The Finite Element Method: An Introduction

Dr. Garth N. Wells

University of Cambridge and Delft University of Technology

c G. N. Wells 2009


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

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

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

1 Introduction x2 a e2 = [0 1 0] e1 = [1 0 0] x1 e3 = [0 0 1] x3 Figure 1. 2011 . i =1 n (1. and is defined through the operation which gives the length x of a vector x. i =1 3 (1. a·b = (1. where repeated indices imply summation: a·b = For n = 3.5) ∑ a i bi . a= a1 .4) The dot product of two vectors is given by: a · b = a i bi . A vector a in an n-dimensional space R n can be expressed in terms of its components. a2 (1.3) Consider the dot product between two vectors a and b.2 January 21.6) ∑ a i b i = a 1 b1 + a 2 b2 + a 3 b3 . (1.1: Example of orthonormal base vectors.7) 8 Version 0. ai where i runs from one to n. which is denoted a · b. In the case n = 2. x = √ x · x.

A.2 9 .14) January 21. the dot product maybe written as a T b. The symbol δij is known as the Kronecker delta: δij = 1 if i = j.13) where n is the dimension of the vector b. Consider the case a = ABc = Dc. a = Ab = Aij b j = ∑ Aij bj j =1 n (1. (1.16) (1. in the vein of matrix multiplication.15) (1. K.11) (1. A31 A32 A33 (1. ei · e j = δij . At times.1. It is defined by: a · Bc = Bc · a = c · B T a. The second-order tensor A in R3 can be expressed as   A11 A12 A13 A = Aij =  A21 A22 A23  . A = Aij .1 Tensor basics For an orthonormal basis. M.17) (1.8) can be used. A second-order tensor A takes the vector b and transforms it into the vector a.9) Second-order tensors (which possess some similar properties to matrices) are generally denoted by uppercase bold characters. Second-order tensors can be multiplied. The transpose of a tensor is denoted by the superscript ‘T’. R (1. allowing the base vectors to be discarded and the more familiar notation a · b = ai b j δij = ai bi . which is expressed as D = AB. a second-order tensor A can be expressed in terms of components. 0 if i = j. Aij .12) Second-order tensors are linear operators that act upon vectors. and in index notation as Dij = Aik Bkj .10) As with vectors. (1. 2011 Version 0. (1.

an operation similar to the dot product of two vectors.26) (1. For a second-order tensor A in R3 . For two second-order tensors in R2 . For example.1 Introduction In terms of indices: Aij T = A ji . It also yields a scalar. A : B = A11 B11 + A12 B12 + A21 B21 + A22 B22 .25) ∑ ∑ Aij Bij .21) (1. (1. 2011 .27) This operation has no equivalent in matrix-vector convention.23) (1. The repeated i and j indices implies: Aij Bij = (1. (1.28) 10 Version 0. = ai b j . i =1 j =1 n n (1. A = a ⊗ b.20) The trace of a second-order tensor is essentially the summation of its diagonal components. is provided for two second-order tensors. It is defined by: A : B = tr A T B . this implies: tr ( A) = A11 + A22 + A33 . tr ( a ⊗ b) = ai bi and tr ( A) = Aii .19) Second-order tensors can be formed through the dyadic production of two vectors.18) The transpose of a second-order tensor implies interchanging the rows and columns of its components. This is equivalent to A : B = Aij Bij . (1. an inner product. A useful identity involving the transpose is: ( AB) T = B T A T . (1.24) (1.2 January 21. (1. which is equivalent to Aij = ai b j .22) Using the trace.

January 21. E : ( a ⊗ b) = a × b.35) [ a × b ] =  a 3 b1 − a 1 b3  .30) (1. b ∈ R3 by:   a 2 b3 − a 3 b2 (1. If the permutation {i. It is defined for a. Another important operation is the cross. The components of E are given by: [E ] = Eijk = ei · e j × ek .2 (1. A third-order tensor can be defined which will make manipulations more convenient. The cross product of two vectors yields a vector. Eijk = 1. j. A third-order tensor maps a second-order tensor to a first order tensor.37) 11 .32) As will be shown in the following section. A tensor A is orthogonal if: A T = A −1 . AA−1 = A−1 A = I. is equal to the identity tensor. (1.1 Tensor basics The identity tensor I is defined by: a = Ia. A matrix A is symmetric if: A T = A. Eijk = −1. multiplied by its inverse A−1 . The cross product can be introduced via the third-order tensor E . matrices which rotate the reference frame are orthogonal. j. k} is even. 2011 Version 0. k} is odd. (1. Eijk = 0.36) The expression for E in terms of the basis ei is lengthy and not shown here. If any of the indices are repeated. or vector.33) (1.34) (1. (1.29) A second-order tensor A. a tensor Aij is symmetric if: Aij = A ji . Using index notation.1. a 1 b2 − a 2 b1 Such a definition however is not convenient for manipulation. A common third-order tensor is the alternating (or permutation) tensor E . (1. and is equal to I = δij ei ⊗ e j . product. and if the permutation {i. The result of the above equation is rather simple.31) Second-order tensors are often characterised by their special properties.

2: Rotation between coordinate systems. 2011 . the components in ei system are known. which is orthogonal. Defining Qij by Qij = ei · e′j . ′ the components ai are given by ′ ai = Q ji a j .38) In elasticity. For an orthonormal basis. ′ and it would be convenient to have the components in the ei system. Consider the orthonormal coordinate systems in Figure 1. (1. Consider that for a vector a. A : B = Aijk Bjk . the stress and strain are second-order tensors. it is convenient to rotate the coordinate frame. They are related to each other via a fourth-order tensor. in terms of indices. due to physical symmetries.2. This operation is particularly important when considering moments. C = Cijkl . denoted here as C . (1.41) 12 Version 0. It may prove convenient to transform vector components relative to the ei system to components ′ in the ei system.1 Introduction x2 ′ e2 = [− sin θ cos θ ] e2 = [0 1] ′ e1 = [cos θ sin θ ] θ e1 = [1 0] x1 Figure 1.39) Fortunately. Vector and tensor components can be rotated (change of basis) using a rotation matrix Q.40) (1. (1. Coordinate transformations For many problems.2 January 21. it will not be necessary to manipulate fourthorder tensors directly.

xx . Consider a function u which is dependent on the position x. (1. 2011 Version 0. components in the rotated reference frame can be transformed back to the original reference frame by: a = Qa′ . It is expressed as: ∇ · a. (1.x .1. Considering the coordinate systems illustrated in Figure 1.2 Vector calculus Subscripts are commonly used as a short-hand notation for derivatives.2. 1. Characters after a comma in the subscript denote differentiation with respect to that variable. ∂x ∂4 u ∂2 u = u.49) 13 . It is convenient to rotate the ′ reference such such the position along the bar is given by [ x]′ = x1 . which effectively reduces the three-dimensional problem to a one-dimensional problem. (1.xyy .xxxx .44) Therefore.2 (1.43) and note that Q is orthogonal. = u. An example is a onedimensional rod element in a three-dimensional space. ∂x∂y ∂x∂y2 (1. and A = QA′ Q T .xy . Some of its derivatives can be written as: ∂u = u.45) At times it is necessary to also rotate the components of a second-order tensor from one coordinate system to another. This is done by the operation: A′ = Q T AQ.2 Vector calculus which can also be expressed as: a′ = Q T a.48) This notation is used commonly throughout these notes. ∂x2 ∂x4 ∂2 u ∂3 u = u. January 21. Q= ′ e1 · e1 ′ e2 · e1 ′ e1 · e2 cos θ ′ = sin θ e2 · e2 (1. QQ T = Q T Q = I.47) (1. 0.46) Often coordinate transforms are used to simplify a problem.42) − sin θ . = u. 0 . The divergence of a vector field a yields a scalar. An important operator is the divergence. cos θ (1.

∂xi (1. ∇ · a is equal to ∇·a = ∂ai = ai.53) Another important operator is the gradient. ∂xi (1.50) In a three-dimensional space R3 . ∇a =  (1.2 January 21. In a three-dimensional space. ∂x j (1.57) ∂y ∂z   ∂x   ∂a3 ∂a3 ∂a3  ∂x ∂y ∂z 14 Version 0. ∂x1 ∂x2 ∂x3 ∂x ∂y ∂z (1. The gradient of a scalar a is given by: ∇a = ∂a = a.1 Introduction In terms of indices. ∇ · A =  ∂A 1 ∂A22 21 ∂x + ∂x 1 2 (1.   ∂A11 + ∂A12 ∂x ∂x2  .j .54) which yields a vector.56) which yields a second-order tensor.i . 2011 .51) The divergence of a second-order tensor is given by: ∇·A = ∂Aij = Aij.55) ∇a =   .  ∂y      ∂a ∂z The gradient of a vector is given by: ∇a = ∂ai = ai. the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a1 ∂a1 ∂a1  ∂x ∂y ∂z     ∂a2 ∂a2 ∂a2   .52) For a two-dimensional tensor A. ∇·a = ∂ay ∂a ∂a x ∂a ∂az ∂a1 + 2+ 3 = + + . the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a  ∂x     ∂a  (1.j . In a three-dimensional space.i . ∂x j (1.

1.3 Linear algebra The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix provide information as to its properties.3.2 15 . For a vector a. Consider the body Ω in Figure 1. and the January 21.58) where n is the outward normal to the body Ω.61) and then applying the divergence theorem. (1. It transforms a volume integral to a surface integral.1.59) Integration by parts is used frequently in the formulation of the finite element method. The divergence theorem states: Ω ∇ · A dΩ = ∂Ω An dΓ. The boundary of the body Ω is denoted Γ = ∂Ω.60) The above equation also holds for the case in which a is replaced by a scalar and B is replaced by a vector.3 Linear algebra n Ω Γ Figure 1. 2011 Version 0. For example. An essential theorem in formulating the finite element method is the divergence theorem (also known as Gauss’s theorem). the eigenvalues of the stress tensor are the principal stresses. ∂x j i ij (1. The outward unit normal to the body is denoted n. (1.3: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n bounded by Γ. (1. It implies that: Ω a · (∇ · B) dΩ = − Ω ∇ a : B dΩ + ∂Ω a · Bn dΓ. Ω ∇ · a dΩ = ∂Ω a · n dΓ. The surface of Ω is given by ∂Ω. The above formula is simple to derive by using the product rule for differentiation to expand Ω ∇ · ( aB ) dΩ = Ω ∂ a B dΩ.

For a positive definite matrix A. The system of equations is usually solved using a direct method (such as Gauss elimination or LU decomposition) or an approximate iterative method. It is not 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).2 January 21. A zero eigenvalue implies that the matrix A has a linearly dependent column.j (1. 2 i. and u and f are vectors of length n. the system of equations in a finite element equation will be very large. respectively.64) where K is an n × n matrix. The polynomial is known as the characteristic equation of A. vectors b and scalars λ which satisfy ( A − λI ) b = 0 (1. K will often be referred to as the ‘stiffness matrix’ and f the ‘right-hand side vector’. For a 3 × 3 matrix. the eigenvalues of a matrix indicates if a matrix has a unique inverse. finding λ requires finding the roots of a quadratic equation. For large matrices. For a matrix A.63) For a 2 × 2 matrix. For a symmetric matrix.i .65) Typically. and is unique.66) 16 Version 0. Eigenvalue tests are often used in studying the matrices arising in the finite element method. (1. (1. (1. of A. The strain ǫ is defined as the symmetric gradient of the displacement vector: ǫij = 1 u + u j.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics The finite element method is used in these notes to solve primarily problems in continuum mechanics. In the context of the finite element method. the roots of a cubic equation must be found. This section is intended to cover only the important concepts which are used later in these notes. 1. 2011 . all eigenvalues are real. A system of n linear equations can be expressed as: Ku = f . It is not a comprehensive coverage of the topic. Equation (1. special numerical algorithms are used to calculate the eigenvalues.62) implies that: det ( A − λI ) = 0. Also. This requires some background in continuum mechanics and linear-elasticity.62) are known as eigenvectors and eigenvalues. which guarantees that the inverse of A exists.1 Introduction corresponding eigenvectors are the principal stress directions. all eigenvalues are positive and real. The solution u is given by: u = K −1 f . Solvers for finite element problems are discussed in Chapter 8.

71) (1. the symmetric gradient using index notation will be expressed as: u(i. Obviously.1. the stress tensor is symmetric (which can be proved by considering the balance of angular momentum.73) (1.i . In two-dimensions. A constitutive equation relates the stresses in a material to the strain. the above expression can be written as: ǫ = ∇s u = 1 ∇u + (∇u) T .4 Essentials from continuum mechanics which is clearly a second-order tensor.74) νE (1 + ν) (1 − 2ν) (1. or in index notation.69) where n is the unit normal vector to the surface. as will be shown in the next chapter). Lam´ constants are indepene e dent of the position. this reduces to four. The constants λ and µ are often referred to as Lam´ constants. the strain tensor is symmetric. For convenience.70) with E the Young’s modulus and ν Poisson’s ratio.j) = 1 u + u j.j (1. Similar to the strain tensor.68) where the bracket around the subscript denotes the symmetric gradient. For linear elasticity. January 21.2 17 . In compact notation. For solid. 2011 Version 0. it is defined by: Cijkl = µ δik δjl + δil δjk + λδij δkl where λ= and µ= E 2 (1 + ν ) (1. 2 (1. in three-dimensions the stress and strain tensors have only six independent components.67) For convenience. 2 i. this can be written as: σ = C : ǫ. Due to symmetry. The stress tensor is defined through the traction vector t (force per unit area) on a surface. linear-elastic continua.72) (1. σn = t (1. σij = Cijkl ǫkl where C is a fourth-order tensor. In a homogeneous body.

although without the factor ‘2’ on the shear terms.2 January 21.x                    2ǫ13  γ13  u. In this case.1 Introduction ‘engineering’ notation is often adopted. This approximation is good for very thin members. The third possibility is axisymmetric. such as many beams.x           ǫ22   ǫ22   v. In these notes. The first is known as plane strain. containing components of the fourthorder tensor C . the constitutive relationship can be written as: σ = Dǫ (1.75) = = ǫ= 2ǫ12  γ12   u. In this case.76) σ= σ12        σ13      σ23 Using the vector format for stress and strain.y                        u.78) D=  0 0 0 µ 0 0    0 0 0 0 µ 0 0 0 0 0 0 µ 18 Version 0.   σ11      σ22        σ33 (1. 2011 . 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. For isotropic linear-elasticity.77) When reducing a three-dimensional problem to two-dimensions.y + v.x              v. the strain in the out-of-plane direction is dependent on the distance from an axis of rotation. It is then likely that the stress in the out-of-plane direction is not equal to zero. This assumes that the normal strain in the out-of-plane direction is zero (ǫ33 = 0). particular attention will be paid to solving elastic continuum problems. (1. This will require identification of the equations which govern equilibrium of where the matrix D is the constitutive matrix. there are three possibilities.        ǫ11   ǫ11   u. This is reasonable for problems which are relatively thick in the third direction. The second possibility is plane stress (σ33 = 0).z + w. An axisymmetric formulation is for example commonly used when simulating a circular foundation.z ǫ33 ǫ33 . in which the stress and strain are represented as vectors.y γ23 2ǫ23 The stress tensor is expressed in a vector form. such as a dam wall.z + w. the normal stress out-of-plane is assumed to be zero.

if σ is symmetric. and not specific to elasticity. the partial differential equation of equilibrium is given by equation (1. Note that this equation is general. 1.). moment equilibrium is satisfied if the stress tensor is symmetric.82) where r is the position vector of a point on ∂Ω. and applying the divergence theorem. leading to: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω (1. Therefore. since E : σ T = 0.80). Application of the divergence theorem to the integral over ∂Ω gives: Ω ∇ · σ + b dΩ = 0 (1.83) is zero. In order to derive the governing partial differential equation. This will also be referred to as the ‘strong’ governing equation.80) Balance of linear momentum should also be satisfied for any subdomain of Ω. the integral can be removed from equation(1.5 Exercises elastic bodies. Ω r × (∇ · σ + b) dΩ + Ω E : σ T dΩ = 0 (1. How many independent components does a symmetric second-order tensor in R n have? January 21.81) Consider now moment equilibrium (balance of angular momentum).2 19 . Therefore. etc. Considering that t = σn. the first term in equation (1.5 Exercises 1. For three-dimensions (i = 1 → 3. 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. which requires that ∂Ω t dΓ + Ω b dΩ = ∂Ω σn dΓ + Ω b dΩ = 0 (1.83) If translational equilibrium (equation (1. 2011 Version 0. Then.80).80)) is satisfied.1.79) where b is a body force. 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. consider first translational equilibrium (balance of linear momentum) of a body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ = ∂Ω.

