The Finite Element Method: An Introduction

Dr. Garth N. Wells

University of Cambridge and Delft University of Technology

c G. N. Wells 2009


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Numerical integration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . .5 Regularity requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Implementation of the finite element 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Convergence of the Galerkin method Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.5 Exercises . . . method .2 Continuum elasticity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Stiffness matrix storage . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 5 . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . .1 Finite element method with piecewise linear basis functions 4. . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . .Contents 1 Introduction 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Local-global . . . . . . . . . . .1 Tensor basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Poisson equation . 1. . . . . . 5. . .2 Vector calculus . . .2 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Minimisation of potential energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . .4 Isoparametric mapping . . . .4 Essentials from continuum mechanics 1. . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions . . . . . . . . . . .3 Linear algebra . . . . . . . . . . .2 General finite element basis functions . . . . . . . 7 7 13 15 16 19 21 21 23 25 26 27 28 29 31 31 32 33 34 35 35 37 49 50 54 57 60 63 63 64 65 70 71 73 . . . . . . . . . .3 3. . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Basic error analysis . .4 Galerkin method Approximate solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 3.7 Exercises . . . . . . 4. . 2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations 2. . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The 3. . . . . . . . . .1 One-dimensional bar . . . 5. . . . . . . . .1 Preprocessing . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Program flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Post-processing . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Governing equations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. . .

.6 Space-time formulations . . . . . . . 76 . . .2 January 21.2 Heat equation . . . 111 8. . . . . . . 9. . Plate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. 104 . . . . . 104 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 6. Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Exercises . . . . . . . 112 9 Time-dependent problems 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shell elements . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Adaptivity . . 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . . . . .2 A posteriori error estimation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 LU-decomposition . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . 91 .2 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Time stepping algorithms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Rod elements in space Beams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 A priori error estimation . . . . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . . .1 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. . 113 113 116 117 118 119 124 124 125 6 Version 0. .Contents 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . 8 Solvers for large linear systems 111 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . .1 Elastodynamics . . . . . . . . . . .3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics 9. . .2 Iterative solvers . . . 105 105 107 108 109 7 Analysis of the finite element method 7. . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . .

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

5) ∑ a i bi .1: Example of orthonormal base vectors.4) The dot product of two vectors is given by: a · b = a i bi . and is defined through the operation which gives the length x of a vector x.1 Introduction x2 a e2 = [0 1 0] e1 = [1 0 0] x1 e3 = [0 0 1] x3 Figure 1.3) Consider the dot product between two vectors a and b. a2 (1.7) 8 Version 0. x = √ x · x. A vector a in an n-dimensional space R n can be expressed in terms of its components.2 January 21.6) ∑ a i b i = a 1 b1 + a 2 b2 + a 3 b3 . a·b = (1. which is denoted a · b. i =1 n (1. ai where i runs from one to n. (1. In the case n = 2. where repeated indices imply summation: a·b = For n = 3. 2011 . i =1 3 (1. a= a1 .

The second-order tensor A in R3 can be expressed as   A11 A12 A13 A = Aij =  A21 A22 A23  . A. Consider the case a = ABc = Dc. At times. in the vein of matrix multiplication. Aij .14) January 21.10) As with vectors. which is expressed as D = AB.13) where n is the dimension of the vector b. 0 if i = j.15) (1. The symbol δij is known as the Kronecker delta: δij = 1 if i = j. allowing the base vectors to be discarded and the more familiar notation a · b = ai b j δij = ai bi . A = Aij .9) Second-order tensors (which possess some similar properties to matrices) are generally denoted by uppercase bold characters.11) (1. R (1. (1. (1.16) (1. Second-order tensors can be multiplied. ei · e j = δij .8) can be used. (1.2 9 . The transpose of a tensor is denoted by the superscript ‘T’.1 Tensor basics For an orthonormal basis.12) Second-order tensors are linear operators that act upon vectors. A second-order tensor A takes the vector b and transforms it into the vector a. a = Ab = Aij b j = ∑ Aij bj j =1 n (1. A31 A32 A33 (1. K. and in index notation as Dij = Aik Bkj . M. 2011 Version 0.1. a second-order tensor A can be expressed in terms of components. It is defined by: a · Bc = Bc · a = c · B T a.17) (1. the dot product maybe written as a T b.

24) (1. which is equivalent to Aij = ai b j . i =1 j =1 n n (1. This is equivalent to A : B = Aij Bij .1 Introduction In terms of indices: Aij T = A ji . 2011 . The repeated i and j indices implies: Aij Bij = (1.26) (1. this implies: tr ( A) = A11 + A22 + A33 . It is defined by: A : B = tr A T B .18) The transpose of a second-order tensor implies interchanging the rows and columns of its components. an operation similar to the dot product of two vectors. A : B = A11 B11 + A12 B12 + A21 B21 + A22 B22 .21) (1. For two second-order tensors in R2 .22) Using the trace.20) The trace of a second-order tensor is essentially the summation of its diagonal components. (1.25) ∑ ∑ Aij Bij . tr ( a ⊗ b) = ai bi and tr ( A) = Aii .28) 10 Version 0. (1. A = a ⊗ b. For a second-order tensor A in R3 . (1. an inner product. = ai b j . (1.19) Second-order tensors can be formed through the dyadic production of two vectors. (1.2 January 21. For example.27) This operation has no equivalent in matrix-vector convention. is provided for two second-order tensors. A useful identity involving the transpose is: ( AB) T = B T A T .23) (1. It also yields a scalar.

j. E : ( a ⊗ b) = a × b. If the permutation {i.31) Second-order tensors are often characterised by their special properties. 2011 Version 0. k} is odd. matrices which rotate the reference frame are orthogonal. AA−1 = A−1 A = I. The components of E are given by: [E ] = Eijk = ei · e j × ek . a 1 b2 − a 2 b1 Such a definition however is not convenient for manipulation. a tensor Aij is symmetric if: Aij = A ji . Eijk = −1. Another important operation is the cross. and if the permutation {i.2 (1. Using index notation. Eijk = 1.29) A second-order tensor A. product. It is defined for a. is equal to the identity tensor.37) 11 . multiplied by its inverse A−1 .30) (1. or vector. A tensor A is orthogonal if: A T = A −1 . A matrix A is symmetric if: A T = A. The cross product of two vectors yields a vector. (1. (1. (1. A common third-order tensor is the alternating (or permutation) tensor E . A third-order tensor can be defined which will make manipulations more convenient. If any of the indices are repeated.32) As will be shown in the following section.36) The expression for E in terms of the basis ei is lengthy and not shown here.35) [ a × b ] =  a 3 b1 − a 1 b3  .1. The cross product can be introduced via the third-order tensor E . b ∈ R3 by:   a 2 b3 − a 3 b2 (1. (1. A third-order tensor maps a second-order tensor to a first order tensor. January 21. Eijk = 0. k} is even. j.34) (1.1 Tensor basics The identity tensor I is defined by: a = Ia.33) (1. The result of the above equation is rather simple. and is equal to I = δij ei ⊗ e j .

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

42) − sin θ . (1. ∂x ∂4 u ∂2 u = u. 2011 Version 0. This is done by the operation: A′ = Q T AQ. An important operator is the divergence.2 Vector calculus which can also be expressed as: a′ = Q T a. which effectively reduces the three-dimensional problem to a one-dimensional problem.xxxx .43) and note that Q is orthogonal.xx . (1. It is expressed as: ∇ · a.2 (1. It is convenient to rotate the ′ reference such such the position along the bar is given by [ x]′ = x1 . An example is a onedimensional rod element in a three-dimensional space.xy .x . components in the rotated reference frame can be transformed back to the original reference frame by: a = Qa′ .47) (1. ∂x2 ∂x4 ∂2 u ∂3 u = u. = u.48) This notation is used commonly throughout these notes. Consider a function u which is dependent on the position x. Q= ′ e1 · e1 ′ e2 · e1 ′ e1 · e2 cos θ ′ = sin θ e2 · e2 (1.44) Therefore.xyy . 1. ∂x∂y ∂x∂y2 (1. cos θ (1. 0 . and A = QA′ Q T . The divergence of a vector field a yields a scalar. (1.2 Vector calculus Subscripts are commonly used as a short-hand notation for derivatives. January 21. Characters after a comma in the subscript denote differentiation with respect to that variable. QQ T = Q T Q = I. 0.49) 13 .45) At times it is necessary to also rotate the components of a second-order tensor from one coordinate system to another.46) Often coordinate transforms are used to simplify a problem. Some of its derivatives can be written as: ∂u = u.2.1. = u. Considering the coordinate systems illustrated in Figure 1.

