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 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . .4 Stiffness matrix storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Galerkin method Approximate solution . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . 4 Formulation of the finite element method 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 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions . . . . . . . .2 Continuum elasticity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The 3. . . 4. . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . .5 Regularity requirements . . . . . .1 Preprocessing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . method . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Local-global . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 5 . . . .6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations 2. . . . .5 Numerical integration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Tensor basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Isoparametric mapping . . . . . . . . . .1 Finite element method with piecewise linear basis functions 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Vector calculus . . . . . . . . . 5 Implementation of the finite element 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Governing equations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 3. . . . . . 4. 5. .3 Linear algebra . .Contents 1 Introduction 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Essentials from continuum mechanics 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. 2. . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Post-processing . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Minimisation of potential energy . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . Convergence of the Galerkin method Exercises . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . 2.2 Program flow . . . . . .1 One-dimensional bar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 3. . . . . . . . . . Basic error analysis . . . . . . . . . . .3 Poisson equation . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . .Contents 6. . . . . . . Plate . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Iterative solvers . . 9. . Exercises . . . . . . . . 104 . . . .5 Rod elements in space Beams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 January 21. . . . . . . . . 104 . . . 105 105 107 108 109 7 Analysis of the finite element method 7. . . . . . . . . 76 . . . . . .3 Adaptivity . 9. . . . . . . . Shell elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 6. . . . . . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 9 Time-dependent problems 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 113 116 117 118 119 124 124 125 6 Version 0. . . 111 8. . .4 Exercises . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 6. . . . . . 91 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. .5 Time stepping algorithms . . . . . . . . . 9.2 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Space-time formulations . . 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 A priori error estimation . . . . . . . .4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 A posteriori error estimation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . .1 LU-decomposition . . . .3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Heat equation .1 Elastodynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Solvers for large linear systems 111 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 6. . . . . 73 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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

(1.7) 8 Version 0. a·b = (1.1: Example of orthonormal base vectors. ai where i runs from one to n.1 Introduction x2 a e2 = [0 1 0] e1 = [1 0 0] x1 e3 = [0 0 1] x3 Figure 1.4) The dot product of two vectors is given by: a · b = a i bi .3) Consider the dot product between two vectors a and b.6) ∑ a i b i = a 1 b1 + a 2 b2 + a 3 b3 . where repeated indices imply summation: a·b = For n = 3. A vector a in an n-dimensional space R n can be expressed in terms of its components. a= a1 . a2 (1. x = √ x · x. In the case n = 2. which is denoted a · b. 2011 .5) ∑ a i bi . i =1 n (1. and is defined through the operation which gives the length x of a vector x.2 January 21. i =1 3 (1.

Aij . (1.12) Second-order tensors are linear operators that act upon vectors. 2011 Version 0.9) Second-order tensors (which possess some similar properties to matrices) are generally denoted by uppercase bold characters. which is expressed as D = AB. M. in the vein of matrix multiplication. The transpose of a tensor is denoted by the superscript ‘T’. The symbol δij is known as the Kronecker delta: δij = 1 if i = j.17) (1. K. a = Ab = Aij b j = ∑ Aij bj j =1 n (1. The second-order tensor A in R3 can be expressed as   A11 A12 A13 A = Aij =  A21 A22 A23  . the dot product maybe written as a T b. R (1.11) (1. It is defined by: a · Bc = Bc · a = c · B T a. Second-order tensors can be multiplied.1.1 Tensor basics For an orthonormal basis.2 9 . Consider the case a = ABc = Dc. A = Aij . a second-order tensor A can be expressed in terms of components.14) January 21. 0 if i = j.10) As with vectors. (1. A31 A32 A33 (1. and in index notation as Dij = Aik Bkj . allowing the base vectors to be discarded and the more familiar notation a · b = ai b j δij = ai bi . A second-order tensor A takes the vector b and transforms it into the vector a.15) (1. (1. ei · e j = δij . At times.8) can be used. A.13) where n is the dimension of the vector b.16) (1.

i =1 j =1 n n (1.22) Using the trace.20) The trace of a second-order tensor is essentially the summation of its diagonal components. It is defined by: A : B = tr A T B .2 January 21. (1.28) 10 Version 0.23) (1. (1. A = a ⊗ b. = ai b j .26) (1. an inner product. (1. A : B = A11 B11 + A12 B12 + A21 B21 + A22 B22 . For example. which is equivalent to Aij = ai b j . (1. this implies: tr ( A) = A11 + A22 + A33 . is provided for two second-order tensors.27) This operation has no equivalent in matrix-vector convention.25) ∑ ∑ Aij Bij . (1.21) (1.24) (1. For two second-order tensors in R2 .1 Introduction In terms of indices: Aij T = A ji . tr ( a ⊗ b) = ai bi and tr ( A) = Aii . 2011 . The repeated i and j indices implies: Aij Bij = (1. an operation similar to the dot product of two vectors. For a second-order tensor A in R3 . A useful identity involving the transpose is: ( AB) T = B T A T .19) Second-order tensors can be formed through the dyadic production of two vectors. It also yields a scalar. This is equivalent to A : B = Aij Bij .18) The transpose of a second-order tensor implies interchanging the rows and columns of its components.

j. January 21. matrices which rotate the reference frame are orthogonal. Another important operation is the cross. A third-order tensor maps a second-order tensor to a first order tensor. (1. is equal to the identity tensor.35) [ a × b ] =  a 3 b1 − a 1 b3  .1 Tensor basics The identity tensor I is defined by: a = Ia.32) As will be shown in the following section. (1. b ∈ R3 by:   a 2 b3 − a 3 b2 (1. or vector.2 (1. A matrix A is symmetric if: A T = A. If any of the indices are repeated. The cross product of two vectors yields a vector. The result of the above equation is rather simple. a 1 b2 − a 2 b1 Such a definition however is not convenient for manipulation. A third-order tensor can be defined which will make manipulations more convenient. k} is odd. AA−1 = A−1 A = I. A common third-order tensor is the alternating (or permutation) tensor E . j.30) (1. A tensor A is orthogonal if: A T = A −1 . k} is even. If the permutation {i. and is equal to I = δij ei ⊗ e j . Eijk = −1. product.1.29) A second-order tensor A.37) 11 . 2011 Version 0.34) (1. (1. E : ( a ⊗ b) = a × b. multiplied by its inverse A−1 . The components of E are given by: [E ] = Eijk = ei · e j × ek .31) Second-order tensors are often characterised by their special properties. Eijk = 0.33) (1. Eijk = 1. a tensor Aij is symmetric if: Aij = A ji . Using index notation. It is defined for a. The cross product can be introduced via the third-order tensor E . and if the permutation {i. (1.36) The expression for E in terms of the basis ei is lengthy and not shown here.

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

(1.45) At times it is necessary to also rotate the components of a second-order tensor from one coordinate system to another. 0 . This is done by the operation: A′ = Q T AQ. and A = QA′ Q T .48) This notation is used commonly throughout these notes. Consider a function u which is dependent on the position x. Some of its derivatives can be written as: ∂u = u. ∂x∂y ∂x∂y2 (1. Considering the coordinate systems illustrated in Figure 1.47) (1.46) Often coordinate transforms are used to simplify a problem. An important operator is the divergence. (1. An example is a onedimensional rod element in a three-dimensional space. Q= ′ e1 · e1 ′ e2 · e1 ′ e1 · e2 cos θ ′ = sin θ e2 · e2 (1. cos θ (1.44) Therefore.xx . 1.x . which effectively reduces the three-dimensional problem to a one-dimensional problem. ∂x ∂4 u ∂2 u = u.43) and note that Q is orthogonal. It is convenient to rotate the ′ reference such such the position along the bar is given by [ x]′ = x1 . The divergence of a vector field a yields a scalar. = u. (1.2.1. QQ T = Q T Q = I. ∂x2 ∂x4 ∂2 u ∂3 u = u. 2011 Version 0.49) 13 . Characters after a comma in the subscript denote differentiation with respect to that variable.xxxx .2 (1. 0.42) − sin θ .2 Vector calculus which can also be expressed as: a′ = Q T a. = u.xyy .2 Vector calculus Subscripts are commonly used as a short-hand notation for derivatives. It is expressed as: ∇ · a. January 21. components in the rotated reference frame can be transformed back to the original reference frame by: a = Qa′ .xy .

∇ · a is equal to ∇·a = ∂ai = ai.53) Another important operator is the gradient. ∂x j (1.i . ∂x1 ∂x2 ∂x3 ∂x ∂y ∂z (1.51) The divergence of a second-order tensor is given by: ∇·A = ∂Aij = Aij. ∂x j (1. 2011 .  ∂y      ∂a ∂z The gradient of a vector is given by: ∇a = ∂ai = ai. ∂xi (1. The gradient of a scalar a is given by: ∇a = ∂a = a. the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a  ∂x     ∂a  (1.j .1 Introduction In terms of indices.50) In a three-dimensional space R3 . In a three-dimensional space.   ∂A11 + ∂A12 ∂x ∂x2  .52) For a two-dimensional tensor A. ∂xi (1.57) ∂y ∂z   ∂x   ∂a3 ∂a3 ∂a3  ∂x ∂y ∂z 14 Version 0. In a three-dimensional space.56) which yields a second-order tensor. ∇a =  (1.55) ∇a =   .i .j . the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a1 ∂a1 ∂a1  ∂x ∂y ∂z     ∂a2 ∂a2 ∂a2   . ∇·a = ∂ay ∂a ∂a x ∂a ∂az ∂a1 + 2+ 3 = + + .2 January 21.54) which yields a vector. ∇ · A =  ∂A 1 ∂A22 21 ∂x + ∂x 1 2 (1.

3 Linear algebra n Ω Γ Figure 1. (1. The outward unit normal to the body is denoted n.2 15 . 1. The boundary of the body Ω is denoted Γ = ∂Ω. The above formula is simple to derive by using the product rule for differentiation to expand Ω ∇ · ( aB ) dΩ = Ω ∂ a B dΩ. ( and then applying the divergence theorem. the eigenvalues of the stress tensor are the principal stresses.58) where n is the outward normal to the body Ω. and the January 21. The surface of Ω is given by ∂Ω. Ω ∇ · a dΩ = ∂Ω a · n dΓ. It implies that: Ω a · (∇ · B) dΩ = − Ω ∇ a : B dΩ + ∂Ω a · Bn dΓ. For a vector a. (1. ∂x j i ij (1.3 Linear algebra The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix provide information as to its properties.60) The above equation also holds for the case in which a is replaced by a scalar and B is replaced by a vector. 2011 Version 0. It transforms a volume integral to a surface integral.3: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n bounded by Γ. The divergence theorem states: Ω ∇ · A dΩ = ∂Ω An dΓ. Consider the body Ω in Figure 1. An essential theorem in formulating the finite element method is the divergence theorem (also known as Gauss’s theorem).59) Integration by parts is used frequently in the formulation of the finite element method. For example.

Also. and u and f are vectors of length n.i . K will often be referred to as the ‘stiffness matrix’ and f the ‘right-hand side vector’. A zero eigenvalue implies that the matrix A has a linearly dependent column. It is not practical to compute the inverse of the matrix K as it is computationally expensive (both in terms of the number of operations required and the memory required).4 Essentials from continuum mechanics The finite element method is used in these notes to solve primarily problems in continuum mechanics. all eigenvalues are real. vectors b and scalars λ which satisfy ( A − λI ) b = 0 (1. all eigenvalues are positive and real. For a symmetric matrix. The system of equations is usually solved using a direct method (such as Gauss elimination or LU decomposition) or an approximate iterative method.1 Introduction corresponding eigenvectors are the principal stress directions. The solution u is given by: u = K −1 f . which guarantees that the inverse of A exists. the eigenvalues of a matrix indicates if a matrix has a unique inverse. The strain ǫ is defined as the symmetric gradient of the displacement vector: ǫij = 1 u + u j. This section is intended to cover only the important concepts which are used later in these notes. of A. A system of n linear equations can be expressed as: Ku = f . The polynomial is known as the characteristic equation of A. the roots of a cubic equation must be found. For a 3 × 3 matrix. Eigenvalue tests are often used in studying the matrices arising in the finite element method.2 January 21. (1. and is unique. It is not a comprehensive coverage of the topic.j (1. For large matrices.64) where K is an n × n matrix. Equation (1.65) Typically. For a positive definite matrix A. In the context of the finite element method.66) 16 Version 0. the system of equations in a finite element equation will be very large. 2011 . For a matrix A. special numerical algorithms are used to calculate the eigenvalues. (1. (1. finding λ requires finding the roots of a quadratic equation. Solvers for finite element problems are discussed in Chapter 8.63) For a 2 × 2 matrix.62) implies that: det ( A − λI ) = 0. respectively. 1. This requires some background in continuum mechanics and linear-elasticity.62) are known as eigenvectors and eigenvalues. 2 i.

Obviously.j (1. For solid. The constants λ and µ are often referred to as Lam´ constants. the strain tensor is symmetric. σij = Cijkl ǫkl where C is a fourth-order tensor. 2 (1. Lam´ constants are indepene e dent of the position. Due to symmetry. In a homogeneous body.2 17 . or in index notation. For linear elasticity. The stress tensor is defined through the traction vector t (force per unit area) on a surface. In two-dimensions.70) with E the Young’s modulus and ν Poisson’s ratio. as will be shown in the next chapter). A constitutive equation relates the stresses in a material to the strain.1.74) νE (1 + ν) (1 − 2ν) (1. the above expression can be written as: ǫ = ∇s u = 1 ∇u + (∇u) T . For convenience. Similar to the strain tensor.72) (1. 2011 Version 0. the symmetric gradient using index notation will be expressed as: u(i. January 21.j) = 1 u + u j. 2 i.73) (1.71) (1.i . σn = t (1.68) where the bracket around the subscript denotes the symmetric gradient. this can be written as: σ = C : ǫ. the stress tensor is symmetric (which can be proved by considering the balance of angular momentum. linear-elastic continua. In compact notation.69) where n is the unit normal vector to the surface.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics which is clearly a second-order tensor. in three-dimensions the stress and strain tensors have only six independent components. it is defined by: Cijkl = µ δik δjl + δil δjk + λδij δkl where λ= and µ= E 2 (1 + ν ) (1. this reduces to four.67) For convenience.

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

since E : σ T = 0. if σ is symmetric. and applying the divergence theorem. Considering that t = σn. 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. and not specific to elasticity.80) Balance of linear momentum should also be satisfied for any subdomain of Ω. 2011 Version 0. This will also be referred to as the ‘strong’ governing equation.5 Exercises 1.1.). In order to derive the governing partial differential equation.83) If translational equilibrium (equation (1. expand the terms: a) b) c) d) e) f) a i bi ai b j Aij Bij Cij bi Cij b j Fik Gkj 2. How many independent components does a symmetric second-order tensor in R n have? January 21. Note that this equation is general. Ω r × (∇ · σ + b) dΩ + Ω E : σ T dΩ = 0 (1. Application of the divergence theorem to the integral over ∂Ω gives: Ω ∇ · σ + b dΩ = 0 (1.80).2 19 .79) where b is a body force.80).80)) is satisfied. the first term in equation (1. the partial differential equation of equilibrium is given by equation (1.82) where r is the position vector of a point on ∂Ω.5 Exercises elastic bodies.81) Consider now moment equilibrium (balance of angular momentum). moment equilibrium is satisfied if the stress tensor is symmetric. the integral can be removed from equation(1. leading to: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω (1. For three-dimensions (i = 1 → 3. Therefore. Then. etc. 1. which requires that ∂Ω t dΓ + Ω b dΩ = ∂Ω σn dΓ + Ω b dΩ = 0 (1.83) is zero. Therefore. consider first translational equilibrium (balance of linear momentum) of a body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ = ∂Ω.