It is equivalent to ∇ · ∇. What is the trace of the identity tensor I equal to in R n ? 4. 6. derive the integration by parts formula in equation (1. 2011 . Expand ∆u in a three-dimensional space using index notation. Using the product rule for differentiation and the divergence theorem.43) is orthogonal.2 January 21. 7. 5. Confirm that the rotation matrix R in equation (1. Derive the isotropic linear-elastic constitutive matrix D for plane stress and plane strain conditions 20 Version 0.1 Introduction 3. A common and important operator in applied mathematics (and mechanics) is the Laplace operator ∆ (sometimes denoted ∇2 ).60).

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

−wσ. Note that in the strong form. Taking guidance from equation (1.9) must hold point-wise.8) inserted. Since both sides of the equation are multiplied by the weight function. equation (2.x .2 January 21. 2011 .6) (2. L 0 (2.x dx = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V . The above boundary condition sets the applied traction at x = L equal to h.x n = h 0 < x < L. (2. Multiplying equation (2.8) To develop the weak form of the governing equation.9) where ‘∀w ∈ V ’ means ‘for all w ∈ V ’.6) are multiplied by a scalar weight function w ∈ V (w ∈ V means that w comes from the appropriately defined space of functions V . (2. Inserting now the constitutive relationship σ = Eu. Considering that σ = Eu.x .10) can be integrated by parts and the Neumann boundary condition from equation (2.10) is also true. which has an infinite number of members).xx = f u=0 Eu.1) by w.60).x dx = L 0 w.x Eu. solving the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that L 0 w. σn = h at x = L.x .12) where S is an appropriately defined space of functions which satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions. at x = L.5) where n is the outward normal to the bar (equal to 1 in this case).x n| x=0 is not included as by definition the weight function w is equal to zero at x = 0.11) Note the term wEu.1 to be equal to zero. An important requirement on the space V is that functions w be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.7) (2. (2. after inserting the constitutive relationship (2.3). which yields: − L 0 wσ. If equation (2.x σ dx − wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V .6). applying a force at the end of the bar is equivalent to prescribing u. then − wσ. The mathematical problem can now be summarised as: find u such that: − Eu.x = w f L 0 ∀w ∈ V .x dx = w f dx ∀w ∈ V . A Neumann (natural) boundary condition prescribes the applied traction. both sides of equation (2. the equation must still hold for all admissible weight function (this is a technical point which is discussed in section 2. at x = 0. derivatives of order 22 Version 0. (2. (2.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations prescribes the displacement at one end of the bar in Figure 2. This is the weak form of the governing equation.

only first derivatives with respect to x appear.13) Note again that no terms at x = 0 appear. Recall that the governing equation is given by: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω.x n = h. it follows that a solution of the strong form is also a solution of the weak form. for any allowable weight function at x = L.14) which can be rearranged to give L 0 φ ( Eu.12). (2. (2. Eu.13). (2.xx = f .xx + f ) f dx.13).xx + f ) Eu. Returning to equation (2. The complication arises from the three-dimensional setting. see Brenner and Scott (1994). Consider now the continuous body in Figure 2. L[ and zero outside (specifically at x = 0 and x = L). Assuming that E is constant and integrating by parts the first term in (2. it is now proven that the first term is equal to zero.xx dx = L 0 φ ( Eu. 2. Hence.12) yields − L 0 wEu.xx + f ).15) Since φ > 0 and ( Eu. − L 0 φ ( Eu. (2. satisfying the strong governing equation (in a distributional sense). For a more elaborate mathematical treatment.2 (2.2. where φ is greater than zero over the interval ]0.x n| x= L = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L . w(0) = 0. What remains now is to ensure that the Neumann boundary condition is satisfied (Dirichlet boundary conditions are satisfied by construction). In the weak form (2.xx dx + wEu.16) proving that the Neumann boundary conditions are satisfied. as by construction.xx + f )2 ≥ 0. consider a weight function w ∈ V which is equal to φ ( Eu. January 21.xx + f )2 dx = 0. 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.2 Continuum elasticity A more complicated example is continuum elasticity. The strong governing equation for this problem was developed in the previous chapter.17) 23 .2. 2011 Version 0. the above equation can only hold if − Eu. The basic form of the equations is the same as the one-dimensional bar in the previous section. Inserting the weight function into equation (2. Since the weak form is derived from the strong form. at least in a generalised sense).2 Continuum elasticity two with respect to x appear. Following Hughes (1987).

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

The constitutive relationship depends on the problem being solved. It is simple to show that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric (see exercise 1). The constitutive relationship is given by: q = −κ ∇ u (qi = −κij u. There exists a close link between weak forms and virtual work for a range of problems. January 21. For linear heat conduction.2. 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. Consider now w as a ‘virtual displacement’ δu. The equation of virtual work is therefore the weak form of the governing equation. where κ is the thermal conductivity. the symmetric gradient of w. Inserting now the constitutive relationship from equation (2.3 Poisson equation where σn has been replaced by the prescribed traction h (the Neumann boundary condition). the variational framework is more general.24) which is the equation of virtual work. (2. However. In Darcy’s law. Inserting the constitutive equation into (2. including steady-state heat conduction and flow in permeable media (Darcy’s law). q is the heat flux vector. κ = κI. A wide range of physical phenomena are governed by this equation. For an isotropic medium. (2. For Darcy’s law.3 Poisson equation An equation which is often solved using the finite element method is the Poisson equation.j ) (2.25) where q is a flux vector and f is a source term. Therefore ∇s w ≡ δǫ. Often the term ∇w is written as ∇s w. the scalar u is the temperature. 2011 Version 0.26) where u is a potential.23) where S is an appropriate space of functions which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. q is the flow rate. In the case of heat conductivity. 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 . Ω δǫ : C : ǫ dΩ = Ω δu · b dΩ + Γh δu · h dΓ. Consistency can be proven in the same fashion as was used for the onedimensional problem.25) yields a Poisson equation. 2.2 25 . Inserting this into equation (2. u is the hydraulic head and κ is known as the hydraulic conductivity.18). Consider the following equation: −∇ · q + f = 0 in Ω (2. This is the weak equilibrium equation for a stationary continuous elastic body.23).

I (u) = 1 2 Ω ∇s u : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω u · b dΩ − ∂Ω u · h dΩ. there exists a close link between minimisation of energy and solution of the weak form. 2011 .27) which prescribes the potential on the boundary. Multiplying equation (2. is given by I (u) ≤ I (u + v) = 1 2 Ω ∇s (u + v) : C : ∇s (u + v) dΩ − Ω (u + v) · b dΩ − ∂Ω (u + v) · h dΩ.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 . The weak form of the Poisson equation is derived following the same steps as in the previous two examples. The Dirichlet conditions impose: u=g on Γg (2. For Darcy flow. 2. For heat conduction. suppose that u is the solution to the weak problem. this imposes the heat flux on Γh . In the case of heat conduction.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations As for all previous examples.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). (2. (2. it is the hydraulic head. this is the temperature on the boundary Γg . such as equilibrium of an elastic body.25) by a weight function w and integrating over the body Ω.31) which is the weak form of the Poisson equation. − Ω w (∇ · q) dΩ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V .4 Minimisation of potential energy For particular equations.32) The potential energy for another displacement field. w = u + v. the boundary-value problem requires boundary conditions. and consider the potential energy functional I. 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. (2.2 January 21. (2. For an elastic body Ω. The Neumann boundary condition requires that: −q · n = h on Γh (2.33) 26 Version 0. (2.

It is not a possible solution.3 is a continuous.3) to make sense. it is clear that it involves only first derivatives with respect to x of u and w.3: Example of a C0 function f . which proves that solution of the weak form corresponds to minimisation of the potential energy. In summary. functions which are C0 are most commonly used.5 Regularity requirements A common topic in finite element analysis is continuity. this means that its nth derivative is continuous. 2. piecewise linear function. From Figure 2. If a function is C n . in a classical sense. This is a classic mathematical property of weak forms. However. and is essential for the finite element method. Therefore a function like f is a possible solution of the weak form and a possible weight function. its second derivative does not exist. Functions are often classified as being C n continuous.34) Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ. 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.xx ) must exist. Continuity refers to whether or not the derivatives of a function are continuous.2 27 .2. As will be seen in the following chapters. this is a commonly used function in finite element analysis. 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.x x Figure 2. A C0 function is shown in Figure 2.12)). the weak form allows for more possible solutions. but their first derivatives are not. This means that the functions are continuous. 2011 Version 0. the second derivative of f with respect to x ( f .3.23). Consider now if the function f is a possible solution u of the strong equation for a bar (equation (2. The function shown in Figure 2.5 Regularity requirements f f . In finite element analysis.3. January 21.3)). and the last term Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ ≥ 0. Examining now the weak form for the rod (equation (2. since for equation (2. it is clear that it is simple to take the first derivative of the function f .

which is denoted H 1 (Ω).x )2 dΩ < ∞ (2. That is.37) This says that the S is a collection of functions from H 1 (Ω) which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions (technically this is not a space if g = 0. (2. Functions spaces can be considered the ‘family’ of functions from which u and w can come.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. 2011 .36) are known as members of the Sobolev space on degree one. It is useful to define function spaces.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’. Importantly. Note that C0 functions belong to H 1 .38) This says that V is a collection of functions which come from H 1 (Ω) which are equal to zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. functions which have square-integrable derivatives are of interest. A function u is said to be square integrable if: Ω (u)2 dx < ∞. u| Γg = g}. there do however exist functions from H 1 (Ω) which are not C0 continuous. since a fundamental step in the finite element method will involve finite-dimensional function spaces. which is defined by: V = {w | w ∈ H 1 (Ω) . Consider first a scalar problem in an n-dimensional domain Ω. This can be seen in the well-known Sobolev embedding theorem. When solving second-order differential equations. The notation u ∈ H 1 means that u comes from (is an element of) H 1 . 28 Version 0. such functions may be discontinuous. Trial functions u come from the space S (u ∈ S ). the requirement that the trial functions be square-integrable implies that energy must be finite.2 January 21. Clearly. Functions for which: Ω (u)2 + (u. (2. In physical terms. 2. w| Γg = 0}. This is of crucial importance. The function space S is defined by: S = {u | u ∈ H 1 (Ω) . The weight functions come from the space V (w ∈ V ). For multiple spatial dimensions. Sobolev spaces are infinite-dimensional. but this point is not important here). (2.35) Functions which are square integrable come from the Hilbert space known as L2 (Ω). from which the trial and weight functions come. an infinite number of different functions belong to a given Sobolev space.

For 3 × 3 second-order tensors (matrices).39) V = {wi | wi ∈ H 1 (Ω) . Derive the weak form. prove that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric. (Hint: use index notation.) 2. 4. Derive the weak equilibrium equation (2.40) Further details can be found in texts on functional analysis and the mathematical analysis of the finite element method. The Helmholtz equation is given by: ∇ · (∇φ) + kφ = 0 and is often used in wave propagation problems. is u a possible trial solution? January 21.23) for elasticity using index notation. 2011 Version 0. (2. 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. (2. u ∈ S where S = {ui | ui ∈ H 1 (Ω) . a = b) 5.7 Exercises 1. 3.2 29 . 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). ui | Γg = gi } and similarly for weight functions w ∈ V . wi | Γg = 0}. Solutions for the displacement field from linear-elastic fracture mechanics often √ involve a term r.2. where r is the distance from the crack tip (r ≥ 0). 2.7 Exercises In multiple dimensions.


uh could be a combination of low order polynomial functions. it is generic for a range of different problems.x Eu. This means that there is a limited number of possibilities.1 Approximate solution First. consider the approximate solution to some problem. In a multidimensional context.x dx ∀w h ∈ V h (3.3 The Galerkin method The finite element method is one particular Galerkin method. 3. uh = L wh where B wh . and finding the best solution to a problem given a collection of functions. The Galerkin problem for an elastic bar (equation (2.5) 31 . being able to solve a greater range of problems. the finite-dimensional trial and weight functions are denoted uh and wh . uh ∈ S h .2) (3. The Galerkin method is however more general. (3. as developed in the previous chapter. uh = and L wh = wh h| x= L . Furthermore.x Eu.3) This abstract format is introduced to keep the derivation of some later developments compact.23). where S h ⊂ S is a finite-dimensional space. (3.4) L 0 h h w.x dx + w h h| x= L = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . It is a method for finding approximate solutions to partial differential equations. 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. For example.12)) involves: find uh ∈ S h such that − L 0 h h w. respectively.1) where V h ⊂ V is a finite dimensional space. Commonly. the above equation is expressed in the abstract format as: find uh ∈ S h such that B wh . Considering now the elasticity problem in equation (2. named after the Russian engineer Galerkin. It is closely related to the Rayleigh-Ritz method which involves choosing functions (a basis) for the solution and finding the amplitude of each function by minimising the energy. The essence of the Galerkin method involves taking the weak form of the governing equation.

Different Galerkin-based methods are defined by how the unknown field uh is represented. In the finite element method.10) Since u is the exact solution. taking into account the special requirements on the weight and trial functions where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. e − L wh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. u − L w h = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . u − B wh .2. the error in the displacement e at a point is defined by: e = u − uh (3. this will be investigated using the abstract notation. In the abstract notation of equation 3.2 Basic error analysis It is interesting to check how the solution computed using the Galerkin procedure compares to the exact solution. often in fluid mechanics.1). uh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3.9) For generality. This method is used for special applications.3 The Galerkin method where ǫ h = ∇s uh .2). uh = and L wh = Ω Ω ∇s wh : C : ǫh dΩ wh · h dΓ. Inserting equation (3. Spectral Galerkin methods for example use a truncated Fourier series as the basis. In Petrov-Galerkin method. B w h . uh and w h will be simple continuous. this implies that: B wh . e = B wh .2 January 21.9) into equation (3. B wh . u − B wh . Given a finite number of possibilities in S h .11) 32 Version 0. A basic question which arises when computing an approximate solution is how uh relates to the exact solution u. the Bubnov-Galerkin method) requires that the weight and trial functions come from the same finite-dimensional space. B wh . For the one-dimensional problem. the weight functions come from a different function space than the trial functions. 2011 . The error analysis will tell how the computed solution uh differs from the actual solution u and why the Galerkin method works (or for problems not considered here. (3.6) wh · b dΩ + Γh (3.8) where u is the exact solution and uh is the solution to equation (3. The approximate solution is therefore equal to: uh = u − e (3.7) The Galerkin method (more specifically. 3. why it doesn’t work). piecewise low-order polynomials defined on ‘finite elements’. which solution does the method seek? Understanding this requires some basic error analysis. This is examined in the following section.

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

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


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

∀w h ∈ V h


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

= 1 B (v, v) 2


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

≤ u − wh


∀w h ∈ V h


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

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

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

lim uh = u


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

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


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January 21, 2011

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

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


1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0








1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0

L Figure 4.1: One-dimensional bar.


x Eu. The basis function at node i. hence wh = ∑ Ni wi . It is expressed using the same basis functions as the displacement field.2) where ui is the value of the field uh at node i. an expression is needed for the weight function w h . For a one-dimensional bar.x wi i =1 n h dΓ (4. h ǫh = u.3) To develop the Galerkin problem.x u j j =1 n dΩ = Ω ∑ Ni wi i =1 n f dΩ + Γh ∑ Ni. Hence. ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni.4 Formulation of the finite element method nodes. discretised with n nodal points. i =1 n (4. (4.7) 36 Version 0.x wi i =1 n E ∑ Nj. (4. Ω ∑ Ni.2 January 21.1) where xi is the coordinate of node i. is given by  x x i −1   − x i −1 < x ≤ x i . the approximate displacement field uh is given by uh = ∑ Ni ( x) ui . these basis functions are known as ‘shape functions’. the strain field can be computed easily by taking the derivative of the shape functions.4) Recalling the weak form for a one-dimensional elastic rod.x = dNi u. Given that wi is not a function of spatial position. In finite element analysis. it can be taken outside of the integrals. Ω h h w. 2011 .x u j j =1 n dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ.6) for all possible values of wi . i =1 n (4.5) and inserting the expression for the expressions for the approximate displacement field and the weight function. the approximate displacement field is given in terms of the shape functions and the approximate displacement at a finite number of points (nodes). From this expression. (4.   x i − x i −1 x i − x i −1   x i +1 x Ni = x i < x < x i +1 .x dΩ = Ω w h f dΩ + Γh w h h dΓ ∀ wh ∈ V h . dx i i =1 ∑ n (4.  x i − x i +1 − x i − x i +1     0 otherwise.x E ∑ Nj.