1 Introduction In terms of indices.i . In a three-dimensional space.57) ∂y ∂z   ∂x   ∂a3 ∂a3 ∂a3  ∂x ∂y ∂z 14 Version 0.53) Another important operator is the gradient. ∂x j (1.55) ∇a =   . ∂x j (1. ∂xi (1. the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a1 ∂a1 ∂a1  ∂x ∂y ∂z     ∂a2 ∂a2 ∂a2   . ∂x1 ∂x2 ∂x3 ∂x ∂y ∂z (1. ∂xi (1.i . ∇a =  (1.j .52) For a two-dimensional tensor A. ∇ · a is equal to ∇·a = ∂ai = ai.   ∂A11 + ∂A12 ∂x ∂x2  . ∇ · A =  ∂A 1 ∂A22 21 ∂x + ∂x 1 2 (1. 2011 . the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a  ∂x     ∂a  (1.  ∂y      ∂a ∂z The gradient of a vector is given by: ∇a = ∂ai = ai. In a three-dimensional space.2 January 21.56) which yields a second-order tensor.j . The gradient of a scalar a is given by: ∇a = ∂a = a. ∇·a = ∂ay ∂a ∂a x ∂a ∂az ∂a1 + 2+ 3 = + + .54) which yields a vector.50) In a three-dimensional space R3 .51) The divergence of a second-order tensor is given by: ∇·A = ∂Aij = Aij.

61) and then applying the divergence theorem. the eigenvalues of the stress tensor are the principal stresses. It transforms a volume integral to a surface integral. For example. An essential theorem in formulating the finite element method is the divergence theorem (also known as Gauss’s theorem).60) The above equation also holds for the case in which a is replaced by a scalar and B is replaced by a vector. The above formula is simple to derive by using the product rule for differentiation to expand Ω ∇ · ( aB ) dΩ = Ω ∂ a B dΩ. (1.1. ∂x j i ij (1.3 Linear algebra The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix provide information as to its properties. Consider the body Ω in Figure 1. 2011 Version 0. (1.3 Linear algebra n Ω Γ Figure 1.3. The boundary of the body Ω is denoted Γ = ∂Ω. and the January 21. The surface of Ω is given by ∂Ω.2 15 .58) where n is the outward normal to the body Ω. It implies that: Ω a · (∇ · B) dΩ = − Ω ∇ a : B dΩ + ∂Ω a · Bn dΓ. The outward unit normal to the body is denoted n.59) Integration by parts is used frequently in the formulation of the finite element method. Ω ∇ · a dΩ = ∂Ω a · n dΓ. (1. 1.3: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n bounded by Γ. For a vector a. The divergence theorem states: Ω ∇ · A dΩ = ∂Ω An dΓ.

For a positive definite matrix A. 2 i. 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). The system of equations is usually solved using a direct method (such as Gauss elimination or LU decomposition) or an approximate iterative method. For a matrix A.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics The finite element method is used in these notes to solve primarily problems in continuum mechanics. and u and f are vectors of length n. the eigenvalues of a matrix indicates if a matrix has a unique inverse. Solvers for finite element problems are discussed in Chapter 8.1 Introduction corresponding eigenvectors are the principal stress directions. The strain ǫ is defined as the symmetric gradient of the displacement vector: ǫij = 1 u + u j.65) Typically.62) implies that: det ( A − λI ) = 0. respectively. special numerical algorithms are used to calculate the eigenvalues. vectors b and scalars λ which satisfy ( A − λI ) b = 0 (1. Also. A zero eigenvalue implies that the matrix A has a linearly dependent column. Eigenvalue tests are often used in studying the matrices arising in the finite element method. K will often be referred to as the ‘stiffness matrix’ and f the ‘right-hand side vector’. For a 3 × 3 matrix. In the context of the finite element method. (1. A system of n linear equations can be expressed as: Ku = f . and is unique.i . This requires some background in continuum mechanics and linear-elasticity. For a symmetric matrix. which guarantees that the inverse of A exists. 1. (1. 2011 .64) where K is an n × n matrix.63) For a 2 × 2 matrix. (1.2 January 21. the roots of a cubic equation must be found.66) 16 Version 0. For large matrices. This section is intended to cover only the important concepts which are used later in these notes. Equation (1. all eigenvalues are real. of A. finding λ requires finding the roots of a quadratic equation.62) are known as eigenvectors and eigenvalues.j (1. It is not a comprehensive coverage of the topic. all eigenvalues are positive and real. the system of equations in a finite element equation will be very large. The solution u is given by: u = K −1 f . The polynomial is known as the characteristic equation of A.

σij = Cijkl ǫkl where C is a fourth-order tensor. the above expression can be written as: ǫ = ∇s u = 1 ∇u + (∇u) T .74) νE (1 + ν) (1 − 2ν) (1.i . Lam´ constants are indepene e dent of the position. the symmetric gradient using index notation will be expressed as: u(i. as will be shown in the next chapter).j (1.69) where n is the unit normal vector to the surface. In two-dimensions. For solid. In a homogeneous body.1.67) For convenience.68) where the bracket around the subscript denotes the symmetric gradient. linear-elastic continua. the stress tensor is symmetric (which can be proved by considering the balance of angular momentum. this reduces to four. in three-dimensions the stress and strain tensors have only six independent components. Similar to the strain tensor.2 17 . In compact notation.70) with E the Young’s modulus and ν Poisson’s ratio. this can be written as: σ = C : ǫ. The stress tensor is defined through the traction vector t (force per unit area) on a surface. January 21. Obviously. Due to symmetry.73) (1. 2011 Version 0. the strain tensor is symmetric.72) (1.71) (1. 2 i. 2 (1. σn = t (1.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics which is clearly a second-order tensor. it is defined by: Cijkl = µ δik δjl + δil δjk + λδij δkl where λ= and µ= E 2 (1 + ν ) (1.j) = 1 u + u j. or in index notation. The constants λ and µ are often referred to as Lam´ constants. For linear elasticity. For convenience. A constitutive equation relates the stresses in a material to the strain.

particular attention will be paid to solving elastic continuum problems.78) D=  0 0 0 µ 0 0    0 0 0 0 µ 0 0 0 0 0 0 µ 18 Version 0.y γ23 2ǫ23 The stress tensor is expressed in a vector form.        ǫ11   ǫ11   u.z + w. (1. although without the factor ‘2’ on the shear terms.z ǫ33 ǫ33 .y + v. the normal stress out-of-plane is assumed to be zero. For isotropic linear-elasticity. containing components of the fourthorder tensor C . The first is known as plane strain.77) When reducing a three-dimensional problem to two-dimensions. 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.x              v. This assumes that the normal strain in the out-of-plane direction is zero (ǫ33 = 0). The second possibility is plane stress (σ33 = 0). This will require identification of the equations which govern equilibrium of where the matrix D is the constitutive matrix. the constitutive relationship can be written as: σ = Dǫ (1. In this case.76) σ= σ12        σ13      σ23 Using the vector format for stress and strain. such as many beams. 2011 . An axisymmetric formulation is for example commonly used when simulating a circular foundation. such as a dam wall. This is reasonable for problems which are relatively thick in the third direction. there are three possibilities. In this case. in which the stress and strain are represented as vectors.1 Introduction ‘engineering’ notation is often adopted. In these notes. It is then likely that the stress in the out-of-plane direction is not equal to zero. This approximation is good for very thin members.2 January 21.75) = = ǫ= 2ǫ12  γ12   u.z + w.x                    2ǫ13  γ13  u. the strain in the out-of-plane direction is dependent on the distance from an axis of rotation. The third possibility is axisymmetric.y                        u.x           ǫ22   ǫ22   v.   σ11      σ22        σ33 (1.

2 19 .80). and applying the divergence theorem. Therefore.83) If translational equilibrium (equation (1.80) Balance of linear momentum should also be satisfied for any subdomain of Ω. if σ is symmetric. In order to derive the governing partial differential equation. Ω r × (∇ · σ + b) dΩ + Ω E : σ T dΩ = 0 (1. Note that this equation is general.5 Exercises elastic bodies. which requires that ∂Ω t dΓ + Ω b dΩ = ∂Ω σn dΓ + Ω b dΩ = 0 (1. This will also be referred to as the ‘strong’ governing equation. etc. moment equilibrium is satisfied if the stress tensor is symmetric.79) where b is a body force.). For three-dimensions (i = 1 → 3. Therefore. the first term in equation (1. Considering that t = σn. leading to: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω (1.80). consider first translational equilibrium (balance of linear momentum) of a body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ = ∂Ω. the partial differential equation of equilibrium is given by equation (1. the integral can be removed from equation(1. expand the terms: a) b) c) d) e) f) a i bi ai b j Aij Bij Cij bi Cij b j Fik Gkj 2. How many independent components does a symmetric second-order tensor in R n have? January 21.81) Consider now moment equilibrium (balance of angular momentum). Application of the divergence theorem to the integral over ∂Ω gives: Ω ∇ · σ + b dΩ = 0 (1. 2011 Version 0.82) where r is the position vector of a point on ∂Ω.5 Exercises 1. and not specific to elasticity. 1. 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. Then.83) is zero.1. since E : σ T = 0.80)) is satisfied.