2011 . What is the trace of the identity tensor I equal to in R n ? 4. Using the product rule for differentiation and the divergence theorem.1 Introduction 3. derive the integration by parts formula in equation (1. It is equivalent to ∇ · ∇.60). Derive the isotropic linear-elastic constitutive matrix D for plane stress and plane strain conditions 20 Version 0. Expand ∆u in a three-dimensional space using index notation. 6.2 January 21. A common and important operator in applied mathematics (and mechanics) is the Laplace operator ∆ (sometimes denoted ∇2 ).43) is orthogonal. 5. Confirm that the rotation matrix R in equation (1. 7.

dx (2. the normal stress is given by: σ = Eǫ = E du . A Dirichlet (essential) boundary condition prescribes the displacement at a point.1: One-dimensional bar. (2. The weak form is also commonly known as a the ‘variational form’ or a ‘variational equation’. the strong form is multiplied by a weight function and integrated by parts. This is complemented by a constitutive relationship which gives the stress in the rod in terms of the strain.x is the normal stress in the rod and f is a distributed load along the rod.1) where σ.3) To complete the problem. This has the effect of reducing the order of the derivatives appearing in the equation. The governing equation can then be expressed as: − Eu. For a linear-elastic rod. boundary conditions must be specified. The governing equation for a onedimensional rod element with unit cross-sectional area is (see equation (1.4) 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. For example.81)): −σ. (2. addressing the weak (variational) form of the relevant governing equation.x = f . 2. u = 0 at x=0 (2. To do this. and leads to a form which is convenient for later numerical solution.1 One-dimensional bar Consider the one-dimensional bar in Figure 2. 21 .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’.2) where E is the Young’s modulus.1.xx = f . The finite element method is a variational method.

x = w f L 0 ∀w ∈ V .1 to be equal to zero. The above boundary condition sets the applied traction at x = L equal to h. Since both sides of the equation are multiplied by the weight function.8) To develop the weak form of the governing equation.x n| x=0 is not included as by definition the weight function w is equal to zero at x = 0. This is the weak form of the governing equation. then − wσ.2 January 21. 2011 .x σ dx − wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V .1) by w.x dx = w f dx ∀w ∈ V . σn = h at x = L.8) inserted. (2.10) can be integrated by parts and the Neumann boundary condition from equation (2. the equation must still hold for all admissible weight function (this is a technical point which is discussed in section 2. after inserting the constitutive relationship (2. solving the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that L 0 w. (2. at x = L. −wσ. at x = 0.9) where ‘∀w ∈ V ’ means ‘for all w ∈ V ’.x dx = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V .x .6).5) where n is the outward normal to the bar (equal to 1 in this case).x .10) is also true.12) where S is an appropriately defined space of functions which satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions. Inserting now the constitutive relationship σ = Eu. both sides of equation (2.3). equation (2. Taking guidance from equation (1. which yields: − L 0 wσ.11) Note the term wEu.60).xx = f u=0 Eu. A Neumann (natural) boundary condition prescribes the applied traction. An important requirement on the space V is that functions w be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations prescribes the displacement at one end of the bar in Figure 2. Note that in the strong form. applying a force at the end of the bar is equivalent to prescribing u.x dx = L 0 w.9) must hold point-wise. The mathematical problem can now be summarised as: find u such that: − Eu. derivatives of order 22 Version 0. Multiplying equation (2. If equation (2.x Eu. (2. which has an infinite number of members).6) are multiplied by a scalar weight function w ∈ V (w ∈ V means that w comes from the appropriately defined space of functions V . Considering that σ = Eu.7) (2.x n = h 0 < x < L. (2. L 0 (2.6) (2. (2.x .

The complication arises from the three-dimensional setting. for any allowable weight function at x = L. (2.xx dx = L 0 φ ( Eu. The strong governing equation for this problem was developed in the previous chapter. only first derivatives with respect to x appear. at least in a generalised sense). Since the weak form is derived from the strong form. Inserting the weight function into equation (2.xx + f ). − L 0 φ ( Eu. see Brenner and Scott (1994).12) yields − L 0 wEu. w(0) = 0.17) 23 . Recall that the governing equation is given by: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω.xx + f ) f dx.xx dx + wEu.x n = h. it is now proven that the first term is equal to zero. Eu.2 (2. where φ is greater than zero over the interval ]0. Following Hughes (1987).13) Note again that no terms at x = 0 appear. L[ and zero outside (specifically at x = 0 and x = L). What remains now is to ensure that the Neumann boundary condition is satisfied (Dirichlet boundary conditions are satisfied by construction). Hence.x n| x= L = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L . In the weak form (2.xx = f . Assuming that E is constant and integrating by parts the first term in (2. January 21. (2. For a more elaborate mathematical treatment.xx + f )2 dx = 0.16) proving that the Neumann boundary conditions are satisfied.13). Consider now the continuous body in Figure 2. Returning to equation (2. the above equation can only hold if − Eu. consider a weight function w ∈ V which is equal to φ ( Eu. it follows that a solution of the strong form is also a solution of the weak form. The basic form of the equations is the same as the one-dimensional bar in the previous section.12). satisfying the strong governing equation (in a distributional sense). 2011 Version 0.13).2. What remains to be shown is that the weak form is equivalent to the strong form (that a solution of the weak form is also a solution of the strong form.2 Continuum elasticity A more complicated example is continuum elasticity.2. (2.xx + f )2 ≥ 0.xx + f ) Eu.2 Continuum elasticity two with respect to x appear. as by construction. (2.14) which can be rearranged to give L 0 φ ( Eu. 2.15) Since φ > 0 and ( Eu.

(2. (2. where again V is an appropriately defined function space (w = 0 on Γg ). the governing equation is multiplied by a weight function w ∈ V . a constitutive relationship is required. u=g on Γg . 2011 .20) The boundary-value problem is now complete. the weight function w is a vector.21) The first term in equation (2. Γg ∩ Γh = ∅).2.2 January 21. the same steps as in the case of the one-dimensional bar are followed.17) by w ∈ V .21) can be integrated by parts (see equation (1.18) where C is a fourth-order tensor.2: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ (Γ = Γg ∪ Γh . To derive the weak form.19) On the remaining boundary.22) 24 Version 0. tractions (potentially zero) are applied (traction ≡ force per unit area on a surface). For a linearelastic material. the displacements are prescribed (Dirichlet boundary conditions). (2.60)). yielding: − Ω ∇w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0. Multiplying equation (2. As in the one-dimensional case. and integrated over the body. σ = C : ǫ. (2. Note that in this case. In Figure 2. and integrating over the body Ω yields: Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V .2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations h Γh Ω Γg n Figure 2. t=h on Γh . (2. Γh . On part of the boundary. Boundary conditions are still required to complete the problem. the part of the boundary where displacements are prescribed is denoted Γg . First.

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 . In the case of heat conductivity. q is the flow rate.23). A wide range of physical phenomena are governed by this equation. This is the weak equilibrium equation for a stationary continuous elastic body.2. Inserting now the constitutive relationship from equation (2. Consider now w as a ‘virtual displacement’ δu. Here the Poisson equation is addressed in a more generic fashion. It is simple to show that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric (see exercise 1). For Darcy’s law. (2. For linear heat conduction. January 21. κ = κI. the scalar u is the temperature. (2.25) where q is a flux vector and f is a source term.26) where u is a potential. In Darcy’s law. including steady-state heat conduction and flow in permeable media (Darcy’s law).3 Poisson equation An equation which is often solved using the finite element method is the Poisson equation. Inserting the constitutive equation into (2.24) which is the equation of virtual work.2 25 .23) where S is an appropriate space of functions which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. Inserting this into equation (2. Therefore ∇s w ≡ δǫ. u is the hydraulic head and κ is known as the hydraulic conductivity. where κ is the thermal conductivity.3 Poisson equation where σn has been replaced by the prescribed traction h (the Neumann boundary condition). Consider the following equation: −∇ · q + f = 0 in Ω (2. The constitutive relationship is given by: q = −κ ∇ u (qi = −κij u. Consistency can be proven in the same fashion as was used for the onedimensional problem. 2011 Version 0. 2. There exists a close link between weak forms and virtual work for a range of problems.j ) (2. For an isotropic medium. However. The constitutive relationship depends on the problem being solved. the variational framework is more general.25) yields a Poisson equation. The equation of virtual work is therefore the weak form of the governing equation. q is the heat flux vector.18). the symmetric gradient of w. Often the term ∇w is written as ∇s w. Ω δǫ : C : ǫ dΩ = Ω δu · b dΩ + Γh δu · h dΓ. The previous example of continuum elasticity was an example of a system of Poisson equations – one for each spatial direction.

For heat conduction. For Darcy flow. it is the hydraulic head.30) Inserting now the constitutive relationship and the boundary condition −q · n = h leads to the problem: find u ∈ S such that: − Ω ∇w · κ∇u dΩ + Γh wh dΓ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . (2.33) 26 Version 0. suppose that u is the solution to the weak problem.27) which prescribes the potential on the boundary. I (u) = 1 2 Ω ∇s u : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω u · b dΩ − ∂Ω u · h dΩ. and for Darcy flow is it the inflow/outflow across a boundary. this imposes the heat flux on Γh . is given by I (u) ≤ I (u + v) = 1 2 Ω ∇s (u + v) : C : ∇s (u + v) dΩ − Ω (u + v) · b dΩ − ∂Ω (u + v) · h dΩ. 2. (2. In the case of heat conduction.2 January 21. w = u + v. 2011 . the boundary-value problem requires boundary conditions. The Dirichlet conditions impose: u=g on Γg (2. Multiplying equation (2. (2.32) The potential energy for another displacement field.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations As for all previous examples. such as equilibrium of an elastic body. (2. For an elastic body Ω. − Ω w (∇ · q) dΩ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V .2). there exists a close link between minimisation of energy and solution of the weak form. The Neumann boundary condition requires that: −q · n = h on Γh (2.28) where n is the outward normal to the surface Γh (see Figure 2.4 Minimisation of potential energy For particular equations. this is the temperature on the boundary Γg . and consider the potential energy functional I.31) which is the weak form of the Poisson equation. (2.25) by a weight function w and integrating over the body Ω.29) Integrating the LHS of the above equation by parts yields: Ω ∇w · q dΩ − Γh wq · n dΓ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . The weak form of the Poisson equation is derived following the same steps as in the previous two examples.

3. If a function is C n . From Figure 2. 2011 Version 0. This means that the functions are continuous.34) Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ. which proves that solution of the weak form corresponds to minimisation of the potential energy.2. The function shown in Figure 2. which is equal to I (u) ≤ I (u + v) x = I (u) + + 1 2 Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω v · b dΩ − ∂Ω v · h dΩ (2. Therefore a function like f is a possible solution of the weak form and a possible weight function.3)). Functions are often classified as being C n continuous.2 27 . but their first derivatives are not. Consider now if the function f is a possible solution u of the strong equation for a bar (equation (2.5 Regularity requirements A common topic in finite element analysis is continuity. this is a commonly used function in finite element analysis. Continuity refers to whether or not the derivatives of a function are continuous. this means that its nth derivative is continuous. January 21. its second derivative does not exist. However.xx ) must exist. and the last term Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ ≥ 0.3) to make sense. and is essential for the finite element method. in a classical sense.12)). In finite element analysis.3: Example of a C0 function f . A C0 function is shown in Figure 2. As will be seen in the following chapters. 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. functions which are C0 are most commonly used. since for equation (2. the second derivative of f with respect to x ( f . This is a classic mathematical property of weak forms. the weak form allows for more possible solutions.x x Figure 2. Examining now the weak form for the rod (equation (2.3. piecewise linear function. it is clear that it is simple to take the first derivative of the function f . In summary.23).3 is a continuous. It is not a possible solution. it is clear that it involves only first derivatives with respect to x of u and w. 2.5 Regularity requirements f f .

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

39) V = {wi | wi ∈ H 1 (Ω) . where r is the distance from the crack tip (r ≥ 0). (2. For 3 × 3 second-order tensors (matrices). 4. 2. a = b) 5. wi | Γg = 0}. 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. Solutions for the displacement field from linear-elastic fracture mechanics often √ involve a term r. is u a possible trial solution? January 21. u ∈ S where S = {ui | ui ∈ H 1 (Ω) .23) for elasticity using index notation. 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). The Helmholtz equation is given by: ∇ · (∇φ) + kφ = 0 and is often used in wave propagation problems. (Hint: use index notation. 3. (2. 2011 Version 0. Derive the weak equilibrium equation (2. ui | Γg = gi } and similarly for weight functions w ∈ V .2 29 .7 Exercises 1.7 Exercises In multiple dimensions.2.40) Further details can be found in texts on functional analysis and the mathematical analysis of the finite element method.) 2. Derive the weak form. prove that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric.


This means that there is a limited number of possibilities. (3.1 Approximate solution First. It is a method for finding approximate solutions to partial differential equations. Commonly. the finite-dimensional trial and weight functions are denoted uh and wh . Considering now the elasticity problem in equation (2.4) L 0 h h w. respectively. the above equation is expressed in the abstract format as: find uh ∈ S h such that B wh .x Eu. The Galerkin problem for an elastic bar (equation (2. 3. uh could be a combination of low order polynomial functions. uh = L wh where B wh . uh = and L wh = wh h| x= L . The Galerkin method is however more general. It is closely related to the Rayleigh-Ritz method which involves choosing functions (a basis) for the solution and finding the amplitude of each function by minimising the energy. the Galerkin 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.2) (3. being able to solve a greater range of problems. as developed in the previous chapter.5) 31 .x dx ∀w h ∈ V h (3. named after the Russian engineer Galerkin.x Eu.23). and finding the best solution to a problem given a collection of functions. In a multidimensional context. uh ∈ S h . Furthermore.3 The Galerkin method The finite element method is one particular Galerkin method. where S h ⊂ S is a finite-dimensional space. it is generic for a range of different problems. consider the approximate solution to some problem.3) This abstract format is introduced to keep the derivation of some later developments compact.1) where V h ⊂ V is a finite dimensional space. (3. The essence of the Galerkin method involves taking the weak form of the governing equation.x dx + w h h| x= L = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h .

u − L w h = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h .7) The Galerkin method (more specifically. 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. Inserting equation (3. the error in the displacement e at a point is defined by: e = u − uh (3. In Petrov-Galerkin method. the weight functions come from a different function space than the trial functions. often in fluid mechanics. Spectral Galerkin methods for example use a truncated Fourier series as the basis.2 Basic error analysis It is interesting to check how the solution computed using the Galerkin procedure compares to the exact solution. The approximate solution is therefore equal to: uh = u − e (3. this will be investigated using the abstract notation. e − L wh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. B w h .9) For generality. B wh . For the one-dimensional problem. which solution does the method seek? Understanding this requires some basic error analysis. taking into account the special requirements on the weight and trial functions where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. Different Galerkin-based methods are defined by how the unknown field uh is represented. piecewise low-order polynomials defined on ‘finite elements’. this implies that: B wh . uh and w h will be simple continuous.8) where u is the exact solution and uh is the solution to equation (3.2 January 21. uh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. (3.10) Since u is the exact solution. A basic question which arises when computing an approximate solution is how uh relates to the exact solution u. why it doesn’t work). Given a finite number of possibilities in S h . u − B wh . In the finite element method. 3. the Bubnov-Galerkin method) requires that the weight and trial functions come from the same finite-dimensional space.2). In the abstract notation of equation 3.1).11) 32 Version 0.9) into equation (3.2.3 The Galerkin method where ǫ h = ∇s uh . uh = and L wh = Ω Ω ∇s wh : C : ǫh dΩ wh · h dΓ. This method is used for special applications.6) wh · b dΩ + Γh (3. e = B wh . This is examined in the following section. u − B wh . B wh .

