into account.0 2.0 Figure 5.7 0.3: Element connectivity. For each element. In addition to nodal coordinates and the connectivity.1 2.3. First.82 1.0 0.0 0. The problem in Figure 5.5 0.8 2.2 Program flow Once the input for a finite element analysis has been prepared.2. the node numbers are listed. although the numbering must process in an anti-clockwise direction (to avoid calculating a negative volume and hence a negative element stiffness). The list in Figure 5. This is either a prescribed force or the prescribed displacement.5 2.6 0.

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

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

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

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5 Implementation of the finite element method

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

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

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


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

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

4(8) 3 (5)

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

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68 Version 0.j). 2011 .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.j).9: Formation of element stiffness matrix.dof_per_node + k if ID(connect(i. k) ) else a_e(jj) = g_e(jj) % displacement is prescribed end end end % return to main program Figure 5.:) % 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 .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.k) ~= 0 a_e(jj) = a( ID(connect(i.2 January 21.8: Set-up of local element arrays for element i.:) = x(connect(i.

dof_per_node + k for l=1:nodes_per_element for m=1:dof_per_node jj = ID(connect(i.i)*g_e(i) end % return to main program Figure 5.2 69 . % 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.ll) end end end if ii ~= 0 f(ii) = f(ii) + f_e(kk) end end end % return to main program Figure 5. k) kk = j*dof_per_node .k_e(:. January 21.11: Assembly of local arrays into global arrays. 2011 Version 0. m) ll = l*dof_per_node .5.3 Local-global % impose Dirichlet boundary conditions for i=1:nodes_per_element*dof_per_node f_e(:) = f_e(:) .l).jj) = K(ii.j).jj) + k_e(kk.dof_per_node + m if ii~=0 & jj~=0 K(ii.10: Imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions.

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

More reliable are the reaction forces at nodes where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.5. stresses and reaction forces. The internal force vector for an element is given by: int fe = Ωe B T σ dΩ + Ωe N T b dΩ (5. Three quantities of potential interest from a linear-elastic calculation are displacements. it gives the reaction force at each node. Reaction forces can be evaluates by calculating the so-called internal force vector f int . post-processing of the data is required.1) Once assembled for all elements (at all nodes.2 71 .5 Post-processing After a calculation has been completed. 2011 Version 0. the internal force vector should be zero where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.5 Post-processing 5. This means that the body is in equilibrium. It is important to realise that the stress computed at a point is not always reliable. For static problems. January 21. including where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied).


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

Denoting the angle between the x-axis and the x ⋆ -axis as θ. three dimensions.4) The following definitions are now adopted: 74 Version 0. a node will have three degrees of freedom. Given that the only displacements of interest are the in x ⋆ -direction. the vector ae has four components (a component in the x and y direction at each node). 2011 . of a linear bar. in the x ⋆ .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Fx* x* y* y z* z x Figure 6. Therefore. The only displacement of any consequence for an element is in the x ⋆ -direction. (6. the rotation matrix has the form: QT = cos θ − sin θ sin θ cos θ (6.3) = a2x⋆ 0 0 Q11 Q21  a2x      a2y a⋆ = e a1x⋆ a2x⋆ . two degrees of freedom. the rotation is particularly simple. displacements in the y⋆ -direction are not resisted by an element. (6.1) The vector ae holds the displacement components at the nodes of an element. the above problem can be reduced to give:    a1x      a1y a1x⋆ Q11 Q21 0 0 . The displacements at nodes one and two.2: Linear truss element in three-dimensional space. Since truss elements are based on the assumption that only normal forces (σx⋆ ) can be transmitted.1) to give the nodal displacements in terms of the coordinate system aligned with the axis of the truss element.2) 0 Q11 Q21   a2x   a2x⋆   0      ⋆   0 0 Q12 Q22 a2y a2y where Qij are components of the matrix Q. For a two dimensional truss structure.2 January 21.and y⋆ -directions are given by:      Q Q21 0 0  a1x   a1x⋆       ⋆   11   a1y Q Q22 0 0  a1y  =  12 . and in two dimensions. The displacement components can be rotated using the matrix Q (see section 1. (6.

6) where N ⋆ contains the shape functions for a one-dimensional bar (see equation (4. e (6. where k⋆ is the standard one-dimensional stiffness e e matrix for a bar.9) where the LHS of equation (6. Clearly. h w.2 75 . Inserting the relationships in equations (6.5) The displacement in the x ⋆ -direction along the bar is therefore given by: uh⋆ = N ⋆ a⋆ = N ⋆ qae . The ‘star’ denotes that the shape functions are constructed relative to the coordinate system on the bar.12). (6. Ωe ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh ( Nbe ) T h dΓ.x⋆ = B⋆ qbe ⋆ (6. the element stiffness matrix is equal to: ke = q T B⋆ T EB⋆ q dΩ. The strain in the x ⋆ -direction is therefore given by: h ǫh⋆ = u. January 21. the stiffness matrix for a one-dimensional element can be formed.x⋆⋆ = B⋆ qae (6. and with the aid of the matrix q it can be transformed into the global. (6.8) into the weak governing equation (2.8) (recall that be is a variation). Inserting now the discretised fields into the weak governing equation for a onedimensional bar.7) Similarly.1 Rod elements in space and q= Q11 0 Q21 0 0 Q11 0 .19) for a linear element). 2011 Version 0.9) is the stiffness matrix. multidimensional coordinate system. the derivative of a weight function w can be expressed in the local coordinate system in terms of the global degrees of freedom. Q21 (6.10) Ωe This is equivalent to ke = q T k⋆ q.7) and (6. It is important to ensure that a truss structure does not form a mechanism. and eliminating be .6. A classic sign of a mechanism is singularity of the global stiffness matrix of the structure.

6. The second is the Timoshenko beam.1 Kinematics of a beam Beam theory is based upon the assumption that planes which are normal to the beam’s axis remain plane.x v. x2 ). The first is the classic BernoulliEuler beam.4 shows the rotation of the plane due to a rigid body rotation. For simplicity. the ‘domain’ of the beam. 6. Such a beam is illustrated in Figure 6. which is valid for relatively slender beams.2 Beams Two types of beams are considered in this section. The development of beam elements follows the same steps as for continuum elements. The outward normal is denoted n.x y x Figure 6. and its ends (the boundary of Ω) are denoted Γ = x1 ∪ x2 . The governing equation is identified and then the weak form developed.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis y fy Fy x T x = x1 x = x2 Figure 6. Figure 6. there are no out-of plane forces or moments. v. Consider now a fibre in a beam 76 Version 0.4: Rotation of a line normal to the axis in a beam segment. which takes into account shear deformations. is denoted Ω = ( x1 .3: Plane beam element Ω = ( x1 .2 January 21. in-plane beams are considered. Consistent with previous sections.2.3. 2011 . x2 ). straight. For a transverse displacement v.

5: Beam segment subjected to pure shear.2 Beams γ v.x y x Figure 6.6 that θ = v. as illustrated in Figure 6. the fibre will not rotate. The fibre is indicated by the heavy line. the rotation θ of a fibre which is initially perpendicular to the beam’s axis is shown in Figure 6. 6. (6. It is clear from Figure 6. Considering translational equilibrium of a beam segment Ω.13) Figure 6.2 77 .12) and the shear stress q is defined by q= h/2 − h/2 σxy dy.5.2. equilibrium of a beam can be considered directly. which together with some assumptions as to the stress in different directions can be inserted into the elasticity equations from Chapter 1.x − γ. 2011 Version show the ‘resultant’ force Q and moment M due to a moment m and a shear force q in a beam. a plane which remains perpendicular to the axis undergoes a rotation γ. where n is the outward unit normal vector. For a beam segment subjected to both rotation and shear deformation. it is clear January 21.11) − h/2 σxx y dy.2 Equilibrium of a beam The equilibrium equations for a beam can be developed in two ways. The bending moment m in a beam is defined as m= h/2 (6. (6. The first is to elaborate the kinematics of the beam. Relative to the fibre which has not rotated. which will be followed here. Note that M = m n and Q = q n. which is initially perpendicular to the beam axis. In the second method. Subjecting a segment from a beam to pure shear.