What is the trace of the identity tensor I equal to in R n ? 4. 6. Using the product rule for differentiation and the divergence theorem.2 January 21. 2011 . Expand ∆u in a three-dimensional space using index notation. Derive the isotropic linear-elastic constitutive matrix D for plane stress and plane strain conditions 20 Version 0. derive the integration by parts formula in equation (1. 7.1 Introduction 3. It is equivalent to ∇ · ∇.60). 5.43) is orthogonal. A common and important operator in applied mathematics (and mechanics) is the Laplace operator ∆ (sometimes denoted ∇2 ). Confirm that the rotation matrix R in equation (1.

For example.4) f 1 0 111 000 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 11111111111 00000000000 h x L x=0 Figure 2. dx (2. the normal stress is given by: σ = Eǫ = E du . and leads to a form which is convenient for later numerical solution. This is complemented by a constitutive relationship which gives the stress in the rod in terms of the strain. The finite element method is a variational method.2) where E is the Young’s modulus. To do this.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’.1 One-dimensional bar Consider the one-dimensional bar in Figure 2. (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.1) where σ. (2. addressing the weak (variational) form of the relevant governing equation.3) To complete the problem. boundary conditions must be specified.1: One-dimensional bar.x is the normal stress in the rod and f is a distributed load along the rod.1. The governing equation for a onedimensional rod element with unit cross-sectional area is (see equation (1.81)): −σ. For a linear-elastic rod.x = f . This has the effect of reducing the order of the derivatives appearing in the equation. The governing equation can then be expressed as: − Eu. A Dirichlet (essential) boundary condition prescribes the displacement at a point. 2. u = 0 at x=0 (2. 21 .xx = f .

9) must hold point-wise. both sides of equation (2. applying a force at the end of the bar is equivalent to prescribing u. the equation must still hold for all admissible weight function (this is a technical point which is discussed in section 2. This is the weak form of the governing equation.12) where S is an appropriately defined space of functions which satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions.8) inserted. σn = h at x = L.6).2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations prescribes the displacement at one end of the bar in Figure 2.6) (2. −wσ. at x = L.x σ dx − wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V . solving the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that L 0 w.2 January 21. (2.8) To develop the weak form of the governing equation. which has an infinite number of members). derivatives of order 22 Version 0.x dx = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V .1 to be equal to zero. (2.3). Considering that σ = Eu.10) can be integrated by parts and the Neumann boundary condition from equation (2. Note that in the strong form. The above boundary condition sets the applied traction at x = L equal to h. (2. which yields: − L 0 wσ.9) where ‘∀w ∈ V ’ means ‘for all w ∈ V ’.5) where n is the outward normal to the bar (equal to 1 in this case).x n| x=0 is not included as by definition the weight function w is equal to zero at x = 0.x n = h 0 < x < L.6) are multiplied by a scalar weight function w ∈ V (w ∈ V means that w comes from the appropriately defined space of functions V . If equation (2.x dx = w f dx ∀w ∈ V . Inserting now the constitutive relationship σ = Eu. An important requirement on the space V is that functions w be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. Multiplying equation (2.11) Note the term wEu. Taking guidance from equation (1.x .x . at x = 0.x = w f L 0 ∀w ∈ V . (2. Since both sides of the equation are multiplied by the weight function. A Neumann (natural) boundary condition prescribes the applied traction.x dx = L 0 w.1) by w. L 0 (2. equation (2.10) is also true.7) (2.60).x Eu. The mathematical problem can now be summarised as: find u such that: − Eu.x . (2.xx = f u=0 Eu. after inserting the constitutive relationship (2. 2011 . then − wσ.

2. The basic form of the equations is the same as the one-dimensional bar in the previous section.xx = f .2.2.13).xx + f ) f dx. satisfying the strong governing equation (in a distributional sense).16) proving that the Neumann boundary conditions are satisfied.xx + f )2 ≥ 0. 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. where φ is greater than zero over the interval ]0. Returning to equation (2.15) Since φ > 0 and ( Eu.17) 23 . L[ and zero outside (specifically at x = 0 and x = L). 2011 Version 0. The complication arises from the three-dimensional setting. (2. Recall that the governing equation is given by: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω.2 Continuum elasticity A more complicated example is continuum elasticity. Assuming that E is constant and integrating by parts the first term in (2.xx dx = L 0 φ ( Eu.xx + f )2 dx = 0.xx + f ) Eu.x n| x= L = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L . (2. In the weak form (2. the above equation can only hold if − Eu.2 (2.xx dx + wEu. (2. it is now proven that the first term is equal to zero. 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.12). w(0) = 0.13).x n = h.12) yields − L 0 wEu. Consider now the continuous body in Figure 2. for any allowable weight function at x = L. only first derivatives with respect to x appear. The strong governing equation for this problem was developed in the previous chapter. Inserting the weight function into equation (2. January 21.14) which can be rearranged to give L 0 φ ( Eu. see Brenner and Scott (1994). as by construction. For a more elaborate mathematical treatment.2 Continuum elasticity two with respect to x appear. (2. Hence. at least in a generalised sense). Eu.13) Note again that no terms at x = 0 appear. Following Hughes (1987). What remains now is to ensure that the Neumann boundary condition is satisfied (Dirichlet boundary conditions are satisfied by construction). Since the weak form is derived from the strong form. − L 0 φ ( Eu.xx + f ).

22) 24 Version 0. the governing equation is multiplied by a weight function w ∈ V . In Figure 2.21) can be integrated by parts (see equation (1.18) where C is a fourth-order tensor. (2. To derive the weak form. the displacements are prescribed (Dirichlet boundary conditions). First. yielding: − Ω ∇w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0. where again V is an appropriately defined function space (w = 0 on Γg ). u=g on Γg . Note that in this case. and integrating over the body Ω yields: Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V .20) The boundary-value problem is now complete. (2. the weight function w is a vector. and integrated over the body.19) On the remaining boundary.2. Multiplying equation (2.21) The first term in equation (2.60)). (2. As in the one-dimensional case.2: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ (Γ = Γg ∪ Γh . Γh . σ = C : ǫ.2 January 21. On part of the boundary.17) by w ∈ V . 2011 . the same steps as in the case of the one-dimensional bar are followed. Boundary conditions are still required to complete the problem. t=h on Γh .2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations h Γh Ω Γg n Figure 2. (2. Γg ∩ Γh = ∅). a constitutive relationship is required. the part of the boundary where displacements are prescribed is denoted Γg . (2. For a linearelastic material. tractions (potentially zero) are applied (traction ≡ force per unit area on a surface).

j ) (2. 2011 Version 0. κ = κI. Ω δǫ : C : ǫ dΩ = Ω δu · b dΩ + Γh δu · h dΓ.26) where u is a potential.2. For linear heat conduction. Therefore ∇s w ≡ δǫ. A wide range of physical phenomena are governed by this equation. u is the hydraulic head and κ is known as the hydraulic conductivity.23). There exists a close link between weak forms and virtual work for a range of problems.2 25 . It is simple to show that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric (see exercise 1). Inserting the constitutive equation into (2. The previous example of continuum elasticity was an example of a system of Poisson equations – one for each spatial direction. The constitutive relationship depends on the problem being solved. The equation of virtual work is therefore the weak form of the governing equation. This is the weak equilibrium equation for a stationary continuous elastic body. the scalar u is the temperature. Often the term ∇w is written as ∇s w. January 21.25) where q is a flux vector and f is a source term. For Darcy’s law. Consider the following equation: −∇ · q + f = 0 in Ω (2. Inserting now the constitutive relationship from equation (2. a solution to the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that − Ω ∇w : C : ǫ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . Inserting this into equation (2. 2.18).3 Poisson equation An equation which is often solved using the finite element method is the Poisson equation. For an isotropic medium. q is the flow rate. where κ is the thermal conductivity. However. including steady-state heat conduction and flow in permeable media (Darcy’s law).24) which is the equation of virtual work. The constitutive relationship is given by: q = −κ ∇ u (qi = −κij u.25) yields a Poisson equation. the symmetric gradient of w. In the case of heat conductivity.3 Poisson equation where σn has been replaced by the prescribed traction h (the Neumann boundary condition). the variational framework is more general. (2. Consistency can be proven in the same fashion as was used for the onedimensional problem. In Darcy’s law. (2.23) where S is an appropriate space of functions which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. q is the heat flux vector. Here the Poisson equation is addressed in a more generic fashion. Consider now w as a ‘virtual displacement’ δu.