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

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


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

∀w h ∈ V h


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

= 1 B (v, v) 2


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

≤ u − wh


∀w h ∈ V h


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

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

January 21, 2011

Version 0.2


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

lim uh = u


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

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


Version 0.2

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.


In finite element analysis.x dΩ = Ω w h f dΩ + Γh w h h dΓ ∀ wh ∈ V h . ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni. (4. Hence.   x i − x i −1 x i − x i −1   x i +1 x Ni = x i < x < x i +1 . The basis function at node i. dx i i =1 ∑ n (4. the strain field can be computed easily by taking the derivative of the shape functions.  x i − x i +1 − x i − x i +1     0 otherwise. the approximate displacement field uh is given by uh = ∑ Ni ( x) ui .5) and inserting the expression for the expressions for the approximate displacement field and the weight function. h ǫh = u.x Eu. it can be taken outside of the integrals.3) To develop the Galerkin problem.x u j j =1 n dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ.7) 36 Version 0.x wi i =1 n h dΓ (4. an expression is needed for the weight function w h . (4.6) for all possible values of wi . Ω h h w. For a one-dimensional bar. the approximate displacement field is given in terms of the shape functions and the approximate displacement at a finite number of points (nodes). discretised with n nodal points. 2011 . Ω ∑ Ni. these basis functions are known as ‘shape functions’. From this expression.2) where ui is the value of the field uh at node i.2 January 21.x wi i =1 n E ∑ Nj. hence wh = ∑ Ni wi . It is expressed using the same basis functions as the displacement field. (4. i =1 n (4. i =1 n (4.1) where xi is the coordinate of node i. Given that wi is not a function of spatial position.x E ∑ Nj.4 Formulation of the finite element method nodes. is given by  x x i −1   − x i −1 < x ≤ x i .x u j j =1 n dΩ = Ω ∑ Ni wi i =1 n f dΩ + Γh ∑ Ni.x = dNi u.4) Recalling the weak form for a one-dimensional elastic rod.

(4. Therefore. Dirichlet boundary conditions must be enforced. For the zero Dirichlet conditions. and hence an expression for the approximate displacement field along the rod. Kij u j = f i . 2011 Version 0. for each i ∑ uj j =1 n Ω Ni.9) must hold.8) This equation must hold for all possible combinations of wi . where Kij = and fi = Ω Ω (4. Nodes are points in space.2 General finite element basis functions Likewise. and the kth term is deleted from the vector f . ∑ wi ∑ u j i =1 j =1 n n Ω Ni.2 37 .10) Ni.12) The matrix K = Kij is commonly known as the stiffness matrix. A simple finite element January 21. Solving this linear system of equations provides u j .4. and f = f i as the right-hand side (RHS) vector. A mesh divides a body into a number of elements.x E Nj. Elements may not overlap. This yields n equations (one for each wi . If a boundary condition is applied at node k. A discussion of more general boundary conditions is delayed until the end of the chapter. 4. while elements are lines (1D). It is useful to define shape functions on finite elements. and n unknowns in the form of ui ). then the row and the column k is removed from the stiffness matrix.x dΩ (4. In order the solve the linear system. u j can also be taken outside of the integrals.x E Nj.x E Nj. A typical finite element mesh is shown in Figure 4. Consider the case that all but one wi is equal to zero. surfaces (2D) or volumes (3D) which are constructed by joining nodal points. Matrices and vectors can be built for each element before being assembled into global matrices and vectors. this is relatively simple.x dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ.11) Nj f dΩ + Γh Nj h dΓ (4. The problem has been divided into many quadrilateral elements. A finite element mesh consists of nodal points and elements. which can be expressed as the system of equations.2.2 General finite element basis functions The concept introduced in the previous section can be extended to higher spatial dimensions and more complex shape functions.x dΩ = Ω Ni f dΩ + Γh Ni h dΓ (4.

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

2. the shape function associated with that node. Having a compact support. The bar has two nodes.4: One-dimensional linear bar element and associated shape functions. In the finite element method. shape functions are non-zero only close to their node.3. 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 . as introduced in Section 4. Consider the one-dimensional bar element in Figure 4. Once the displacement field uh and its derivatives ∇uh can be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns. is equal to one at the node and zero at all other nodes. Both nodes and elements are numbered. Shape functions for various elements are discussed in detail in the following sections. For a node i. 2011 Version 0. mesh is shown in Figure 4. the mesh is constructed with triangular elements. and zero at all other nodes. (4. The displacement field is given by a linear combination of a finite number of basis functions (a summation of the basis functions.1 One-dimensional bar elements To begin. Each shape function Ni is associated with a node i. the amplitude).2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 2 L x=0 Figure 4. Each element has three nodes. A finite element shape function is only non-zero on elements to which it is attached. They are characterised by being equal to unity at their node. the discretised field can be inserted into the weak governing equations. As in the one-dimensional case.4. linear one dimensional elements. In Figure 4. denoted by the solid circles. Finite element shape functions are typically piecewise continuous polynomial functions with a ‘compact support’. Ni . each multiplied by a nodal value.3. 4. 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. are examined. known as finite elements.13) January 21.2 39 .4. the basis functions are defined on simple geometric elements.1.

uh = − x x + 1 a1 + a2 . Taking the derivative of equation (4.20) N2 . in terms of nodal degrees of freedom ae . ǫh = duh dN1 dN2 1 1 = a + a2 = − a1 + a2 . dx (4.15) x .22) (4. dx dx 1 dx L L (4. In matrix-vector notation. a2 (4. the displacement field is expressed as: uh = Nae .14) (4. the derivative of the displacement field with respect to x (the strain) is required. The shape functions corresponding to each node are given by: N1 = − N2 = Hence. Note also that these shape functions posses C0 continuity – they are continuous but their derivatives involve jumps across element boundaries. where N = N1 and ae = a1 . L L (4. the displacement and strain can be calculated in any part of the element. L This type of element is known as a linear element. 40 Version 0.5.17) In the case of a linear displacement interpolation. Now.4 Formulation of the finite element method where ai is the displacement at node i (it is ‘stored’ at the node). to solve a problem. the derivative of the shape function with respect to x is a constant function within an element. as its shape functions are linear polynomials.18) The strain is given by: ǫh = Bae . Therefore.19) (4. where the matrix B is equal to: B= dN1 dx dN2 .2 January 21.16) with respect to x. L (4. (4. The matrix-vector notation for uh and ǫh may seem trivial for one-dimensional problems.16) x + 1. The weak form of the governing equations involves derivatives with respect to the spatial position.21) The shape functions for two linear elements are shown in Figure 4. It does however make the generalisation to multiple dimensions simple. 2011 .

2 Two-dimensional continuum elasticity elements In two or more dimensions. The interpolation basis for higher-order elements is richer since both constant. In two dimensions. Higher-order elements simply have more nodes.27) January 21. 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 . The displacement field for an element is given by: uh = Nae . (4.6 illustrates shape functions for quadratic and cubic elements.26) (4. Higher-order one-dimensional elements It is possible to develop one-dimensional elements with higher-order polynomial interpolations. 4.. (4. Figure 4. More nodes through which the shape function must interpolate naturally means a higher-order polynomial is required.23) Therefore.25) The matrix N contains the element shape functions.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 L1 L2 Figure 4.4. Nnn 0 0 .5: Shape functions for two one-dimensional linear bar elements. . linear and quadratic (and even higher) variations in the unknown field can be described within an element. Nnn (4..2 41 .2. obviously the strain field is linear. it has the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 . the displacement field is given by: uh = ∑ Ni (x) ai ... Since the displacement field is quadratic. 2011 Version 0. the N matrix has the form: N = N1 N2 N3 . i =1 3 (4.24) and the B matrix has a similar form. For a one-dimensional quadratic element.

  .         ann x        ann y 42 Version 0. where nn is the numbers of nodes of the element. 0   ∂x ∂x ∂x    ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂Nnn    0 .28) B= 0 . 2011 . 0 (4... For two-dimensional problems.    a1 x   a    1y         a2 x      a2 y . For a two-dimensional problem.. It is shown in Figure 4. 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.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 4.7.2 January 21. ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x The simplest element in two-dimensions is the three-node triangle.29) ae =  .   ... (4..6: Higher-order one-dimensional elements. the matrix B has the form:   ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂N1 0 0 .  ∂y ∂y ∂y     ∂N1 ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂Nnn  .

hence the strain in the element is constant. N1 ( x2 . N1 ( x3 .2 General finite element basis functions ( x3 . Its shape function must satisfy: N1 ( x1 .33) Solving the above system of equations yields the coefficients for the shape function of node 1. the coefficients c can be found by solving a linear system of equations.7: Three-node triangular element.32) (4. (4.30) The shape function for a node is illustrated in Figure 4. y1 ) = c1 x1 + c2 y2 + c3 = 1. It is clear from the linear form of the shape functions for the three-node triangle that the derivatives are constant. y2 ) = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 = 0.1 Consider the element in Figure 4.4.31) (4.8. 2011 Version 0.34)     c3 x3 y3 1 0 January 21. Given that a shape function should have a value of unity at its node and zero at other nodes. y1 ) ( x2 .7. y3 ) 3 1 2 ( x1 . This can be cast in a matrix form as:      x 1 y 1 1  c 1  1   x2 y2 1 c2 = 0 .2 43 . Example 4. yi ) is the location of the ith node. y2 ) Figure 4. Figure 4. Consider node 1 in Figure 4. N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 . y3 ) = c1 x3 + c2 y3 + c3 = 0. (4. Given the following coordinates of each of where ( xi . (4.7.8: Shape function for a three-node element.

1) ( x3 .y 0 N2. A four-node quadrilateral element is shown in Figure 4. a system of equations (see equation (4.x 0 N3. 2) ( x2 . The shape functions for a six-node triangle are of the form: N = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 xy + c4 x + c5 y + c6 (4.36) 44 Version 0.y B= 0 N1. Since the shape function for node 2 is being calculated. the only non-zero term on the RHS corresponds to node 2.x N2. plane and three-dimensional elements can have higher-order interpolations.10. Unlike the three-node triangle.y  N3. 3) To find the coefficients.x 0 N1.25 Once the shape functions have been computed for each node.      1 2 1  c1  0 4 1 1  c 2 = 1     c3 2 3 1 0 Solving this system of equations gives: N2 = 0. A shape function for a four-node element is shown in Figure 4.x N3. 2011 . find the shape function for node 2.35) It is also know as a bilinear element. 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.y N1. y1 ) = (1. the strain in this element is not constant.x 0 N2. (4.9.y A very commonly used element in finite element analysis is the four-node quadrilateral.34)) is formed.25y + 0. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xy + c2 x + c3 y + c4 .y N2.4 Formulation of the finite element method the nodes. due to the presence of the xy terms in the shape functions. ( x1 . y2 ) = (4. the N and B matrices can be formed. Higher-order solid elements As in one-dimensional problems. y3 ) = (2.x and the B matrix is of the form:  N1.25x − 0.2 January 21.

11 The polynomial terms needed for triangular elements can be taken from a Pascal triangle (see Figure 4. Solving the below system of equations would yield the coefficients for node 1. the coefficients can be found by solving a linear system of equations. a new ‘row’ of terms from the Pascal triangle is added to the shape functions. quadratic and cubic triangular elements are shown in Figure 4. As with the three-node triangle. whereas Lagrange elements have nodes on the element interior.10: A shape function for four-node quadrilateral element.2 General finite element basis functions 4 3 1 2 Figure 4. 2011 Version 0.  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. They belong to one of two families: serendipity or Lagrange.37) January 21. Each time the order of a triangle is increased. Linear. A Pascal triangle for serendipity elements is shown in Figure 4. =  1  c4  0                 1  c5  0                  c6  0 1 (4.2 45 .12). Several serendipity and Lagrange finite elements are shown in Figure 4.14.13. Serendipity elements have nodes only on element boundaries.15. Higher-order quadrilateral elements can also be constructed. Figure 4.4. Note that serendipity     1  c1  1                 1  c2  0               c  0 1  3     . Note that triangular elements are complete – that is the shape functions contain all polynomial terms up to a given order.9: Four-node quadrilateral element.

x3 y ... 46 Version 0. Figure 4. xy xy2 xy3 ..... . quadratic and cubic triangular elements.4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4.2 January 21. 2011 . 1 x x2 x3 x4 .12: Pascal triangle – polynomial terms for triangular elements of order n. Figure 4..13: Linear..... y y2 y3 y4 .. .11: Two shape functions for a six-node triangular element... x2 y x 2 y2 .

4. The Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements is shown in Figure 4. and are therefore not recommended.and nine-node quadrilateral elements are commonly used in finite element analysis. 2011 Version 0. The shape functions for the eight-node serendipity quadrilateral have the form: N = c1 x2 y + c2 xy2 + c3 x2 + c4 y2 + c5 xy + c6 x + c7 y + c8 .. 1 x x2 x3 x4 . x3 y x2 y xy xy2 xy3 .15: Pascal triangle for serendipity elements.14: Serendipity (a) and Lagrange (b) quadrilateral finite elements..16.2 47 ..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. Figure 4.. (4.. Internal nodes must be introduced to ensure all polynomial terms are included.2 General finite element basis functions (a) (b) Figure 4... elements of order higher than three ’miss’ polynomial terms.39) January 21.. The elements do not suffer from the limitation of missing polynomial terms for any order interpolation. y y2 y3 y4 . Eight. .

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

43) ∇ w = Bbe . 1989) 4. and can therefore be eliminated.46) January 21.2 49 .4. for the multi-dimensional case within an element. 2011 Version 0. 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).42) (4. Take a single element (of any order) which extends from l1 to l2 (see Figure 4. The discretised governing equation for the element is expressed as: l2 l1 ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh. (4.3 Governing equations At this point.1)) is considered. What remains is the insertion of the discretised field uh into the governing weak equation. (4. The discrete nodal values can be removed from the integrals. (4.44) where the integral over Γh. the one-dimensional governing equation for an elastic rod (equation (3. l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = Γh. 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.e N T h dΓ. The weight (test) functions are discretised in the same fashion as the unknown field uh . 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. Therefore.45) The be terms appear on both sides of the equality.18: One-dimensional bar showing the element that extends from x = l1 to x = l2 .3 Governing equations x=0 x x = l1 x = l2 x=L Figure 4. Now. wh = Nbe .18).e is only non-zero if the boundary of the element coincides with the boundary Γh .e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. 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.e N T h dΓ.

For a continuum elasticity problem. It also allows the simple application of numerical integration. An isoparametric mapping is defined via a mapping using the nodal shape functions. This yields: Ωe ( Bbe ) T DBae dΩ = Γh.50) (4. it must be assembled into the global stiffness matrix. The shape functions are formed for a simple element configuration (typically elements with unit length side and with sides aligned with the coordinate system and with a convenient origin). e= f = Ane 1 f e . the point ( x. as is discussed in the following section. A third advantage is that isoparametric mapping allows higher-order elements to have curved edges. the element stiffness matrix is expressed as: B T DB dΩ ae = N T h dΓ + N T b dΩ. For an element stiffness matrix. isoparametric elements are used in finite element software.47) is known as the ‘element stiffness matrix’. the discretised displacement and strain fields are inserted into equation (3. This approach has a number of advantages. its contribution is added to the ‘global’ stiffness matrix K. This is denoted symbolically by the operation: K = Ane 1 ke . From the point of view of implementation. local node i has global node number I.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ + Ωe ( Nbe ) T b dΩ (4. For a two dimensional problem. The component k ij is added to the location K I J . Following the same steps as for the onedimensional problem.5).4 Formulation of the finite element method The term ke = l2 l1 B T EB dΩ (4.48) (recall that b denotes the body force). In the global mesh. and similarly for J.49) Ωe Γh. e= (4. it requires the programming of only one function to evaluate the shape functions of a type of element. (4. irrespective of the exact shape of the element.4 Isoparametric mapping In practice.51) where A represents the assembly operation and ne is the number of elements in the mesh.e Ωe Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for each element in the problem. y) in the ‘physical’ Cartesian 50 Version 0. Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for an element. the term k ij relates local nodes i and j. 2011 . The assembly process is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5.2 January 21. 4.