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

x dΩ + f y dΩ = 0. are valid for both Bernoulli-Euler and Timoshenko beam theories. the boundary conditions are v = gv θn = gθ mn = T q n = Fy on Γv . (6.x Ω Ω Ω Ω (6. For rotational equilibrium.18) Satisfaction of the translational equilibrium equation implies that 0. The boundary Γ of a beam is partitioned such that: Γv ∪ ΓQ = Γ.20a) (6. (6. translational equilibrium requires that q. it is clear that Ω Ω q.2 Beams that: q n dΓ + dΩ dΩ Ω f y dΩ = 0.20b) Denoting applied end forces Fy . Ω (q.17) (6.16) dΩ dΩ Ω This expression can be rearranged such that m.19) (6.x dΩ − q dΩ − q. Γv ∩ ΓQ = ∅.15) Since equilibrium must hold for an infinitely small segment of a beam. therefore rotational equilibrium requires that m. and boundary conditions. Γθ ∪ ΓM = Γ. distributed loads f y and applied moments T (all shown in Figure 6.21c) (6.x x dΩ − f y x dΩ = 0. Γθ ∩ ΓM = ∅ + f y ) x dΩ = (6.x + f y = 0. on ΓM . on ΓQ .21a) (6. 2011 Version 0. on Γθ . (6.6. (6. it is required that: m n dΓ − q nx dΓ − f y x dΩ = 0.2 79 .14) Noting that q n dΓ = q| x= L2 − q| x= L1 .x − q = 0.3). January 21.21b) (6.21d) These equations.

dx2 d2 v . and then inserting equation (6.xx dΩ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.21c) and (6.16) yields: d2 m + f y = 0. Dirichlet boundary conditions involve the prescription of the displacement or the rotation (equations (6. This assumption implies that the shear rotation γ is equal to zero. The negative sign is due to the sign convention in which the rotation and the resultant moment are in opposite directions. 2011 . dx2 (6. which is equal to zero where Dirichlet (kinematic) boundary conditions are applied (the bar is used in this section to denote a weight function) and integration over the beam Ω yields: Ω ¯ vm.26) which is the strong equation of equilibrium for a Bernoulli-Euler beam. and Neumann involve either the shear force or moment (equations (6.25) by a weight function v.27) 80 Version 0. two boundary conditions are required at both ends of the beam. Multiplying equation (6. the weak form of equilibrium for a beam ¯ can be developed.24).25) Assuming EI to be constant.19) with respect to x. dx2 (6. (6. dx4 (6. Weak governing equation Following the procedures from Chapter 2. the boundary value problem is complete and can be solved.2 January 21.24) where I is the moment of inertia of the beam. and inserting the constitutive relationship from equation (6.23) The bending moment in the beam is related to the curvature by: m = − EIκ = − EI (6.21a) and (6. Taking now the derivative of all terms in equation (6. θ= dv . so the rotation can be directly related to the displacement v.2. − EI d4 v + f y = 0.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. dx d2 v . With appropriate boundary conditions.21d)).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.21b)). from an appropriately defined space.22) which also implies that κ= (6. Being a fourth-order equation.

this time to the term Ω ¯ v.x dΩ. Consider now: ¯ v ≡ δv Inserting this relationship into equation (6.33) δv. which means that both their first and second derivatives exist.x = 0 on Γθ .xx EIv. after integrating by parts twice. the trial functions (v ∈ S ) and the ¯ weight (test) functions (v ∈ V ) must possess a higher degree of regularity (roughly speaking.2 81 . Consistency of the above weak form can be proven following the same procedure as in in Section 2.29) Inserting now the Neumann (natural) boundary conditions from equations (6.34) which is the equation of virtual work for a Bernoulli-Euler beam beam. 2011 Version 0.xx dΩ − ΓM ¯ v. For the weak form to ‘make sense’.x m. January 21. solving the governing weak equation for a beam involves: find v ∈ S such that − Ω ¯ v.x T dΓ + ΓQ δvFy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6. it was shown that if the weight function could be considered as a ‘virtual displacement’. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .1.30) where S and V are appropriately defined spaces.x dΩ + Γ ¯ vm. which require C0 continuity only. This is in contrast to second-order problems.2 Beams Integrating by parts the term involving the moment M once yields: − Ω ¯ v. (6.24). v. and v. v.x = gθ on Γθ .6. continuity) than for classical continuum problems.32a) (6.x .xx m dΩ − Γ ¯ v.31) In one dimension this is equivalent to the trial and test functions being at least C1 continuous.28) Applying integrating by parts again. has second-order derivatives in its weak form. v = gv on Γv . Both S and V must be subspaces of the Sobolev space H 2 (Ω).x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. For completeness. which contains functions satisfying: Ω v2 + v2 + v2 dx < ∞. it implies that the weak form of the governing equation is identical to the equation of virtual work.xx dΩ = − ΓM δv. the spaces S and V are formally defined by: S = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. The integration domain for the ¯ ¯ boundary integrals has been changed since v = 0 on Γv . The existence of second-order derivatives in the weak form deserves some special attention. (6. (6.30) gives: Ω (6. and inserting the constitutive relation in equation (6. v = 0 on Γv .x mn dΓ + Γ ¯ vm.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vFy dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀v ∈ V .xx (6. Note that a fourth-order problem.32b) For the case of an elastic continuum.21c) and (6. .x = 0 on Γθ .xx EIv. ¯ Ω v. (6.21d).x m.

35) where γ is the rotation due to shear. Together with the previously defined boundary conditions. dx (6.19) and (6. They also provide a solid introduction to moderately thick plate theories where the advantage of shear deformable theories will become more apparent. dx (6. 82 Version 0. but not necessarily normal.38) and considering v and θ to be the fundamental unknowns. In terms of the shear force and properties of the beam. the shear strain γ.19) and (6. the problem is complete.39) (6.4 Timoshenko beam Timoshenko beams are more general Bernoulli-Euler beams as they allow for shear deformation. the first for the rotation θ.11) that rotation θ of a plane is given by θ= dv − γ.16) with the constitutive relationships m = − EIκ. q = GAs γ = GAs (6. Inserting the constitutive relationships into the equilibrium equations in (6. Relative to the Bernoulli-Euler theory. an additional unknown. it is related to the shear force by the constitutive relationship: γ= q . has been introduced. Planes must remain plane. (6. in Ω. 2011 . Recall from equation (6.16) leads to: d2 θ − GAs dx2 dθ d2 v − dx dx2 dv −θ dx − EI GAs =0 in Ω.2 January 21.36) where G is the shear modulus and As is the effective shear area. GAS (6. This means that shear deformations can be taken into account. 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.37) dv −θ . and are hence suitable for relatively short beams. The governing equations are given by the equilibrium conditions in equations (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6.40) + fy = 0 which are two coupled second-order equations. and the second for the displacement v.2.

− Ω δκ m dΩ + Ω δγ q dΩ = − ΓM δθ T dΓ + ΓQ δv Fy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6.48) January 21.x n dΓ − Γ Ω ¯ θGAs (v.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vh Fy dΓ + Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀vh ∈ V h (6. As with all problems.46) − ¯ v. Ω (6. considering δθ ≡ θ and δv ≡ v.45) (6. It is however assumed that θ = 0 on Γθ and that θ satisfies ¯ the rotation boundary condition.2 Beams Weak governing equations ¯ Multiplying equations (6. and v = 0 on Γv .x − θ ) dΩ = 0.x dΩ − Ω Ω Γ ¯ θEIθ.43) (6.xx dΩ − Ω ¯ θGAs (v.x − θ ) n x dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x dΩ − Ω Ω ¯ θGAs (v. adding the weak forms in equations (6.xx EIv.x EIθ.xx dΩ = − ΓM ¯h v.2 83 . 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.x − θ.x − θ ) dΩ + ΓQ ΓM Ω ¯ θT dΓ = 0.x − θ ) dΩ = 0.47) For many mechanical problems. and using γ = v.x EIθ. consistency can be proven through the application of integration by parts.40) by appropriately defined weight functions θ ¯ and v.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vFy dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 A more precise definition of the necessary functions spaces should be provided to ¯ complete the problem.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vGAs (v. ¯ θ.44) − ¯ v. the weak form or virtual work expressions appear naturally and can be used as a starting point in developing a finite element model. Ω (6.46) is equivalent to the virtual work equation.42) ¯ vGAs (v. Applying integration by parts once. ¯ ∀θ ∈ Vθ ¯ ∀v ∈ Vv .41) (6. (6.xx − θ. 2011 Version 0. 6.45) and (6. ¯ ¯ As before.6. − Ω Ω ¯ θEIθ. and v satisfies the transverse displacement 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.x ) dΩ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x GAs (v.2.x GAs (v.39) and (6. The test and trial functions should be at least C0 continuous (in contrast to the C1 continuity for the Bernoulli-Euler theory).