(2.4 Minimisation of potential energy For particular equations. − Ω w (∇ · q) dΩ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V .2 January 21. I (u) = 1 2 Ω ∇s u : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω u · b dΩ − ∂Ω u · h dΩ. In the case of heat conduction.25) by a weight function w and integrating over the body Ω. 2. (2. Multiplying equation (2. (2. 2011 . suppose that u is the solution to the weak problem. (2. w = u + v.33) 26 Version 0. there exists a close link between minimisation of energy and solution of the weak form. it is the hydraulic head. and consider the potential energy functional I.31) which is the weak form of the Poisson equation.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations As for all previous examples.32) The potential energy for another displacement field. and for Darcy flow is it the inflow/outflow across a boundary. is given by I (u) ≤ I (u + v) = 1 2 Ω ∇s (u + v) : C : ∇s (u + v) dΩ − Ω (u + v) · b dΩ − ∂Ω (u + v) · h dΩ. The Neumann boundary condition requires that: −q · n = h on Γh (2.2).30) Inserting now the constitutive relationship and the boundary condition −q · n = h leads to the problem: find u ∈ S such that: − Ω ∇w · κ∇u dΩ + Γh wh dΓ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . The weak form of the Poisson equation is derived following the same steps as in the previous two examples. (2. For heat conduction. such as equilibrium of an elastic body. For Darcy flow.28) where n is the outward normal to the surface Γh (see Figure 2.27) which prescribes the potential on the boundary.29) Integrating the LHS of the above equation by parts yields: Ω ∇w · q dΩ − Γh wq · n dΓ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . For an elastic body Ω. this is the temperature on the boundary Γg . The Dirichlet conditions impose: u=g on Γg (2. the boundary-value problem requires boundary conditions. this imposes the heat flux on Γh .

x x Figure 2.5 Regularity requirements A common topic in finite element analysis is continuity.3: Example of a C0 function f . this is a commonly used function in finite element analysis. 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 (2.3)).3 is a continuous. This means that the functions are continuous. piecewise linear function. 2. In finite element analysis. January 21.34) Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ. It is not a possible solution. it is clear that it involves only first derivatives with respect to x of u and w. this means that its nth derivative is continuous. If a function is C n . Consider now if the function f is a possible solution u of the strong equation for a bar (equation (2. This is a classic mathematical property of weak forms. From Figure 2. in a classical sense. and is essential for the finite element method. the second derivative of f with respect to x ( f . functions which are C0 are most commonly used. which proves that solution of the weak form corresponds to minimisation of the potential energy.2 27 . since for equation (2. Functions are often classified as being C n continuous. As will be seen in the following chapters. but their first derivatives are not. Examining now the weak form for the rod (equation (2.3) to make sense. the weak form allows for more possible solutions.3. In summary.12)).2. Continuity refers to whether or not the derivatives of a function are continuous.5 Regularity requirements f f .3.xx ) must exist. in which the terms inside the brackets sum to zero for any v since u is a solution to the weak form (see equation 2. Therefore a function like f is a possible solution of the weak form and a possible weight function.23). and the last term Ω ∇s v : C : ∇s v dΩ ≥ 0. its second derivative does not exist. 2011 Version 0. A C0 function is shown in Figure 2. it is clear that it is simple to take the first derivative of the function f . However.

A function u is said to be square integrable if: Ω (u)2 dx < ∞.35) Functions which are square integrable come from the Hilbert space known as L2 (Ω). The notation u ∈ H 1 means that u comes from (is an element of) H 1 . since a fundamental step in the finite element method will involve finite-dimensional function spaces. but this point is not important here). It is useful to define function spaces. u| Γg = g}. 28 Version 0. w| Γg = 0}.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. Consider first a scalar problem in an n-dimensional domain Ω. Trial functions u come from the space S (u ∈ S ). Functions for which: Ω (u)2 + (u. Importantly. which is defined by: V = {w | w ∈ H 1 (Ω) .36) are known as members of the Sobolev space on degree one. In physical terms. Clearly. Sobolev spaces are infinite-dimensional. (2. When solving second-order differential equations. This is of crucial importance. such functions may be discontinuous.x )2 dΩ < ∞ (2. (2.2 January 21. This can be seen in the well-known Sobolev embedding theorem. Functions spaces can be considered the ‘family’ of functions from which u and w can come. which is denoted H 1 (Ω). The function space S is defined by: S = {u | u ∈ H 1 (Ω) . from which the trial and weight functions come. (2. 2. The weight functions come from the space V (w ∈ V ).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 = 0.6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces There are certain mathematical requirements that must be met by the trial and weight functions for the weak form to ‘make sense’. an infinite number of different functions belong to a given Sobolev space. functions which have square-integrable derivatives are of interest. For multiple spatial dimensions. there do however exist functions from H 1 (Ω) which are not C0 continuous. the requirement that the trial functions be square-integrable implies that energy must be finite.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. That is. 2011 . Note that C0 functions belong to H 1 .

(2. prove that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric.39) V = {wi | wi ∈ H 1 (Ω) . 3. 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.40) Further details can be found in texts on functional analysis and the mathematical analysis of the finite element method. is u a possible trial solution? January 21.2 29 . Derive the weak form.7 Exercises In multiple dimensions. a = b) 5. (2. If the √ displacement field was of the form u = a r (all derivatives of a exist and are well behaved and a is not dependent on r). (Hint: use index notation. The Helmholtz equation is given by: ∇ · (∇φ) + kφ = 0 and is often used in wave propagation problems. For 3 × 3 second-order tensors (matrices).23) for elasticity using index notation.2.7 Exercises 1.) 2. 4. where r is the distance from the crack tip (r ≥ 0). Solutions for the displacement field from linear-elastic fracture mechanics often √ involve a term r. 2011 Version 0. u ∈ S where S = {ui | ui ∈ H 1 (Ω) . ui | Γg = gi } and similarly for weight functions w ∈ V . wi | Γg = 0}. 2. Derive the weak equilibrium equation (2.


The essence of the Galerkin method involves taking the weak form of the governing equation.5) 31 . it is generic for a range of different problems.2) (3. named after the Russian engineer Galerkin. and finding the best solution to a problem given a collection of functions. Commonly. This means that there is a limited number of possibilities. the finite-dimensional trial and weight functions are denoted uh and wh .x Eu. Considering now the elasticity problem in equation (2. 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 (3.23). being able to solve a greater range of problems. The Galerkin method is however more general. (3.x dx + w h h| x= L = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . where S h ⊂ S is a finite-dimensional space. uh could be a combination of low order polynomial functions. as developed in the previous chapter.1 Approximate solution First.x Eu. For example. 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. (3. Furthermore.4) L 0 h h w. consider the approximate solution to some problem.1) where V h ⊂ V is a finite dimensional space. It is a method for finding approximate solutions to partial differential equations. The Galerkin problem for an elastic bar (equation (2. uh = L wh where B wh .12)) involves: find uh ∈ S h such that − L 0 h h w. respectively.3 The Galerkin method The finite element method is one particular Galerkin method. uh = and L wh = wh h| x= L .x dx ∀w h ∈ V h (3.3) This abstract format is introduced to keep the derivation of some later developments compact. 3. In a multidimensional context. the above equation is expressed in the abstract format as: find uh ∈ S h such that B wh . uh ∈ S h .

A basic question which arises when computing an approximate solution is how uh relates to the exact solution u. e − L wh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. In Petrov-Galerkin method. Inserting equation (3. Different Galerkin-based methods are defined by how the unknown field uh is represented.9) into equation (3. this implies that: B wh . the weight functions come from a different function space than the trial functions. 2011 . the error in the displacement e at a point is defined by: e = u − uh (3. the Bubnov-Galerkin method) requires that the weight and trial functions come from the same finite-dimensional space.2 January 21. u − L w h = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h . uh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. B wh . For the one-dimensional problem. e = B wh . 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.2 Basic error analysis It is interesting to check how the solution computed using the Galerkin procedure compares to the exact solution. u − B wh . uh = and L wh = Ω Ω ∇s wh : C : ǫh dΩ wh · h dΓ. This is examined in the following section.8) where u is the exact solution and uh is the solution to equation (3. uh and w h will be simple continuous. B wh . In the abstract notation of equation 3. B w h . taking into account the special requirements on the weight and trial functions where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.10) Since u is the exact solution.9) For generality. Spectral Galerkin methods for example use a truncated Fourier series as the basis. this will be investigated using the abstract notation.3 The Galerkin method where ǫ h = ∇s uh . which solution does the method seek? Understanding this requires some basic error analysis.7) The Galerkin method (more specifically.6) wh · b dΩ + Γh (3. u − B wh . why it doesn’t work). This method is used for special applications. piecewise low-order polynomials defined on ‘finite elements’. often in fluid mechanics.1). The approximate solution is therefore equal to: uh = u − e (3. (3. 3. Given a finite number of possibilities in S h . In the finite element method.2).2.11) 32 Version 0.