52) ∑ Ni (ξ. η ) xi . η ) in the bi-unit square.2 51 . η ) are known as the ‘natural coordinates’. y) system and mapping to a point (ξ.4. To proceed.4 Isoparametric mapping x 3 (−1. η ) aix . shape functions can be defined on simple shapes. consider the application of the product rule for differentia- January 21.1) (1. where (ξ. For example the displacement in the x-direction at a point is given by: nn uh = ∑ Ni (ξ. i =1 nn i =1 (4. as the shape functions are defined in terms of the natural coordinates.1) 2 4 4 3 η ξ 1 (−1.−1) y 2 (1.19. configuration is given by: nn x= y= ∑ Ni (ξ. y) system. η ) yi . In the governing weak equations.−1) x 1 ξ Figure 4. ξ and η. derivatives of the unknown field with respect to x and y are required. The mapping for a four-node quadrilateral element is illustrated in Figure 4. 2011 Version 0. taking a point in the real Cartesian ( x.19: Isoparametric mapping for a bi-unit square. η ) domain and maps it to a point in the ‘real’ element in the Cartesian ( x. The map ξ is the inverse of x. Using an isoparametric mapping. The position on the bi-unit square is given by the natural coordinates. and nn is number of nodes of the element. i =1 (4. The map x takes a point within the bi-unit square in the (ξ. such as the bi-unit square.53) The difficulty that arises is when computing derivatives with respect to the real coordinates.

4 Formulation of the finite element method tion for a function f .η x j     ∑nn1 Nj.      ∂y  ∂ f  ∂y ∂f      −  ∂x  ∂ξ   ∂ξ  1  ∂η  =  . ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + .η y j  =  . (4. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x.       ∂Ni   nn  ∂Ni  nn    − ∑ j=1 Nj. nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x. (4. ∂η ∂x ∂η ∂y ∂η This can be written in matrix form as:      ∂x ∂y  ∂ f  ∂f       ∂ξ   ∂ξ ∂ξ   ∂x   = . Using the shape function. defined in terms of ξ and η. from equation (4. ∂ξ ∂x ∂ξ ∂y ∂ξ ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + . the terms in the matrix J can be computed. 2011 .57) the derivatives of the shape function of node i with respect to x and y can be computed.  ∂ f   ∂x ∂y   ∂ f          ∂η ∂η ∂η ∂y J (4.54) (4.57) ∂x   ∂ f  ∂f  j  ∂x         − ∂y ∂η ∂ξ ∂η J where j = det J. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂y ∂Ni =∑ y.59) Once terms of the matrix J have been formed. (4. Taking the inverse of the Jacobian.55) (4.ξ x j  ∂Ni      j =1 j= ∂y ∂η 52 Version 0. ∂η ∂η i i =1 (4.ξ y j  ∂ξ    ∂x  1 ∑ j=1 Nj.52)).2 January 21.56) where the matrix J is commonly known as the Jacobian matrix.58) In light of the isoparametric mapping (equation (4. ∂η ∂η i i =1 nn ∂Ni ∂y =∑ y.60)  ∂Ni  j − ∑nn Nj.

Triangular elements Isoparametric mappings are also applied for triangular elements. Is is also possible to directly address isoparametric triangular elements. Quadrilateral elements The shape functions for quadrilateral elements on a bi-unit square is particularly simple.20.2 53 .0) r Figure 4. η ) = 1 (1 + ξ i ξ ) (1 + ηi η ) . The position of a point inside the triangle is given by r. The latter approach is followed here. 1987).62) January 21.20: Three-node and six-node triangles using area coordinates. A popular approach is to ‘degenerate’ a quadrilateral element to a triangular element (Bathe. Hughes. Now. For the bi-unit quadrilateral in Figure 4. it can be implemented in a computer code in a simple and compact fashion.0) (1. s and t.and nine-node elements (Hughes.0) r 1 (0. once the derivatives of the shape functions have been calculated on the simple isoparametric domain.4. a four-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a threenode triangular element.1) 3 3 6 5 2 1 (0. where: t = 1 − r − s. (4.1) s (0. 1996. This way. 1987). the shape function of the ith node is given by: Ni (ξ.4 Isoparametric mapping s (0. 4 (4. and an eight-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a six-node triangular element.19.61) Similar formulae can be found for eight. While this procedure may seen complex. they can be calculated for the real configuration. 2011 Version 0. Triangular elements are often described using area coordinates. Consider the triangle in Figure 4.0) 4 2 (1.

It is common for higher-order elements that the apexes are first numbered (corner nodes in the case of quadrilateral elements). N2 = 2r − r.68) 54 Version 0.63) (4. (4. 2 N4 = 4rt. To evaluate the stiffness matrix of an element. To make the formulation fully discrete (and amendable to computer implementation). For the integration of a function f (ξ ) from −1 to 1. then the mid-side nodes. s and t on triangles (Hughes. There is a formula for the shape functions of arbitrary order in terms of r. N5 = 4rs. numerical integration in one-dimension is considered. While the displacement field has been discretised. 1 nint −1 f (ξ ) dξ ≃ ∑ f ( ξ i ) wi . 166). 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 . the element stiffness matrices and RHS vectors still involve integration over volumes and surfaces (see section 4. Before proceeding to the element matrices.4 Formulation of the finite element method The shape functions for the nodes of the element in Figure 4. (4. η ) domain. the shape functions are equal to: N1 = 2t2 − t.21. the problem is not yet fully discrete. (4. Different integration schemes specify where the points are located and the weight associated with each point. 2011 . N6 = 4st. (4. 1987.20 are then: N1 = t. For a quadratic (six-node) triangular element. 4. it convenient to integrate in the (ξ. Numerical integration is illustrated in Figure 4. N3 = s. consider in two dimensions that: B T DB dΩ = 1 1 Ωe −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη.20.66) N3 = 2s2 − s.2 January 21. Two schemes which arise in finite element analysis are Newton-Cotes and Gauss integration. p. numerical integration is applied.3).64) (4. N2 = r. To do this.65) Note the numbering of the nodes for the quadratic triangle in Figure 4.67) i =1 where ξ i are discrete points on the integral domain.5 Numerical integration At this stage.

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

2 January 21.2: 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 4.1: Newton-Cotes integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1. 56 Version 0. n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 −√ 3 1 √ 3 3 − 5 0 3 5 weight wi 2 1 1 5 9 8 9 5 9 3 Table 4. 1]. 1]. 2011 .

The four-node quadrilateral element requires 2 × 2 points for full integration. January 21.and twodimensional elements are shown in Table 4. It is often argued that a zero energy mode will be restrained by neighbouring elements. To integrate a quadratic function in two dimensions. In one dimension. the eight-node quadrilateral requires 3 × 3 points for full integration. the trial functions (uh ) must satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. They appear naturally in the weak formulation (hence the common name ‘natural boundary conditions’). In two dimensions. there is likely a deficiency in the formulation.3.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions Figure 4.4. Figure 4. 4. Reduced integration schemes can improve the performance of some elements for special applications. although a 2 × 2 scheme is often used.modes which do not contribute to the energy. For some applications it may be advantageous to use reduced integration schemes in combination with particular elements. A test for the element stiffness matrix is to calculate its eigenvalues. Non-zero Dirichlet boundary conditions are more complicated to enforce.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions The imposition of Neumann (force) boundary conditions in the finite element method is straightforward. In solid and structural mechanics.2 57 . 2011 Version 0. two relating the translation (x and y directions) and one for rigid body rotation.22: Spurious zero energy mode for the eight-node quadrilateral element when using 2 × 2 integration. there should only be one zero eigenvalue which corresponds to translation. Similarly. recommended integration schemes for commonly used one. although it is often integrated with just one point. although it is safer to use full integration. In the Galerkin method. This deformation mode can develop in an uncontrolled fashion. In summary. two points are required in each direction. there should be only three zero eigenvalues. This means that a deformation mode exists which does not contribute to the energy. If a two-dimensional element has more than three zero eigenvalues. The number of zero eigenvalues indicates the number of rigid body modes .22 shows the classic ‘hour-glass’ spurious mode for an eight-node quadrilateral when using reduced 2 × 2 integration. The danger of underintegrating elements is that spurious modes may arise. quadratic variation.

58 Version 0. 2011 .2 January 21.4 Formulation of the finite element method element two-node bar three-node bar integration scheme 1 2 three-node triangle (T3) 1 six-node triangle (T6) or 3 four-node quadrilateral (Q4) 2×2 eight-node quadrilateral(Q8) 3×3 Table 4.3: Recommended integration schemes for commonly used elements.

It is possible to write: ke av + ke g = f v . 4. 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. and g are the applied Dirichlet boundary conditions.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions this means that the uh must satisfy the prescribed displacements where they are specified. Dirichlet boundary conditions can be enforced by modifying the RHS vector. f ie. vv vg (4.75) Once the element stiffness matrix has been formed. January 21.4. vv vg In terms of indexes. Two common approached are outlined below.2 59 .6. ij j (4. Since the weight function is defined to be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. In discretised form at element level.73) where av is the only unknown. the element RHS vector can be modified to enforce Dirichlet boundary conditions before assembly into the global RHS vector.71) where av are the nodal unknowns at nodes where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.mod = f ie − nn (4.74) j =1 ∑ ke ge .70) where uh is the displacement. ke av = f e − ke g. it is not included in the global system of equations to be solved. Since g is known. (4. vh is equal to zero where Dirichlet (displacement) boundary conditions are applied and gh satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions. 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. 2011 Version 0. ke a = ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv fg .72) Since g is known. the element RHS vector is modified. ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv .1 Elimination of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom The displacement field can be expressed by: uh = vh + gh . 0 (4. (4.

except the diagonal term which is set equal to one. and that the value of the Dirichlet boundary condition is returned in the solution vector which simplifies postprocessing. 2004). Consider the Laplace equation. However.7 Exercises 1. which is given by: ∆u = ∇ · (∇u) = 0 To solve this problem. 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. at which points is the stress from the finite element solution not uniquely defined when using C0 elements? 2. 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.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. Show why this is. 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. 60 Version 0. symmetry is lost. For a plane elasticity problem.2 January 21. 2011 . 4. both the finite element method and the finite difference method require the solution of a system of equations Ka = f . The value of Dirichlet boundary condition is then inserted into the vector f at position k. compare the matrix K for the finite element method with linear elements and for the secondorder central finite difference method. 4. Under what conditions the matrix B T DB is symmetric? 5.4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. The advantage of this scheme is its simplicity. In one dimension and for equally spaced nodal points (nodes are a distance h apart). 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 three-node triangle element is often referred to as the ‘constant strain triangle’ (CST). Form the shape functions for a Lagrange nine-node quadrilateral element 3.

Form the stiffness matrix for a four-node quadrilateral on a bi-unit square.2. 2011 Version 0. January 21.7 using the nodal coordinates in Example 4.2 61 .4.7 Exercises 6. 8.1 and for E = 1 and ν = 0. Calculate its eigenvalues using one-point and 2 × 2 integration. 7. Calculate and plot the shape functions for the eight-node quadrilateral element on a bi-unit square. Formulate the stiffness matrix for the element in Figure 4. Calculate the eigenvalues of the stiffness matrix and comment on their significance.


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

76 2.2: Nodal coordinates.1 involves both Dirichlet (displacement) and Neumann (force) boundary conditions.1 is given in Figure 5. boundary conditions must be specified.5 0. The connectivity list for Figure 5. the is Young’s modulus. 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).0 0.2 January 21.4 gives the applied boundary condition. For each node.0 0.0 2. For each element. the Poisson’s ratio and the density of the material.82 1. The list can begin with any node of the element. The preprocessing is completed by specify the material data. the x and y coordinate is given.1 2.5 Implementation of the finite element method % node 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 x 0.8 2. The final column is the value of the applied boundary condition. the nodal coordinates is shown in Figure 5.3.2 Program flow Once the input for a finite element analysis has been prepared. This is either a prescribed force or the prescribed displacement. the calculation phase can begin. In addition to nodal coordinates and the connectivity. The outline of a typical finite element program for linear static problems 64 Version 0. For an isotropic linear-elastic analysis. although the numbering must process in an anti-clockwise direction (to avoid calculating a negative volume and hence a negative element stiffness). The density is necessary when taking the self-weight into account.0 1.3: Element connectivity. the node numbers are listed. the node to which a boundary condition is applied is listed. 2011 . The second column gives the boundary condition type: Dirichlet (displacement) = 1 and Neumann (force) = 0.0 0.0 Figure 5.5 2.0 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. The problem in Figure 5.1 y 0. The list in Figure 5.0 0.7 0.2.6 0. First. 5.1 2.

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

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

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

January 21, 2011

Version 0.2


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.


Version 0.2

January 21, 2011

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.

January 21, 2011

Version 0.2


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. 68 Version 0.8: Set-up of local element arrays for element i.:) % copy nodal postions % copy displacements from global to local array for k=1:dof_per_node % loop over each degree of freedom jj = j*dof_per_node .j).2 January 21.9: Formation of element stiffness matrix.:) = x(connect(i.j). 2011 .j). k) ) else a_e(jj) = g_e(jj) % displacement is prescribed end end end % return to main program Figure 5. % 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.

ll) end end end if ii ~= 0 f(ii) = f(ii) + f_e(kk) end end end % return to main program Figure 5.jj) = K(ii.dof_per_node + m if ii~=0 & jj~=0 K(ii.3 Local-global % impose Dirichlet boundary conditions for i=1:nodes_per_element*dof_per_node f_e(:) = f_e(:) . 2011 Version 0.dof_per_node + k for l=1:nodes_per_element for m=1:dof_per_node jj = ID(connect(i.j). m) ll = l*dof_per_node .10: Imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions. % 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.jj) + k_e(kk. k) kk = j*dof_per_node . January 21.11: Assembly of local arrays into global arrays.l).k_e(:.i)*g_e(i) end % return to main program Figure 5.5.2 69 .

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

1) Once assembled for all elements (at all nodes. Reaction forces can be evaluates by calculating the so-called internal force vector f int . More reliable are the reaction forces at nodes where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. This means that the body is in equilibrium. For static problems. the internal force vector should be zero where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. including where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied). it gives the reaction force at each node. stresses and reaction forces. Three quantities of potential interest from a linear-elastic calculation are displacements.5 Post-processing 5. January 21. It is important to realise that the stress computed at a point is not always reliable. 2011 Version 0.5. post-processing of the data is required.5 Post-processing After a calculation has been completed.2 71 . The internal force vector for an element is given by: int fe = Ωe B T σ dΩ + Ωe N T b dΩ (5.


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

the above problem can be reduced to give:    a1x      a1y a1x⋆ Q11 Q21 0 0 . a node will have three degrees of freedom.4) The following definitions are now adopted: 74 Version 0. three dimensions. Since truss elements are based on the assumption that only normal forces (σx⋆ ) can be transmitted.3) = a2x⋆ 0 0 Q11 Q21  a2x      a2y a⋆ = e a1x⋆ a2x⋆ . 2011 .and y⋆ -directions are given by:      Q Q21 0 0  a1x   a1x⋆       ⋆   11   a1y Q Q22 0 0  a1y  =  12 . in the x ⋆ .2) 0 Q11 Q21   a2x   a2x⋆   0      ⋆   0 0 Q12 Q22 a2y a2y where Qij are components of the matrix Q. of a linear bar. (6. (6. the vector ae has four components (a component in the x and y direction at each node). The displacement components can be rotated using the matrix Q (see section 1.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Fx* x* y* y z* z x Figure 6. the rotation is particularly simple.2: Linear truss element in three-dimensional space.1) to give the nodal displacements in terms of the coordinate system aligned with the axis of the truss element. and in two dimensions. Denoting the angle between the x-axis and the x ⋆ -axis as θ. the rotation matrix has the form: QT = cos θ − sin θ sin θ cos θ (6. The displacements at nodes one and two.1) The vector ae holds the displacement components at the nodes of an element.2 January 21. Given that the only displacements of interest are the in x ⋆ -direction. For a two dimensional truss structure. (6. The only displacement of any consequence for an element is in the x ⋆ -direction. Therefore. displacements in the y⋆ -direction are not resisted by an element. two degrees of freedom.