51) v = Nae = N1 M1 N2 M2  v2      θ2 N1 = It is necessary to compute both the first and second derivatives of v with respect to x. Such shape functions can be constructed relatively easily in one dimension (the extension to multiple dimensions is however far from trivial). This results in a cubic interpolation of the displacement along the element.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis where S h ⊂ S and V h ⊂ V are finite-dimensional spaces.x  v2      θ2 84 Version 0. Hermitian polynomials are C1 functions. However.x M2.2 January 21.50c) M1 = h2 ( x − x1 )2 ( x − x2 ) M2 = (6.49) where vi and θi are degrees of freedom associated with node i. and the shape functions are equal to: − ( x − x2 )2 (− h + 2 ( x1 − x )) (6. The displacement field vh is given by: vh ( x ) = ∑ ( Ni ( x ) vi + Mi ( x ) θi ) . The use of C0 interpolations for fourth-order problems is not mathematically consistent and can lead to unpredictable results.x = N. The solution is to use C1 shape functions. i 2 (6. convergence of the solution is not assured for interpolations with insufficient continuity.50b) h3 ( x − x1 ) ( x − x2 ) 2 (6.x ae = N1. The first derivative is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6. Crucially. The problem that arises is that simple C0 finite element shape functions are not suitable.50a) h3 ( x − x1 )2 ( h + 2 ( x2 − x )) N2 = (6. and involve both displacement and rotational degrees of freedom. The displacement at a point in the beam is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6. we wish to express the displacement field v in terms of shape functions and nodal degrees of freedom.52) v. 2011 . A Hermitian beam element with two nodes has four degrees of freedom (two displacement degrees of freedom and two rotation degrees of freedom).x M1. The above equation requires the evaluation of the second derivative of the interpolated displacement field.50d) h2 for an element of length h with ends from x1 to x2 (x2 > x1 ).x N2. As for continuum elements. the second derivative of a C0 continuous function does not exist in a classical sense.

January 21.2 85 . (6.xx ae dΩ = − ΓM ( N.x and v.56) and the RHS vector by: fe = ΓQ N T Fy dΓ − ΓM N T T dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.x T T dΓ + ΓQ N T Fy dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ. v.54) After some rearranging.xx T EI N.53) h h Now that vh . (6.xx dΩ. (6.xx N2. Ω ( N.xx can be computed given ae .xx ae = N1.xx be ) T EI N. 2011 Version 0.57) The operation to form the RHS vector essentially translates the applied loads into equivalent nodal shear forces and moments.6.xx dΩ ae = − ΓM N.xx M1.2 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. they can be inserted into the Galerkin problem.xx M2.xx (6.xx T EI N.xx = N. Ω N.55) The element stiffness matrix is given by: ke = Ω N.

the above equations can be simplified significantly.59a) (6.58e) (6. h h 12x N2. 2011 . h3 2 (6x − h − 4x1 − 2x2 ) N2. h h (6.x = .xx = 2 − .xx = 2 + . 2 ( x − x2 ) (3x + h − 2x1 − x2 ) . Considering just the second derivatives with respect to x.xx = 12x .x = h2 2 (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) .xx = − 3 .59c) (6. x1 = − h/2). h3 2 (6x + h − 2x1 − 4x2 ) .58b) (6.xx = . h2 2 ( x − x1 ) (3x − h − x1 − 2x2 ) N2.59b) (6. the stiffness matrix is of the form:  12x   h3   6x 1    h/2  2 −  h  EI 12x h ke =   h3 − h/2  − 12x   h3   6x 1  + h h2 6x 1 − h h2 − 12x h3 6x 1 + h h2 dx.58f) (6. h3 ( x − x1 ) (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) .xx = h3 ( x − x2 ) (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) M1. h2 2 (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) M1. h3 6x 1 M1.xx = − .58g) (6.x = (6.60) Integrating the terms in the stiffness matrix exactly from − h/2 to h/2 (assuming EI 86 Version 0. N1. N1.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Taking derivatives of the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6. (6.58h) Assuming the centre of the element is at x = 0 (x2 + x1 = 0.58a) (6.56). M2. M2.x = − .58d) (6.58c) (6.xx = h2 N1.2 January 21.59d) Inserting these terms into equation (6.50). h 6x 1 M2.

v h = N v av . Inserting the expressions for the unknown fields in terms of nodal variables and variations into equations (6.2 Beams to be constant). e θ = ¯ v = ¯ θh = h h (6. 2011 Version 0. T (6. (6.x EIθ.64d) N θ aθ .62) h ¯h v. (6.63) leads to: Bθ EIBθ dΩ aθ + e T Ωe Ωe N θ GAs N θ dΩ aθ − e T Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ av e T =− Γe.63) Consider the representation of the fields vh and θ h . 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  .6.65) Ωe Bv T GAs Bv dΩav − e Ωe Bv T GAs N θ dΩaθ e = Γe.66) January 21.2 87 .x − θ h dΩ = − ΓQ ΓM ¯ θ h T dΓ h ¯ ∀θ h ∈ Vθ .64b) (6.64c) (6. A distinction is made between the shape functions for vh and θ h as these may differ. (6.61) Timoshenko beams The finite element formulation for the Timoshenko beam is relatively simple.64a) (6. This will allow the use of the standard shape functions introduced in Chapter 4.62) and (6. e N v bv . h h The Galerkin problem for the Timoshenko beam involves: find vh ∈ Sv and θ h ∈ Sθ such that Ω Ω h ¯h θ.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe N v T f y dΩ.M N θ T dΓ.x − θ h dΩ = Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ + ¯ vh Fy dΓ h ¯ ∀v h ∈ Vv .x GAs v.x dΩ − Ω h ¯ θ h GAs v. − 6EI  h2  4EI h (6. e θ θ N be . in terms of shape functions and nodal variable. due to the second-order nature of the governing equations. and corresponding derivatives.

N v T f y dΩ.72) (6.67) where the components of the the element stiffness matrix are given by kθθ = Ωe Bθ EIBθ + N θ GAs N θ dΩ. This would be advantageous from the point of view of generality.2 January 21. 2011 .75) kθv =  e  GA GAs  s − 2 2 88 Version 0. Consider a Timoshenko beam element of length L.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. Bv T GAs N θ dΩ.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe Note that the stiffness matrix is symmetric (kθv = kvθ ).M N θ T dΓ. However.74) e  EI GAs L GAs L  EI + − + L 6 L 3   GAs GAs −  2 2  . The components of the stiffness matrix are given by:   GAs L EI GAs L EI − +  L + 3 L 6  . Ωe Ωe T T (6.71) kθv = − kvθ = − kvv = Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ. only a Timoshenko beam element would be necessary in practice. Locking Conceptually.69) (6. Ideally. with linear shape functions for both the displacement and rotation. and components of the element RHS vector are given by fθ = − fv = Γe.73) Γe. This is the effect in which the shear contribution to the energy does not vanish.68) (6. the result are plagued by shear locking. and both short and slender beams could be analysed.70) (6. and for simplicity as the Timoshenko element used C0 shape functions. (6. Timoshenko beam theory is superior to the Bernoulli-Euler theory in that it is valid for both short and slender beams. kθθ =  (6. T Bv T GAs Bv dΩ. T T (6. when applying Timoshenko elements for thin bending problems. resulting in an overly stiff response.