4. A discussion of more general boundary conditions is delayed until the end of the chapter.11) Nj f dΩ + Γh Nj h dΓ (4.8) This equation must hold for all possible combinations of wi . Consider the case that all but one wi is equal to zero. Therefore.10) Ni. Nodes are points in space. and n unknowns in the form of ui ). Solving this linear system of equations provides u j . It is useful to define shape functions on finite elements.2 General finite element basis functions Likewise. The problem has been divided into many quadrilateral elements. which can be expressed as the system of equations.12) The matrix K = Kij is commonly known as the stiffness matrix. (4. A typical finite element mesh is shown in Figure 4. If a boundary condition is applied at node k.x E Nj.x dΩ (4. u j can also be taken outside of the integrals. surfaces (2D) or volumes (3D) which are constructed by joining nodal points.2.x dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ. Elements may not overlap.2 37 . and f = f i as the right-hand side (RHS) vector. and hence an expression for the approximate displacement field along the rod. and the kth term is deleted from the vector f . A mesh divides a body into a number of elements.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. where Kij = and fi = Ω Ω (4. then the row and the column k is removed from the stiffness matrix.x E Nj. For the zero Dirichlet conditions. Dirichlet boundary conditions must be enforced. 2011 Version 0. this is relatively simple. Matrices and vectors can be built for each element before being assembled into global matrices and vectors. for each i ∑ uj j =1 n Ω Ni. while elements are lines (1D). A finite element mesh consists of nodal points and elements.x dΩ = Ω Ni f dΩ + Γh Ni h dΓ (4. In order the solve the linear system. This yields n equations (one for each wi . 4.x E Nj. ∑ wi ∑ u j i =1 j =1 n n Ω Ni. A simple finite element January 21.9) must hold. Kij u j = f i .

3: Simple two-dimensional finite element mesh. 6 4 3 4 3 1 2 1 2 5 9 Figure 4.2 January 21.4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4. 2011 . 7 8 5 7 8 6 38 Version 0.2: Typical two-dimensional finite element mesh.

As in the one-dimensional case. known as finite elements.3. the discretised field can be inserted into the weak governing equations. A finite element shape function is only non-zero on elements to which it is attached. 4. are examined. Having a compact support.4.1 One-dimensional bar elements To begin. each multiplied by a nodal value. Both nodes and elements are numbered. The bar has two nodes. Ni . Shape functions for various elements are discussed in detail in the following sections. the amplitude).2.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 2 L x=0 Figure 4. mesh is shown in Figure 4.2 39 .13) January 21. and zero at all other nodes. Each element has three nodes. denoted by the solid circles. (4. is equal to one at the node and zero at all other nodes. Once the displacement field uh and its derivatives ∇uh can be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns. They are characterised by being equal to unity at their node. the basis functions are defined on simple geometric elements. 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.4. the mesh is constructed with triangular elements. as introduced in Section 4. linear one dimensional elements. Consider the one-dimensional bar element in Figure 4.4: One-dimensional linear bar element and associated shape functions. 2011 Version 0. Finite element shape functions are typically piecewise continuous polynomial functions with a ‘compact support’.3. The displacement field is given by a linear combination of a finite number of basis functions (a summation of the basis functions. In Figure 4. Each shape function Ni is associated with a node i. For a node i. 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 .1. In the finite element method. shape functions are non-zero only close to their node. the shape function associated with that node.

18) The strain is given by: ǫh = Bae . The shape functions corresponding to each node are given by: N1 = − N2 = Hence. Now. the displacement and strain can be calculated in any part of the element. dx (4. Taking the derivative of equation (4. in terms of nodal degrees of freedom ae . 40 Version 0.5. It does however make the generalisation to multiple dimensions simple. Therefore.14) (4.16) x + 1. The matrix-vector notation for uh and ǫh may seem trivial for one-dimensional problems.17) In the case of a linear displacement interpolation.16) with respect to x. where N = N1 and ae = a1 . as its shape functions are linear polynomials. a2 (4. to solve a problem. L This type of element is known as a linear element. L L (4. L (4. the displacement field is expressed as: uh = Nae .15) x . where the matrix B is equal to: B= dN1 dx dN2 . 2011 . The weak form of the governing equations involves derivatives with respect to the spatial position. ǫh = duh dN1 dN2 1 1 = a + a2 = − a1 + a2 . (4. Note also that these shape functions posses C0 continuity – they are continuous but their derivatives involve jumps across element boundaries.20) N2 .2 January 21. the derivative of the shape function with respect to x is a constant function within an element.22) (4. uh = − x x + 1 a1 + a2 .19) (4. In matrix-vector notation. the derivative of the displacement field with respect to x (the strain) is required.21) The shape functions for two linear elements are shown in Figure 4. dx dx 1 dx L L (4.4 Formulation of the finite element method where ai is the displacement at node i (it is ‘stored’ at the node).

Figure 4. 2011 Version 0.4. (4. (4. Nnn 0 0 .2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 L1 L2 Figure 4..26) (4. the displacement field is given by: uh = ∑ Ni (x) ai .27) January 21. For a one-dimensional quadratic element. More nodes through which the shape function must interpolate naturally means a higher-order polynomial is required.2 Two-dimensional continuum elasticity elements In two or more dimensions.. The displacement field for an element is given by: uh = Nae . the N matrix has the form: N = N1 N2 N3 . Since the displacement field is quadratic..2 41 . linear and quadratic (and even higher) variations in the unknown field can be described within an element.24) and the B matrix has a similar form.5: Shape functions for two one-dimensional linear bar elements. i =1 3 (4. it has the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 . Higher-order elements simply have more nodes. each unknown field (such as displacement in each direction) is interpolated using the polynomial shape functions. and the strain field (using engineering notation) is given by: ǫ h = Bae . 4. Higher-order one-dimensional elements It is possible to develop one-dimensional elements with higher-order polynomial interpolations..25) The matrix N contains the element shape functions. . In two dimensions. The interpolation basis for higher-order elements is richer since both constant. Nnn (4.6 illustrates shape functions for quadratic and cubic elements.2. obviously the strain field is linear.23) Therefore.

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

2011 Version 0. N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 .31) (4. N1 ( x2 . y3 ) = c1 x3 + c2 y3 + c3 = 0. It is clear from the linear form of the shape functions for the three-node triangle that the derivatives are constant.2 43 . (4. N1 ( x3 . Figure 4. (4. y1 ) ( x2 . yi ) is the location of the ith node. Example 4.8: Shape function for a three-node element. This can be cast in a matrix form as:      x 1 y 1 1  c 1  1   x2 y2 1 c2 = 0 . Given that a shape function should have a value of unity at its node and zero at other nodes. Given the following coordinates of each of where ( xi . Its shape function must satisfy: N1 ( x1 .7.34)     c3 x3 y3 1 0 January 21.7.7: Three-node triangular element.2 General finite element basis functions ( x3 . Consider node 1 in Figure 4. y1 ) = c1 x1 + c2 y2 + c3 = 1. hence the strain in the element is constant.8. (4. y2 ) = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 = 0. y2 ) Figure 4.30) The shape function for a node is illustrated in Figure 4. y3 ) 3 1 2 ( x1 .1 Consider the element in Figure 4.4. the coefficients c can be found by solving a linear system of equations.33) Solving the above system of equations yields the coefficients for the shape function of node 1.32) (4.

3) To find the coefficients.34)) is formed. ( x1 . Since the shape function for node 2 is being calculated.y B= 0 N1. A four-node quadrilateral element is shown in Figure 4. a system of equations (see equation (4.y N2.2 January 21. 2011 . Unlike the three-node triangle. The shape functions for a six-node triangle are of the form: N = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 xy + c4 x + c5 y + c6 (4.y  N3.      1 2 1  c1  0 4 1 1  c 2 = 1     c3 2 3 1 0 Solving this system of equations gives: N2 = 0. plane and three-dimensional elements can have higher-order interpolations.y A very commonly used element in finite element analysis is the four-node quadrilateral.x N3. y2 ) = (4.x 0 N2.36) 44 Version 0.25 Once the shape functions have been computed for each node.25y + 0.x and the B matrix is of the form:  N1. the strain in this element is not constant.x 0 N3.10.4 Formulation of the finite element method the nodes. y3 ) = (2. the only non-zero term on the RHS corresponds to node 2. (4. y1 ) = (1.y 0 N2.9. A shape function for a four-node element is shown in Figure 4. find the shape function for node 2. 2) ( x2 . the N and B matrices can be formed.x N2.35) It is also know as a bilinear element. 1) ( x3 . Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xy + c2 x + c3 y + c4 .y N1.x 0 N1. The N matrix for this element is of the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 N3 0 0 N3  0 N3.25x − 0. Higher-order solid elements As in one-dimensional problems. due to the presence of the xy terms in the shape functions.

Each time the order of a triangle is increased. Solving the below system of equations would yield the coefficients for node 1.2 45 . Note that serendipity     1  c1  1                 1  c2  0               c  0 1  3     . A Pascal triangle for serendipity elements is shown in Figure 4. As with the three-node triangle. Note that triangular elements are complete – that is the shape functions contain all polynomial terms up to a given order. =  1  c4  0                 1  c5  0                  c6  0 1 (4. a new ‘row’ of terms from the Pascal triangle is added to the shape functions.11 The polynomial terms needed for triangular elements can be taken from a Pascal triangle (see Figure 4. whereas Lagrange elements have nodes on the element interior.13.4.10: A shape function for four-node quadrilateral element.  2 x1 y2 1 y2 2 y2 3 y2 4 2 y5 y2 6 x1 y1 x2 y2 x3 y3 x4 y4 x5 y5 x6 y6 x1 x2 x3 x4 x5 x6 y1 y2 y3 y4 y5 y6  2  x2   2  x3   2  x4   x2  5 2 x6 Two shape functions for a six-node triangle are shown in Figure 4.15. Higher-order quadrilateral elements can also be constructed. Serendipity elements have nodes only on element boundaries. 2011 Version 0. Figure 4. Linear. the coefficients can be found by solving a linear system of equations. quadratic and cubic triangular elements are shown in Figure 4.37) January 21. They belong to one of two families: serendipity or Lagrange.12).2 General finite element basis functions 4 3 1 2 Figure 4.9: Four-node quadrilateral element.14. Several serendipity and Lagrange finite elements are shown in Figure 4.

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

The Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements is shown in Figure 4.38) and for the nine-node Lagrange quadrilateral the shape functions have one extra term and are of the form: N = c1 x2 y2 + c2 x2 y + c3 xy2 + c4 x2 + c5 y2 + c6 xy + c7 x + c8 y + c9 .. (4.14: Serendipity (a) and Lagrange (b) quadrilateral finite elements. The elements do not suffer from the limitation of missing polynomial terms for any order interpolation.. y y2 y3 y4 . . Internal nodes must be introduced to ensure all polynomial terms are included.and nine-node quadrilateral elements are commonly used in finite element analysis.. elements of order higher than three ’miss’ polynomial terms. Eight. 1 x x2 x3 x4 . x3 y x2 y xy xy2 xy3 . 2011 Version 0...15: Pascal triangle for serendipity elements.39) January 21. (4... Figure 4.2 General finite element basis functions (a) (b) Figure 4.4.16.. 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 . and are therefore not recommended.2 47 .

.. 2011 .. Not only do the elements tend to have more nodes. the derivatives of the shape functions are constant within an element. Higher-order version of both tetrahedral and brick elements also exist.2.. Also. 4... The computational effort required for three-dimensional analysis can become high. The simplest brick element has eight nodes. They are of the form: N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 z + c4 . wedge type elements are often used for generating meshes for complex geometries.41) This is known as a ‘trilinear element’. 48 Version 0. A four-node tetrahedral element has linear shape functions. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xyz + c2 xy + c3 xz + c4 yz + c5 x + c6 y + c7 z + c8 . x3 y x 3 y2 x 3 y3 x2 y x 2 y2 x 2 y3 ..and two-dimensional elements.4 Formulation of the finite element method 1 x x2 x3 .. y y2 y3 .40) Similar to the three-node triangle. .. Figure 4. These two elements are shown in Figure 4. Commonly used shapes are tetrahedra and bricks...17: Tetrahedral and brick three-dimensional finite elements. they often have more degrees of freedom per node. (4. xy xy2 xy3 ... They can be formed in the same fashion as one.2 January 21. (4.16: Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements.3 Three-dimensional elements Three-dimensional elements are increasingly used in engineering analysis. Figure 4. The numbers of nodes per element increases rapidly.17.

(4. (4.44) where the integral over Γh. for the multi-dimensional case within an element. The weight (test) functions are discretised in the same fashion as the unknown field uh .e is only non-zero if the boundary of the element coincides with the boundary Γh . 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). (4.18: One-dimensional bar showing the element that extends from x = l1 to x = l2 . the one-dimensional governing equation for an elastic rod (equation (3.3 Governing equations x=0 x x = l1 x = l2 x=L Figure 4. The discretised governing equation for the element is expressed as: l2 l1 ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh. (4. Now.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ.3 Governing equations At this point. 2011 Version 0.1)) is considered.45) The be terms appear on both sides of the equality.43) ∇ w = Bbe . The discrete nodal values can be removed from the integrals. and can therefore be eliminated. wh = Nbe . 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.2 49 .e N T h dΓ.e N T h dΓ.42) (4. which after some rearranging (using ( Ac) T = c T A T ) leads to: be T l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = be T Γh.4.18). 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).46) January 21. 1989) 4. l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = Γh. Take a single element (of any order) which extends from l1 to l2 (see Figure 4. Therefore. What remains is the insertion of the discretised field uh into the governing weak equation.

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

η ) are known as the ‘natural coordinates’. such as the bi-unit square. For example the displacement in the x-direction at a point is given by: nn uh = ∑ Ni (ξ.−1) x 1 ξ Figure 4. where (ξ. η ) in the bi-unit square. 2011 Version 0. i =1 (4. as the shape functions are defined in terms of the natural coordinates. taking a point in the real Cartesian ( x.52) ∑ Ni (ξ. i =1 nn i =1 (4. η ) xi . ξ and η. The mapping for a four-node quadrilateral element is illustrated in Figure 4. derivatives of the unknown field with respect to x and y are required.4 Isoparametric mapping x 3 (−1.2 51 . y) system.4. η ) aix . configuration is given by: nn x= y= ∑ Ni (ξ.1) (1.−1) y 2 (1. Using an isoparametric mapping.1) 2 4 4 3 η ξ 1 (−1. η ) yi . η ) domain and maps it to a point in the ‘real’ element in the Cartesian ( x. shape functions can be defined on simple shapes. consider the application of the product rule for differentia- January 21.19. The map ξ is the inverse of x.19: Isoparametric mapping for a bi-unit square. The map x takes a point within the bi-unit square in the (ξ. To proceed. The position on the bi-unit square is given by the natural coordinates.53) The difficulty that arises is when computing derivatives with respect to the real coordinates. y) system and mapping to a point (ξ. and nn is number of nodes of the element. In the governing weak equations.