9) where the LHS of equation (6.1 Rod elements in space and q= Q11 0 Q21 0 0 Q11 0 . The strain in the x ⋆ -direction is therefore given by: h ǫh⋆ = u. 2011 Version 0. The ‘star’ denotes that the shape functions are constructed relative to the coordinate system on the bar.19) for a linear element). h w. e (6.6.6) where N ⋆ contains the shape functions for a one-dimensional bar (see equation (4. (6.7) and (6.5) The displacement in the x ⋆ -direction along the bar is therefore given by: uh⋆ = N ⋆ a⋆ = N ⋆ qae .2 75 . and eliminating be . It is important to ensure that a truss structure does not form a mechanism. the element stiffness matrix is equal to: ke = q T B⋆ T EB⋆ q dΩ.7) Similarly. the derivative of a weight function w can be expressed in the local coordinate system in terms of the global degrees of freedom. Q21 (6. Ωe ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. (6. Clearly.8) into the weak governing equation (2. the stiffness matrix for a one-dimensional element can be formed. where k⋆ is the standard one-dimensional stiffness e e matrix for a bar. January 21.x⋆ = B⋆ qbe ⋆ (6.12).x⋆⋆ = B⋆ qae (6. and with the aid of the matrix q it can be transformed into the global.9) is the stiffness matrix. multidimensional coordinate system.8) (recall that be is a variation). Inserting now the discretised fields into the weak governing equation for a onedimensional bar. 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.

4 shows the rotation of the plane due to a rigid body rotation. straight. Figure 6.2 Beams Two types of beams are considered in this section.3. Consistent with previous sections. 6. Consider now a fibre in a beam 76 Version 0. The first is the classic BernoulliEuler beam.x v. and its ends (the boundary of Ω) are denoted Γ = x1 ∪ x2 . the ‘domain’ of the beam. Such a beam is illustrated in Figure 6. 6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis y fy Fy x T x = x1 x = x2 Figure 6. The second is the Timoshenko beam. which takes into account shear deformations. x2 ). 2011 . which is valid for relatively slender beams. The development of beam elements follows the same steps as for continuum elements.x y x Figure 6.4: Rotation of a line normal to the axis in a beam segment. For a transverse displacement v. The outward normal is denoted n. v. in-plane beams are considered. there are no out-of plane forces or moments.3: Plane beam element Ω = ( x1 . x2 ).2 January 21. The governing equation is identified and then the weak form developed.1 Kinematics of a beam Beam theory is based upon the assumption that planes which are normal to the beam’s axis remain plane. For simplicity.2. is denoted Ω = ( x1 .

as illustrated in Figure 6. (6. Considering translational equilibrium of a beam segment Ω.6. In the second method.x y x Figure 6. Subjecting a segment from a beam to pure shear. the fibre will not rotate.x − γ. which is initially perpendicular to the beam axis.11) − h/2 σxx y dy. equilibrium of a beam can be considered directly.6 that θ = v.2 77 . which will be followed here.2.5.7 show the ‘resultant’ force Q and moment M due to a moment m and a shear force q in a beam. Note that M = m n and Q = q n. The bending moment m in a beam is defined as m= h/2 (6. 6. where n is the outward unit normal vector. The fibre is indicated by the heavy line.5: Beam segment subjected to pure shear.13) Figure 6. the rotation θ of a fibre which is initially perpendicular to the beam’s axis is shown in Figure 6.12) and the shear stress q is defined by q= h/2 − h/2 σxy dy. it is clear January 21.2 Beams γ v. 2011 Version 0. a plane which remains perpendicular to the axis undergoes a rotation γ.2 Equilibrium of a beam The equilibrium equations for a beam can be developed in two ways. It is clear from Figure 6. The first is to elaborate the kinematics of the beam. (6.6. which together with some assumptions as to the stress in different directions can be inserted into the elasticity equations from Chapter 1. Relative to the fibre which has not rotated. For a beam segment subjected to both rotation and shear deformation.

6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γ θ v.7: Sign conventions for a bending moment and shear force resultant.2 January 21. +Q n y n +M x Figure 6.x y x Figure 6.6: Rotation of fibre in a beam. 2011 . 78 Version 0.

x dΩ − q dΩ − q. Γv ∩ ΓQ = ∅. (6.20b) Denoting applied end forces Fy .6. on ΓQ . (6. For rotational equilibrium.x + f y = 0. the boundary conditions are v = gv θn = gθ mn = T q n = Fy on Γv . on Γθ . distributed loads f y and applied moments T (all shown in Figure 6. it is clear that Ω Ω q. 2011 Version 0.14) Noting that q n dΓ = q| x= L2 − q| x= L1 . January 21. are valid for both Bernoulli-Euler and Timoshenko beam theories. The boundary Γ of a beam is partitioned such that: Γv ∪ ΓQ = Γ. translational equilibrium requires that q.x x dΩ − f y x dΩ = 0.20a) (6.3). Γθ ∪ ΓM = Γ.17) (6.18) Satisfaction of the translational equilibrium equation implies that 0. on ΓM .2 79 . (6.x Ω Ω Ω Ω (6. (6.19) (6. therefore rotational equilibrium requires that m.21c) (6.21a) (6.21d) These equations. Γθ ∩ ΓM = ∅ + f y ) x dΩ = (6.2 Beams that: q n dΓ + dΩ dΩ Ω f y dΩ = 0.x − q = 0.21b) (6. and boundary conditions. Ω (q.16) dΩ dΩ Ω This expression can be rearranged such that m.x dΩ + f y dΩ = 0.15) Since equilibrium must hold for an infinitely small segment of a beam. it is required that: m n dΓ − q nx dΓ − f y x dΩ = 0.

2.3 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. − EI d4 v + f y = 0.21a) and (6. Dirichlet boundary conditions involve the prescription of the displacement or the rotation (equations (6.24). Being a fourth-order equation. dx d2 v .21b)). dx4 (6.21d)). Taking now the derivative of all terms in equation (6. which is equal to zero where Dirichlet (kinematic) boundary conditions are applied (the bar is used in this section to denote a weight function) and integration over the beam Ω yields: Ω ¯ vm.27) 80 Version 0.19) with respect to x. This assumption implies that the shear rotation γ is equal to zero. and Neumann involve either the shear force or moment (equations (6. The negative sign is due to the sign convention in which the rotation and the resultant moment are in opposite directions.26) which is the strong equation of equilibrium for a Bernoulli-Euler beam. θ= dv . the boundary value problem is complete and can be solved. from an appropriately defined space. so the rotation can be directly related to the displacement v. 2011 . (6. dx2 (6. Weak governing equation Following the procedures from Chapter 2.2 January 21.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. dx2 d2 v . two boundary conditions are required at both ends of the beam.xx dΩ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.21c) and (6.22) which also implies that κ= (6.25) by a weight function v.24) where I is the moment of inertia of the beam.23) The bending moment in the beam is related to the curvature by: m = − EIκ = − EI (6. and then inserting equation (6.16) yields: d2 m + f y = 0. With appropriate boundary conditions.25) Assuming EI to be constant. the weak form of equilibrium for a beam ¯ can be developed. Multiplying equation (6. and inserting the constitutive relationship from equation (6. dx2 (6.

x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.x mn dΓ + Γ ¯ vm.x = 0 on Γθ .29) Inserting now the Neumann (natural) boundary conditions from equations (6. This is in contrast to second-order problems. v = gv on Γv . For the weak form to ‘make sense’. Consider now: ¯ v ≡ δv Inserting this relationship into equation (6. January 21. which contains functions satisfying: Ω v2 + v2 + v2 dx < ∞.xx (6.xx EIv.33) δv. (6.xx EIv. 2011 Version 0.2 81 . (6.x = 0 on Γθ .x dΩ + Γ ¯ vm. (6.x .x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. the trial functions (v ∈ S ) and the ¯ weight (test) functions (v ∈ V ) must possess a higher degree of regularity (roughly speaking.x = gθ on Γθ .24).21d). has second-order derivatives in its weak form. Consistency of the above weak form can be proven following the same procedure as in in Section 2.28) Applying integrating by parts again.30) where S and V are appropriately defined spaces. solving the governing weak equation for a beam involves: find v ∈ S such that − Ω ¯ v.21c) and (6.31) In one dimension this is equivalent to the trial and test functions being at least C1 continuous. The existence of second-order derivatives in the weak form deserves some special attention. v. which means that both their first and second derivatives exist.x m.32a) (6. the spaces S and V are formally defined by: S = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .30) gives: Ω (6. and v. it implies that the weak form of the governing equation is identical to the equation of virtual work. which require C0 continuity only. v.xx dΩ − ΓM ¯ v.x dΩ. v = 0 on Γv .2 Beams Integrating by parts the term involving the moment M once yields: − Ω ¯ v.1. this time to the term Ω ¯ v. continuity) than for classical continuum problems. and inserting the constitutive relation in equation (6. The integration domain for the ¯ ¯ boundary integrals has been changed since v = 0 on Γv . after integrating by parts twice. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .32b) For the case of an elastic continuum.xx dΩ = − ΓM δv.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vFy dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀v ∈ V . ¯ Ω v. For completeness.x m.x T dΓ + ΓQ δvFy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6. . Note that a fourth-order problem.34) which is the equation of virtual work for a Bernoulli-Euler beam beam. it was shown that if the weight function could be considered as a ‘virtual displacement’. (6.6.xx m dΩ − Γ ¯ v. Both S and V must be subspaces of the Sobolev space H 2 (Ω).

but not necessarily normal. 82 Version 0. (6. and the second for the displacement v.2. This means that shear deformations can be taken into account.37) dv −θ . the first for the rotation θ.38) and considering v and θ to be the fundamental unknowns. The governing equations are given by the equilibrium conditions in equations (6. 2011 . dx (6.16) with the constitutive relationships m = − EIκ.4 Timoshenko beam Timoshenko beams are more general Bernoulli-Euler beams as they allow for shear deformation. and are hence suitable for relatively short beams.16) leads to: d2 θ − GAs dx2 dθ d2 v − dx dx2 dv −θ dx − EI GAs =0 in Ω. Together with the previously defined boundary conditions. q = GAs γ = GAs (6. the problem is complete. 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.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. it is related to the shear force by the constitutive relationship: γ= q . They also provide a solid introduction to moderately thick plate theories where the advantage of shear deformable theories will become more apparent. 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.19) and (6. GAS (6. Relative to the Bernoulli-Euler theory. dx (6.19) and (6.35) where γ is the rotation due to shear. has been introduced.11) that rotation θ of a plane is given by θ= dv − γ. Planes must remain plane.40) + fy = 0 which are two coupled second-order equations. an additional unknown. in Ω. the shear strain γ.39) (6.2 January 21. Inserting the constitutive relationships into the equilibrium equations in (6. Recall from equation (6.

¯ ¯ As before. the weak form or virtual work expressions appear naturally and can be used as a starting point in developing a finite element model.x n dΓ − Γ Ω ¯ θGAs (v.x ) dΩ + ¯ 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.xx dΩ = − ΓM ¯h v. 6.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vGAs (v.xx EIv. adding the weak forms in equations (6.x GAs (v. and v satisfies the transverse displacement boundary condition.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vh Fy dΓ + Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀vh ∈ V h (6.x − θ ) dΩ + ΓQ ΓM Ω ¯ θT dΓ = 0.46) is equivalent to the virtual work equation.x − θ ) dΩ = 0.43) (6.xx − θ. considering δθ ≡ θ and δv ≡ v.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vFy dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 A more precise definition of the necessary functions spaces should be provided to ¯ complete the problem.x − θ. Ω (6. The test and trial functions should be at least C0 continuous (in contrast to the C1 continuity for the Bernoulli-Euler theory). As with all problems.46) − ¯ v. and v = 0 on Γv .47) For many mechanical problems.41) (6.40) by appropriately defined weight functions θ ¯ and v.45) and (6. − Ω Ω ¯ θEIθ.x EIθ.x − θ ) n x dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.44) − ¯ v. ¯ θ. It is however assumed that θ = 0 on Γθ and that θ satisfies ¯ the rotation boundary condition. and then inserting the Neumann boundary conditions yields the weak problem for a Timoshenko beam of: find v ∈ Sv and θ ∈ Sθ such that Ω ¯ θ. and using γ = v.42) ¯ vGAs (v.48) January 21. consistency can be proven through the application of integration by parts.x GAs (v. ¯ ∀θ ∈ Vθ ¯ ∀v ∈ Vv . (6.39) and (6. − Ω δκ m dΩ + Ω δγ q dΩ = − ΓM δθ T dΓ + ΓQ δv Fy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6.6. Applying integration by parts once.2.x dΩ − Ω Ω Γ ¯ θEIθ. 2011 Version 0. Ω (6.x EIθ.xx dΩ − Ω ¯ θGAs (v.2 83 .x − θ ) dΩ = 0.2 Beams Weak governing equations ¯ Multiplying equations (6.45) (6.x dΩ − Ω Ω ¯ θGAs (v.

Such shape functions can be constructed relatively easily in one dimension (the extension to multiple dimensions is however far from trivial). The displacement at a point in the beam is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6. As for continuum elements.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. and involve both displacement and rotational degrees of freedom.x ae = N1.x M2. The first derivative is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6. A Hermitian beam element with two nodes has four degrees of freedom (two displacement degrees of freedom and two rotation degrees of freedom).x N2.49) where vi and θi are degrees of freedom associated with node i. and the shape functions are equal to: − ( x − x2 )2 (− h + 2 ( x1 − x )) (6. The displacement field vh is given by: vh ( x ) = ∑ ( Ni ( x ) vi + Mi ( x ) θi ) . The problem that arises is that simple C0 finite element shape functions are not suitable.2 January 21. Crucially.x M1.50c) M1 = h2 ( x − x1 )2 ( x − x2 ) M2 = (6.50b) h3 ( x − x1 ) ( x − x2 ) 2 (6.50a) h3 ( x − x1 )2 ( h + 2 ( x2 − x )) N2 = (6.52) v. The solution is to use C1 shape functions. This results in a cubic interpolation of the displacement along the element. convergence of the solution is not assured for interpolations with insufficient continuity. we wish to express the displacement field v in terms of shape functions and nodal degrees of freedom. the second derivative of a C0 continuous function does not exist in a classical sense.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis where S h ⊂ S and V h ⊂ V are finite-dimensional spaces. The above equation requires the evaluation of the second derivative of the interpolated displacement field. Hermitian polynomials are C1 functions.50d) h2 for an element of length h with ends from x1 to x2 (x2 > x1 ).x  v2      θ2 84 Version 0. However. i 2 (6. 2011 .x = N. The use of C0 interpolations for fourth-order problems is not mathematically consistent and can lead to unpredictable results.

xx can be computed given ae .xx be ) T EI N.56) and the RHS vector by: fe = ΓQ N T Fy dΓ − ΓM N T T dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.xx M2. Ω N.53) h h Now that vh . (6.x be ) T T dΓ + ΓQ ( Nbe ) T Fy dΓ Ω + ( Nbe ) T f y dΩ (6.x and v.55) The element stiffness matrix is given by: ke = Ω N.xx dΩ ae = − ΓM N.xx T EI N.xx (6.xx T EI N. they can be inserted into the Galerkin problem.xx M1. v.x T T dΓ + ΓQ N T Fy dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.2 Beams The second derivative of v is given by:    v1      θ1    v2    θ2 h v. (6. January 21.xx N2.54) After some rearranging.6.xx ae dΩ = − ΓM ( N.57) The operation to form the RHS vector essentially translates the applied loads into equivalent nodal shear forces and moments. 2011 Version 0.xx ae = N1.xx dΩ. (6.xx = N. Ω ( N.2 85 .