and a shear load P is applied one end.2 89 . this element will exhibit a very stiff response.76) Therefore. If the term Ωe N θT GAs N θ dΩ is evaluated using one-point numerical integration T January 21.80) which is independent of I.79) If L is large. As L → 0. EI GAs L  L + 3 ke =   GAs − 2 −  GAs     θ 0 2   2    =  GAs v2 P L (6. GAs (6. GAs (6. v2 ≈ 4PL .6. the displacement v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/3) EIGAs /L2 + G2 A2 /12 s (6.77) If at one end the beam is clamped.2 Beams and GAs  L =  GA s − L    GAs − L   GAs  L  GAs 2   GAs   −  2   GAs   − L   GAs  L kvv e (6. Even with a very fine mesh.81) which is the correct result. θ1 = v1 = 0. the stiffness matrix is of the form EI GAs L  L + 3   EI GAs L  + − 6  L ke =   GAs   2   GAs − 2  − EI GAs L + L 6 EI GAs L + L 3 GAs 2 GAs − 2 GAs 2 GAs 2 GAs L GAs − L − (6. 2011 Version 0. will yield a very stiff response. v2 ≈ PL .78) Therefore.

v2 ≈ PL GAs (6.83) If L is very large.84) which qualitatively the desired response. 90 Version 0. and as L → 0.85) When using reduced integration. 2011 .82) ke =    GAs  GAs GAs GAs   −  2 2 L L     GAs GAs GAs  GAs − − − 2 2 L L Now.2 January 21.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis (which is reduced for this term). The case is similar for quadratic elements. the element stiffness matrix would have the form   EI GAs L EI GAs L GAs GAs + − + −  L 4 L 4 2 2     EI GAs L GAs L GAs  EI GAs   + + − −  4 L 4 2 2   L (6. for the one element problem clamped at one end. v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/4) EIGAs /L2 (6. v2 ≈ PL3 4EI (6. this element performs quite well when the mesh is sufficiently well-refined. where selective integration (two-point) leads to a dramatic reduction in locking response.

Given the enormous number of different plate and shell elements.1 Plate kinematics The adopted coordinate system and sign convention for rotations θα for plates is shown in Figure 6. the relevant dangers in analysing plate and shell structures with the finite element method are presented. A particularly accessible account can be found in Cook et al. Plate finite elements can be extremely complex and are an area of ongoing research.3. or u1 . y) . The plate has a thickness t.8. u3 = u3 ( x. They are flat two-dimensional entities. Bathe. The rotation of the January 21. Also. respectively). (1989). and the boundary is Γ. For convenience. 2011 Version 0. 6. Hughes. and the coordinate z = 0 corresponds to the mid-surface of the plate.2 91 . y and z.8: Coordinate system for a plate. T When using Greek subscripts. The adopted definitions simplify the formulation as it will avoid the need for a −1 factor on particular terms.86b) where θα is the rotation of a fibre in the plate (see Figure 6. y) . The basic governing equations of shell and plate elements and the most common finite element approaches are discussed. summation is implied from one to two. u2 and u3 when using indexes. are are typically loaded out of plane. 1991. (6.9). 1987. In plate theory. the convention differs from the right-hand rule.3 Plate Plates are effectively generalisations of beam elements to two spatial dimensions. or x1 . this section does not provide an exhaustive coverage.86a) (6. 1996). 6. v and w (displacements in the x. The surface of the plate in the x1 –x2 plane is denoted Ω. x2 and x3 . Similarly. A serious problem stems from the need for C1 interpolations in the classic thin plate and shell bending theories. the displacement of a point is given by: uα = −zθα ( x.3 Plate x3 p θ1 x2 t x1 θ2 Figure 6.6. y and z directions. displacement may be denoted u. It is convenient to express many relationships for plates using index notation. More detailed coverage can be found in a number of books (Zienkiewicz and Taylor. The three coordinates are denoted x.

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

it is clear that the moment tensor is symmetric. 2 α.α 2 (6.β (6.90) From symmetry of the stress tensor.91) The different resultant moments and transverse forces acting on cross-sections of a plate are shown in Figure 6.87) Note that if γα = 0. It is useful to define a vector s which is normal to the vector n.88a) (6. The moment tensor mαβ in a plate is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σαβ z dz (6.i )). the strain field can be calculated at any point (recall ǫ = (1/2)(ui.3.α .89) 6.β + θ β. From the displacement field in equations (6.88b) A useful quantity is the curvature.6. 2011 Version 0.α 2 −θα + w. (6. The alternative approach would be to insert the plate kinematics into the elasticity equations.α .3 Plate mid-surface of the plate is given by w.2 Equilibrium of a plate The equilibrium equations for a plate are developed here in the same fashion as for plates.10 (‘resultants’ are forces which are equivalent to a moment or shear stress). γα = w.j + u j.α = θ(α. then θα = w.2 93 . This allows the definition of following notation for January 21. which is a second-order tensor and at a point is given by: καβ = 1 θ + θ β. and lies in the plane of Ω. ǫαβ = ǫα3 = −z θα.α − θα .86). and the shear strain is given by γα .β) . The shear force vector qα is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σα3 dz (6.

α + pz = 0.α sα mnn.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis q2 m21 m22 m11 x3 m12 x2 θ1 q1 q2 m11 q1 m12 m22 m21 x1 θ2 Figure 6.s = w. ∂mnn . Translation equilibrium of a plate requires that: ∂Ω (6.93) Applying the divergence theorem to the term involving qα leads to Ω qα. θn = θα nα . mns.n = w. w. mns = mαβ n β sα .2 January 21.92e) (6.95) 94 Version 0.92a) (6. ∂s ∂mns .92f) (6.11. 2011 . (6.α nα w.94) which must also hold for an infinitesimally small piece of the plate.10: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on cross-sections of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).α dΩ + Ω pz dΩ = 0. therefore qα.s = ∂s qn = qα nα .92g) (6.92h) qα nα dΓ + Ω pz dΩ = 0. (6. quantities relative to an arbitrarily oriented plate edge: mnn = mαβ n β nα .92d) (6.92b) (6.s = The quantities are illustrated in Figure 6.92c) (6. (6.

These constitutive relationships will also be elaborated upon in the context of the different theories. Considering now rotational equilibrium.β = q β xα.PSfrag 6.α xα = qα + q β. mαβ n β dΓ − q β n β xα dΩ − pz xα dΩ = 0.3.3 Thin plates .β − qα = 0.β dΩ − Ω qα dΩ − Ω q β. and are specific to the considered plate theory.96) ∂Ω ∂Ω Ω which leads to: Ω mαβ.11: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on an edge of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)). rotational equilibrium requires that mαβ. (6.2 95 . is the equation for translational equilibrium. It is applicable for thin plates where shear deformations are negligible. hence boundary conditions are elaborated upon in the context of a given theory. Ironically. Since translation equilibrium requires that q β.β xα dΩ − Ω pz xα dΩ = 0. (6.Kirchhoff theory The Kirchhoff plate model theory is analogous to the Bernoulli-Euler beam.98) The boundary conditions for a plate are more complicated that for a beam. To complete the problem.α xα .β + pz = 0. 6.3 Plate q2 m21 m22 qn x3 x2 θ1 mns m11 q1 m12 s mnn n x1 θ2 Figure 6.β + q β. the outwardly simplest plate theory presents the most problems when formulating the finite January 21. (6. 2011 Version 0. constitutive relationships are required which relate the moment tensor and the shear force to deformations.97) noting that q β xα .