∂η ∂x ∂η ∂y ∂η This can be written in matrix form as:      ∂x ∂y  ∂ f  ∂f       ∂ξ   ∂ξ ∂ξ   ∂x   = .ξ x j  ∂Ni      j =1 j= ∂y ∂η 52 Version 0. ∂η ∂η i i =1 (4. Using the shape function. the terms in the matrix J can be computed.60)  ∂Ni  j − ∑nn Nj.       ∂Ni   nn  ∂Ni  nn    − ∑ j=1 Nj.59) Once terms of the matrix J have been formed. nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x.      ∂y  ∂ f  ∂y ∂f      −  ∂x  ∂ξ   ∂ξ  1  ∂η  =  .58) In light of the isoparametric mapping (equation (4.54) (4.52)). (4. ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + .4 Formulation of the finite element method tion for a function f . (4.57) ∂x   ∂ f  ∂f  j  ∂x         − ∂y ∂η ∂ξ ∂η J where j = det J.55) (4.57) the derivatives of the shape function of node i with respect to x and y can be computed. (4. from equation (4.  ∂ f   ∂x ∂y   ∂ f          ∂η ∂η ∂η ∂y J (4. ∂η ∂η i i =1 nn ∂Ni ∂y =∑ y.2 January 21. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x.η x j     ∑nn1 Nj.56) where the matrix J is commonly known as the Jacobian matrix. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂y ∂Ni =∑ y. 2011 .η y j  =  .ξ y j  ∂ξ    ∂x  1 ∑ j=1 Nj. defined in terms of ξ and η. Taking the inverse of the Jacobian. ∂ξ ∂x ∂ξ ∂y ∂ξ ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + .

s and t.19. Hughes. Triangular elements are often described using area coordinates. This way. where: t = 1 − r − s. Now. 2011 Version 0.0) (1. a four-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a threenode triangular element.20: Three-node and six-node triangles using area coordinates.0) 4 2 (1. The latter approach is followed here.61) Similar formulae can be found for eight.20.and nine-node elements (Hughes.1) 3 3 6 5 2 1 (0. and an eight-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a six-node triangular element.2 53 .0) r 1 (0. they can be calculated for the real configuration. once the derivatives of the shape functions have been calculated on the simple isoparametric domain. 1996.4. Consider the triangle in Figure 4. Triangular elements Isoparametric mappings are also applied for triangular elements. 1987). For the bi-unit quadrilateral in Figure 4. While this procedure may seen complex. (4. it can be implemented in a computer code in a simple and compact fashion.4 Isoparametric mapping s (0. 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. A popular approach is to ‘degenerate’ a quadrilateral element to a triangular element (Bathe. η ) = 1 (1 + ξ i ξ ) (1 + ηi η ) . The position of a point inside the triangle is given by r. 4 (4.0) r Figure 4.62) January 21. 1987). Quadrilateral elements The shape functions for quadrilateral elements on a bi-unit square is particularly simple.

1 nint −1 f (ξ ) dξ ≃ ∑ f ( ξ i ) wi . It is common for higher-order elements that the apexes are first numbered (corner nodes in the case of quadrilateral elements). Two schemes which arise in finite element analysis are Newton-Cotes and Gauss integration.4 Formulation of the finite element method The shape functions for the nodes of the element in Figure 4.20. (4. Numerical integration is illustrated in Figure 4. There is a formula for the shape functions of arbitrary order in terms of r. the element stiffness matrices and RHS vectors still involve integration over volumes and surfaces (see section 4.3). 166). numerical integration is applied. To make the formulation fully discrete (and amendable to computer implementation). While the displacement field has been discretised. consider in two dimensions that: B T DB dΩ = 1 1 Ωe −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη.67) i =1 where ξ i are discrete points on the integral domain. 1987.63) (4. 2011 . 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 . N3 = s. the problem is not yet fully discrete.65) Note the numbering of the nodes for the quadratic triangle in Figure 4. N6 = 4st. 2 N4 = 4rt. the shape functions are equal to: N1 = 2t2 − t.2 January 21. s and t on triangles (Hughes. N2 = r. To evaluate the stiffness matrix of an element. For the integration of a function f (ξ ) from −1 to 1. (4. η ) domain. Before proceeding to the element matrices. then the mid-side nodes. N5 = 4rs. it convenient to integrate in the (ξ.20 are then: N1 = t.5 Numerical integration At this stage. N2 = 2r − r. numerical integration in one-dimension is considered.68) 54 Version 0. For a quadratic (six-node) triangular element. Different integration schemes specify where the points are located and the weight associated with each point.21. (4. (4.64) (4.66) N3 = 2s2 − s. 4. p. To do this.

69) Note that B (ξ i . in multiple dimensions Gauss integration is not necessarily the most efficient scheme. Therefore. This is simple when using isoparametric elements. the terms in B are constant and the stiffness matrix is also constant throughout the element. Importantly.2 55 . ηi ) j (ξ i . Gauss quadrature is the optimal numerical integration scheme for polynomials in one dimension. 2011 Version 0. the one-dimensional scheme can be extended in each spatial direction. This is due to dx dy = j dξ dη (the substitution rule for integration has been applied). For a (2n − 1)th-order polynomial. (4. ηi )T DB (ξ i . Most commonly in finite element analysis. it requires the least number of points. where B contains derivatives of the shape functions. containing derivatives of the shape functions with respect to x and y.2. The location and weights for Gauss integration in one dimension for up to three points are given in Table 4.1.5 Numerical integration f −1 ξ1 ξ2 ξ3 ξ4 1 ξ Figure 4. To perform the numerical integration of the element stiffness matrix. Note the appearance of the determinant of the Jacobian. Gauss integration is used. For multi-dimensional problems. The integrand of the stiffness matrix is B T DB. two and three dimensions). one integration point is sufficient (in one. which when squared give a January 21. If the shape functions are quadratic.4. (n + 1) integration points are required when using a Newton-Cotes scheme to integrate an nth-order polynomial. ηi ) is the usual B matrix. ηi ) i n wi . full integration schemes are recommended for their robustness. ηi ). if the shape functions are linear. Three points integrate as 5th order polynomial exactly in one dimension. Application of numerical integration leads to: 1 1 −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη ≃ ∑ B (ξ i . Therefore. Gauss integration requires n points to integrate the polynomial exactly. the last remaining issue is the selection of an appropriate integration scheme.21: Numerical integration of the function f . A Newton-Cotes scheme uses equally spaced integration points. evaluated at the point (ξ i . It is also known as ‘Gauss quadrature’. However. Full integration means that the stiffness matrix is integrated exactly (assuming j = constant). j. B contains linear terms. 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. The sampling points and weights are listed in Table 4.

56 Version 0.2 January 21. 1].1: Newton-Cotes integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1.2: Gauss 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. 2011 . 1]. n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 −√ 3 1 √ 3 3 − 5 0 3 5 weight wi 2 1 1 5 9 8 9 5 9 3 Table 4.

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

4 Formulation of the finite element method element two-node bar three-node bar integration scheme 1 2 three-node triangle (T3) 1 six-node triangle (T6) or 3 four-node quadrilateral (Q4) 2×2 eight-node quadrilateral(Q8) 3×3 Table 4. 2011 . 58 Version 0.2 January 21.3: Recommended integration schemes for commonly used elements.

(4.2 59 . ke av = f e − ke g.6. 0 (4.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions this means that the uh must satisfy the prescribed displacements where they are specified.1 Elimination of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom The displacement field can be expressed by: uh = vh + gh . Two common approached are outlined below. vh is equal to zero where Dirichlet (displacement) boundary conditions are applied and gh satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions. (4.72) Since g is known. In discretised form at element level. f ie. 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. vv vg In terms of indexes. the element RHS vector is modified. Since g is known.73) where av is the only unknown. January 21. vv vg (4. 2011 Version 0. 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. and g are the applied Dirichlet boundary conditions. it is not included in the global system of equations to be solved.74) j =1 ∑ ke ge . Dirichlet boundary conditions can be enforced by modifying the RHS vector. It is possible to write: ke av + ke g = f v .70) where uh is the displacement.4. ke a = ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv fg . Since the weight function is defined to be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.75) Once the element stiffness matrix has been formed.71) where av are the nodal unknowns at nodes where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. ij j (4.mod = f ie − nn (4. the element RHS vector can be modified to enforce Dirichlet boundary conditions before assembly into the global RHS vector. ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv .

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.2 January 21. at which points is the stress from the finite element solution not uniquely defined when using C0 elements? 2. Form the shape functions for a Lagrange nine-node quadrilateral element 3.7 Exercises 1. 2011 . both the finite element method and the finite difference method require the solution of a system of equations Ka = f . and that the value of the Dirichlet boundary condition is returned in the solution vector which simplifies postprocessing. The three-node triangle element is often referred to as the ‘constant strain triangle’ (CST).4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. the difference equation for the second derivative is: d2 u dx2 = i 2ui+1 2ui−1 2ui + − h j h j +1 h j h j + h j +1 h j +1 h j + h j +1 Comment on the symmetry of the operators for finite elements and finite differences on unequally spaced grid.6.2 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. symmetry is lost. Under what conditions the matrix B T DB is symmetric? 5. except the diagonal term which is set equal to one. In one dimension and for equally spaced nodal points (nodes are a distance h apart). However. The value of Dirichlet boundary condition is then inserted into the vector f at position k. The second-order finite difference equation for the second derivative is: d2 u dx2 = i ui−1 − 2ui + ui+1 h2 For unequally spaced nodes. Consider the Laplace equation. 2004). which is given by: ∆u = ∇ · (∇u) = 0 To solve this problem. 60 Version 0. Show why this is. 4. 4. compare the matrix K for the finite element method with linear elements and for the secondorder central finite difference method. 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 advantage of this scheme is its simplicity. For a plane elasticity problem.

7.4. January 21. Form the stiffness matrix for a four-node quadrilateral on a bi-unit square. 8.1 and for E = 1 and ν = 0. 2011 Version 0.2 61 .2. Calculate and plot the shape functions for the eight-node quadrilateral element on a bi-unit square. Calculate its eigenvalues using one-point and 2 × 2 integration. Calculate the eigenvalues of the stiffness matrix and comment on their significance. Formulate the stiffness matrix for the element in Figure 4.7 Exercises 6.7 using the nodal coordinates in Example 4.


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

boundary conditions must be specified.0 1.1 y 0. although the numbering must process in an anti-clockwise direction (to avoid calculating a negative volume and hence a negative element stiffness). For an isotropic linear-elastic analysis. This is either a prescribed force or the prescribed displacement.0 Figure 5.1 2. The second column gives the boundary condition type: Dirichlet (displacement) = 1 and Neumann (force) = 0. the Poisson’s ratio and the density of the material.0 0. In addition to nodal coordinates and the connectivity. The density is necessary when taking the self-weight into account.2 January 21. The preprocessing is completed by specify the material data. the x and y coordinate is given.0 0.82 1.1 involves both Dirichlet (displacement) and Neumann (force) boundary conditions.1 is given in Figure 5.5 0.4 gives the applied boundary condition.0 2. 5.5 Implementation of the finite element method % node 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 x 0.2. The final column is the value of the applied boundary condition.2 Program flow Once the input for a finite element analysis has been prepared.8 2.5 2. The list can begin with any node of the element.7 0.76 2.3: Element connectivity. For each node. The third column gives the degree-of-freedom to which the boundary condition is applied (dof=1 represents the x-direction and dof=2 represents the y-direction). The list in Figure 5.2: Nodal coordinates.0 0. % 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 5.0 0. For each element.1 2. the is Young’s modulus. the calculation phase can begin. the node numbers are listed.6 0.3. The connectivity list for Figure 5. The problem in Figure 5. the nodal coordinates is shown in Figure 5. The outline of a typical finite element program for linear static problems 64 Version 0. 2011 .0 0. First. the node to which a boundary condition is applied is listed.

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

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

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

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5 Implementation of the finite element method

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

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

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


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

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

4(8) 3 (5)

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

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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.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). 68 Version 0. 2011 .2 January 21.j).:) = x(connect(i.8: Set-up of local element arrays for element i. % 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.9: Formation of element stiffness matrix.j).

dof_per_node + k for l=1:nodes_per_element for m=1:dof_per_node jj = ID(connect(i.3 Local-global % impose Dirichlet boundary conditions for i=1:nodes_per_element*dof_per_node f_e(:) = f_e(:) .jj) + k_e(kk.11: Assembly of local arrays into global arrays.jj) = K(ii.ll) end end end if ii ~= 0 f(ii) = f(ii) + f_e(kk) end end end % return to main program Figure 5. January 21.j).dof_per_node + m if ii~=0 & jj~=0 K(ii.k_e(:.10: Imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions. 2011 Version 0.2 69 . m) ll = l*dof_per_node .i)*g_e(i) end % return to main program Figure 5. % 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.l).5. k) kk = j*dof_per_node .

Non-zero terms are marked by a dot. only 23 638 entries are non-zero (1% of the total matrix elements). For this method to be efficient. 70 Version 0.12 represents graphically the structure of the stiffness matrix for a problem involving 700 four-noded quadrilateral elements.2 January 21. or have the option to relabel nodes to minimise the stiffness matrix bandwidth. both in terms of memory and computational time. Typically. The stiffness matrix in Figure 5. storing the whole matrix would require almost 18 megabytes of memory.12: Graphical representation of a stiffness matrix 5. Taking advantage of the sparse nature of the stiffness matrix yields significant computational savings. solvers are implemented such that operations are not performed on non-zero terms which reduces the number of floating point operations required.12 is well-numbered. significantly. This essentially requires that the node numbers of nodes which are close to each should also be close. Yet further savings can be achieved by taking into account symmetry of the stiffness matrix.4 Stiffness matrix storage A feature of the finite element method is that the stiffness matrix is sparse. the mesh must be constructed in an ‘optimal’ fashion to minimise the bandwidth of the stiffness matrix. and hence the computational time. However.5 Implementation of the finite element method 0 500 1000 1500 0 500 1000 1500 Figure 5. 2011 . The dimension of the matrix is 1530 × 1530 (giving a total of 2 340 900 entries). Storing only the non zero terms requires on 283 kilobytes of memory! In addition. Assuming double precision storage. as all non-zero terms are close to the diagonal which minimises the bandwidth. This means that the stiffness matrix contains many zeros. This is relatively small for a finite element analysis. Figure 5. Many finite element programs store the stiffness matrix in a skyline format. mesh generation programs will label nodes optimally.

2 71 . the internal force vector should be zero where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. including where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied).5. It is important to realise that the stress computed at a point is not always reliable. 2011 Version 0. More reliable are the reaction forces at nodes where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. Three quantities of potential interest from a linear-elastic calculation are displacements. For static problems. January 21. Reaction forces can be evaluates by calculating the so-called internal force vector f int . post-processing of the data is required. it gives the reaction force at each node. stresses and reaction forces.5 Post-processing 5. The internal force vector for an element is given by: int fe = Ωe B T σ dΩ + Ωe N T b dΩ (5.1) Once assembled for all elements (at all nodes. This means that the body is in equilibrium.5 Post-processing After a calculation has been completed.


plate and shell elements. The use of truss elements in a two. The formulation of structural elements tends to be more complex than continuum elements. This has serious consequences for the shape functions which can be employed.2.1: Two-dimensional truss structure. Their governing equations derive from the governing equation of elastostatics. 6. Each element is rotated to a convenient coordinate system.and y-directions. Examples are beam.1 Rod elements in space In Chapter 4.1. A particular problem is that classical thin bending problems in structural mechanics are governed by fourth-order equations. It is however possible to assemble this element into a truss structure in two or three dimensions. 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. with simplifications and assumptions which are applicable for common structural problems. a one-dimensional rod element was developed that could only transmit normal forces. 73 . which is oriented in the three-dimensional space. the strong governing equations involve fourth-order derivatives. in contrast to continuum elasticity problems which involve only second-order derivatives. Consider the truss element in Figure 6. They are used in situations where conventional solid elements perform poorly with a practicably allowable number of elements.or three dimensional structure relies upon a rotation between different coordinate systems. a finite element model will require two degrees of freedom at each node. Joints (nodes) of the truss can translate in both the x. These elements are derived from different governing equations. A simple two-dimensional truss structure is shown in Figure 6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Special finite elements are often used in structural mechanics. For a truss structure in F Figure 6. which are closely related to classical equations from structural mechanics. The most convenient system is one in which the axis of the truss element is aligned with the x coordinate axis. Hence. That is.

three dimensions. Since truss elements are based on the assumption that only normal forces (σx⋆ ) can be transmitted. Therefore.3) = a2x⋆ 0 0 Q11 Q21  a2x      a2y a⋆ = e a1x⋆ a2x⋆ . the rotation matrix has the form: QT = cos θ − sin θ sin θ cos θ (6. (6. (6.4) The following definitions are now adopted: 74 Version 0. Denoting the angle between the x-axis and the x ⋆ -axis as θ. in the x ⋆ . the rotation is particularly simple.2) 0 Q11 Q21   a2x   a2x⋆   0      ⋆   0 0 Q12 Q22 a2y a2y where Qij are components of the matrix Q. The displacements at nodes one and two. a node will have three degrees of freedom. The displacement components can be rotated using the matrix Q (see section 1.1) The vector ae holds the displacement components at the nodes of an element. (6.2: Linear truss element in three-dimensional space. For a two dimensional truss structure. displacements in the y⋆ -direction are not resisted by an element. The only displacement of any consequence for an element is in the x ⋆ -direction. two degrees of freedom. the vector ae has four components (a component in the x and y direction at each node). the above problem can be reduced to give:    a1x      a1y a1x⋆ Q11 Q21 0 0 . 2011 .2 January 21. and in two dimensions. Given that the only displacements of interest are the in x ⋆ -direction.1) to give the nodal displacements in terms of the coordinate system aligned with the axis of the truss element. of a linear bar.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Fx* x* y* y z* z x Figure 6.and y⋆ -directions are given by:      Q Q21 0 0  a1x   a1x⋆       ⋆   11   a1y Q Q22 0 0  a1y  =  12 .