2011 .58a) (6.2 January 21.x = − .xx = 2 + .59c) (6. M2. x1 = − h/2).xx = − .xx = .50).58b) (6.x = (6.xx = h2 N1.xx = − 3 .x = . h h (6.x = h2 2 (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) . h h 12x N2. N1. h3 2 (6x − h − 4x1 − 2x2 ) N2.58g) (6.58h) Assuming the centre of the element is at x = 0 (x2 + x1 = 0. h2 2 ( x − x1 ) (3x − h − x1 − 2x2 ) N2.58d) (6.60) Integrating the terms in the stiffness matrix exactly from − h/2 to h/2 (assuming EI 86 Version 0.59b) (6. h3 6x 1 M1. the above equations can be simplified significantly. M2. 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. h2 2 (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) M1.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Taking derivatives of the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6.58f) (6.58c) (6.xx = 12x . h3 2 (6x + h − 2x1 − 4x2 ) . N1.59a) (6.59d) Inserting these terms into equation (6. h3 ( x − x1 ) (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) .58e) (6. h 6x 1 M2.xx = h3 ( x − x2 ) (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) M1.56).xx = 2 − . 2 ( x − x2 ) (3x + h − 2x1 − x2 ) . Considering just the second derivatives with respect to x.

v h = N v av . (6. and corresponding derivatives. 2011 Version 0.62) and (6.x dΩ − Ω h ¯ θ h GAs v. in terms of shape functions and nodal variable.x − θ h dΩ = − ΓQ ΓM ¯ θ h T dΓ h ¯ ∀θ h ∈ Vθ . − 6EI  h2  4EI h (6.64d) N θ aθ .x − θ h dΩ = Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ + ¯ vh Fy dΓ h ¯ ∀v h ∈ Vv .Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe N v T f y dΩ.61) Timoshenko beams The finite element formulation for the Timoshenko beam is relatively simple.x GAs v.64c) (6. A distinction is made between the shape functions for vh and θ h as these may differ. Inserting the expressions for the unknown fields in terms of nodal variables and variations into equations (6.64a) (6.66) January 21.2 Beams to be constant).65) Ωe Bv T GAs Bv dΩav − e Ωe Bv T GAs N θ dΩaθ e = Γe. e θ θ N be .M N θ T dΓ. (6.x EIθ.6. e θ = ¯ v = ¯ θh = h h (6.64b) (6.2 87 . 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  . T (6. (6.63) Consider the representation of the fields vh and θ h .62) h ¯h v. e N v bv .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. This will allow the use of the standard shape functions introduced in Chapter 4. h h The Galerkin problem for the Timoshenko beam involves: find vh ∈ Sv and θ h ∈ Sθ such that Ω Ω h ¯h θ. due to the second-order nature of the governing equations.

73) Γe. Locking Conceptually.68) (6. T T (6. The components of the stiffness matrix are given by:   GAs L EI GAs L EI − +  L + 3 L 6  . and components of the element RHS vector are given by fθ = − fv = Γe. However. and both short and slender beams could be analysed. Ωe Ωe T T (6. 2011 .72) (6. when applying Timoshenko elements for thin bending problems. kθθ =  (6. the result are plagued by shear locking. resulting in an overly stiff response. Bv T GAs N θ dΩ. (6.67) where the components of the the element stiffness matrix are given by kθθ = Ωe Bθ EIBθ + N θ GAs N θ dΩ. This would be advantageous from the point of view of generality.70) (6.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe Note that the stiffness matrix is symmetric (kθv = kvθ ). Timoshenko beam theory is superior to the Bernoulli-Euler theory in that it is valid for both short and slender beams. This is the effect in which the shear contribution to the energy does not vanish. Ideally. N v T f y dΩ. T Bv T GAs Bv dΩ. with linear shape functions for both the displacement and rotation.M N θ T dΓ.74) e  EI GAs L GAs L  EI + − + L 6 L 3   GAs GAs −  2 2  .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. Consider a Timoshenko beam element of length L.71) kθv = − kvθ = − kvv = Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ.75) kθv =  e  GA GAs  s − 2 2 88 Version 0.69) (6. and for simplicity as the Timoshenko element used C0 shape functions.2 January 21. only a Timoshenko beam element would be necessary in practice.

81) which is the correct result. GAs (6. this element will exhibit a very stiff response. the displacement v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/3) EIGAs /L2 + G2 A2 /12 s (6. If the term Ωe N θT GAs N θ dΩ is evaluated using one-point numerical integration T January 21. v2 ≈ PL . v2 ≈ 4PL . Even with a very fine mesh.76) Therefore. As L → 0. and a shear load P is applied one end.79) If L is large. GAs (6.2 Beams and GAs  L =  GA s − L    GAs − L   GAs  L  GAs 2   GAs   −  2   GAs   − L   GAs  L kvv e (6. will yield a very stiff response. EI GAs L  L + 3 ke =   GAs − 2 −  GAs     θ 0 2   2    =  GAs v2 P L (6. 2011 Version 0.6.80) which is independent of I.78) Therefore. θ1 = v1 = 0. the stiffness matrix is of the form EI GAs L  L + 3   EI GAs L  + − 6  L ke =   GAs   2   GAs − 2  − EI GAs L + L 6 EI GAs L + L 3 GAs 2 GAs − 2 GAs 2 GAs 2 GAs L GAs − L − (6.2 89 .77) If at one end the beam is clamped.

85) When using reduced integration. The case is similar for quadratic elements. 90 Version 0.2 January 21.83) If L is very large. and as L → 0. v2 ≈ PL3 4EI (6.82) ke =    GAs  GAs GAs GAs   −  2 2 L L     GAs GAs GAs  GAs − − − 2 2 L L Now.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis (which is reduced for this term). for the one element problem clamped at one end.84) which qualitatively the desired response. where selective integration (two-point) leads to a dramatic reduction in locking response. v2 ≈ PL GAs (6. v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/4) EIGAs /L2 (6. 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. this element performs quite well when the mesh is sufficiently well-refined. 2011 .

u2 and u3 when using indexes. the relevant dangers in analysing plate and shell structures with the finite element method are presented. y) .86a) (6. 2011 Version 0. 6. Given the enormous number of different plate and shell elements.8. 1987. More detailed coverage can be found in a number of books (Zienkiewicz and Taylor.3 Plate Plates are effectively generalisations of beam elements to two spatial dimensions. The surface of the plate in the x1 –x2 plane is denoted Ω. this section does not provide an exhaustive coverage. Similarly.9).2 91 . or x1 . Bathe. (6. and the boundary is Γ. y and z directions. The adopted definitions simplify the formulation as it will avoid the need for a −1 factor on particular terms. the displacement of a point is given by: uα = −zθα ( x. In plate theory. The rotation of the January 21. u3 = u3 ( x. y and z.3 Plate x3 p θ1 x2 t x1 θ2 Figure 6.86b) where θα is the rotation of a fibre in the plate (see Figure 6. and the coordinate z = 0 corresponds to the mid-surface of the plate.6. are are typically loaded out of plane. Hughes. the convention differs from the right-hand rule. 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. or u1 . For convenience.8: Coordinate system for a plate. 1991. Also. They are flat two-dimensional entities. respectively). 1996).3. The three coordinates are denoted x. v and w (displacements in the x. (1989). The plate has a thickness t. T When using Greek subscripts. A particularly accessible account can be found in Cook et al. Plate finite elements can be extremely complex and are an area of ongoing research. It is convenient to express many relationships for plates using index notation. The basic governing equations of shell and plate elements and the most common finite element approaches are discussed. x2 and x3 . y) . A serious problem stems from the need for C1 interpolations in the classic thin plate and shell bending theories. 6. summation is implied from one to two.

6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γα θ α w.α 1 w x3 xα Figure 6. 2011 . 92 Version 0.2 January 21.9: Plate kinematics with shear deformation included.

91) The different resultant moments and transverse forces acting on cross-sections of a plate are shown in Figure 6.88a) (6. The moment tensor mαβ in a plate is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σαβ z dz (6. 2011 Version 0. The alternative approach would be to insert the plate kinematics into the elasticity equations.86).α − θα .10 (‘resultants’ are forces which are equivalent to a moment or shear stress). γα = w. the strain field can be calculated at any point (recall ǫ = (1/2)(ui.β (6.2 93 . (6.90) From symmetry of the stress tensor.α .α = θ(α.i )).87) Note that if γα = 0.3. ǫαβ = ǫα3 = −z θα. From the displacement field in equations (6.α .β + θ β.6. then θα = w.88b) A useful quantity is the curvature. and the shear strain is given by γα .β) . and lies in the plane of Ω. The shear force vector qα is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σα3 dz (6. 2 α.j + u j. It is useful to define a vector s which is normal to the vector n. it is clear that the moment tensor is symmetric.2 Equilibrium of a plate The equilibrium equations for a plate are developed here in the same fashion as for plates.α 2 (6.89) 6. This allows the definition of following notation for January 21. which is a second-order tensor and at a point is given by: καβ = 1 θ + θ β.α 2 −θα + w.3 Plate mid-surface of the plate is given by w.

θn = θα nα . (6.s = The quantities are illustrated in Figure 6.n = w. mns = mαβ n β sα . quantities relative to an arbitrarily oriented plate edge: mnn = mαβ n β nα .α nα w.92f) (6.93) Applying the divergence theorem to the term involving qα leads to Ω qα.92e) (6.92g) (6.s = ∂s qn = qα nα . mns.α dΩ + Ω pz dΩ = 0. therefore qα.11. Translation equilibrium of a plate requires that: ∂Ω (6. ∂s ∂mns .94) which must also hold for an infinitesimally small piece of the plate.s = w.α sα mnn.α + pz = 0.2 January 21.95) 94 Version 0. (6. 2011 . ∂mnn .92a) (6.92d) (6.92h) qα nα dΓ + Ω pz dΩ = 0. (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis q2 m21 m22 m11 x3 m12 x2 θ1 q1 q2 m11 q1 m12 m22 m21 x1 θ2 Figure 6. w.92c) (6.92b) (6.10: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on cross-sections of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).

Considering now rotational equilibrium. is the equation for translational equilibrium. 2011 Version 0. Ironically. (6. These constitutive relationships will also be elaborated upon in the context of the different theories. (6.PSfrag 6.3 Plate q2 m21 m22 qn x3 x2 θ1 mns m11 q1 m12 s mnn n x1 θ2 Figure 6.3.β dΩ − Ω qα dΩ − Ω q β.β + pz = 0. It is applicable for thin plates where shear deformations are negligible.96) ∂Ω ∂Ω Ω which leads to: Ω mαβ.2 95 .11: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on an edge of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)). hence boundary conditions are elaborated upon in the context of a given theory.β xα dΩ − Ω pz xα dΩ = 0.β − qα = 0. constitutive relationships are required which relate the moment tensor and the shear force to deformations.β + q β. and are specific to the considered plate theory. 6.α xα = qα + q β.α xα .Kirchhoff theory The Kirchhoff plate model theory is analogous to the Bernoulli-Euler beam. (6.97) noting that q β xα . mαβ n β dΓ − q β n β xα dΩ − pz xα dΩ = 0.3 Thin plates . To complete the problem. Since translation equilibrium requires that q β.98) The boundary conditions for a plate are more complicated that for a beam. the outwardly simplest plate theory presents the most problems when formulating the finite January 21.β = q β xα. rotational equilibrium requires that mαβ.

100) The moment is related to the curvature by mαβ = −Cαβγδ κγδ . 12 (6.105) This equation is known as the ‘biharmonic equation’. the governing equation can be expressed in a particularly convenient form: w.ααββ = 12 1 − ν2 pz .106) As a fourth-order equation.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis element method. This can be done by differentiating equation (6. 2011 .αβ + w.2 January 21. the curvature κ is equal to: καβ = 1 w.102) into equation (6. four different types of boundary conditions are possible. ∇4 w = ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 . Since shear deformations are zero. 12 1 − ν2 ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 = pz .101) (6. Inserting the constitutive relationship (6. and the Kirchhoff plate model requires two boundary conditions at all points 96 Version 0. equation (6. 2 (6. mαβ.98) and inserting equation (6. where the constitutive tensor is equal to: (6.βα .100) yields a fourthorder partial differential equation.α (6. Assuming transverse shear deformations are zero. Et3 (6.αβ + pz = 0.99) 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.104) Expanding this equation. ∂x y Et3 ∂x4 ∂y (6. It is often written in a shorthand format using the biharmonic operator ∇4 . After some rearranging.103) ¯ where λ = 2λµ/ (λ + 2µ). ∂x y ∂x4 ∂y (6. The shear force qα is no longer ‘independent’. The goal is now to eliminate qα from the governing equations.87) reduces to: θα = w.102) Cαβγδ = t3 ¯ µ δαβ δβδ + δαδ δβγ + λδαβ δγδ .95).

− Γ ¯ w. Inserting the above relationship into equation (6.α mαβ n β dΓ + Γ ¯ wmαβ.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w.111) =− The last term will be ignored.100). Considering the partition of the boundary in equation (6. (6.105) by a weight function w. The last boundary condition is known as the ‘modified shear’ boundary condition. Ω ¯ wmαβ.112) January 21. (6.s mns dΓ ¯ ¯ wmns. Integrating the moment term by parts once.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. The moment can only be applied normal to the boundary (mαβ n β nα ).n mnn dΓ + Γ ¯ w (mns. Multiplying by a weight ¯ function w.6. − Ω ¯ w.3 Plate on the boundary.β dΩ + Γ ¯ wmαβ.107b) (6. and leads to the well known ‘corner forces’ in thin plate theory.110) which is the weak form of the governing equation for thin plate bending.s dΓ − wmns | B A (6. it is convenient to carry out the process on equation (6. then integrated by parts.107a) (6.n mnn dΓ + Γ 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. (6.s + qn ) dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Rather than multiplying the governing ¯ equation (6.109) Using integration by parts again on the first term.n mnn dΓ − ¯ w. and integrating over the plate surface Ω.α mαβ n β dΓ = − Γ Γ ¯ w. and the last two are Neumann boundary conditions. for which w = 0 on Γw and w.s = Q on Γw on Γθ on ΓM on ΓQ (6. 2011 Version 0.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.107c) (6.20). yields Ω ¯ w. and integrating over the surface of the plate.2 97 .110) (ignoring the point terms).108) where Ω is the surface of the plate.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.α mαβ.αβ dΩ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.n = 0 on Γθ . The problem here is that too many boundary terms appear in the first boundary integral. (6. The governing equation is multiplied by a weight function. Ω ¯ w.