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

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


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

∀w h ∈ V h


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

= 1 B (v, v) 2


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

≤ u − wh


∀w h ∈ V h


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

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

January 21, 2011

Version 0.2


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

lim uh = u


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

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


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January 21, 2011

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

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


1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0








1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0

L Figure 4.1: One-dimensional bar.


7) 36 Version 0.1) where xi is the coordinate of node i. Given that wi is not a function of spatial position.  x i − x i +1 − x i − x i +1     0 otherwise.4 Formulation of the finite element method nodes.x u j j =1 n dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ. ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni. (4.x wi i =1 n E ∑ Nj.x Eu. i =1 n (4.   x i − x i −1 x i − x i −1   x i +1 x Ni = x i < x < x i +1 . In finite element analysis. is given by  x x i −1   − x i −1 < x ≤ x i . i =1 n (4. (4. From this expression. h ǫh = u.2 January 21.x wi i =1 n h dΓ (4. the approximate displacement field uh is given by uh = ∑ Ni ( x) ui . discretised with n nodal points. these basis functions are known as ‘shape functions’. It is expressed using the same basis functions as the displacement field.x = dNi u.x u j j =1 n dΩ = Ω ∑ Ni wi i =1 n f dΩ + Γh ∑ Ni. The basis function at node i. Ω ∑ Ni.6) for all possible values of wi .5) and inserting the expression for the expressions for the approximate displacement field and the weight function.4) Recalling the weak form for a one-dimensional elastic rod. it can be taken outside of the integrals. an expression is needed for the weight function w h . For a one-dimensional bar. hence wh = ∑ Ni wi . (4.3) To develop the Galerkin problem.x dΩ = Ω w h f dΩ + Γh w h h dΓ ∀ wh ∈ V h . the approximate displacement field is given in terms of the shape functions and the approximate displacement at a finite number of points (nodes).x E ∑ Nj. Hence. 2011 .2) where ui is the value of the field uh at node i. the strain field can be computed easily by taking the derivative of the shape functions. dx i i =1 ∑ n (4. Ω h h w.

which can be expressed as the system of equations. then the row and the column k is removed from the stiffness matrix.x dΩ (4. u j can also be taken outside of the integrals. (4. ∑ wi ∑ u j i =1 j =1 n n Ω Ni. A discussion of more general boundary conditions is delayed until the end of the chapter.11) Nj f dΩ + Γh Nj h dΓ (4. This yields n equations (one for each wi .9) must hold. Dirichlet boundary conditions must be enforced. and hence an expression for the approximate displacement field along the rod. and f = f i as the right-hand side (RHS) vector. A typical finite element mesh is shown in Figure 4. Elements may not overlap.4. Nodes are points in space. for each i ∑ uj j =1 n Ω Ni. Solving this linear system of equations provides u j . The problem has been divided into many quadrilateral elements. Therefore.2.2 37 . while elements are lines (1D). and the kth term is deleted from the vector f . Matrices and vectors can be built for each element before being assembled into global matrices and vectors.10) Ni.8) This equation must hold for all possible combinations of wi .x E Nj. A finite element mesh consists of nodal points and elements. A mesh divides a body into a number of elements. this is relatively simple.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. Kij u j = f i . If a boundary condition is applied at node k. Consider the case that all but one wi is equal to zero.x E Nj.2 General finite element basis functions Likewise. 4.12) The matrix K = Kij is commonly known as the stiffness matrix.x dΩ = Ω Ni f dΩ + Γh Ni h dΓ (4. 2011 Version 0.x dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ. where Kij = and fi = Ω Ω (4. and n unknowns in the form of ui ). A simple finite element January 21.x E Nj. For the zero Dirichlet conditions. It is useful to define shape functions on finite elements. surfaces (2D) or volumes (3D) which are constructed by joining nodal points. In order the solve the linear system.

2: Typical two-dimensional finite element mesh. 7 8 5 7 8 6 38 Version 0.2 January 21. 2011 .4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4. 6 4 3 4 3 1 2 1 2 5 9 Figure 4.3: Simple two-dimensional finite element mesh.

4: One-dimensional linear bar element and associated shape functions. Each shape function Ni is associated with a node i.4.3. Shape functions for various elements are discussed in detail in the following sections. 2011 Version 0. is equal to one at the node and zero at all other nodes.1. A finite element shape function is only non-zero on elements to which it is attached. The displacement field is given by a linear combination of a finite number of basis functions (a summation of the basis functions. Having a compact support. As in the one-dimensional case. Ni . as introduced in Section 4.2. each multiplied by a nodal value. Consider the one-dimensional bar element in Figure 4.4. The bar has two nodes. known as finite elements. and zero at all other nodes. (4.13) January 21.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 2 L x=0 Figure 4.3. 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. For a node i.1 One-dimensional bar elements To begin. In Figure 4. Finite element shape functions are typically piecewise continuous polynomial functions with a ‘compact support’. the shape function associated with that node. mesh is shown in Figure 4. the basis functions are defined on simple geometric elements. the discretised field can be inserted into the weak governing equations. shape functions are non-zero only close to their node. linear one dimensional elements. 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 . Both nodes and elements are numbered. They are characterised by being equal to unity at their node.2 39 . Once the displacement field uh and its derivatives ∇uh can be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns. In the finite element method. 4. the mesh is constructed with triangular elements. denoted by the solid circles. Each element has three nodes. are examined. the amplitude).

20) N2 .4 Formulation of the finite element method where ai is the displacement at node i (it is ‘stored’ at the node). uh = − x x + 1 a1 + a2 . L L (4.16) x + 1. (4. dx dx 1 dx L L (4. the derivative of the shape function with respect to x is a constant function within an element. a2 (4.22) (4. The shape functions corresponding to each node are given by: N1 = − N2 = Hence.14) (4. In matrix-vector notation.19) (4.18) The strain is given by: ǫh = Bae . the derivative of the displacement field with respect to x (the strain) is required. to solve a problem. where the matrix B is equal to: B= dN1 dx dN2 . the displacement and strain can be calculated in any part of the element.16) with respect to x. The matrix-vector notation for uh and ǫh may seem trivial for one-dimensional problems. Therefore. where N = N1 and ae = a1 . It does however make the generalisation to multiple dimensions simple.2 January 21.15) x . in terms of nodal degrees of freedom ae . 40 Version 0. as its shape functions are linear polynomials. L (4. Now. L This type of element is known as a linear element. Note also that these shape functions posses C0 continuity – they are continuous but their derivatives involve jumps across element boundaries.21) The shape functions for two linear elements are shown in Figure 4.17) In the case of a linear displacement interpolation. The weak form of the governing equations involves derivatives with respect to the spatial position. ǫh = duh dN1 dN2 1 1 = a + a2 = − a1 + a2 . dx (4. 2011 . Taking the derivative of equation (4.5. the displacement field is expressed as: uh = Nae .

2011 Version 0. For a one-dimensional quadratic element. it has the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 . and the strain field (using engineering notation) is given by: ǫ h = Bae . In two dimensions. the displacement field is given by: uh = ∑ Ni (x) ai .5: Shape functions for two one-dimensional linear bar elements.. obviously the strain field is linear. Since the displacement field is quadratic. linear and quadratic (and even higher) variations in the unknown field can be described within an element.2 41 .26) (4. the N matrix has the form: N = N1 N2 N3 .2. Nnn 0 0 .4. . i =1 3 (4.. The interpolation basis for higher-order elements is richer since both constant. The displacement field for an element is given by: uh = Nae .23) Therefore. (4. Higher-order one-dimensional elements It is possible to develop one-dimensional elements with higher-order polynomial interpolations.2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 L1 L2 Figure 4. each unknown field (such as displacement in each direction) is interpolated using the polynomial shape functions. Higher-order elements simply have more nodes.2 Two-dimensional continuum elasticity elements In two or more dimensions.24) and the B matrix has a similar form...6 illustrates shape functions for quadratic and cubic elements. 4. More nodes through which the shape function must interpolate naturally means a higher-order polynomial is required. Figure 4. Nnn (4.25) The matrix N contains the element shape functions.27) January 21. (4.