The strain in the x ⋆ -direction is therefore given by: h ǫh⋆ = u.19) for a linear element).5) The displacement in the x ⋆ -direction along the bar is therefore given by: uh⋆ = N ⋆ a⋆ = N ⋆ qae . the stiffness matrix for a one-dimensional element can be formed. 2011 Version 0.8) into the weak governing equation (2. and with the aid of the matrix q it can be transformed into the global. the element stiffness matrix is equal to: ke = q T B⋆ T EB⋆ q dΩ. h w.9) is the stiffness matrix. Q21 (6. the derivative of a weight function w can be expressed in the local coordinate system in terms of the global degrees of freedom.7) and (6.2 75 .12). Inserting now the discretised fields into the weak governing equation for a onedimensional bar. It is important to ensure that a truss structure does not form a mechanism. multidimensional coordinate system. Clearly. and eliminating be . January 21.6. The ‘star’ denotes that the shape functions are constructed relative to the coordinate system on the bar.x⋆ = B⋆ qbe ⋆ (6.8) (recall that be is a variation).9) where the LHS of equation (6.1 Rod elements in space and q= Q11 0 Q21 0 0 Q11 0 .x⋆⋆ = B⋆ qae (6. where k⋆ is the standard one-dimensional stiffness e e matrix for a bar. e (6.7) Similarly. A classic sign of a mechanism is singularity of the global stiffness matrix of the structure. Inserting the relationships in equations (6.10) Ωe This is equivalent to ke = q T k⋆ q.6) where N ⋆ contains the shape functions for a one-dimensional bar (see equation (4. (6. Ωe ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. (6.

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

x y x Figure 6. the fibre will not rotate. which is initially perpendicular to the beam axis.6. Subjecting a segment from a beam to pure shear. It is clear from Figure 6. The first is to elaborate the kinematics of the beam.5. The fibre is indicated by the heavy line.6. For a beam segment subjected to both rotation and shear deformation.11) − h/2 σxx y dy.6 that θ = v.x − γ.2 77 . 2011 Version 0. which together with some assumptions as to the stress in different directions can be inserted into the elasticity equations from Chapter 1. 6.7 show the ‘resultant’ force Q and moment M due to a moment m and a shear force q in a beam.5: Beam segment subjected to pure shear. which will be followed here. (6. Note that M = m n and Q = q n.12) and the shear stress q is defined by q= h/2 − h/2 σxy dy. Considering translational equilibrium of a beam segment Ω. the rotation θ of a fibre which is initially perpendicular to the beam’s axis is shown in Figure 6. a plane which remains perpendicular to the axis undergoes a rotation γ. Relative to the fibre which has not rotated.2 Beams γ v. equilibrium of a beam can be considered directly.2. (6. as illustrated in Figure 6.13) Figure 6. The bending moment m in a beam is defined as m= h/2 (6.2 Equilibrium of a beam The equilibrium equations for a beam can be developed in two ways. where n is the outward unit normal vector. it is clear January 21. In the second method.

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

For rotational equilibrium. (6. and boundary conditions. are valid for both Bernoulli-Euler and Timoshenko beam theories.x dΩ − q dΩ − q.21b) (6. on ΓQ .20a) (6. the boundary conditions are v = gv θn = gθ mn = T q n = Fy on Γv . Γv ∩ ΓQ = ∅. 2011 Version 0.x + f y = 0.14) Noting that q n dΓ = q| x= L2 − q| x= L1 .18) Satisfaction of the translational equilibrium equation implies that 0.20b) Denoting applied end forces Fy . (6.21d) These equations. on ΓM . (6.x x dΩ − f y x dΩ = 0.2 79 . translational equilibrium requires that q. on Γθ . Ω (q. distributed loads f y and applied moments T (all shown in Figure 6.6.2 Beams that: q n dΓ + dΩ dΩ Ω f y dΩ = 0.3).21a) (6. The boundary Γ of a beam is partitioned such that: Γv ∪ ΓQ = Γ. Γθ ∩ ΓM = ∅ + f y ) x dΩ = (6. it is required that: m n dΓ − q nx dΓ − f y x dΩ = 0. Γθ ∪ ΓM = Γ.x − q = 0.19) (6.x Ω Ω Ω Ω (6.15) Since equilibrium must hold for an infinitely small segment of a beam. January 21.21c) (6.17) (6. it is clear that Ω Ω q.x dΩ + f y dΩ = 0. (6. therefore rotational equilibrium requires that m.16) dΩ dΩ Ω This expression can be rearranged such that m.

21c) and (6.24).25) Assuming EI to be constant. and then inserting equation (6. two boundary conditions are required at both ends of the beam. dx d2 v .2.24) where I is the moment of inertia of the beam. Weak governing equation Following the procedures from Chapter 2. and inserting the constitutive relationship from equation (6.16) yields: d2 m + f y = 0.27) 80 Version 0.2 January 21. dx2 (6. dx2 d2 v . The negative sign is due to the sign convention in which the rotation and the resultant moment are in opposite directions.xx dΩ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.23) The bending moment in the beam is related to the curvature by: m = − EIκ = − EI (6.21a) and (6. 2011 . dx2 (6. and Neumann involve either the shear force or moment (equations (6.26) which is the strong equation of equilibrium for a Bernoulli-Euler beam.22) which also implies that κ= (6.3 Bernoulli-Euler beam A fundamental assumption in the Bernoulli-Euler theory is that a plane which is initially normal to the longitudinal axis remains a plane and normal to the longitudinal axis.21b)).25) by a weight function v.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. so the rotation can be directly related to the displacement v. − EI d4 v + f y = 0.19) with respect to x. Being a fourth-order equation. the weak form of equilibrium for a beam ¯ can be developed. the boundary value problem is complete and can be solved. 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. This assumption implies that the shear rotation γ is equal to zero. from an appropriately defined space. Multiplying equation (6. θ= dv .21d)). Taking now the derivative of all terms in equation (6. (6. Dirichlet boundary conditions involve the prescription of the displacement or the rotation (equations (6. With appropriate boundary conditions. dx4 (6.

21d).1.2 81 . v = 0 on Γv .24).21c) and (6.xx EIv.xx (6.x = gθ on Γθ . v = gv on Γv . Note that a fourth-order problem.2 Beams Integrating by parts the term involving the moment M once yields: − Ω ¯ v. v.30) gives: Ω (6.32a) (6. ¯ Ω v.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x T dΓ + ΓQ δvFy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6. The existence of second-order derivatives in the weak form deserves some special attention.32b) For the case of an elastic continuum. For completeness. the trial functions (v ∈ S ) and the ¯ weight (test) functions (v ∈ V ) must possess a higher degree of regularity (roughly speaking.x = 0 on Γθ . For the weak form to ‘make sense’.33) δv.34) which is the equation of virtual work for a Bernoulli-Euler beam beam. which contains functions satisfying: Ω v2 + v2 + v2 dx < ∞. after integrating by parts twice. and v. 2011 Version 0. and inserting the constitutive relation in equation (6. This is in contrast to second-order problems.xx dΩ = − ΓM δv. continuity) than for classical continuum problems. v.x dΩ.29) Inserting now the Neumann (natural) boundary conditions from equations (6.xx dΩ − ΓM ¯ v.x dΩ + Γ ¯ vm. the spaces S and V are formally defined by: S = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) . it implies that the weak form of the governing equation is identical to the equation of virtual work.x m. Both S and V must be subspaces of the Sobolev space H 2 (Ω). The integration domain for the ¯ ¯ boundary integrals has been changed since v = 0 on Γv . Consistency of the above weak form can be proven following the same procedure as in in Section 2.xx EIv.x = 0 on Γθ . (6. Consider now: ¯ v ≡ δv Inserting this relationship into equation (6. has second-order derivatives in its weak form. which means that both their first and second derivatives exist. (6. (6.31) In one dimension this is equivalent to the trial and test functions being at least C1 continuous. solving the governing weak equation for a beam involves: find v ∈ S such that − Ω ¯ v.x . it was shown that if the weight function could be considered as a ‘virtual displacement’.xx m dΩ − Γ ¯ v. . this time to the term Ω ¯ v. (6.6.x m.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vFy dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀v ∈ V . January 21.30) where S and V are appropriately defined spaces.x mn dΓ + Γ ¯ vm.28) Applying integrating by parts again. which require C0 continuity only.

2011 .37) dv −θ .35) where γ is the rotation due to shear.39) (6. The governing equations are given by the equilibrium conditions in equations (6. dx (6.2 January 21. but not necessarily normal. has been introduced. q = GAs γ = GAs (6.38) and considering v and θ to be the fundamental unknowns. and the second for the displacement v. the first for the rotation θ.4 Timoshenko beam Timoshenko beams are more general Bernoulli-Euler beams as they allow for shear deformation.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. Timoshenko beam theory does not rely on the assumption that a plane which is initially normal to the longitudinal axis remains normal to the longitudinal axis. an additional unknown. This means that shear deformations can be taken into account. Relative to the Bernoulli-Euler theory.16) leads to: d2 θ − GAs dx2 dθ d2 v − dx dx2 dv −θ dx − EI GAs =0 in Ω.40) + fy = 0 which are two coupled second-order equations. Together with the previously defined boundary conditions.11) that rotation θ of a plane is given by θ= dv − γ. GAS (6. dx (6. the problem is complete. They also provide a solid introduction to moderately thick plate theories where the advantage of shear deformable theories will become more apparent. Planes must remain plane. In terms of the shear force and properties of the beam.36) where G is the shear modulus and As is the effective shear area. 82 Version 0.2. the shear strain γ.19) and (6. and are hence suitable for relatively short beams. in Ω.16) with the constitutive relationships m = − EIκ. it is related to the shear force by the constitutive relationship: γ= q . (6. Recall from equation (6. Inserting the constitutive relationships into the equilibrium equations in (6.19) and (6.

2 Beams Weak governing equations ¯ Multiplying equations (6.45) (6. the weak form or virtual work expressions appear naturally and can be used as a starting point in developing a finite element model.6. ¯ ¯ As before.x GAs (v.x EIθ.42) ¯ vGAs (v. As with all problems.x EIθ. It is however assumed that θ = 0 on Γθ and that θ satisfies ¯ the rotation boundary condition.x − θ ) dΩ + ΓQ ΓM Ω ¯ θT dΓ = 0.45) and (6. The test and trial functions should be at least C0 continuous (in contrast to the C1 continuity for the Bernoulli-Euler theory). consistency can be proven through the application of integration by parts.x GAs (v.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vGAs (v.43) (6. and using γ = v. and v = 0 on Γv .2 83 .x dΩ − Ω Ω Γ ¯ θEIθ.41) (6. considering δθ ≡ θ and δv ≡ v.40) by appropriately defined weight functions θ ¯ and v. ¯ θ. − Ω δκ m dΩ + Ω δγ q dΩ = − ΓM δθ T dΓ + ΓQ δv Fy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6.xx dΩ − Ω ¯ θGAs (v.xx − θ.xx EIv. Applying integration by parts once.46) − ¯ v.39) and (6.x dΩ − Ω Ω ¯ θGAs (v.47) For many mechanical problems.x − θ ) dΩ = 0.48) January 21.2. and v satisfies the transverse displacement boundary condition.x − θ. Ω (6. 6. adding the weak forms in equations (6. and then inserting the Neumann boundary conditions yields the weak problem for a Timoshenko beam of: find v ∈ Sv and θ ∈ Sθ such that Ω ¯ θ.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vh Fy dΓ + Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀vh ∈ V h (6.xx dΩ = − ΓM ¯h v.x − θ ) dΩ = 0.46) is equivalent to the virtual work equation. ¯ ∀θ ∈ Vθ ¯ ∀v ∈ Vv .44) − ¯ v.x − θ ) n x dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.5 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. (6. Ω (6. − Ω Ω ¯ θEIθ.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 n dΓ − Γ Ω ¯ θGAs (v.x ) dΩ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. 2011 Version 0.

The solution is to use C1 shape functions. we wish to express the displacement field v in terms of shape functions and nodal degrees of freedom. A Hermitian beam element with two nodes has four degrees of freedom (two displacement degrees of freedom and two rotation degrees of freedom). The above equation requires the evaluation of the second derivative of the interpolated displacement field. As for continuum elements.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis where S h ⊂ S and V h ⊂ V are finite-dimensional spaces.x M2.50a) h3 ( x − x1 )2 ( h + 2 ( x2 − x )) N2 = (6. Such shape functions can be constructed relatively easily in one dimension (the extension to multiple dimensions is however far from trivial). The displacement field vh is given by: vh ( x ) = ∑ ( Ni ( x ) vi + Mi ( x ) θi ) . The displacement at a point in the beam is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6.50d) h2 for an element of length h with ends from x1 to x2 (x2 > x1 ).52) v. 2011 .x M1.51) 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.2 January 21.x  v2      θ2 84 Version 0. The problem that arises is that simple C0 finite element shape functions are not suitable. the second derivative of a C0 continuous function does not exist in a classical sense. Hermitian polynomials are C1 functions. i 2 (6.x ae = N1. Crucially. and the shape functions are equal to: − ( x − x2 )2 (− h + 2 ( x1 − x )) (6. and involve both displacement and rotational degrees of freedom.x = N.x N2.50b) h3 ( x − x1 ) ( x − x2 ) 2 (6. This results in a cubic interpolation of the displacement along the element. However.50c) M1 = h2 ( x − x1 )2 ( x − x2 ) M2 = (6. convergence of the solution is not assured for interpolations with insufficient continuity. The use of C0 interpolations for fourth-order problems is not mathematically consistent and can lead to unpredictable results. The first derivative is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6.49) where vi and θi are degrees of freedom associated with node i.

xx = N. January 21.57) The operation to form the RHS vector essentially translates the applied loads into equivalent nodal shear forces and moments.54) After some rearranging.2 85 .56) and the RHS vector by: fe = ΓQ N T Fy dΓ − ΓM N T T dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.xx T EI N.x and v.x T T dΓ + ΓQ N T Fy dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.xx M1. Ω N.53) h h Now that vh .xx N2.xx ae dΩ = − ΓM ( N. they can be inserted into the Galerkin problem. 2011 Version 0.xx T EI N.xx (6. (6.xx ae = N1. v.xx be ) T EI N. (6.xx can be computed given ae .xx dΩ ae = − ΓM N.2 Beams The second derivative of v is given by:    v1      θ1    v2    θ2 h v.xx dΩ. (6.6.xx M2.55) The element stiffness matrix is given by: ke = Ω N. Ω ( N.x be ) T T dΓ + ΓQ ( Nbe ) T Fy dΓ Ω + ( Nbe ) T f y dΩ (6.

N1.x = (6. Considering just the second derivatives with respect to x.58g) (6.59d) Inserting these terms into equation (6.x = − .58a) (6. h3 6x 1 M1. h3 2 (6x + h − 2x1 − 4x2 ) .58f) (6.56).58c) (6.xx = . h3 ( x − x1 ) (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) .58b) (6. 2011 . h2 2 (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) M1.58d) (6.xx = − 3 .xx = − .59a) (6.xx = 12x . h3 2 (6x − h − 4x1 − 2x2 ) N2. (6.60) Integrating the terms in the stiffness matrix exactly from − h/2 to h/2 (assuming EI 86 Version 0.xx = 2 − . h h (6. N1.50).xx = 2 + . 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.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Taking derivatives of the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6.xx = h2 N1. h 6x 1 M2.58e) (6. M2. M2. h h 12x N2.xx = h3 ( x − x2 ) (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) M1. 2 ( x − x2 ) (3x + h − 2x1 − x2 ) .58h) Assuming the centre of the element is at x = 0 (x2 + x1 = 0.59c) (6.2 January 21.x = h2 2 (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) . the above equations can be simplified significantly. x1 = − h/2).x = . h2 2 ( x − x1 ) (3x − h − x1 − 2x2 ) N2.59b) (6.