For this theory. some serious practical problems arise in finite element analysis when applying Reissner-Mindlin elements for the analysis of thin plates. The problem now involves two different unknowns.115a) (6.4 Moderately thick plates – Reissner-Mindlin theory The Reissner-Mindlin theory for plates includes shear deformation. which depends on θα which is no longer calculated directly from w (θα = w. The key to the success of this approach in a finite element context is that the moment tensor mαβ is calculated from the curvature. hence the highest order derivatives in the weak governing equation are order two. (6. δκαβ . The governing equations for a thick plate are those given in Section 6.2 January 21.α ). w.115b) Consistency can proven through the repeated application of integration by parts. w = gw on Γw .n = 0 on Γθ . the above equation is the equation of virtual work for a plate: δκαβ mαβ dΩ − δθn T dΓ + δwQ dΓ + δwpz dΩ = 0 (6.114) Ω ΓM ΓQ Ω Recall that the bending moment mαβ is a function of the curvature.αβ mαβ dΩ − ΓM ¯ w. Unlike for thin plates. (6. the governing equations for equilibrium are the same as for the Kirchhoff theory. It is analogous to the Timoshenko beam.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Inserting the Neumann boundary conditions. w. w. which in turn involves second derivatives of w. the spaces S and V for the weak form of Kirchhoff plate theory are defined as follows: S = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . the governing equations cannot be further reduced since θα is not a direct function of w. (6.116b) 98 Version 0. w = 0 on Γw . it is applicable for both thick and thin plates. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . w and θα .116a) (6.β − qα = 0. 6. qα.n T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ V .2. ¯ ¯ ¯ Considering w as a virtual displacement δw.αβ as the virtual curvature.α as a virtual rotation δθα . and w.3. solving the weak problems then involves: find w ∈ S such that Ω ¯ w. 2011 . As such. The equations of equilibrium are: mαβ. The difference lies in the kinematics and the constitutive model. However. The rotation of the plate cannot be calculated simply as a derivative of the transverse displacement.113) where the functions in S satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions.n = gθ on Γθ .α + pz = 0.3. For completeness.

This means than the governing equations are being solved in their irreducible form.120c) (6. (6. 2011 Version 0.β − θ β .119a) is multiplied by a weight function θα .120b) (6. This is due to θα and w being decoupled. and k is a correction factor which is equal to 5/6. where Cαβ = ktµδαβ . Ω ¯ θα mαβ.117) Cαβ w.123) January 21. qα = Cαβ γβ = Cαβ w. on Γθ .102)). This set of equations cannot be reduced further. mαβ. both equations (6.β − θ β dΩ = 0.β − θ β = 0 (6. − Ω ¯ θ(α.β − θ β dΩ = 0.α + pz = 0 It is these equations which will be solved.2 99 .120d) Given that one of the unknowns. (6. The ‘naturally’ occurring boundary conditions involve w = gw θα = gαθ mαn = Tα qn = Q on Γw .119a) (6.3 Plate In addition to the constitutive relationship relating moment and curvature (equation (6. Firstly. a constitutive relation relating the shear forces to the shear strain is introduced.6. on ΓQ . (6. three boundary conditions must be applied at all points on the boundary.121) Integrating the above equation by parts. is a vector.β dΩ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. θα .β − θ β dΩ = 0. on ΓM . (6.122) ¯ Inserting now Neumann boundary conditions (θα = 0 where θα is prescribed) yields: − Ω ¯ θα. The structure of the governing equations for Mindlin-Reissner plates theory offers a greater degree of flexibility in applying boundary conditions than the Kirchhoff theory.119b) (6.118) (6.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.119a) and (6.119b) are addressed. Weak form To derive the weak form. This set of equations can be reduced by eliminating qα .β) mαβ dΩ + Γ ¯ θα mαβ n β dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.αβ − θ β. ¯ equation (6.120a) (6.β − Cαβ w.

− Ω ¯ w. (6. δκαβ = θ(α. This will require the interpolation of both the transverse displacement w and the rotation θα . Combining both equations (multiplying equation (6.2 January 21.α) dΩ + ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.128) − which is the equation of virtual work for a Reissner-Mindlin plate.127a) − Ω ¯ w. The weak problem therefore involves: find θα ∈ Sθ and w ∈ Sw such that: − Ω ¯ θα. ¯ wCαβ w. yields: Ω −δκαβ mαβ dΩ + Ω δγα qα dΩ + ΓM δθα Tα dΓ − ΓQ Ω δwQ dΓ δwpz dΩ = 0 (6. 100 Version 0. (6.β − θ β dΩ = 0.126) which is the weak form of equation (6. 2011 .β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.119a).127b) that are solved using the finite element method. ¯ ∀θα ∈ Vθ (6. It is equations (6. C0 shape functions can be applied. (6.127a) and (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis which is the weak form of equation (6.αβ − θ( β. adopting ¯ ¯ ¯ the notation δw = w. the highest order derivative appearing for both terms is one. Multiplying now equation (6.127b) Note that both weak equations contains derivatives no higher than order one.α Cαβ w.114).124) Ω Ω Integrating the above equation by parts yields: − Ω ¯ w.β − θ β dΩ + Γ ¯ wCαβ γβ nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.α Cαβ w. However. Note that different to the virtual work equation for a Kirchhoff plate (6.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ Vw (6.125) ¯ Inserting again Neumann boundary conditions (w = 0 where w is prescribed). Hence. and taking advantage of the symmetry of mαβ .127b) by minus one).119b).α Cαβ w.α − θα . the above equation includes a contribution to the energy due to shear ( Ω δγα qα dΩ).β) and δγα = w.119b) by a ¯ weight function w.

In particular.6.129) where m = (m11 . flexible and robust Kirchhoff plate elements. q = D s γ. tkµ (6. 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. 2κ12 ) T . constant strain implies constant curvature. m12 ) T and κ = (κ11 .   (6. A common Kirchhoff plate element is rectangular and has four nodes and twelve degrees of freedom. In the context of plates. 2011 Version 0.130) For the shear forces qα .3. κ22 . some non-conforming elements yield satisfactory results. It does not however satisfy C1 continuity. The matrix D b has the form: 1 ν 1 0 0 0 Et3 D = 12 (1 − ν2 ) b  ν    0 (1 − ν ) 2   . symmetry of mαβ and καβ allows the use of simplified ‘engineering’ notation. m = −Db κ   (6. In place of requiring C1 continuity. a less severe requirement is that elements satisfy a ‘patch test’. There exists a range of Kirchhoff plate elements. The complications are rooted in the need for C1 continuity.3 Plate 6.133) The applicability of this element is however limited by its inability to satisfy the patch test as a quadrilateral – the element can only be used as a rectangle. The element is still useful as it passes the patch test.5 Plate finite elements As in elasticity.131) Kirchhoff plate elements There are few reliable. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 x3 y + c2 xy3 + c3 x3 + c4 y3 + c5 x2 y + c6 xy2 + c7 x2 + c8 y2 + c9 xy + c10 x + c11 y + c12 . it tests whether an element can represent rigid body modes and a state of constant strain. However. (6.132) (6. where Ds = tkµ 0 0 . The majority of Kirchhoff plate elements are non-conforming – this means that they do not satisfy C1 continuity. m22 . January 21. none of which are of general applicability.2 101 .

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



Version 0.2

January 21, 2011

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

January 21, 2011

Version 0.2


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.


Version 0.2

January 21, 2011

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

(7.10) This means that the finite element solution is at least as accurate as the nodal interpolate in terms if energy. rather a question which can be answered from interpolation theory.4) which is a measure of the error in the displacements. (7. Note that to ensure convergence. Given that a finite solution is known to be the best possible solution from the finite-dimensional space S h . Consider the nodal interpolate u I .10) into the above expression.5) which now includes the gradient of e. A Sobolev semi-norm is given by |u|n = Ω ( D n u)2 dΩ 1/2 . In this way. (7. An important semi-norm is the energy norm. uI = ∑ Ni aiI . For example. it holds that u − uh E ≤ u − uI E. c is an unknown constant. Setting n = 1. (7.9) where k is the polynomial order. 2011 . Inserting now equation (7. Interpolation theory provides the inequality u − uI m ≤ chk+1−m |u|k+1 . i (7.8) The nodal interpolate is equal to the exact solution at the nodes (u − u I = 0 at the nodes).7) where r is the order of the derivatives appearing in the weak form. setting n = 0 gives: 1/2 e 0 = Ω (e · e) dΩ . u − uh 106 r ≤ Chk+1−r |u|k+1 . and h is a measure of the element size. (7. hence it interpolates the exact solution using the provided shape functions.7 Analysis of the finite element method involve n = 0 and n = 1.11) January 21. k + 1 > m. It is defined by: u 2 E = | u |2 = r Ω ( Dr u)2 dΩ.6) which involves only a particular order derivative. Version 0.2 (7. 1/2 e 1 = Ω (e · e + ∇e : ∇e) dΩ . thereby introducing a measure of the error in the strain. the question of determining an error estimate is no longer a finite element question. (7.

k = 1. the two quantities of special interest are the displacements and the strains (and hence the stresses). and O(h) in terms of strains. For an elasticity problem. 2011 Version 0. It leads to the estimate: u − uh s ≤ Ch β |u|k+1 . The order of convergence of a particular element type indicates how quickly the exact solution is approached. This result is however conditional upon the seminorm |u|k+1 existing. (7. Therefore. ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . the greater a the smaller the error. (7. If the exact solution is not sufficiently smooth. independent of h. this norm is dominated by the error in the strain. (7. which tells ‘how good’ the calculated solution is.1.14) In terms of the strain. Larger a implies faster convergence. hence u − uh 1 ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . 1/2 . The convergence order for different polynomial orders is given in Table 7. the displacement error is: which is equal to Ω e · e dΩ e 0 ≤ Chk+1 |u|k+1 .7. e e 0 1 ≤ Ch2 |u|2 ≤ Ch|u|2 . An estimate can be obtained using ‘Nitsche’s trick’ (see Strang and Fix (1973) for details). For practical purposes. The error in the displacements is given by e 0 . January 21. there may be no gain in accuracy through increasing the polynomial order. (7. a natural question is how close the solution is to the exact solution. hence it represents the error in the energy. such as the error in the displacement.13) where β = min (k + 1 − s. In elasticity. The notation O(h a ) means that the error is ‘of the order h a ’. For linear elements. e 1 (7.2 107 .16) Hence linear elements are known as being O(h2 ) in terms of displacements. 7. r = 1.2 A posteriori error estimation Once a finite element solution has been calculated.15) which implies that the approximate strains converge to the exact result slower than the approximate displacements. u − uh 0 . It would be useful to find an estimate in terms of lower norms. This is error analysis. 2(k + 1 − r )). For k ≥ 1. Of course as h becomes small.2 A posteriori error estimation where C is a constant. but does not tell how far the computed solution is from the exact solution.12) This implies that the solution converges in this norm at a rate equal to the polynomial order.

A mathematically appealing concept is hp-adaptivity. the error can be estimated. it 108 Version 0. the error is again estimated. they converge faster toward the exact solution than other points. or to devise procedures which sub-divide elements where the error is large. Then. It has an extraordinary rate of convergence. Given a estimation of the error. It is based on the property that the stresses at certain points within an element are super-convergent. adaptivity techniques can be employed in combination with an error estimator.3 Adaptivity To improve the accuracy of a finite element solution. Error estimation is a rich field of applied mathematical research. At this point. The process can be repeated until the prescribed error tolerance is met. and adaptivity is employed. padaptivity involves increasing the polynomial order of elements to reduce the error in the calculated solution. 7. an adaptive scheme is required to reduce the error to the prescribed levels.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 7.2 January 21. Fortunately. but is challenging to implement. The most common is the Zienkiewicz-Zhu (ZZ) (Zienkiewicz and Zhu. It is possible to generate an entirely new mesh. A posteriori error estimators are generally either residual-based or rely on stress recovery techniques. Then. a new mesh must be constructed. Given a measure of the error. by comparing the stresses interpolated from the super convergent points with the stress computed from the derivative of the displacement field. knowing the order of convergence of an element may prove useful. Based on an analysis of the error. h-adaptivity uses another technique to reduce the error. To halve the error in a particular problem using h-adaptivity. Research is ongoing for more sophisticated error estimators for more complicated problems. Hence. 2011 . assuming that the exact solution is sufficiently smooth. some relatively simple error estimators exist for linear problems. 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. the problem is re-analysed. 1987) stress recovery error estimator. It relies upon reducing the size of the element. It may be desirable to reduce the error to a specified value throughout a mesh. adaptivity can be employed to reduce the error where needed. a finite element mesh can be adapted to improve the solution. That is.1: Order of convergence O(hk ) for commonly used finite elements in terms of displacements and strain. Two forms of adaptivity are commonly used: p-adaptivity and h-adaptivity.

January 21.2 109 . 7.7.4 Exercises helps to know how quickly the error reduces for a particular element.and h-adaptivity. List some advantages and disadvantages of p. how much smaller would you expect the error in the displacements and the stresses to be if all the elements are made 2.4 Exercises 1.7 times smaller? 3. When using Q4 elements. 2011 Version 0. Give the order of convergence in terms of the strain for the following element: a) b) c) d) e) T3 Q4 T6 Q8 Q9 2.


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

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

9. These are initial conditions.1 Elastodynamics The majority of this chapter deals with elastodynamics problems. approach is more general and suited to wave propagation problems. the finite element method has been applied only for time-independent problems.4b) where v is the velocity (v = ∂u/∂t). (9. σn = h on Γh (9. The second. For example. Two approaches will be elaborated. u=g on Γg .1 Governing equation and the weak form for elastodynamics The equation of motion is given by: ρu = ∇ · σ + b ¨ (9. time-dependent Dirichlet boundary conditions are prescribed. its is complemented by boundary conditions. Similar to static problems. In mathematical ¨ terms. this equation differs significantly from the static case as the governing equation is hyperbolic. relies on linearity of the underlying problem and is suited to vibration analysis. Elastodynamics involves the second derivative of the displacement with respect to time. modal analysis. On parts of the boundary. less subtle. Initial conditions correspond to the conditions at time zero (t = 0).2) On other parts of the boundary. 0) = u0 ( x) u ( x.1) where ρ is the density and u = ∂2 u/∂t2 is the acceleration vector. when a load is applied at the 113 . therefore two initial conditions are required: u ( x. information travels through the domain immediately.4a) (9. 9.9 Time-dependent problems Until now. With elliptic problems.3) Dynamic problems require some ‘extra’ information compared to their quasi-static counterparts. the unsteady heat equation and elastodynamics are considered in which the time dimension must be addressed. time-dependent Neumann boundary conditions are applied. 0) = v0 ( x) ˙ (9. The first.1. In this chapter. All problems up to this chapter were elliptic.

8b) where ae = dae /dt and ae = d2 ae /dt2 . for an element.5) Integrating by parts.2 January 21. find u ∈ S such that Ω ρw · u dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ ∀w ∈ V .e N T h dΓ. If a bar. The velocity and acceleration fields are represented using the shape functions. the finite-dimensional velocity and acceleration fields in an element are given by: uh = N ae . which when considering the semidiscrete formulations are constant in time. Therefore. solving the weak form involves: for a given t > 0. From the weak from in the previous section. which is independent of time. The time dimension is left continuous. 2011 .2 Semi-discrete Galerkin form To reach a finite element formulation. (9.7) and rearranging. Ωe N T ρN dΩ ae = − ¨ Ωe B T DB dΩ ae + Ωe N T b dΩ + Γh.9 Time-dependent problems free end of a restrained rod. and integrating gives: Ω ρw · u dΩ = ¨ Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ (9. With hyperbolic problems ‘information’ travels at finite speeds. (9. ˙ ˙ u = N ae . like for the static case the governing equation must be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns and basis functions. The equations for elastodynamics are hyperbolic. a stress wave will travel through the bar and a force at the restrained end will not be felt until the stress wave arrives. using the same steps outlined in Chapter 2. the Galerkin form must be developed. This stems from the fact that the dependence on time t has not been addressed in the same fashion as the spatial dependency x. Inserting the discretised displacement field ˙ ¨ and the expression for the acceleration field into equation (9.8a) (9. (9. Multiplying equation (9. restrained at one end. and inserting Neumann boundary conditions.7) which is known as ‘semi-discrete’. ¨ ¨ h (9. To solve dynamic problems using a computer. This is again done using finite element shape functions. is hit with a hammer at the free end.1) by a weight function w.9) 114 Version 0. Deriving the weak form for dynamic problems follows the familiar procedure. 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.6) 9.1.