This can be done by differentiating equation (6.102) Cαβγδ = t3 ¯ µ δαβ δβδ + δαδ δβγ + λδαβ δγδ . Assuming transverse shear deformations are zero. the curvature κ is equal to: καβ = 1 w.101) (6.104) Expanding this equation.ααββ = 12 1 − ν2 pz . equation (6. The shear force qα is no longer ‘independent’.100) The moment is related to the curvature by mαβ = −Cαβγδ κγδ . ∂x y ∂x4 ∂y (6.95). 2011 . ∇4 w = ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 .103) ¯ where λ = 2λµ/ (λ + 2µ).2 January 21. the governing equation can be expressed in a particularly convenient form: w. 2 (6.98) and inserting equation (6. 12 1 − ν2 ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 = pz .100) yields a fourthorder partial differential equation.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis element method. mαβ.87) reduces to: θα = w. Inserting the constitutive relationship (6. ∂x y Et3 ∂x4 ∂y (6. 12 (6. It is often written in a shorthand format using the biharmonic operator ∇4 .αβ + w. Since shear deformations are zero. where the constitutive tensor is equal to: (6. four different types of boundary conditions are possible.βα . The goal is now to eliminate qα from the governing equations.105) This equation is known as the ‘biharmonic equation’.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.αβ + pz = 0.106) As a fourth-order equation.α (6.102) into equation (6. Et3 (6. and the Kirchhoff plate model requires two boundary conditions at all points 96 Version 0. After some rearranging.

and integrating over the surface of the plate.107c) (6.α mαβ n β dΓ + Γ ¯ wmαβ.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.α mαβ n β dΓ = − Γ Γ ¯ w.s + qn ) dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.105) by a weight function w.n mnn dΓ − ¯ w. and the last two are Neumann boundary conditions. − Γ ¯ w. Multiplying by a weight ¯ function w.20). for which w = 0 on Γw and w.110) which is the weak form of the governing equation for thin plate bending. The last boundary condition is known as the ‘modified shear’ boundary condition.6. Weak form The weak form of the governing equation for a thin plate is derived using the same processes applied for second-order problems.n = 0 on Γθ .s = Q on Γw on Γθ on ΓM on ΓQ (6. Ω ¯ w. then integrated by parts.109) Using integration by parts again on the first term.β dΩ + Γ ¯ wmαβ.2 97 . it is convenient to carry out the process on equation (6. Integrating the moment term by parts once.3 Plate on the boundary.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. 2011 Version 0. (6. − Ω ¯ w.100). (6. and leads to the well known ‘corner forces’ in thin plate theory.α mαβ. The governing equation is multiplied by a weight function. and integrating over the plate surface Ω. (6. 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 ).β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Considering the partition of the boundary in equation (6.n mnn dΓ + Γ ¯ w (mns.s dΓ − wmns | B A (6.110) (ignoring the point terms).n mnn dΓ + Γ Γ ¯ w. Ω ¯ wmαβ.s mns dΓ ¯ ¯ wmns.112) January 21. Inserting the above relationship into equation (6. Rather than multiplying the governing ¯ equation (6.107d) The first two boundary conditions are Dirichlet boundary conditions.111) =− The last term will be ignored.107b) (6.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. yields Ω ¯ w.107a) (6. the boundary conditions are given by: w = gw θ n = gθ mnn = T qn + mns.108) where Ω is the surface of the plate. (6.αβ dΩ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.

w = gw on Γw .n = 0 on Γθ . 6.2 January 21. The difference lies in the kinematics and the constitutive model. which in turn involves second derivatives of w.αβ mαβ dΩ − ΓM ¯ w.α as a virtual rotation δθα . the spaces S and V for the weak form of Kirchhoff plate theory are defined as follows: S = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Inserting the Neumann boundary conditions.4 Moderately thick plates – Reissner-Mindlin theory The Reissner-Mindlin theory for plates includes shear deformation. solving the weak problems then involves: find w ∈ S such that Ω ¯ w. it is applicable for both thick and thin plates.116a) (6. The governing equations for a thick plate are those given in Section 6. (6. w.β − qα = 0. some serious practical problems arise in finite element analysis when applying Reissner-Mindlin elements for the analysis of thin plates. The problem now involves two different unknowns.n = gθ on Γθ .α ). However. The key to the success of this approach in a finite element context is that the moment tensor mαβ is calculated from the curvature. hence the highest order derivatives in the weak governing equation are order two.116b) 98 Version 0.α + pz = 0.αβ as the virtual curvature. 2011 . ¯ ¯ ¯ Considering w as a virtual displacement δw. (6. w and θα . (6.n T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ V . For completeness. δκαβ . the above equation is the equation of virtual work for a plate: δκαβ mαβ dΩ − δθn T dΓ + δwQ dΓ + δwpz dΩ = 0 (6.113) where the functions in S satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. It is analogous to the Timoshenko beam. and w. w = 0 on Γw . w. w. The rotation of the plate cannot be calculated simply as a derivative of the transverse displacement.2. Unlike for thin plates. the governing equations cannot be further reduced since θα is not a direct function of w. the governing equations for equilibrium are the same as for the Kirchhoff theory. which depends on θα which is no longer calculated directly from w (θα = w. qα. As such.115b) Consistency can proven through the repeated application of integration by parts.114) Ω ΓM ΓQ Ω Recall that the bending moment mαβ is a function of the curvature.115a) (6. For this theory.3. The equations of equilibrium are: mαβ.3. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) .

This set of equations cannot be reduced further.119a) and (6. Firstly. θα . a constitutive relation relating the shear forces to the shear strain is introduced.β dΩ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.β − θ β dΩ = 0. This means than the governing equations are being solved in their irreducible form.102)).120a) (6. This set of equations can be reduced by eliminating qα . The ‘naturally’ occurring boundary conditions involve w = gw θα = gαθ mαn = Tα qn = Q on Γw .β − Cαβ w. ¯ equation (6. (6.123) January 21. − Ω ¯ θ(α. Ω ¯ θα mαβ. is a vector.119b) (6. qα = Cαβ γβ = Cαβ w.α + pz = 0 It is these equations which will be solved.117) Cαβ w.β − θ β dΩ = 0.αβ − θ β. where Cαβ = ktµδαβ . 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.120b) (6.119a) is multiplied by a weight function θα . mαβ. 2011 Version 0.119a) (6.β − θ β = 0 (6. and k is a correction factor which is equal to 5/6. on Γθ . on ΓQ . both equations (6.122) ¯ Inserting now Neumann boundary conditions (θα = 0 where θα is prescribed) yields: − Ω ¯ θα.118) (6.6.β − θ β dΩ = 0.120c) (6.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. on ΓM . (6.3 Plate In addition to the constitutive relationship relating moment and curvature (equation (6. Weak form To derive the weak form.119b) are addressed. (6. three boundary conditions must be applied at all points on the boundary.2 99 . This is due to θα and w being decoupled. (6.β − θ β .120d) Given that one of the unknowns.121) Integrating the above equation by parts.β) mαβ dΩ + Γ ¯ θα mαβ n β dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.

β − θ β dΩ + Γ ¯ wCαβ γβ nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.α Cαβ w.114). (6.127b) by minus one).119b) by a ¯ weight function w. However. The weak problem therefore involves: find θα ∈ Sθ and w ∈ Sw such that: − Ω ¯ θα. (6.α Cαβ w.119b). and taking advantage of the symmetry of mαβ .125) ¯ Inserting again Neumann boundary conditions (w = 0 where w is prescribed).127a) and (6. Multiplying now equation (6.α Cαβ w. 2011 . Note that different to the virtual work equation for a Kirchhoff plate (6.119a).6 Structural elements for finite element analysis which is the weak form of equation (6.126) which is the weak form of equation (6. Hence.β − θ β dΩ = 0.127b) that are solved using the finite element method.β) and δγα = w.124) Ω Ω Integrating the above equation by parts yields: − Ω ¯ w. the highest order derivative appearing for both terms is one. yields: Ω −δκαβ mαβ dΩ + Ω δγα qα dΩ + ΓM δθα Tα dΓ − ΓQ Ω δwQ dΓ δwpz dΩ = 0 (6. ¯ ∀θα ∈ Vθ (6. 100 Version 0. ¯ wCαβ w. C0 shape functions can be applied.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ Vw (6. − Ω ¯ w. the above equation includes a contribution to the energy due to shear ( Ω δγα qα dΩ). It is equations (6.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.2 January 21.127b) Note that both weak equations contains derivatives no higher than order one.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. δκαβ = θ(α. adopting ¯ ¯ ¯ the notation δw = w.αβ − θ( β.α) dΩ + ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Combining both equations (multiplying equation (6. This will require the interpolation of both the transverse displacement w and the rotation θα .127a) − Ω ¯ w. (6.α − θα .128) − which is the equation of virtual work for a Reissner-Mindlin plate.