(6. v h = N v av . Inserting the expressions for the unknown fields in terms of nodal variables and variations into equations (6. h h The Galerkin problem for the Timoshenko beam involves: find vh ∈ Sv and θ h ∈ Sθ such that Ω Ω h ¯h θ.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. due to the second-order nature of the governing equations. e N v bv . the element stiffness matrix is equal to:  12EI h3  6EI  2  h  12EI  − h3  6EI h2 6EI h2 4EI h 6EI − h2 2EI h − 12EI h3 − 6EI h2 12EI h3 − 6EI h2 ke = 6EI  h2 2EI   h  .61) Timoshenko beams The finite element formulation for the Timoshenko beam is relatively simple.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe N v T f y dΩ.64b) (6.x − θ h dΩ = Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ + ¯ vh Fy dΓ h ¯ ∀v h ∈ Vv .x GAs v.62) h ¯h v. (6.x − θ h dΩ = − ΓQ ΓM ¯ θ h T dΓ h ¯ ∀θ h ∈ Vθ . e θ θ N be .x EIθ. A distinction is made between the shape functions for vh and θ h as these may differ.M N θ T dΓ.62) and (6.66) January 21.2 87 . and corresponding derivatives. This will allow the use of the standard shape functions introduced in Chapter 4.64c) (6. in terms of shape functions and nodal variable.x dΩ − Ω h ¯ θ h GAs v. T (6.6. − 6EI  h2  4EI h (6.64d) N θ aθ .64a) (6.65) Ωe Bv T GAs Bv dΩav − e Ωe Bv T GAs N θ dΩaθ e = Γe. (6. e θ = ¯ v = ¯ θh = h h (6.63) Consider the representation of the fields vh and θ h .2 Beams to be constant). 2011 Version 0.

Locking Conceptually. T Bv T GAs Bv dΩ. Timoshenko beam theory is superior to the Bernoulli-Euler theory in that it is valid for both short and slender beams. and components of the element RHS vector are given by fθ = − fv = Γe.75) kθv =  e  GA GAs  s − 2 2 88 Version 0.70) (6.71) kθv = − kvθ = − kvv = Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ. when applying Timoshenko elements for thin bending problems.68) (6. and both short and slender beams could be analysed. and for simplicity as the Timoshenko element used C0 shape functions. However.67) where the components of the the element stiffness matrix are given by kθθ = Ωe Bθ EIBθ + N θ GAs N θ dΩ.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. kθθ =  (6. The components of the stiffness matrix are given by:   GAs L EI GAs L EI − +  L + 3 L 6  .2 January 21. resulting in an overly stiff response.69) (6. This is the effect in which the shear contribution to the energy does not vanish. Ideally. (6.M N θ T dΓ. 2011 . T T (6. with linear shape functions for both the displacement and rotation. the result are plagued by shear locking.74) e  EI GAs L GAs L  EI + − + L 6 L 3   GAs GAs −  2 2  . Consider a Timoshenko beam element of length L.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe Note that the stiffness matrix is symmetric (kθv = kvθ ). Ωe Ωe T T (6.73) Γe.72) (6. only a Timoshenko beam element would be necessary in practice. This would be advantageous from the point of view of generality. N v T f y dΩ. Bv T GAs N θ dΩ.

will yield a very stiff response. this element will exhibit a very stiff response.80) which is independent of I.2 89 . Even with a very fine mesh. EI GAs L  L + 3 ke =   GAs − 2 −  GAs     θ 0 2   2    =  GAs v2 P L (6. As L → 0.79) If L is large. v2 ≈ PL . the displacement v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/3) EIGAs /L2 + G2 A2 /12 s (6.2 Beams and GAs  L =  GA s − L    GAs − L   GAs  L  GAs 2   GAs   −  2   GAs   − L   GAs  L kvv e (6.76) Therefore. 2011 Version 0.77) If at one end the beam is clamped. 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. If the term Ωe N θT GAs N θ dΩ is evaluated using one-point numerical integration T January 21.78) Therefore. GAs (6. GAs (6. v2 ≈ 4PL .6. θ1 = v1 = 0.81) which is the correct result. and a shear load P is applied one end.

where selective integration (two-point) leads to a dramatic reduction in locking response. this element performs quite well when the mesh is sufficiently well-refined. 2011 . the element stiffness matrix would have the form   EI GAs L EI GAs L GAs GAs + − + −  L 4 L 4 2 2     EI GAs L GAs L GAs  EI GAs   + + − −  4 L 4 2 2   L (6. v2 ≈ PL GAs (6.83) If L is very large. for the one element problem clamped at one end.85) When using reduced integration. The case is similar for quadratic elements. v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/4) EIGAs /L2 (6. 90 Version 0. and as L → 0.2 January 21.82) ke =    GAs  GAs GAs GAs   −  2 2 L L     GAs GAs GAs  GAs − − − 2 2 L L Now.84) which qualitatively the desired response.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis (which is reduced for this term). v2 ≈ PL3 4EI (6.

y) . or x1 . 2011 Version 0. The plate has a thickness t. the convention differs from the right-hand rule. They are flat two-dimensional entities. A particularly accessible account can be found in Cook et al. u3 = u3 ( x. In plate theory. T When using Greek subscripts. x2 and x3 . It is convenient to express many relationships for plates using index notation. 1987. More detailed coverage can be found in a number of books (Zienkiewicz and Taylor. The adopted definitions simplify the formulation as it will avoid the need for a −1 factor on particular terms. Hughes.2 91 .3. (6. For convenience. The basic governing equations of shell and plate elements and the most common finite element approaches are discussed. v and w (displacements in the x. y) . Given the enormous number of different plate and shell elements. summation is implied from one to two. Also.8.8: Coordinate system for a plate. or u1 . 6. Plate finite elements can be extremely complex and are an area of ongoing research. 1996). and the coordinate z = 0 corresponds to the mid-surface of the plate.6.3 Plate x3 p θ1 x2 t x1 θ2 Figure 6. A serious problem stems from the need for C1 interpolations in the classic thin plate and shell bending theories. are are typically loaded out of plane. The three coordinates are denoted x. the displacement of a point is given by: uα = −zθα ( x. Similarly.3 Plate Plates are effectively generalisations of beam elements to two spatial dimensions. 1991.86b) where θα is the rotation of a fibre in the plate (see Figure 6. The rotation of the January 21.9).86a) (6. Bathe. and the boundary is Γ. the relevant dangers in analysing plate and shell structures with the finite element method are presented. 6. y and z directions. (1989). displacement may be denoted u.1 Plate kinematics The adopted coordinate system and sign convention for rotations θα for plates is shown in Figure 6. u2 and u3 when using indexes. The surface of the plate in the x1 –x2 plane is denoted Ω. this section does not provide an exhaustive coverage. respectively). y and z.

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

j + u j. (6. The shear force vector qα is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σα3 dz (6.2 Equilibrium of a plate The equilibrium equations for a plate are developed here in the same fashion as for plates. it is clear that the moment tensor is symmetric.β (6. 2 α.i )).86).3 Plate mid-surface of the plate is given by w. which is a second-order tensor and at a point is given by: καβ = 1 θ + θ β.α 2 (6. From the displacement field in equations (6.2 93 .6.91) The different resultant moments and transverse forces acting on cross-sections of a plate are shown in Figure 6.10 (‘resultants’ are forces which are equivalent to a moment or shear stress).88b) A useful quantity is the curvature. and the shear strain is given by γα . and lies in the plane of Ω.α 2 −θα + w. It is useful to define a vector s which is normal to the vector n. the strain field can be calculated at any point (recall ǫ = (1/2)(ui.3. 2011 Version 0.α − θα . γα = w. This allows the definition of following notation for January 21.α . The moment tensor mαβ in a plate is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σαβ z dz (6.88a) (6. ǫαβ = ǫα3 = −z θα. The alternative approach would be to insert the plate kinematics into the elasticity equations.87) Note that if γα = 0.α = θ(α. then θα = w.β) .β + θ β.90) From symmetry of the stress tensor.α .89) 6.

92a) (6. therefore qα. ∂mnn .95) 94 Version 0.s = w.92e) (6.s = ∂s qn = qα nα .α sα mnn.92f) (6.α dΩ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.92c) (6.92d) (6. 2011 . ∂s ∂mns .2 January 21.11.92h) qα nα dΓ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.92b) (6.94) which must also hold for an infinitesimally small piece of the plate.92g) (6. (6. quantities relative to an arbitrarily oriented plate edge: mnn = mαβ n β nα . (6. Translation equilibrium of a plate requires that: ∂Ω (6. w.10: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on cross-sections of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).n = w.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. θn = θα nα .α nα w. mns = mαβ n β sα .α + pz = 0.93) Applying the divergence theorem to the term involving qα leads to Ω qα. (6.s = The quantities are illustrated in Figure 6. mns.

2011 Version 0. These constitutive relationships will also be elaborated upon in the context of the different theories.97) noting that q β xα . (6. is the equation for translational equilibrium. hence boundary conditions are elaborated upon in the context of a given theory. (6.β + q β. the outwardly simplest plate theory presents the most problems when formulating the finite January 21.PSfrag 6.2 95 .α xα . To complete the problem.β = q β xα.β dΩ − Ω qα dΩ − Ω q β.3 Thin plates .11: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on an edge of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)). Considering now rotational equilibrium.98) The boundary conditions for a plate are more complicated that for a beam. mαβ n β dΓ − q β n β xα dΩ − pz xα dΩ = 0.Kirchhoff theory The Kirchhoff plate model theory is analogous to the Bernoulli-Euler beam. rotational equilibrium requires that mαβ. Since translation equilibrium requires that q β.3.96) ∂Ω ∂Ω Ω which leads to: Ω mαβ.α xα = qα + q β.3 Plate q2 m21 m22 qn x3 x2 θ1 mns m11 q1 m12 s mnn n x1 θ2 Figure 6. It is applicable for thin plates where shear deformations are negligible. and are specific to the considered plate theory.β xα dΩ − Ω pz xα dΩ = 0. (6.β + pz = 0. 6. Ironically.β − qα = 0. constitutive relationships are required which relate the moment tensor and the shear force to deformations.

where the constitutive tensor is equal to: (6. 2011 .100) The moment is related to the curvature by mαβ = −Cαβγδ κγδ . the governing equation can be expressed in a particularly convenient form: w. Inserting the constitutive relationship (6.βα .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis element method.ααββ = 12 1 − ν2 pz . This can be done by differentiating equation (6. 12 (6.106) As a fourth-order equation.αβ + pz = 0. ∇4 w = ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 .101) (6.102) Cαβγδ = t3 ¯ µ δαβ δβδ + δαδ δβγ + λδαβ δγδ .α (6.95).87) reduces to: θα = w. 2 (6. It is often written in a shorthand format using the biharmonic operator ∇4 . Et3 (6.104) Expanding this equation. four different types of boundary conditions are possible. Since shear deformations are zero.105) This equation is known as the ‘biharmonic equation’.103) ¯ where λ = 2λµ/ (λ + 2µ). After some rearranging. The goal is now to eliminate qα from the governing equations. mαβ. ∂x y Et3 ∂x4 ∂y (6.αβ + w. Assuming transverse shear deformations are zero. and the Kirchhoff plate model requires two boundary conditions at all points 96 Version 0.2 January 21.99) which corresponds to the classical theory for beams and plates which assumes fibres which are initially normal to the mid-surface remain normal to the mid-surface.98) and inserting equation (6. 12 1 − ν2 ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 = pz .102) into equation (6. equation (6.100) yields a fourthorder partial differential equation. ∂x y ∂x4 ∂y (6. the curvature κ is equal to: καβ = 1 w. The shear force qα is no longer ‘independent’.

Ω ¯ w.α mαβ. − Γ ¯ w. yields Ω ¯ w.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w.α mαβ n β dΓ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. (6. The problem here is that too many boundary terms appear in the first boundary integral.s mns dΓ ¯ ¯ wmns. The governing equation is multiplied by a weight function. The last boundary condition is known as the ‘modified shear’ boundary condition.107b) (6.100).β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.6.107c) (6.n mnn dΓ + Γ Γ ¯ w.111) =− The last term will be ignored.n = 0 on Γθ .105) by a weight function w.20).s = Q on Γw on Γθ on ΓM on ΓQ (6.107a) (6. Ω ¯ wmαβ. Rather than multiplying the governing ¯ equation (6.n mnn dΓ − ¯ w.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. Weak form The weak form of the governing equation for a thin plate is derived using the same processes applied for second-order problems. − Ω ¯ w.s + qn ) dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. then integrated by parts. and integrating over the plate surface Ω.110) which is the weak form of the governing equation for thin plate bending.n mnn dΓ + Γ ¯ w (mns.β dΩ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. (6. 2011 Version 0.112) January 21.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Integrating the moment term by parts once. Multiplying by a weight ¯ function w.αβ dΩ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Inserting the above relationship into equation (6. for which w = 0 on Γw and w. and integrating over the surface of the plate.α mαβ n β dΓ = − Γ Γ ¯ w.109) Using integration by parts again on the first term.2 97 . and leads to the well known ‘corner forces’ in thin plate theory. Considering the partition of the boundary in equation (6.3 Plate on the boundary.s dΓ − wmns | B A (6. it is convenient to carry out the process on equation (6. (6. The moment can only be applied normal to the boundary (mαβ n β nα ). (6.107d) The first two boundary conditions are Dirichlet boundary conditions. the boundary conditions are given by: w = gw θ n = gθ mnn = T qn + mns. and the last two are Neumann boundary conditions.110) (ignoring the point terms).108) where Ω is the surface of the plate.

w.116a) (6. For completeness.αβ as the virtual curvature. The equations of equilibrium are: mαβ. solving the weak problems then involves: find w ∈ S such that Ω ¯ w. w and θα .2 January 21.β − qα = 0. (6. the governing equations for equilibrium are the same as for the Kirchhoff theory. which depends on θα which is no longer calculated directly from w (θα = w. (6. w = gw on Γw . hence the highest order derivatives in the weak governing equation are order two. the above equation is the equation of virtual work for a plate: δκαβ mαβ dΩ − δθn T dΓ + δwQ dΓ + δwpz dΩ = 0 (6.115b) Consistency can proven through the repeated application of integration by parts. qα. w.3. w. For this theory. and w. δκαβ . The key to the success of this approach in a finite element context is that the moment tensor mαβ is calculated from the curvature. (6. the spaces S and V for the weak form of Kirchhoff plate theory are defined as follows: S = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . w = 0 on Γw . 2011 . ¯ ¯ ¯ Considering w as a virtual displacement δw. The difference lies in the kinematics and the constitutive model.α + pz = 0. As such. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . it is applicable for both thick and thin plates.116b) 98 Version 0. 6.n T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ V . the governing equations cannot be further reduced since θα is not a direct function of w.n = gθ on Γθ .n = 0 on Γθ . some serious practical problems arise in finite element analysis when applying Reissner-Mindlin elements for the analysis of thin plates.3. It is analogous to the Timoshenko beam.αβ mαβ dΩ − ΓM ¯ w.α as a virtual rotation δθα .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.2.115a) (6. Unlike for thin plates.113) where the functions in S satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. The rotation of the plate cannot be calculated simply as a derivative of the transverse displacement.α ).114) Ω ΓM ΓQ Ω Recall that the bending moment mαβ is a function of the curvature. which in turn involves second derivatives of w. However. The problem now involves two different unknowns. The governing equations for a thick plate are those given in Section 6.