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

14) where the matrix C represents the sources of damping in the structure. t) = u0 ( x) .1. (1989). representing the uncertainty in the source of damping. Damping is often included by adding the term C a to the governing equations. The choice of the parameters τ and ψ is certainly arbitrary.2 Heat equation The heat equation is introduced here as a step to the problems in elastodynamics. and initial conditions.3. 9. There is no rich theory underlying the choices. Damping due to the material response can also be included.9 Time-dependent problems sophisticated lumping schemes are possible which will avoid negative masses. It will become clear when addressing particular time integration schemes why lumped mass matrices are popular.17) 116 Version 0. They two key points are that zero and negative masses on the diagonal should be avoided. In strong form. (9.2 January 21. The contribution of the stiffness matrix to the damping matrix increases damping with increasing frequency. It can be included through the damping matrix C. The precise source of damping and its mathematical form is often vague. The problem requires boundary conditions. 2011 . Given that only the first derivative with respect to time is involved. 9.15) where τ and ψ are user chosen parameters. as outlined in Section 2.3. (9. only one type of initial condition may be provided. (9. u is the temperature. Conversely. unsteady heat diffusion is governed by: ˙ ρcu + ∇ · q = f . the contribution of the mass matrix increases damping with decreasing frequency. A simple method of introducing damping is to say: C = τM + ψK. A discussion can be found in Cook et al. q = −κ ∇u is the heat flux. The steady-state version of the equation was introduced in Section 2. This is known as Rayleigh damping. u ( x. or through the constitutive model relating stress and strain. kappa is the conductivity. c is the ‘capacity’.4 Damping Problems in structural dynamics often involve damping. it involves first order derivatives with respect to time.16) where in the context of diffusion of heat. The performance of lumped mass matrices is guided primarily by experience. Unlike elastodynamics. This topic is left to other courses which address non-linear material behaviour. ¨ ˙ (9. namely the temperature at t = 0. ˙ M a + C a + Ka = f .

the semi-discrete Galerkin problem for the heat equation involves: for a given t > 0. For the consistent mass matrix. The displacements at the nodes can be described by a = a cos (ωt − α) . 2 det ke − ωe me = 0 (9. ˙ 9. (9. The eigenvectors are a.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics If an undamped system is allowed to vibrate freely (no forcing terms). It turns out that for a lumped mass matrix.18) (9. The acceleration is therefore given by: (9.24) The highest frequency from all elements provides an upper bound to the highest frequency of the problem. ¯ a = −ω 2 a cos (ωt − α) . it is important to know the highest natural frequency of the discrete problem. this can be expressed at time tn as: M an + Kan = f n . Following the usual processes in developing the weak form.22) which is a matrix eigenvalue problem. (9. (9. 2011 Version 0.21) −ω 2 M + K a = 0. 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. For explicit time integration procedures. If one end of a rod is heated. this is immediately felt (an infinitesimal amount) and increases with time. If stiffness and mass matrices are of dimension n.2 117 . ωe = 2 3/L January 21. there are n eigenvalues λ (λ = ω 2 ). Non-trivial solutions (a = 0) require that: ¯ (9.25) √ for an element of length L.11) and rearranging.23) can be very large.20) where ω is the frequency (radians per second). ¯ det K − ω 2 M = 0. its motion is harmonic.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics The heat equation is parabolic.9. it is relatively simple to calculate the natural frequencies. which ¯ are also known as natural modes. The difficulty is that the size of the problem in equation (9. For a one-dimensional linear element.19) In matrix form. ¨ ¯ Inserting these results into equation (9. the highest frequency is equal to: ωe = 2 L E ρ E/ρ. An upper bound to the highest frequency can be found by calculating the frequencies for all individual elements.23) where ω are the natural frequencies of the system.

28) into equation (9.29) Orthogonality implies that the vibration modes do not interact with each other. i = j.30) 1 0 i = j.26) Inserting the above equation into the unforced version ( f = 0) of equation (9.11) yields: ¨ M ∑ αi Ψi + K ∑ αi Ψi = f i i (9. ¨ Ψj T M ∑ αi Ψi + Ψj T K ∑ αi Ψi = Ψj T f i i (9. it is then possible to treat each mode individually. and ωi are the natural frequencies.11) .2 January 21. The sum of the modes gives the total displacement.27) where Ψi are eigenvectors. (9. (9. For linear problems. The nodal displacements can be expressed as a summation of eigenfunctions. 2011 . Consider a solution a = ψi cos (ωi t + θi ) .33) 118 Version 0. Inserting equation (9. K − ωi2 M Ψi = 0. i = j.31) Pre-multiplying both sides of this equation by Ψj T .28) where αi (t) is the amplitude of the ith eigenmode.32) The orthogonality property means that the equation has been decoupled into nm simple. A special property of the eigenmodes Ψi is that they are orthogonal. ¨ αi + ωi2 αi = Ψi T f . a (t) = ∑ αi (t) Ψi i (9. (9. (9.4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics Modal analysis involves the dividing of the response of a structure into a number of modes. It is then possible to treat each mode separately. (9. separate equations.9 Time-dependent problems 9. and are known as vibration modes. This means that: Ψi T MΨj = and Ψi T KΨj = ωi2 0 i = j.

34) Solutions for forced cases are dependent on the type of loading. For the unforced case. the orthogonality property does not hold. Modal analysis relies on the orthogonality property of the eigenfunctions. rapidly diverging from any sensible result.1 One-step algorithms for the heat equation To introduce time stepping algorithms. If an integrator is unstable. equation (9. which is O(∆t) accurate). For non-linear problems. There are known schemes of exceptional accuracy. the above equation can be solved. Conversely.5 Time stepping algorithms Now. Explicit integrators rely only on information at time step n. Further discussion of modal methods can be found in Craig (1981) and Cook et al. January 21. Given the values of an . an and an at time tn (and perhaps also at earlier times ˙ ¨ steps). the values an+1 . Hence. The difference between explicit and implicit schemes lies in stability.9. 9. implicit schemes may have a low degree of accuracy (such as the backward Euler scheme. Time stepping schemes are distinguished by being either explicit or implicit. This means a system of equations must be solved for implicit schemes. the computational effort lies in finding the eigenvectors and eigenvalues. To do this. In structural analysis. an+1 and an+1 at time tn+1 = tn + ∆t are needed. implicit schemes generally require significantly extra computational effort.5. (9.5 Time stepping algorithms Time stepping algorithms involve schemes to increment the time in discrete steps ∆t. Stability means the range of time steps ∆t for which an integrator will calculate a stable result (small errors do not grow exponentially). There are no known unconditionally stable explicit schemes. and perhaps information at time step n and earlier steps. equation (9. It provides a step towards the more complicated schemes for elastodynamics. Implicit schemes rely on information at time step n + 1. Therefore. the unsteady heat equation is first considered. this equation can be solved analytically. usually only the low frequency modes have a significant influence on the structural response. Time is then incremented until the desired time is reached. and perhaps earlier steps (such as n − 1) to compute the solution at time step n + 1. Accuracy is not the difference between explicit and implicit schemes. ˙ ¨ a time stepping scheme is needed. In applying modal analysis.2 119 . Explicit schemes can be constructed to have a high degree of accuracy (such as the 4th order Runge-Kutta method. (1989). for each mode of interest. 2011 Version 0. which is O(∆t4 ) accurate).33) is a homogeneous ordinary partial differential equation. with the solution αi = c1 sin (ωi t) + c2 cos (ωi t) . Therefore it is limited to linear analysis. but due to their extremely poor stability properties they are useless. it will ‘blow-up’. compared to explicit schemes. Typically. 9.33) is only solved for a few modes.

36) gives. They involve: an+1 = an + ∆t ((1 − θ ) an + θ an+1 ) . ˙ Rearranging equation (9.2 January 21.35) where 0 ≤ θ ≤ 1. ˙ θ∆t θ∆t θ In compact notation. Newmark time integrators are a family of schemes.38) 120 Version 0.37). 1 1 (1 − θ ) M + K a n +1 = f n +1 + Man + M an . The backward Euler method is also unconditionally stable. and the implicit trapezoidal (θ = 1/2) and backward Euler (θ = 1) methods. ˙ θ∆t n+1 θ∆t θ (9. 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 ) ˙ ¨ ¨ (9.41b) (9. 2011 . the forward Euler is not particularly useful as its stability properties are poor.40b) (9. both explicit and implicit. the problem to solve an+1 has become ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 . the trapezoidal method is particularly attractive as it is unconditionally stable. ˙ θ∆t θ and an is computed from equation (9. For the problems to be considered here. a n +1 = ˙ 1 1 (1 − θ ) a − an − an . Well known methods are the explicit forward Euler (θ = 0) method.36) and inserting the above result into equation (9. the heat equation at time tn+1 must satisfy: M an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 . Choosing parameters appropriately for a Newmark algorithm yields a number of different. ˙ 9.2 One-step algorithms for elastodynamics The most commonly used time integration scheme in solid and structural mechanics is the generalised Newmark scheme.35).5. but only first-order accurate. well known integrators. where 1 ˆ K= M+K θ∆t 1 (1 − θ ) fˆn+1 = f n+1 + Man + M an . ˙ ˙ (9.41a) (9.37) (9.39) (9.40a) (9. In matrix form. and is second-order accurate.9 Time-dependent problems A popular family of algorithms are ‘generalised trapezoidal’ methods. In practice.

A commonly used time integrator is the central difference method. ∆t2 (9.47) This integrator is implicit. This method is unconditionally stable and the accuracy is O(∆t2 ). 2011 Version 0. ∆t ≤ L . Therefore. a Newmark scheme is second-order accurate. 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).46a) (9.46a) into equation (9. 2 (9. an = ˙ an = ¨ a n +1 − a n −1 2∆t an−1 − 2an + an+1 .43b) It is possible to rearrange these terms and show that they are equivalent to equation (9. Friedrichs and Lewy (CFL) stability condition. This scheme is O(∆t2 ) accurate.45) which is the Courant. c (9.42) For γ = 1/2. It is also energy conserving. it requires the factorisation of a large matrix. January 21. It is necessary to express the terms a and a in terms of a. Calculating the necessary terms using ˙ ¨ central differences.44) where ω h is the highest natural frequency (highest value from det K − ω 2 M = 0.9. Its stability properties are attractive. 2 ∆t ˙ ˙ = an + ( a n + a n +1 ) . an+1 = an + ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) 4 (9.41) for β = 0 and γ = 1/2.43a) (9. It corresponds to β = 1/4 and γ = 1/2 in the Newmark family of integrators. The term ω h can be estimated for linear elements as 2c/L. but it is conditionally stable. where c is the dilatational wave speed (c = E/ρ) and L is the length of an element. Another commonly used time integrator is based on the trapezoidal rule. a n +1 = a n + ˙ ˙ a n +1 ∆t ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) . Appropriate choices of β and γ yield well known integration methods. The Newmark method is unconditionally stale for: 2β ≥ γ ≥ 1 2 (9. It is stable for: ∆t ≤ 2 ωh (9.46b) Inserting equation (9. but as will be shown later.2 121 .5 Time stepping algorithms where β and γ are parameters which define the nature and properties of the algorithm.46b).

M an−1 − 2an + an+1 a − a n −1 + Kan = f n .55) Ω A difficulty with explicit central-difference time integration is the need for information at n − 1 when starting a calculation.54) (9. The term Kan is equivalent to: Kan = B T σn dΩ. (9. A procedure is required to ‘start’ the 122 Version 0. and unknown at step n + 1.43). Given an and an−1 .52) (9. it is not necessary to form the stiffness matrix K. (9. the displacement vector a at step n + 1 is given by: ˆ an+1 = M −1 fˆn (9. 1 1 1 1 M+ C an+1 = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n .50) 2 2∆t 2∆t n−1 ∆t ∆t Recall that the displacement vector a is known at step n and all previous steps. with damping. Inserting the central difference expressions from equation (9. 2011 . where ˆ M= and 1 1 fˆn = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . has the appearance: M an + C an + Kan = f n . ¨ ˙ (9. it is possible to calculate an+1 . In practice.53) 1 1 C M+ 2 2∆t ∆t (9. an+1 can be calculated without solving a system of equations (hence the attractiveness of lumped mass matrices when using explicit time integrators). + C n +1 2 2∆t ∆t (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.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).9 Time-dependent problems Explicit time integration – central difference approach The system of equations to be solved.2 January 21.51) If both M and C are diagonal matrices. 2∆t n−1 ∆t Then. The above equations can be written in a shorthand format as: ˆ Man+1 = fˆn .

it is second-order accurate.41) for β = 0 to express the accelerations and velocity at step n + 1 in terms of step n and earlier.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. Combining equations (9. This yields.57).60) which in a short-hand notation can be expressed as: ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 (9. Furthermore. In combination with a lumped mass matrix. M 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 + Kan+1 = f n+1 (9. which are the initial conditions.57) Rearranging the expressions in equation (9.61) January 21. and all known quantities on the RHS. it is very efficient and suitable for very large problems. The central difference procedure is popular in finite element analysis.43) it is possible to express an−1 in terms of quantities at n (time t = 0).9.58b) These equations are then inserted into equation (9. The time step must be chosen carefully for a particular discretisation. The significant drawback is the conditional stability. an−1 = an − ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 an ¨ 2 (9. For simplicity.59) Rearranging such that all unknown quantities appear on the LHS.5 Time stepping algorithms algorithm at t = 0. 1 M + K a n +1 = M β∆t2 1 1 1 an + ˙ an − an ˙ ¨ a + 2 n β∆t 2β β∆t +f (9.2 123 . Implicit time integration – the Newmark family Formulation of a Newmark scheme starts by inserting the expressions for the velocity and accelerations into: M an+1 + C an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 ¨ ˙ (9. 2011 Version 0. damping is ignored. a n +1 = ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9.56) The vector an−1 can be used to start the time integration procedure.

the algorithm is unconditionally stable and second-order accurate. γ = (1 − 2α) /2 and β = (1 − α)2 /4. It involves using a Newmark scheme to solve : M an+1 + (1 − α) Kan+1 − αKan = f n+1+α . calculating an requires the solution of a system of equations. which is also known as the Hilber-Hughes-Taylor Method (Hughes. Numerical dissipation can be controlled through the parameter α. the α-Method reduces to the Newmark scheme. Rearrange equation (9. 2011 . Derive the mass matrix for a two-noded beam element. However.3 α-Method for elastodynamics In dynamic simulations. 1987).62) where f n+1+α = f n+1+θ∆t . ¨ (9. the terms in f are prescribed and both M and K can be formed. With the Newmark scheme. At time step n.5. 9. 9.7 Exercises 1. the vector fˆ can be calculated from an . Numerical damping aids in controlling undesirable spurious high frequency modes in the solution. If α = 0. 9. it is usually desirable to introduce some numerical damping to suppress spurious high-frequency modes. Solving the resulting system of equations yields an+1 . 124 Version 0.9 Time-dependent problems Since the stiffness matrix K is not diagonal. Decreasing α increases the dissipation. choosing γ = 1/2 reduces the integration scheme to first order accuracy O(t). The problem with the Newmark scheme is that the introduction of any numerical damping reduces the order of accuracy from two to one. 3. numerical damping can be introduced by choosing γ > 1/2. Note that calculating the ‘new’ an+1 introduces a dependency ˙ on the parameter γ. A number of algorithms have been developed to preserve second-order accuracy while allowing for the introduction of numerical damping. Calculate the consistent and lumped mass matrices for the four-noded quadrilateral element.2 January 21. 2. One such algorithm is the α-Method.41) to show for β = 0 and γ = 1/2 the scheme is equivalent to a central-difference procedure. If −1/3 < α < 0.6 Space-time formulations Time as a degree of freedom.

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

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.