m = −Db κ   (6. 2κ12 ) T . January 21. q = D s γ. 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 .132) (6. In the context of plates. The majority of Kirchhoff plate elements are non-conforming – this means that they do not satisfy C1 continuity.131) Kirchhoff plate elements There are few reliable. tkµ (6. It does not however satisfy C1 continuity.6.130) For the shear forces qα . In place of requiring C1 continuity. The complications are rooted in the need for C1 continuity. constant strain implies constant curvature.5 Plate finite elements As in elasticity. In particular. κ22 . A common Kirchhoff plate element is rectangular and has four nodes and twelve degrees of freedom.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.   (6.129) where m = (m11 . m22 . a less severe requirement is that elements satisfy a ‘patch test’.3. it tests whether an element can represent rigid body modes and a state of constant strain. However. (6. symmetry of mαβ and καβ allows the use of simplified ‘engineering’ notation.2 101 .3 Plate 6. flexible and robust Kirchhoff plate elements. There exists a range of Kirchhoff plate elements. none of which are of general applicability. where Ds = tkµ 0 0 . some non-conforming elements yield satisfactory results. 2011 Version 0. The element is still useful as it passes the patch test. m12 ) T and κ = (κ11 . The matrix D b has the form: 1 ν 1 0 0 0 Et3 D = 12 (1 − ν2 ) b  ν    0 (1 − ν ) 2   . 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.

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

(7. i (7. For example. In this way. 2011 . (7.7 Analysis of the finite element method involve n = 0 and n = 1. 1/2 e 1 = Ω (e · e + ∇e : ∇e) dΩ . thereby introducing a measure of the error in the strain. (7.11) January 21.7) where r is the order of the derivatives appearing in the weak form.10) into the above expression. uI = ∑ Ni aiI .9) where k is the polynomial order. Setting n = 1. Note that to ensure convergence. it holds that u − uh E ≤ u − uI E. Interpolation theory provides the inequality u − uI m ≤ chk+1−m |u|k+1 . Given that a finite solution is known to be the best possible solution from the finite-dimensional space S h .5) which now includes the gradient of e. the question of determining an error estimate is no longer a finite element question. (7. An important semi-norm is the energy norm. A Sobolev semi-norm is given by |u|n = Ω ( D n u)2 dΩ 1/2 .4) which is a measure of the error in the displacements. hence it interpolates the exact solution using the provided shape functions. k + 1 > m. It is defined by: u 2 E = | u |2 = r Ω ( Dr u)2 dΩ.8) The nodal interpolate is equal to the exact solution at the nodes (u − u I = 0 at the nodes). Version 0. setting n = 0 gives: 1/2 e 0 = Ω (e · e) dΩ . Consider the nodal interpolate u I . c is an unknown constant. u − uh 106 r ≤ Chk+1−r |u|k+1 . (7.10) This means that the finite element solution is at least as accurate as the nodal interpolate in terms if energy. and h is a measure of the element size. rather a question which can be answered from interpolation theory. (7.2 (7. Inserting now equation (7.6) which involves only a particular order derivative.

(7. and O(h) in terms of strains. This result is however conditional upon the seminorm |u|k+1 existing. (7. but does not tell how far the computed solution is from the exact solution.14) In terms of the strain. 2011 Version 0. In elasticity. (7.2 A posteriori error estimation where C is a constant. r = 1. 2(k + 1 − r )). Larger a implies faster convergence. 1/2 . The order of convergence of a particular element type indicates how quickly the exact solution is approached.13) where β = min (k + 1 − s. hence u − uh 1 ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . (7. For k ≥ 1. the greater a the smaller the error.7. The notation O(h a ) means that the error is ‘of the order h a ’. a natural question is how close the solution is to the exact solution. If the exact solution is not sufficiently smooth.1. The error in the displacements is given by e 0 . which tells ‘how good’ the calculated solution is. Of course as h becomes small. 7. It would be useful to find an estimate in terms of lower norms.15) which implies that the approximate strains converge to the exact result slower than the approximate displacements.16) Hence linear elements are known as being O(h2 ) in terms of displacements.2 107 . this norm is dominated by the error in the strain. An estimate can be obtained using ‘Nitsche’s trick’ (see Strang and Fix (1973) for details). Therefore. e 1 (7. The convergence order for different polynomial orders is given in Table 7. For practical purposes. such as the error in the displacement. This is error analysis. there may be no gain in accuracy through increasing the polynomial order. January 21. It leads to the estimate: u − uh s ≤ Ch β |u|k+1 . k = 1.12) This implies that the solution converges in this norm at a rate equal to the polynomial order. ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . the displacement error is: which is equal to Ω e · e dΩ e 0 ≤ Chk+1 |u|k+1 . u − uh 0 . hence it represents the error in the energy. e e 0 1 ≤ Ch2 |u|2 ≤ Ch|u|2 . independent of h. the two quantities of special interest are the displacements and the strains (and hence the stresses). For linear elements.2 A posteriori error estimation Once a finite element solution has been calculated. For an elasticity problem.

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

January 21.4 Exercises helps to know how quickly the error reduces for a particular element.2 109 .7. 2011 Version 0. List some advantages and disadvantages of p.7 times smaller? 3. When using Q4 elements. 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.4 Exercises 1. 7. how much smaller would you expect the error in the displacements and the stresses to be if all the elements are made 2.


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

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

9.4a) (9. (9. The first. less subtle. approach is more general and suited to wave propagation problems. σn = h on Γh (9. Similar to static problems. For example.9 Time-dependent problems Until now.3) Dynamic problems require some ‘extra’ information compared to their quasi-static counterparts. The second. Two approaches will be elaborated.1 Elastodynamics The majority of this chapter deals with elastodynamics problems. relies on linearity of the underlying problem and is suited to vibration analysis. when a load is applied at the 113 . time-dependent Dirichlet boundary conditions are prescribed. time-dependent Neumann boundary conditions are applied. 0) = u0 ( x) u ( x. 0) = v0 ( x) ˙ (9. On parts of the boundary.1 Governing equation and the weak form for elastodynamics The equation of motion is given by: ρu = ∇ · σ + b ¨ (9. therefore two initial conditions are required: u ( x. information travels through the domain immediately. modal analysis. In mathematical ¨ terms. its is complemented by boundary conditions.1. this equation differs significantly from the static case as the governing equation is hyperbolic. In this chapter. Initial conditions correspond to the conditions at time zero (t = 0). the finite element method has been applied only for time-independent problems. the unsteady heat equation and elastodynamics are considered in which the time dimension must be addressed.4b) where v is the velocity (v = ∂u/∂t). With elliptic problems. 9.2) On other parts of the boundary. All problems up to this chapter were elliptic. Elastodynamics involves the second derivative of the displacement with respect to time.1) where ρ is the density and u = ∂2 u/∂t2 is the acceleration vector. u=g on Γg . These are initial conditions.

2011 . restrained at one end. Therefore. (9. To solve dynamic problems using a computer. (9. Ωe N T ρN dΩ ae = − ¨ Ωe B T DB dΩ ae + Ωe N T b dΩ + Γh. a stress wave will travel through the bar and a force at the restrained end will not be felt until the stress wave arrives.7) which is known as ‘semi-discrete’.8b) where ae = dae /dt and ae = d2 ae /dt2 .2 Semi-discrete Galerkin form To reach a finite element formulation. solving the weak form involves: for a given t > 0. With hyperbolic problems ‘information’ travels at finite speeds. If a bar. (9. The velocity and acceleration fields are represented using the shape functions. which is independent of time. ¨ ¨ h (9.9 Time-dependent problems free end of a restrained rod. find u ∈ S such that Ω ρw · u dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ ∀w ∈ V .e N T h dΓ. This is again done using finite element shape functions. Deriving the weak form for dynamic problems follows the familiar procedure.2 January 21. and inserting Neumann boundary conditions.7) and rearranging. and integrating gives: Ω ρw · u dΩ = ¨ Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ (9. This stems from the fact that the dependence on time t has not been addressed in the same fashion as the spatial dependency x.1. which when considering the semidiscrete formulations are constant in time. the Galerkin form must be developed. using the same steps outlined in Chapter 2. ˙ ˙ u = N ae . a reaction force is felt immediately at the other end. the Galerkin problem involves: find uh ∈ S h such that Ω ρwh · uh dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s wh : σ h dΩ + Ω wh · b dΩ Γh + wh · h dΓ ∀wh ∈ V h . Multiplying equation (9.8a) (9. for an element.5) Integrating by parts. The time dimension is left continuous.9) 114 Version 0. is hit with a hammer at the free end. The equations for elastodynamics are hyperbolic. From the weak from in the previous section. Inserting the discretised displacement field ˙ ¨ and the expression for the acceleration field into equation (9. the finite-dimensional velocity and acceleration fields in an element are given by: uh = N ae .1) by a weight function w.6) 9. like for the static case the governing equation must be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns and basis functions.