117) Cαβ w. 2011 Version 0.α + pz = 0 It is these equations which will be solved.2 99 .123) January 21.119a) is multiplied by a weight function θα . (6. on ΓQ .120d) Given that one of the unknowns. θα . (6. ¯ equation (6. on ΓM . Firstly.120b) (6.6. This set of equations cannot be reduced further.119a) and (6. The structure of the governing equations for Mindlin-Reissner plates theory offers a greater degree of flexibility in applying boundary conditions than the Kirchhoff theory. This means than the governing equations are being solved in their irreducible form.β − θ β .β) mαβ dΩ + Γ ¯ θα mαβ n β dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. (6.β − θ β dΩ = 0. This is due to θα and w being decoupled. both equations (6. is a vector.118) (6.120c) (6.119b) (6. mαβ.3 Plate In addition to the constitutive relationship relating moment and curvature (equation (6.β − θ β = 0 (6.119b) are addressed.αβ − θ β.122) ¯ Inserting now Neumann boundary conditions (θα = 0 where θα is prescribed) yields: − Ω ¯ θα. qα = Cαβ γβ = Cαβ w.102)).β dΩ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. where Cαβ = ktµδαβ .β − θ β dΩ = 0. The ‘naturally’ occurring boundary conditions involve w = gw θα = gαθ mαn = Tα qn = Q on Γw . Weak form To derive the weak form. on Γθ .121) Integrating the above equation by parts.120a) (6. and k is a correction factor which is equal to 5/6. three boundary conditions must be applied at all points on the boundary. a constitutive relation relating the shear forces to the shear strain is introduced. Ω ¯ θα mαβ. (6. This set of equations can be reduced by eliminating qα .119a) (6.β − Cαβ w. − Ω ¯ θ(α.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.β − θ β dΩ = 0.

However. 100 Version 0. (6.114).β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ Vw (6.α − θα . yields: Ω −δκαβ mαβ dΩ + Ω δγα qα dΩ + ΓM δθα Tα dΓ − ΓQ Ω δwQ dΓ δwpz dΩ = 0 (6.128) − which is the equation of virtual work for a Reissner-Mindlin plate.β − θ β dΩ + Γ ¯ wCαβ γβ nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. This will require the interpolation of both the transverse displacement w and the rotation θα .125) ¯ Inserting again Neumann boundary conditions (w = 0 where w is prescribed). ¯ ∀θα ∈ Vθ (6. C0 shape functions can be applied.127b) by minus one). and taking advantage of the symmetry of mαβ .127a) − Ω ¯ w.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.119a). Combining both equations (multiplying equation (6. ¯ wCαβ w.126) which is the weak form of equation (6. Note that different to the virtual work equation for a Kirchhoff plate (6. the highest order derivative appearing for both terms is one.127a) and (6. the above equation includes a contribution to the energy due to shear ( Ω δγα qα dΩ).α) dΩ + ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Multiplying now equation (6.119b). adopting ¯ ¯ ¯ the notation δw = w.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.119b) by a ¯ weight function w. (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis which is the weak form of equation (6. δκαβ = θ(α. Hence.127b) Note that both weak equations contains derivatives no higher than order one.127b) that are solved using the finite element method. (6.β) and δγα = w. − Ω ¯ w. It is equations (6. The weak problem therefore involves: find θα ∈ Sθ and w ∈ Sw such that: − Ω ¯ θα. 2011 .α Cαβ w.124) Ω Ω Integrating the above equation by parts yields: − Ω ¯ w.α Cαβ w.α Cαβ w.2 January 21.αβ − θ( β.β − θ β dΩ = 0.

q = D s γ. The matrix D b has the form: 1 ν 1 0 0 0 Et3 D = 12 (1 − ν2 ) b  ν    0 (1 − ν ) 2   .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. m22 .3 Plate 6. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 x3 y + c2 xy3 + c3 x3 + c4 y3 + c5 x2 y + c6 xy2 + c7 x2 + c8 y2 + c9 xy + c10 x + c11 y + c12 . flexible and robust Kirchhoff plate elements. In the context of plates.5 Plate finite elements As in elasticity.6. constant strain implies constant curvature. m12 ) T and κ = (κ11 . However. The complications are rooted in the need for C1 continuity. The majority of Kirchhoff plate elements are non-conforming – this means that they do not satisfy C1 continuity.3.130) For the shear forces qα . 2κ12 ) T . The element is still useful as it passes the patch test. In particular. In place of requiring C1 continuity. m = −Db κ   (6. none of which are of general applicability. 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. some non-conforming elements yield satisfactory results.132) (6.   (6. it tests whether an element can represent rigid body modes and a state of constant strain. There exists a range of Kirchhoff plate elements. It does not however satisfy C1 continuity.129) where m = (m11 . 2011 Version 0. κ22 . a less severe requirement is that elements satisfy a ‘patch test’.131) Kirchhoff plate elements There are few reliable. January 21. A common Kirchhoff plate element is rectangular and has four nodes and twelve degrees of freedom. where Ds = tkµ 0 0 . symmetry of mαβ and καβ allows the use of simplified ‘engineering’ notation.2 101 . tkµ (6.

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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e n .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. Another factor is the smoothness of the exact solution. is the error in terms of displacements being measured.3) This scalar value is a measure of the ‘magnitude’ of a function. it is useful to know ‘how accurate’ different elements are. This is known as the order of convergence – if the size of the element is halved. The order of convergence indicates how quickly the error reduces upon mesh refinement. (7. the order of convergence depends heavily on the type of element. is given by: u n = α =0 Ω ∑ n 1/2 ( D u) dΩ α 2 . Two norms of particular interest 105 .i u. it is necessary to consider a norm of the error. The order depends on several factors.i + u. It is of course important to have some idea of the magnitude of the error and how it can be controlled and reduced. how much smaller will the error be? 7. Also.2) where D α denotes the α derivative. For example. setting n = 2. The subscript n indicates the type of norm. or the error in terms of the strain.ij u. For finite element analysis. given a collection of basis functions. While the solution may be optimal.ij dΩ . One is with which ‘norm’ the error is being measured. the Sobolev norm is equal to: 1/2 u 2 = Ω uu + u. (7. this does not tell how large the error is. Recall from Chapter 3 the error e at a point is defined as: e = u − uh . (7.1 A priori error estimation A priori error estimation does not provide quantitative information as to the error in a finite element simulation. For example. What it does provide is the order of convergence. which is the type of norm which will be used here. To give an indication of the size of the error. We want to know if we halve the element size (leading to at least a doubling in computational effort). how much smaller will the error be.1) where u is the exact solution and uh is the approximate solution. The Sobolev norm. The magnitude of the error is quantified by calculating a norm of e.

A Sobolev semi-norm is given by |u|n = Ω ( D n u)2 dΩ 1/2 . the question of determining an error estimate is no longer a finite element question. 2011 .7 Analysis of the finite element method involve n = 0 and n = 1. Version 0. (7.4) which is a measure of the error in the displacements. (7. (7. For example. u − uh 106 r ≤ Chk+1−r |u|k+1 . k + 1 > m.10) This means that the finite element solution is at least as accurate as the nodal interpolate in terms if energy. (7. uI = ∑ Ni aiI .10) into the above expression. it holds that u − uh E ≤ u − uI E. thereby introducing a measure of the error in the strain. c is an unknown constant.2 (7. setting n = 0 gives: 1/2 e 0 = Ω (e · e) dΩ . Consider the nodal interpolate u I . (7. Given that a finite solution is known to be the best possible solution from the finite-dimensional space S h . An important semi-norm is the energy norm. In this way.6) which involves only a particular order derivative. It is defined by: u 2 E = | u |2 = r Ω ( Dr u)2 dΩ.9) where k is the polynomial order. and h is a measure of the element size. rather a question which can be answered from interpolation theory.5) which now includes the gradient of e. i (7. Note that to ensure convergence. Inserting now equation (7. hence it interpolates the exact solution using the provided shape functions.7) where r is the order of the derivatives appearing in the weak form. Interpolation theory provides the inequality u − uI m ≤ chk+1−m |u|k+1 .8) The nodal interpolate is equal to the exact solution at the nodes (u − u I = 0 at the nodes).11) January 21. 1/2 e 1 = Ω (e · e + ∇e : ∇e) dΩ . (7. Setting n = 1.

which tells ‘how good’ the calculated solution is.13) where β = min (k + 1 − s. For practical purposes.2 A posteriori error estimation Once a finite element solution has been calculated. An estimate can be obtained using ‘Nitsche’s trick’ (see Strang and Fix (1973) for details). This result is however conditional upon the seminorm |u|k+1 existing. (7. The notation O(h a ) means that the error is ‘of the order h a ’.16) Hence linear elements are known as being O(h2 ) in terms of displacements. a natural question is how close the solution is to the exact solution. ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . The order of convergence of a particular element type indicates how quickly the exact solution is approached.1. there may be no gain in accuracy through increasing the polynomial order. and O(h) in terms of strains. For k ≥ 1. the two quantities of special interest are the displacements and the strains (and hence the stresses). (7.2 A posteriori error estimation where C is a constant. Larger a implies faster convergence. 1/2 . For linear elements. hence u − uh 1 ≤ Chk |u|k+1 .7. If the exact solution is not sufficiently smooth. independent of h. The error in the displacements is given by e 0 . 7. In elasticity. but does not tell how far the computed solution is from the exact solution. hence it represents the error in the energy.2 107 . the displacement error is: which is equal to Ω e · e dΩ e 0 ≤ Chk+1 |u|k+1 . e e 0 1 ≤ Ch2 |u|2 ≤ Ch|u|2 . 2(k + 1 − r )). 2011 Version 0. The convergence order for different polynomial orders is given in Table 7. (7. u − uh 0 . It leads to the estimate: u − uh s ≤ Ch β |u|k+1 .12) This implies that the solution converges in this norm at a rate equal to the polynomial order. this norm is dominated by the error in the strain. It would be useful to find an estimate in terms of lower norms. the greater a the smaller the error. k = 1. Of course as h becomes small. (7. such as the error in the displacement. r = 1. For an elasticity problem. This is error analysis.15) which implies that the approximate strains converge to the exact result slower than the approximate displacements.14) In terms of the strain. e 1 (7. January 21. Therefore.

It is possible to generate an entirely new mesh. Error estimation is a rich field of applied mathematical research. A mathematically appealing concept is hp-adaptivity. or to devise procedures which sub-divide elements where the error is large. assuming that the exact solution is sufficiently smooth. knowing the order of convergence of an element may prove useful. the problem is re-analysed. a finite element mesh can be adapted to improve the solution. It is based on the property that the stresses at certain points within an element are super-convergent. they converge faster toward the exact solution than other points. by comparing the stresses interpolated from the super convergent points with the stress computed from the derivative of the displacement field.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. and adaptivity is employed.3 Adaptivity To improve the accuracy of a finite element solution. The most common is the Zienkiewicz-Zhu (ZZ) (Zienkiewicz and Zhu. Given a estimation of the error. It relies upon reducing the size of the element. Then. a new mesh must be constructed. h-adaptivity uses another technique to reduce the error. A posteriori error estimators are generally either residual-based or rely on stress recovery techniques. adaptivity can be employed to reduce the error where needed. That is. an adaptive scheme is required to reduce the error to the prescribed levels. adaptivity techniques can be employed in combination with an error estimator.2 January 21. At this point. Hence. some relatively simple error estimators exist for linear problems. the error can be estimated. it 108 Version 0.1: Order of convergence O(hk ) for commonly used finite elements in terms of displacements and strain. but is challenging to implement. 1987) stress recovery error estimator. Based on an analysis of the error. 7. 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. To halve the error in a particular problem using h-adaptivity. Then. It has an extraordinary rate of convergence. Research is ongoing for more sophisticated error estimators for more complicated problems. The process can be repeated until the prescribed error tolerance is met. Two forms of adaptivity are commonly used: p-adaptivity and h-adaptivity. padaptivity involves increasing the polynomial order of elements to reduce the error in the calculated solution. It may be desirable to reduce the error to a specified value throughout a mesh. the error is again estimated. Fortunately. 2011 . Given a measure of the error.

January 21.4 Exercises helps to know how quickly the error reduces for a particular element.and h-adaptivity. how much smaller would you expect the error in the displacements and the stresses to be if all the elements are made 2. 2011 Version 0. When using Q4 elements. 7. List some advantages and disadvantages of p.4 Exercises 1. Give the order of convergence in terms of the strain for the following element: a) b) c) d) e) T3 Q4 T6 Q8 Q9 2.2 109 .7.7 times smaller? 3.


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

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

approach is more general and suited to wave propagation problems. The second. less subtle. 0) = u0 ( x) u ( x. the unsteady heat equation and elastodynamics are considered in which the time dimension must be addressed. relies on linearity of the underlying problem and is suited to vibration analysis. With elliptic problems. information travels through the domain immediately. 9. All problems up to this chapter were elliptic. In this chapter. time-dependent Neumann boundary conditions are applied.1) where ρ is the density and u = ∂2 u/∂t2 is the acceleration vector. In mathematical ¨ terms. σn = h on Γh (9. this equation differs significantly from the static case as the governing equation is hyperbolic. The first.1 Governing equation and the weak form for elastodynamics The equation of motion is given by: ρu = ∇ · σ + b ¨ (9. 9. the finite element method has been applied only for time-independent problems. Elastodynamics involves the second derivative of the displacement with respect to time. when a load is applied at the 113 . therefore two initial conditions are required: u ( x. modal analysis.4b) where v is the velocity (v = ∂u/∂t). its is complemented by boundary conditions. 0) = v0 ( x) ˙ (9.3) Dynamic problems require some ‘extra’ information compared to their quasi-static counterparts. Initial conditions correspond to the conditions at time zero (t = 0). time-dependent Dirichlet boundary conditions are prescribed. On parts of the boundary.9 Time-dependent problems Until now.1. These are initial conditions.4a) (9. For example. Two approaches will be elaborated. Similar to static problems. (9.2) On other parts of the boundary.1 Elastodynamics The majority of this chapter deals with elastodynamics problems. u=g on Γg .

Inserting the discretised displacement field ˙ ¨ and the expression for the acceleration field into equation (9. like for the static case the governing equation must be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns and basis functions.2 Semi-discrete Galerkin form To reach a finite element formulation. and inserting Neumann boundary conditions. 2011 . using the same steps outlined in Chapter 2. is hit with a hammer at the free end.8b) where ae = dae /dt and ae = d2 ae /dt2 .9 Time-dependent problems free end of a restrained rod.7) and rearranging. The equations for elastodynamics are hyperbolic. With hyperbolic problems ‘information’ travels at finite speeds. From the weak from in the previous section. which when considering the semidiscrete formulations are constant in time. a stress wave will travel through the bar and a force at the restrained end will not be felt until the stress wave arrives. ˙ ˙ u = N ae . (9.7) which is known as ‘semi-discrete’.1.2 January 21. If a bar. find u ∈ S such that Ω ρw · u dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ ∀w ∈ V . The time dimension is left continuous. The velocity and acceleration fields are represented using the shape functions. This is again done using finite element shape functions. Therefore. To solve dynamic problems using a computer. Multiplying equation (9. Ωe N T ρN dΩ ae = − ¨ Ωe B T DB dΩ ae + Ωe N T b dΩ + Γh. solving the weak form involves: for a given t > 0. 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) by a weight function w. (9. Deriving the weak form for dynamic problems follows the familiar procedure. restrained at one end. for an element. ¨ ¨ h (9.8a) (9. (9.5) Integrating by parts. which is independent of time.9) 114 Version 0. the finite-dimensional velocity and acceleration fields in an element are given by: uh = N ae . the Galerkin form must be developed. 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 . a reaction force is felt immediately at the other end. and integrating gives: Ω ρw · u dΩ = ¨ Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ (9.6) 9.e N T h dΓ.

As with the element stiffness matrix. ¨ (9. This procedure however can lead to negative masses on the diagonal.13) where n is the dimension of the mass matrix. This corresponds to having discrete. this will yield a diagonal mass matrix.1 Elastodynamics This equation is commonly called the ‘semi-discrete’ equation. (9.2 115 .10) where Me is the element mass matrix. as will be discussed in the following sections.11) Before this equation can be solved. Once the element contributions have been assembled into the global mass and stiffness matrices and the global RHS vector. Another procedure is based on summing rows of the consistent mass matrix. 2011 Version 0. Other more January 21. the mass matrix is symmetric and will have off-diagonal terms.3 Mass matrix There are several methods to form the mass matrix.1. Since lumped schemes do not follow naturally from the variational formulation. lumped masses at each node. it was not entirely clear how the mass matrix should be formed. This is formed similarly to the stiffness matrix. cons = Me Ωe ρN T N dΩ. Perhaps the simplest procedure to form lumped mass matrices is to form the matrices using numerical integration. This equation can be written is a shorthand format as: Me a e + k e a e = f e ¨ (9. Since finite element shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. 9. A common approach was to form a lumped mass matrix. Before the variational basis of the finite element method was properly understood. Mii lump = j =1 cons ∑ Mij n (9. in the same fashion as for the element stiffness matrix. the lumped mass matrix has non-zero terms only on the diagonal.9. This property is highly advantageous in combination with some time integration schemes. for a given time tn M an + Kan = f n . there is some freedom in determining exactly how the lumped mass matrix should be calculated.12) This is typically formed by integrating numerically. a strategy is required to deal with the time derivatives of a. All off-diagonal terms are equal to zero. but with integration points located only at element nodes. Since shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. The obvious choice from the variational approach is the consistent mass matrix. It is however possible that nodes will have zero or negative masses.