28) B= 0 . (4.2 January 21. For two-dimensional problems. 0   ∂x ∂x ∂x    ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂Nnn    0 .  ∂y ∂y ∂y     ∂N1 ∂N1 ∂N2 ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂Nnn  . the matrix B has the form:   ∂N2 ∂Nnn ∂N1 0 0 .6: Higher-order one-dimensional elements.7.. ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x The simplest element in two-dimensions is the three-node triangle.    a1 x   a    1y         a2 x      a2 y .   .. 2011 .. 0 (4. For a two-dimensional problem..         ann x        ann y 42 Version 0.4 Formulation of the finite element method 1 1 1 1 2 3 quadratic shape functions 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 cubic shape functions Figure 4. 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. where nn is the numbers of nodes of the element.   ..29) ae =  ..

hence the strain in the element is constant.7: Three-node triangular element.2 General finite element basis functions ( x3 .1 Consider the element in Figure 4. yi ) is the location of the ith node. y3 ) = c1 x3 + c2 y3 + c3 = 0. It is clear from the linear form of the shape functions for the three-node triangle that the derivatives are constant. (4. Given the following coordinates of each of where ( xi .31) (4.2 43 .4. Its shape function must satisfy: N1 ( x1 .32) (4.33) Solving the above system of equations yields the coefficients for the shape function of node 1. y1 ) = c1 x1 + c2 y2 + c3 = 1.30) The shape function for a node is illustrated in Figure 4. (4. y2 ) = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 = 0.8: Shape function for a three-node element. N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 . y2 ) Figure 4.7.8. the coefficients c can be found by solving a linear system of equations. 2011 Version 0. Consider node 1 in Figure 4. (4. Given that a shape function should have a value of unity at its node and zero at other nodes. y3 ) 3 1 2 ( x1 .34)     c3 x3 y3 1 0 January 21. This can be cast in a matrix form as:      x 1 y 1 1  c 1  1   x2 y2 1 c2 = 0 . N1 ( x2 . Figure 4. y1 ) ( x2 . Example 4.7. N1 ( x3 .

Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xy + c2 x + c3 y + c4 . 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. plane and three-dimensional elements can have higher-order interpolations. ( x1 .x 0 N2. the strain in this element is not constant.2 January 21.y B= 0 N1.25y + 0. A shape function for a four-node element is shown in Figure 4. 2) ( x2 . due to the presence of the xy terms in the shape functions.36) 44 Version 0. y3 ) = (2. 2011 . Higher-order solid elements As in one-dimensional problems.x N3.25x − 0. (4. the only non-zero term on the RHS corresponds to node 2. Unlike the three-node triangle.x N2. y2 ) = (4.35) It is also know as a bilinear element. 3) To find the coefficients.9.x and the B matrix is of the form:  N1.y  N3. the N and B matrices can be formed. find the shape function for node 2. A four-node quadrilateral element is shown in Figure 4. a system of equations (see equation (4.34)) is formed.x 0 N3. Since the shape function for node 2 is being calculated.4 Formulation of the finite element method the nodes. 1) ( x3 . y1 ) = (1.      1 2 1  c1  0 4 1 1  c 2 = 1     c3 2 3 1 0 Solving this system of equations gives: N2 = 0.y N2.25 Once the shape functions have been computed for each node.y N1.y 0 N2.y A very commonly used element in finite element analysis is the four-node quadrilateral.10. 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.x 0 N1.

A Pascal triangle for serendipity elements is shown in Figure 4.2 General finite element basis functions 4 3 1 2 Figure 4. As with the three-node triangle. a new ‘row’ of terms from the Pascal triangle is added to the shape functions.13. Each time the order of a triangle is increased.14. Note that serendipity     1  c1  1                 1  c2  0               c  0 1  3     . Serendipity elements have nodes only on element boundaries. Linear. Figure 4. Higher-order quadrilateral elements can also be constructed. the coefficients can be found by solving a linear system of equations. Note that triangular elements are complete – that is the shape functions contain all polynomial terms up to a given order.4. They belong to one of two families: serendipity or Lagrange.9: Four-node quadrilateral element. =  1  c4  0                 1  c5  0                  c6  0 1 (4.37) January 21.12).15. Several serendipity and Lagrange finite elements are shown in Figure 4.11 The polynomial terms needed for triangular elements can be taken from a Pascal triangle (see Figure 4.2 45 . 2011 Version 0. quadratic and cubic triangular elements are shown in Figure 4. whereas Lagrange elements have nodes on the element interior. Solving the below system of equations would yield the coefficients for node 1.  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 4.10: A shape function for four-node quadrilateral element.

11: Two shape functions for a six-node triangular element. 1 x x2 x3 x4 .12: Pascal triangle – polynomial terms for triangular elements of order n.. quadratic and cubic triangular elements. . 2011 ...13: Linear. xy xy2 xy3 ... Figure 4. .... x3 y ..2 January 21.4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4.. y y2 y3 y4 . Figure 4.... 46 Version 0.. x2 y x 2 y2 .

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 ... elements of order higher than three ’miss’ polynomial terms.15: Pascal triangle for serendipity elements. . 2011 Version 0.. Internal nodes must be introduced to ensure all polynomial terms are included. 1 x x2 x3 x4 . x3 y x2 y xy xy2 xy3 .. (4. The Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements is shown in Figure 4.2 47 ..14: Serendipity (a) and Lagrange (b) quadrilateral finite elements.. Eight. y y2 y3 y4 .2 General finite element basis functions (a) (b) Figure 4..4. The shape functions for the eight-node serendipity quadrilateral have the form: N = c1 x2 y + c2 xy2 + c3 x2 + c4 y2 + c5 xy + c6 x + c7 y + c8 .39) January 21.16. and are therefore not recommended. The elements do not suffer from the limitation of missing polynomial terms for any order interpolation.. (4. Figure 4.and nine-node quadrilateral elements are commonly used in finite element analysis.

(4. The numbers of nodes per element increases rapidly.. xy xy2 xy3 . A four-node tetrahedral element has linear shape functions. . Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xyz + c2 xy + c3 xz + c4 yz + c5 x + c6 y + c7 z + c8 . .. they often have more degrees of freedom per node.40) Similar to the three-node triangle.... Figure 4. These two elements are shown in Figure 4. Also. Not only do the elements tend to have more nodes. 2011 .16: Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements. Commonly used shapes are tetrahedra and bricks.. The simplest brick element has eight nodes. x3 y x 3 y2 x 3 y3 x2 y x 2 y2 x 2 y3 .and two-dimensional elements. They can be formed in the same fashion as one. Figure 4..2 January 21.3 Three-dimensional elements Three-dimensional elements are increasingly used in engineering analysis..17: Tetrahedral and brick three-dimensional finite elements. y y2 y3 . They are of the form: N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 z + c4 . the derivatives of the shape functions are constant within an element. 48 Version 0.4 Formulation of the finite element method 1 x x2 x3 . Higher-order version of both tetrahedral and brick elements also exist.41) This is known as a ‘trilinear element’.. (4...17. 4. wedge type elements are often used for generating meshes for complex geometries.2.. The computational effort required for three-dimensional analysis can become high.

e N T h dΓ. 1989) 4. Now.42) (4.1)) is considered.18).4.45) The be terms appear on both sides of the equality. 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. l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = Γh. 2011 Version 0.3 Governing equations x=0 x x = l1 x = l2 x=L Figure 4.e is only non-zero if the boundary of the element coincides with the boundary Γh . (4. s h where the notation has been ‘abused’ as ∇s wh is being expressed as a vector (recall that this is possible due to symmetry). Take a single element (of any order) which extends from l1 to l2 (see Figure 4. the one-dimensional governing equation for an elastic rod (equation (3.46) January 21.3 Governing equations At this point.44) where the integral over Γh. (4.2 49 . 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.43) ∇ w = Bbe . for the multi-dimensional case within an element.18: One-dimensional bar showing the element that extends from x = l1 to x = l2 . The discrete nodal values can be removed from the integrals.e N T h dΓ. Therefore. The discretised governing equation for the element is expressed as: l2 l1 ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh. (4. (4.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. The weight (test) functions are discretised in the same fashion as the unknown field uh . wh = Nbe . What remains is the insertion of the discretised field uh into the governing weak equation. 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). and can therefore be eliminated.