Since finite element shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. lumped masses at each node. Once the element contributions have been assembled into the global mass and stiffness matrices and the global RHS vector. it was not entirely clear how the mass matrix should be formed. for a given time tn M an + Kan = f n . a strategy is required to deal with the time derivatives of a. cons = Me Ωe ρN T N dΩ. The obvious choice from the variational approach is the consistent mass matrix. It is however possible that nodes will have zero or negative masses. but with integration points located only at element nodes. in the same fashion as for the element stiffness matrix. A common approach was to form a lumped mass matrix.9.1 Elastodynamics This equation is commonly called the ‘semi-discrete’ equation. the lumped mass matrix has non-zero terms only on the diagonal.12) This is typically formed by integrating numerically. this will yield a diagonal mass matrix. Another procedure is based on summing rows of the consistent mass matrix. As with the element stiffness matrix. Mii lump = j =1 cons ∑ Mij n (9. Before the variational basis of the finite element method was properly understood. This corresponds to having discrete. as will be discussed in the following sections. Perhaps the simplest procedure to form lumped mass matrices is to form the matrices using numerical integration. This property is highly advantageous in combination with some time integration schemes. Since lumped schemes do not follow naturally from the variational formulation. This is formed similarly to the stiffness matrix.10) where Me is the element mass matrix. ¨ (9.13) where n is the dimension of the mass matrix. This equation can be written is a shorthand format as: Me a e + k e a e = f e ¨ (9.3 Mass matrix There are several methods to form the mass matrix. Since shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. there is some freedom in determining exactly how the lumped mass matrix should be calculated.2 115 . the mass matrix is symmetric and will have off-diagonal terms.11) Before this equation can be solved. Other more January 21. (9.1. 2011 Version 0. All off-diagonal terms are equal to zero. This procedure however can lead to negative masses on the diagonal. 9.

(9. t) = u0 ( x) . u is the temperature.14) where the matrix C represents the sources of damping in the structure. the contribution of the mass matrix increases damping with decreasing frequency. and initial conditions. unsteady heat diffusion is governed by: ˙ ρcu + ∇ · q = f .3. c is the ‘capacity’. ˙ M a + C a + Ka = f . The performance of lumped mass matrices is guided primarily by experience. (9. Damping due to the material response can also be included.4 Damping Problems in structural dynamics often involve damping. The choice of the parameters τ and ψ is certainly arbitrary.17) 116 Version 0. This topic is left to other courses which address non-linear material behaviour. The steady-state version of the equation was introduced in Section 2. q = −κ ∇u is the heat flux. It will become clear when addressing particular time integration schemes why lumped mass matrices are popular.16) where in the context of diffusion of heat. Conversely. This is known as Rayleigh damping. u ( x. The precise source of damping and its mathematical form is often vague. The problem requires boundary conditions. (1989). namely the temperature at t = 0. A discussion can be found in Cook et al. representing the uncertainty in the source of damping. ¨ ˙ (9.3.2 January 21. Given that only the first derivative with respect to time is involved. 9. (9. There is no rich theory underlying the choices. kappa is the conductivity. 9. A simple method of introducing damping is to say: C = τM + ψK.9 Time-dependent problems sophisticated lumping schemes are possible which will avoid negative masses.1. The contribution of the stiffness matrix to the damping matrix increases damping with increasing frequency. Unlike elastodynamics. It can be included through the damping matrix C. only one type of initial condition may be provided.2 Heat equation The heat equation is introduced here as a step to the problems in elastodynamics. They two key points are that zero and negative masses on the diagonal should be avoided. as outlined in Section 2.15) where τ and ψ are user chosen parameters. In strong form. Damping is often included by adding the term C a to the governing equations. or through the constitutive model relating stress and strain. it involves first order derivatives with respect to time. 2011 .

If stiffness and mass matrices are of dimension n. 2 det ke − ωe me = 0 (9. the highest frequency is equal to: ωe = 2 L E ρ E/ρ.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics If an undamped system is allowed to vibrate freely (no forcing terms). It turns out that for a lumped mass matrix. (9.25) √ for an element of length L. ωe = 2 3/L January 21. it is important to know the highest natural frequency of the discrete problem. The acceleration is therefore given by: (9.22) which is a matrix eigenvalue problem.18) (9. An upper bound to the highest frequency can be found by calculating the frequencies for all individual elements.9. which ¯ are also known as natural modes.21) −ω 2 M + K a = 0. For explicit time integration procedures. ¯ a = −ω 2 a cos (ωt − α) .19) In matrix form. this can be expressed at time tn as: M an + Kan = f n .2 117 . this is immediately felt (an infinitesimal amount) and increases with time.23) can be very large. ˙ 9. Non-trivial solutions (a = 0) require that: ¯ (9. (9.23) where ω are the natural frequencies of the system. 2011 Version 0.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics The heat equation is parabolic. The difficulty is that the size of the problem in equation (9. its motion is harmonic. The eigenvectors are a.20) where ω is the frequency (radians per second).11) and rearranging. ¯ det K − ω 2 M = 0. If one end of a rod is heated. it is relatively simple to calculate the natural frequencies. the semi-discrete Galerkin problem for the heat equation involves: for a given t > 0. The displacements at the nodes can be described by a = a cos (ωt − α) . Following the usual processes in developing the weak form. For the consistent mass matrix. (9. 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. there are n eigenvalues λ (λ = ω 2 ). For a one-dimensional linear element. ¨ ¯ Inserting these results into equation (9.24) The highest frequency from all elements provides an upper bound to the highest frequency of the problem.

K − ωi2 M Ψi = 0.4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics Modal analysis involves the dividing of the response of a structure into a number of modes.2 January 21. a (t) = ∑ αi (t) Ψi i (9.28) into equation (9.11) .33) 118 Version 0. Inserting equation (9.32) The orthogonality property means that the equation has been decoupled into nm simple. Consider a solution a = ψi cos (ωi t + θi ) . This means that: Ψi T MΨj = and Ψi T KΨj = ωi2 0 i = j. (9.29) Orthogonality implies that the vibration modes do not interact with each other.30) 1 0 i = j. and ωi are the natural frequencies. 2011 . (9. (9. (9. A special property of the eigenmodes Ψi is that they are orthogonal. i = j. The sum of the modes gives the total displacement. and are known as vibration modes. ¨ αi + ωi2 αi = Ψi T f . it is then possible to treat each mode individually.26) Inserting the above equation into the unforced version ( f = 0) of equation (9.31) Pre-multiplying both sides of this equation by Ψj T .28) where αi (t) is the amplitude of the ith eigenmode. separate equations. ¨ Ψj T M ∑ αi Ψi + Ψj T K ∑ αi Ψi = Ψj T f i i (9. For linear problems. i = j.11) yields: ¨ M ∑ αi Ψi + K ∑ αi Ψi = f i i (9. It is then possible to treat each mode separately.9 Time-dependent problems 9. (9.27) where Ψi are eigenvectors. The nodal displacements can be expressed as a summation of eigenfunctions.