4 Damping Problems in structural dynamics often involve damping. The choice of the parameters τ and ψ is certainly arbitrary. (1989).1.15) where τ and ψ are user chosen parameters. ˙ M a + C a + Ka = f . Unlike elastodynamics. Damping is often included by adding the term C a to the governing equations. unsteady heat diffusion is governed by: ˙ ρcu + ∇ · q = f . q = −κ ∇u is the heat flux. (9. only one type of initial condition may be provided. or through the constitutive model relating stress and strain. This topic is left to other courses which address non-linear material behaviour.3. The problem requires boundary conditions. It can be included through the damping matrix C. (9. 9. kappa is the conductivity. Damping due to the material response can also be included. 9. A simple method of introducing damping is to say: C = τM + ψK. and initial conditions. 2011 . as outlined in Section 2. u ( x. This is known as Rayleigh damping. it involves first order derivatives with respect to time. It will become clear when addressing particular time integration schemes why lumped mass matrices are popular. c is the ‘capacity’.2 January 21. ¨ ˙ (9. t) = u0 ( x) . Conversely. (9. representing the uncertainty in the source of damping.14) where the matrix C represents the sources of damping in the structure. The performance of lumped mass matrices is guided primarily by experience. the contribution of the mass matrix increases damping with decreasing frequency.3. In strong form. There is no rich theory underlying the choices. namely the temperature at t = 0. A discussion can be found in Cook et al.16) where in the context of diffusion of heat. They two key points are that zero and negative masses on the diagonal should be avoided.17) 116 Version 0. The steady-state version of the equation was introduced in Section 2. u is the temperature.9 Time-dependent problems sophisticated lumping schemes are possible which will avoid negative masses. The contribution of the stiffness matrix to the damping matrix increases damping with increasing frequency. Given that only the first derivative with respect to time is involved. The precise source of damping and its mathematical form is often vague.2 Heat equation The heat equation is introduced here as a step to the problems in elastodynamics.

the semi-discrete Galerkin problem for the heat equation involves: for a given t > 0. ˙ 9. The eigenvectors are a. ¯ a = −ω 2 a cos (ωt − α) . its motion is harmonic.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics The heat equation is parabolic. 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. 2011 Version 0. The displacements at the nodes can be described by a = a cos (ωt − α) .20) where ω is the frequency (radians per second). ¯ det K − ω 2 M = 0. it is important to know the highest natural frequency of the discrete problem.2 117 . The difficulty is that the size of the problem in equation (9. For explicit time integration procedures.23) can be very large.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics If an undamped system is allowed to vibrate freely (no forcing terms). the highest frequency is equal to: ωe = 2 L E ρ E/ρ. ωe = 2 3/L January 21. (9. An upper bound to the highest frequency can be found by calculating the frequencies for all individual elements. this can be expressed at time tn as: M an + Kan = f n . (9. ¨ ¯ Inserting these results into equation (9. this is immediately felt (an infinitesimal amount) and increases with time.9. For the consistent mass matrix. For a one-dimensional linear element.11) and rearranging.24) The highest frequency from all elements provides an upper bound to the highest frequency of the problem. (9.21) −ω 2 M + K a = 0.19) In matrix form.25) √ for an element of length L. It turns out that for a lumped mass matrix. 2 det ke − ωe me = 0 (9. there are n eigenvalues λ (λ = ω 2 ). The acceleration is therefore given by: (9.23) where ω are the natural frequencies of the system.22) which is a matrix eigenvalue problem. If stiffness and mass matrices are of dimension n. Non-trivial solutions (a = 0) require that: ¯ (9. it is relatively simple to calculate the natural frequencies. If one end of a rod is heated.18) (9. Following the usual processes in developing the weak form. which ¯ are also known as natural modes.

9 Time-dependent problems 9. and ωi are the natural frequencies.32) The orthogonality property means that the equation has been decoupled into nm simple. It is then possible to treat each mode separately.31) Pre-multiplying both sides of this equation by Ψj T .2 January 21.27) where Ψi are eigenvectors. (9. A special property of the eigenmodes Ψi is that they are orthogonal. (9. Consider a solution a = ψi cos (ωi t + θi ) .4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics Modal analysis involves the dividing of the response of a structure into a number of modes.11) . ¨ αi + ωi2 αi = Ψi T f .28) where αi (t) is the amplitude of the ith eigenmode. K − ωi2 M Ψi = 0.33) 118 Version 0. and are known as vibration modes.29) Orthogonality implies that the vibration modes do not interact with each other. (9. it is then possible to treat each mode individually.11) yields: ¨ M ∑ αi Ψi + K ∑ αi Ψi = f i i (9.30) 1 0 i = j. Inserting equation (9. For linear problems. 2011 . ¨ Ψj T M ∑ αi Ψi + Ψj T K ∑ αi Ψi = Ψj T f i i (9. The nodal displacements can be expressed as a summation of eigenfunctions. (9. This means that: Ψi T MΨj = and Ψi T KΨj = ωi2 0 i = j. The sum of the modes gives the total displacement. separate equations. i = j. a (t) = ∑ αi (t) Ψi i (9.26) Inserting the above equation into the unforced version ( f = 0) of equation (9. (9. i = j.28) into equation (9.

equation (9. (9. In structural analysis. the orthogonality property does not hold.2 119 . In applying modal analysis. If an integrator is unstable. for each mode of interest. Accuracy is not the difference between explicit and implicit schemes. and perhaps earlier steps (such as n − 1) to compute the solution at time step n + 1. but due to their extremely poor stability properties they are useless. equation (9. Conversely. Implicit schemes rely on information at time step n + 1. For non-linear problems. which is O(∆t4 ) accurate). There are no known unconditionally stable explicit schemes. the computational effort lies in finding the eigenvectors and eigenvalues.5 Time stepping algorithms Now. Therefore it is limited to linear analysis. The difference between explicit and implicit schemes lies in stability. this equation can be solved analytically. an and an at time tn (and perhaps also at earlier times ˙ ¨ steps). There are known schemes of exceptional accuracy.33) is a homogeneous ordinary partial differential equation.5.9.1 One-step algorithms for the heat equation To introduce time stepping algorithms. To do this. Further discussion of modal methods can be found in Craig (1981) and Cook et al. the unsteady heat equation is first considered. implicit schemes generally require significantly extra computational effort. the above equation can be solved. January 21. Stability means the range of time steps ∆t for which an integrator will calculate a stable result (small errors do not grow exponentially). Typically. 9.34) Solutions for forced cases are dependent on the type of loading. Hence. (1989). Therefore. This means a system of equations must be solved for implicit schemes.5 Time stepping algorithms Time stepping algorithms involve schemes to increment the time in discrete steps ∆t. rapidly diverging from any sensible result. Time stepping schemes are distinguished by being either explicit or implicit. usually only the low frequency modes have a significant influence on the structural response. Explicit schemes can be constructed to have a high degree of accuracy (such as the 4th order Runge-Kutta method. Modal analysis relies on the orthogonality property of the eigenfunctions. Given the values of an . which is O(∆t) accurate). Explicit integrators rely only on information at time step n. it will ‘blow-up’. For the unforced case. 9. an+1 and an+1 at time tn+1 = tn + ∆t are needed. 2011 Version 0.33) is only solved for a few modes. Time is then incremented until the desired time is reached. and perhaps information at time step n and earlier steps. with the solution αi = c1 sin (ωi t) + c2 cos (ωi t) . implicit schemes may have a low degree of accuracy (such as the backward Euler scheme. It provides a step towards the more complicated schemes for elastodynamics. compared to explicit schemes. ˙ ¨ a time stepping scheme is needed. the values an+1 .

38) 120 Version 0. ˙ Rearranging equation (9.37) (9.37). ˙ θ∆t θ and an is computed from equation (9.39) (9. both explicit and implicit. the trapezoidal method is particularly attractive as it is unconditionally stable. Choosing parameters appropriately for a Newmark algorithm yields a number of different.35). The backward Euler method is also unconditionally stable. They involve: an+1 = an + ∆t ((1 − θ ) an + θ an+1 ) . 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. but only first-order accurate. a n +1 = ˙ 1 1 (1 − θ ) a − an − an . where 1 ˆ K= M+K θ∆t 1 (1 − θ ) fˆn+1 = f n+1 + Man + M an . ˙ ˙ (9. and the implicit trapezoidal (θ = 1/2) and backward Euler (θ = 1) methods.2 One-step algorithms for elastodynamics The most commonly used time integration scheme in solid and structural mechanics is the generalised Newmark scheme. Newmark time integrators are a family of schemes. Well known methods are the explicit forward Euler (θ = 0) method. 2011 . well known integrators. In matrix form.9 Time-dependent problems A popular family of algorithms are ‘generalised trapezoidal’ methods. In practice. the forward Euler is not particularly useful as its stability properties are poor.35) where 0 ≤ θ ≤ 1.40b) (9. For the problems to be considered here.36) and inserting the above result into equation (9.41a) (9. the problem to solve an+1 has become ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 .40a) (9.36) gives.41b) (9.5. the heat equation at time tn+1 must satisfy: M an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 . and is second-order accurate.2 January 21. ˙ θ∆t θ∆t θ In compact notation. ˙ 9. ˙ θ∆t n+1 θ∆t θ (9. 1 1 (1 − θ ) M + K a n +1 = f n +1 + Man + M an .

Appropriate choices of β and γ yield well known integration methods. an = ˙ an = ¨ a n +1 − a n −1 2∆t an−1 − 2an + an+1 . but it is conditionally stable. This method is unconditionally stable and the accuracy is O(∆t2 ). Its stability properties are attractive.44) where ω h is the highest natural frequency (highest value from det K − ω 2 M = 0. a n +1 = a n + ˙ ˙ a n +1 ∆t ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) . Calculating the necessary terms using ˙ ¨ central differences. Another commonly used time integrator is based on the trapezoidal rule. 2 (9.46a) (9. ∆t ≤ L . Friedrichs and Lewy (CFL) stability condition.45) which is the Courant. but as will be shown later. A commonly used time integrator is the central difference method. an+1 = an + ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) 4 (9. January 21.9. It corresponds to β = 1/4 and γ = 1/2 in the Newmark family of integrators.46a) into equation (9.47) This integrator is implicit.46b).5 Time stepping algorithms where β and γ are parameters which define the nature and properties of the algorithm. It is necessary to express the terms a and a in terms of a.2 121 . It is stable for: ∆t ≤ 2 ωh (9. 2 ∆t ˙ ˙ = an + ( a n + a n +1 ) . The Newmark method is unconditionally stale for: 2β ≥ γ ≥ 1 2 (9. It is clear that this algorithm is explicit – it is possible to express an+1 in terms of quantities at n and earlier times (which are known).42) For γ = 1/2.43a) (9.46b) Inserting equation (9. This scheme is O(∆t2 ) accurate. ∆t2 (9. it requires the factorisation of a large matrix. a Newmark scheme is second-order accurate. It is also energy conserving. c (9.41) for β = 0 and γ = 1/2. where c is the dilatational wave speed (c = E/ρ) and L is the length of an element. The term ω h can be estimated for linear elements as 2c/L. Therefore. 2011 Version 0.43b) It is possible to rearrange these terms and show that they are equivalent to equation (9.

¨ ˙ (9. it is not necessary to form the stiffness matrix K. has the appearance: M an + C an + Kan = f n .43). 2011 .54) (9. an+1 can be calculated without solving a system of equations (hence the attractiveness of lumped mass matrices when using explicit time integrators). where ˆ M= and 1 1 fˆn = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n .52) (9. 2∆t n−1 ∆t Then. Inserting the central difference expressions from equation (9. the displacement vector a at step n + 1 is given by: ˆ an+1 = M −1 fˆn (9.49) 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. The term Kan is equivalent to: Kan = B T σn dΩ.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.53) 1 1 C M+ 2 2∆t ∆t (9.51) If both M and C are diagonal matrices. + C n +1 2 2∆t ∆t (9. A procedure is required to ‘start’ the 122 Version 0. (9.2 January 21. and unknown at step n + 1. In practice. Given an and an−1 . M an−1 − 2an + an+1 a − a n −1 + Kan = f n . 1 1 1 1 M+ C an+1 = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . with damping. The above equations can be written in a shorthand format as: ˆ Man+1 = fˆn .55) Ω A difficulty with explicit central-difference time integration is the need for information at n − 1 when starting a calculation. it is possible to calculate an+1 .9 Time-dependent problems Explicit time integration – central difference approach The system of equations to be solved. (9.48) It is assumed that a and its time derivatives are known at time t and unknown at time t + ∆t (corresponding to n + 1).

This yields. it is second-order accurate. an−1 = an − ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 an ¨ 2 (9.2 123 .57) Rearranging the expressions in equation (9. The significant drawback is the conditional stability.58b) These equations are then inserted into equation (9. and all known quantities on the RHS.61) January 21.41) for β = 0 to express the accelerations and velocity at step n + 1 in terms of step n and earlier. 1 M + K a n +1 = M β∆t2 1 1 1 an + ˙ an − an ˙ ¨ a + 2 n β∆t 2β β∆t +f (9.43) it is possible to express an−1 in terms of quantities at n (time t = 0). M 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 + Kan+1 = f n+1 (9.59) Rearranging such that all unknown quantities appear on the LHS.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. The central difference procedure is popular in finite element analysis. it is very efficient and suitable for very large problems. Furthermore.9. The time step must be chosen carefully for a particular discretisation.57).5 Time stepping algorithms algorithm at t = 0. For simplicity.60) which in a short-hand notation can be expressed as: ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 (9. a n +1 = ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9. 2011 Version 0. In combination with a lumped mass matrix.56) The vector an−1 can be used to start the time integration procedure. 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. damping is ignored. which are the initial conditions. Combining equations (9.

41) to show for β = 0 and γ = 1/2 the scheme is equivalent to a central-difference procedure. the vector fˆ can be calculated from an . One such algorithm is the α-Method. With the Newmark scheme.5. ¨ (9. It involves using a Newmark scheme to solve : M an+1 + (1 − α) Kan+1 − αKan = f n+1+α . Numerical dissipation can be controlled through the parameter α.62) where f n+1+α = f n+1+θ∆t .9 Time-dependent problems Since the stiffness matrix K is not diagonal. A number of algorithms have been developed to preserve second-order accuracy while allowing for the introduction of numerical damping. which is also known as the Hilber-Hughes-Taylor Method (Hughes. choosing γ = 1/2 reduces the integration scheme to first order accuracy O(t). If −1/3 < α < 0. Decreasing α increases the dissipation. γ = (1 − 2α) /2 and β = (1 − α)2 /4.2 January 21. Numerical damping aids in controlling undesirable spurious high frequency modes in the solution. 9. Derive the mass matrix for a two-noded beam element. 124 Version 0. 2. 1987). the terms in f are prescribed and both M and K can be formed. At time step n. If α = 0. the algorithm is unconditionally stable and second-order accurate. 3. However. 9.3 α-Method for elastodynamics In dynamic simulations. the α-Method reduces to the Newmark scheme. Rearrange equation (9.7 Exercises 1. Calculate the consistent and lumped mass matrices for the four-noded quadrilateral element. The problem with the Newmark scheme is that the introduction of any numerical damping reduces the order of accuracy from two to one. 9. 2011 . numerical damping can be introduced by choosing γ > 1/2. it is usually desirable to introduce some numerical damping to suppress spurious high-frequency modes.6 Space-time formulations Time as a degree of freedom. Solving the resulting system of equations yields an+1 . Note that calculating the ‘new’ an+1 introduces a dependency ˙ on the parameter γ. calculating an requires the solution of a system of equations.

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