For a two dimensional problem. it must be assembled into the global stiffness matrix. Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for an element. A third advantage is that isoparametric mapping allows higher-order elements to have curved edges. its contribution is added to the ‘global’ stiffness matrix K. 2011 . The assembly process is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. e= f = Ane 1 f e .5). It also allows the simple application of numerical integration.47) is known as the ‘element stiffness matrix’. y) in the ‘physical’ Cartesian 50 Version 0.4 Isoparametric mapping In practice. Following the same steps as for the onedimensional problem.50) (4. The component k ij is added to the location K I J . the term k ij relates local nodes i and j.2 January 21.48) (recall that b denotes the body force). as is discussed in the following section. For a continuum elasticity problem.51) where A represents the assembly operation and ne is the number of elements in the mesh. For an element stiffness matrix. An isoparametric mapping is defined via a mapping using the nodal shape functions.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ + Ωe ( Nbe ) T b dΩ (4. it requires the programming of only one function to evaluate the shape functions of a type of element. (4. the discretised displacement and strain fields are inserted into equation (3. This yields: Ωe ( Bbe ) T DBae dΩ = Γh. e= (4. This approach has a number of advantages. the element stiffness matrix is expressed as: B T DB dΩ ae = N T h dΓ + N T b dΩ. In the global mesh. local node i has global node number I.4 Formulation of the finite element method The term ke = l2 l1 B T EB dΩ (4. This is denoted symbolically by the operation: K = Ane 1 ke . the point ( x. isoparametric elements are used in finite element software.49) Ωe Γh. and similarly for J. The shape functions are formed for a simple element configuration (typically elements with unit length side and with sides aligned with the coordinate system and with a convenient origin). irrespective of the exact shape of the element. 4.e Ωe Once the stiffness matrix has been formed for each element in the problem. From the point of view of implementation.

i =1 nn i =1 (4.2 51 .19. The map x takes a point within the bi-unit square in the (ξ. where (ξ. In the governing weak equations. configuration is given by: nn x= y= ∑ Ni (ξ. 2011 Version 0.53) The difficulty that arises is when computing derivatives with respect to the real coordinates.4 Isoparametric mapping x 3 (−1. shape functions can be defined on simple shapes. η ) xi . ξ and η. η ) yi . and nn is number of nodes of the element. η ) aix .−1) x 1 ξ Figure 4. The mapping for a four-node quadrilateral element is illustrated in Figure 4.19: Isoparametric mapping for a bi-unit square. y) system.1) (1. To proceed.1) 2 4 4 3 η ξ 1 (−1. as the shape functions are defined in terms of the natural coordinates. For example the displacement in the x-direction at a point is given by: nn uh = ∑ Ni (ξ. η ) in the bi-unit square. taking a point in the real Cartesian ( x.4. Using an isoparametric mapping. η ) domain and maps it to a point in the ‘real’ element in the Cartesian ( x. consider the application of the product rule for differentia- January 21.52) ∑ Ni (ξ.−1) y 2 (1. The map ξ is the inverse of x. The position on the bi-unit square is given by the natural coordinates. such as the bi-unit square. η ) are known as the ‘natural coordinates’. i =1 (4. derivatives of the unknown field with respect to x and y are required. y) system and mapping to a point (ξ.

60)  ∂Ni  j − ∑nn Nj.2 January 21. Taking the inverse of the Jacobian. the terms in the matrix J can be computed.55) (4. 2011 . ∂η ∂η i i =1 (4.η x j     ∑nn1 Nj. from equation (4.η y j  =  . ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x.56) where the matrix J is commonly known as the Jacobian matrix. (4.      ∂y  ∂ f  ∂y ∂f      −  ∂x  ∂ξ   ∂ξ  1  ∂η  =  . (4.54) (4.52)).ξ y j  ∂ξ    ∂x  1 ∑ j=1 Nj.57) the derivatives of the shape function of node i with respect to x and y can be computed. Using the shape function. ∂ξ ∂x ∂ξ ∂y ∂ξ ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + .57) ∂x   ∂ f  ∂f  j  ∂x         − ∂y ∂η ∂ξ ∂η J where j = det J. ∂η ∂η i i =1 nn ∂Ni ∂y =∑ y. ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + . (4.  ∂ f   ∂x ∂y   ∂ f          ∂η ∂η ∂η ∂y J (4.       ∂Ni   nn  ∂Ni  nn    − ∑ j=1 Nj.ξ x j  ∂Ni      j =1 j= ∂y ∂η 52 Version 0. ∂η ∂x ∂η ∂y ∂η This can be written in matrix form as:      ∂x ∂y  ∂ f  ∂f       ∂ξ   ∂ξ ∂ξ   ∂x   = .58) In light of the isoparametric mapping (equation (4. defined in terms of ξ and η.59) Once terms of the matrix J have been formed. nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x.4 Formulation of the finite element method tion for a function f . ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂y ∂Ni =∑ y.

1987). Consider the triangle in Figure 4. For the bi-unit quadrilateral in Figure 4.1) 3 3 6 5 2 1 (0. Is is also possible to directly address isoparametric triangular elements. s and t. While this procedure may seen complex.0) r 1 (0. 2011 Version 0. Quadrilateral elements The shape functions for quadrilateral elements on a bi-unit square is particularly simple.0) (1. 4 (4.20. The position of a point inside the triangle is given by r.4 Isoparametric mapping s (0. where: t = 1 − r − s. and an eight-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a six-node triangular element. 1996.19. η ) = 1 (1 + ξ i ξ ) (1 + ηi η ) .62) January 21. This way. it can be implemented in a computer code in a simple and compact fashion.0) r Figure 4.4.1) s (0.2 53 . Now. A popular approach is to ‘degenerate’ a quadrilateral element to a triangular element (Bathe. they can be calculated for the real configuration.61) Similar formulae can be found for eight.0) 4 2 (1. the shape function of the ith node is given by: Ni (ξ. Triangular elements Isoparametric mappings are also applied for triangular elements. 1987). a four-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a threenode triangular element. Hughes. once the derivatives of the shape functions have been calculated on the simple isoparametric domain.and nine-node elements (Hughes. Triangular elements are often described using area coordinates. (4.20: Three-node and six-node triangles using area coordinates. The latter approach is followed here.

the problem is not yet fully discrete.21. 1 nint −1 f (ξ ) dξ ≃ ∑ f ( ξ i ) wi . Before proceeding to the element matrices.20. Numerical integration is illustrated in Figure 4. To do this. p. N2 = 2r − r. the element stiffness matrices and RHS vectors still involve integration over volumes and surfaces (see section 4. consider in two dimensions that: B T DB dΩ = 1 1 Ωe −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη. There is a formula for the shape functions of arbitrary order in terms of r. s and t on triangles (Hughes.4 Formulation of the finite element method The shape functions for the nodes of the element in Figure 4. nint is the number of discrete points (integration points) at which the function is evaluated and wi is the weight asnint signed to each point ∑i=1 wi = 2 . η ) domain. For the integration of a function f (ξ ) from −1 to 1. it convenient to integrate in the (ξ.5 Numerical integration At this stage. 1987. 2 N4 = 4rt. (4.2 January 21. It is common for higher-order elements that the apexes are first numbered (corner nodes in the case of quadrilateral elements). While the displacement field has been discretised. To evaluate the stiffness matrix of an element. (4.65) Note the numbering of the nodes for the quadratic triangle in Figure 4. N6 = 4st. (4.63) (4.66) N3 = 2s2 − s.3).67) i =1 where ξ i are discrete points on the integral domain. 4. (4. 166). numerical integration in one-dimension is considered. N5 = 4rs.68) 54 Version 0. N3 = s. N2 = r. Two schemes which arise in finite element analysis are Newton-Cotes and Gauss integration.64) (4. the shape functions are equal to: N1 = 2t2 − t. then the mid-side nodes. numerical integration is applied. To make the formulation fully discrete (and amendable to computer implementation). Different integration schemes specify where the points are located and the weight associated with each point. For a quadratic (six-node) triangular element.20 are then: N1 = t. 2011 .

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

4 Formulation of the finite element method n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 1 weight wi 2 1 1 1 3 4 3 1 3 1 4 3 4 3 4 1 4 3 −1 0 1 4 −1 − 1 3 1 3 1 Table 4.2: Gauss integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1. 1]. 1]. 2011 . n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 −√ 3 1 √ 3 3 − 5 0 3 5 weight wi 2 1 1 5 9 8 9 5 9 3 Table 4. 56 Version 0.2 January 21.1: Newton-Cotes integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1.