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

39) (9. the problem to solve an+1 has become ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 . ˙ Rearranging equation (9. Choosing parameters appropriately for a Newmark algorithm yields a number of different.41b) (9. the trapezoidal method is particularly attractive as it is unconditionally stable.35).36) gives. In practice.35) where 0 ≤ θ ≤ 1. In matrix form. Newmark time integrators are a family of schemes. The backward Euler method is also unconditionally stable.2 One-step algorithms for elastodynamics The most commonly used time integration scheme in solid and structural mechanics is the generalised Newmark scheme.9 Time-dependent problems A popular family of algorithms are ‘generalised trapezoidal’ methods.40a) (9. ˙ θ∆t n+1 θ∆t θ (9.41a) (9. well known integrators. ˙ ˙ (9. Well known methods are the explicit forward Euler (θ = 0) method.5. 1 1 (1 − θ ) M + K a n +1 = f n +1 + Man + M an . but only first-order accurate. For the problems to be considered here.36) and inserting the above result into equation (9.37) (9. ˙ 9. 2011 . where 1 ˆ K= M+K θ∆t 1 (1 − θ ) fˆn+1 = f n+1 + Man + M an . a n +1 = ˙ 1 1 (1 − θ ) a − an − an . both explicit and implicit. ˙ θ∆t θ and an is computed from equation (9. They involve: an+1 = an + ∆t ((1 − θ ) an + θ an+1 ) . the heat equation at time tn+1 must satisfy: M an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 .38) 120 Version 0. 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. the forward Euler is not particularly useful as its stability properties are poor. ˙ θ∆t θ∆t θ In compact notation.2 January 21. and the implicit trapezoidal (θ = 1/2) and backward Euler (θ = 1) methods. and is second-order accurate.37).40b) (9.

an = ˙ an = ¨ a n +1 − a n −1 2∆t an−1 − 2an + an+1 .41) for β = 0 and γ = 1/2. It is also energy conserving. an+1 = an + ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) 4 (9. A commonly used time integrator is the central difference method. 2 ∆t ˙ ˙ = an + ( a n + a n +1 ) . 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). ∆t ≤ L . It is stable for: ∆t ≤ 2 ωh (9. This method is unconditionally stable and the accuracy is O(∆t2 ).2 121 . The term ω h can be estimated for linear elements as 2c/L.9. a Newmark scheme is second-order accurate. The Newmark method is unconditionally stale for: 2β ≥ γ ≥ 1 2 (9. It corresponds to β = 1/4 and γ = 1/2 in the Newmark family of integrators.46b). Friedrichs and Lewy (CFL) stability condition. Therefore.42) For γ = 1/2. c (9. 2 (9. This scheme is O(∆t2 ) accurate. Appropriate choices of β and γ yield well known integration methods. Its stability properties are attractive.46a) (9. January 21. It is necessary to express the terms a and a in terms of a. but as will be shown later. 2011 Version 0. it requires the factorisation of a large matrix.47) This integrator is implicit.43b) It is possible to rearrange these terms and show that they are equivalent to equation (9.45) which is the Courant.46b) Inserting equation (9.44) where ω h is the highest natural frequency (highest value from det K − ω 2 M = 0. but it is conditionally stable. Another commonly used time integrator is based on the trapezoidal rule. Calculating the necessary terms using ˙ ¨ central differences.46a) into equation (9. a n +1 = a n + ˙ ˙ a n +1 ∆t ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) . ∆t2 (9. where c is the dilatational wave speed (c = E/ρ) and L is the length of an element.5 Time stepping algorithms where β and γ are parameters which define the nature and properties of the algorithm.43a) (9.

an+1 can be calculated without solving a system of equations (hence the attractiveness of lumped mass matrices when using explicit time integrators).49) Rearranging the above equation such that all terms at t + ∆t are on the LHS and all terms at time t are on the RHS. Given an and an−1 .43). where ˆ M= and 1 1 fˆn = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . Inserting the central difference expressions from equation (9. with damping. M an−1 − 2an + an+1 a − a n −1 + Kan = f n . 2∆t n−1 ∆t Then.54) (9. (9. and unknown at step n + 1.52) (9. ¨ ˙ (9. it is possible to calculate an+1 .50) 2 2∆t 2∆t n−1 ∆t ∆t Recall that the displacement vector a is known at step n and all previous steps. (9. it is not necessary to form the stiffness matrix K.55) Ω A difficulty with explicit central-difference time integration is the need for information at n − 1 when starting a calculation.48) It is assumed that a and its time derivatives are known at time t and unknown at time t + ∆t (corresponding to n + 1). has the appearance: M an + C an + Kan = f n .2 January 21.9 Time-dependent problems Explicit time integration – central difference approach The system of equations to be solved. The above equations can be written in a shorthand format as: ˆ Man+1 = fˆn .53) 1 1 C M+ 2 2∆t ∆t (9. + C n +1 2 2∆t ∆t (9. The term Kan is equivalent to: Kan = B T σn dΩ. 2011 .51) If both M and C are diagonal matrices. 1 1 1 1 M+ C an+1 = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . the displacement vector a at step n + 1 is given by: ˆ an+1 = M −1 fˆn (9. A procedure is required to ‘start’ the 122 Version 0. In practice.

it is very efficient and suitable for very large problems.2 123 . The time step must be chosen carefully for a particular discretisation.61) January 21.59) Rearranging such that all unknown quantities appear on the LHS.60) which in a short-hand notation can be expressed as: ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 (9.56) The vector an−1 can be used to start the time integration procedure. an−1 = an − ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 an ¨ 2 (9. it is second-order accurate. a n +1 = ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9. The significant drawback is the conditional stability.58a) a n +1 = a n ˙ ˙ + ∆t (1 − γ) an + γ ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9.57). damping is ignored.57) Rearranging the expressions in equation (9. The central difference procedure is popular in finite element analysis. In combination with a lumped mass matrix.43) it is possible to express an−1 in terms of quantities at n (time t = 0).9. and all known quantities on the RHS.5 Time stepping algorithms algorithm at t = 0.41) for β = 0 to express the accelerations and velocity at step n + 1 in terms of step n and earlier. which are the initial conditions. Combining equations (9. Furthermore.58b) These equations are then inserted into equation (9. M 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 + Kan+1 = f n+1 (9. For simplicity. This yields. 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. 2011 Version 0. 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.

the algorithm is unconditionally stable and second-order accurate. Calculate the consistent and lumped mass matrices for the four-noded quadrilateral element. the α-Method reduces to the Newmark scheme. It involves using a Newmark scheme to solve : M an+1 + (1 − α) Kan+1 − αKan = f n+1+α . Numerical damping aids in controlling undesirable spurious high frequency modes in the solution. 2011 . With the Newmark scheme. 9. numerical damping can be introduced by choosing γ > 1/2. Solving the resulting system of equations yields an+1 .62) where f n+1+α = f n+1+θ∆t . 3.5. However. the terms in f are prescribed and both M and K can be formed. Rearrange equation (9. ¨ (9.9 Time-dependent problems Since the stiffness matrix K is not diagonal. 124 Version 0. One such algorithm is the α-Method. 9.2 January 21. Derive the mass matrix for a two-noded beam element. The problem with the Newmark scheme is that the introduction of any numerical damping reduces the order of accuracy from two to one. choosing γ = 1/2 reduces the integration scheme to first order accuracy O(t). calculating an requires the solution of a system of equations. If α = 0. 2. A number of algorithms have been developed to preserve second-order accuracy while allowing for the introduction of numerical damping. Decreasing α increases the dissipation.3 α-Method for elastodynamics In dynamic simulations. 9. the vector fˆ can be calculated from an . it is usually desirable to introduce some numerical damping to suppress spurious high-frequency modes. which is also known as the Hilber-Hughes-Taylor Method (Hughes. Numerical dissipation can be controlled through the parameter α. Note that calculating the ‘new’ an+1 introduces a dependency ˙ on the parameter γ. At time step n.6 Space-time formulations Time as a degree of freedom.41) to show for β = 0 and γ = 1/2 the scheme is equivalent to a central-difference procedure. γ = (1 − 2α) /2 and β = (1 − α)2 /4. 1987). If −1/3 < α < 0.7 Exercises 1.

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

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