The four-node quadrilateral element requires 2 × 2 points for full integration. Similarly. This means that a deformation mode exists which does not contribute to the energy.4. quadratic variation. If a two-dimensional element has more than three zero eigenvalues. the eight-node quadrilateral requires 3 × 3 points for full integration. A test for the element stiffness matrix is to calculate its eigenvalues. The danger of underintegrating elements is that spurious modes may arise. In one dimension. although it is safer to use full integration. In two dimensions.3.2 57 . Figure 4. January 21.modes which do not contribute to the energy. there is likely a deficiency in the formulation. This deformation mode can develop in an uncontrolled fashion. They appear naturally in the weak formulation (hence the common name ‘natural boundary conditions’). In solid and structural mechanics. two points are required in each direction.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions Figure 4. It is often argued that a zero energy mode will be restrained by neighbouring elements. 4. In summary. The number of zero eigenvalues indicates the number of rigid body modes . recommended integration schemes for commonly used one. two relating the translation (x and y directions) and one for rigid body rotation. For some applications it may be advantageous to use reduced integration schemes in combination with particular elements. To integrate a quadratic function in two dimensions. Non-zero Dirichlet boundary conditions are more complicated to enforce. although a 2 × 2 scheme is often used. In the Galerkin method. 2011 Version 0. although it is often integrated with just one point. there should only be one zero eigenvalue which corresponds to translation.and twodimensional elements are shown in Table 4.22 shows the classic ‘hour-glass’ spurious mode for an eight-node quadrilateral when using reduced 2 × 2 integration. there should be only three zero eigenvalues. Reduced integration schemes can improve the performance of some elements for special applications.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions The imposition of Neumann (force) boundary conditions in the finite element method is straightforward.22: Spurious zero energy mode for the eight-node quadrilateral element when using 2 × 2 integration. the trial functions (uh ) must satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions.

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. 58 Version 0. 2011 .2 January 21.3: Recommended integration schemes for commonly used elements.

4. ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv . (4. Since the weight function is defined to be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. January 21. ke a = ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv fg .6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions this means that the uh must satisfy the prescribed displacements where they are specified. it is not included in the global system of equations to be solved. Since g is known. vv vg (4. vh is equal to zero where Dirichlet (displacement) boundary conditions are applied and gh satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions.73) where av is the only unknown.mod = f ie − nn (4.6. the element RHS vector is modified. Two common approached are outlined below.75) Once the element stiffness matrix has been formed.72) Since g is known. It is possible to write: ke av + ke g = f v . 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. f ie.1 Elimination of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom The displacement field can be expressed by: uh = vh + gh . vv vg In terms of indexes. the element RHS vector can be modified to enforce Dirichlet boundary conditions before assembly into the global RHS vector.70) where uh is the displacement. In discretised form at element level. Dirichlet boundary conditions can be enforced by modifying the RHS vector.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.71) where av are the nodal unknowns at nodes where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.74) j =1 ∑ ke ge . and g are the applied Dirichlet boundary conditions.2 59 . ij j (4. ke av = f e − ke g. 2011 Version 0. (4. 0 (4.

Form the shape functions for a Lagrange nine-node quadrilateral element 3.4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. 60 Version 0. However. A disadvantage is that the size of the system of equations to be solved is larger than when the extra degrees of freedom are eliminated (but only marginally so in a typical simulation) and if the stiffness matrix is symmetric before the imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions. Consider the Laplace equation. 2004).6. 4. both the finite element method and the finite difference method require the solution of a system of equations Ka = f . except the diagonal term which is set equal to one. 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. Under what conditions the matrix B T DB is symmetric? 5. Show why this is.7 Exercises 1.2 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. and that the value of the Dirichlet boundary condition is returned in the solution vector which simplifies postprocessing. The second-order finite difference equation for the second derivative is: d2 u dx2 = i ui−1 − 2ui + ui+1 h2 For unequally spaced nodes. symmetry is lost. The advantage of this scheme is its simplicity. The three-node triangle element is often referred to as the ‘constant strain triangle’ (CST). 2011 . 4. The value of Dirichlet boundary condition is then inserted into the vector f at position k.2 January 21. For a plane elasticity problem. In one dimension and for equally spaced nodal points (nodes are a distance h apart). compare the matrix K for the finite element method with linear elements and for the secondorder central finite difference method. 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. which is given by: ∆u = ∇ · (∇u) = 0 To solve this problem. at which points is the stress from the finite element solution not uniquely defined when using C0 elements? 2.

1 and for E = 1 and ν = 0.2. 2011 Version 0. Calculate the eigenvalues of the stiffness matrix and comment on their significance. 8. Calculate its eigenvalues using one-point and 2 × 2 integration. January 21.7 Exercises 6.4. Formulate the stiffness matrix for the element in Figure 4. 7.7 using the nodal coordinates in Example 4. Calculate and plot the shape functions for the eight-node quadrilateral element on a bi-unit square. Form the stiffness matrix for a four-node quadrilateral on a bi-unit square.2 61 .


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

First.3.82 1.3: Element connectivity.0 Figure 5.0 0.6 0. The problem in Figure 5.2. The second column gives the boundary condition type: Dirichlet (displacement) = 1 and Neumann (force) = 0. the node to which a boundary condition is applied is listed. 2011 . For each element. % 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 5.2 January 21.1 involves both Dirichlet (displacement) and Neumann (force) boundary conditions.2 Program flow Once the input for a finite element analysis has been prepared. The connectivity list for Figure 5. For each node.1 is given in Figure 5.0 2.5 2. In addition to nodal coordinates and the connectivity. boundary conditions must be specified. The outline of a typical finite element program for linear static problems 64 Version 0.0 0. The list can begin with any node of the element. the x and y coordinate is given. 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).2: Nodal coordinates.1 2.1 2.0 0. The final column is the value of the applied boundary condition. the calculation phase can begin.76 2. The density is necessary when taking the self-weight into account.1 y 0.0 1.0 0. The preprocessing is completed by specify the material data.5 0.4 gives the applied boundary condition.7 0. 5. the node numbers are listed.8 2.5 Implementation of the finite element method % node 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 x 0. the nodal coordinates is shown in Figure 5. This is either a prescribed force or the prescribed displacement. The third column gives the degree-of-freedom to which the boundary condition is applied (dof=1 represents the x-direction and dof=2 represents the y-direction). the Poisson’s ratio and the density of the material. the is Young’s modulus. The list in Figure 5.0 0.

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

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

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

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5 Implementation of the finite element method

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

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

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


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

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

4(8) 3 (5)

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

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:) % 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 .k) ~= 0 a_e(jj) = a( ID(connect(i.j). k) ) else a_e(jj) = g_e(jj) % displacement is prescribed end end end % return to main program Figure 5.9: Formation of element stiffness matrix.:) = x(connect(i. 68 Version 0.5 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.8: Set-up of local element arrays for element i.2 January 21.j).dof_per_node + k if ID(connect(i.j). % form element stiffness matrix ip_scheme % determine integration scheme for i=1:number_ip_points % loop over integration points ip_location % calculate position of integration point shape_function % evaluate shape functions at integration point form_B_matrix form_D_matrix k_e = k_e + B’*D*B*w(i)*xj(i) % add contribution of ip to k_e f_e = f_e + N’*b*w(i)*xj(i) % add contribution of ip to f_e if postprocess == true % if stress is required stress(i) = D*B*a_e end end % return to main program Figure 5. 2011 .

k_e(:.jj) = K(ii.10: Imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions.5.jj) + k_e(kk.3 Local-global % impose Dirichlet boundary conditions for i=1:nodes_per_element*dof_per_node f_e(:) = f_e(:) . 2011 Version 0. m) ll = l*dof_per_node .i)*g_e(i) end % return to main program Figure 5.dof_per_node + k for l=1:nodes_per_element for m=1:dof_per_node jj = ID(connect(i. January 21. k) kk = j*dof_per_node . % 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.2 69 .dof_per_node + m if ii~=0 & jj~=0 K(ii.l).ll) end end end if ii ~= 0 f(ii) = f(ii) + f_e(kk) end end end % return to main program Figure 5.11: Assembly of local arrays into global arrays.j).

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

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


It is however possible to assemble this element into a truss structure in two or three dimensions. or in situations where they provide a higher degree of accuracy (in terms of the quantity of interest) than plane elements for the same computational effort.1 Rod elements in space In Chapter 4.2. A particular problem is that classical thin bending problems in structural mechanics are governed by fourth-order equations. which are closely related to classical equations from structural mechanics. A simple two-dimensional truss structure is shown in Figure 6. The formulation of structural elements tends to be more complex than continuum elements. 6. which is oriented in the three-dimensional space. in contrast to continuum elasticity problems which involve only second-order derivatives. the strong governing equations involve fourth-order derivatives. Hence. with simplifications and assumptions which are applicable for common structural problems.or three dimensional structure relies upon a rotation between different coordinate systems.1. Their governing equations derive from the governing equation of elastostatics. a one-dimensional rod element was developed that could only transmit normal forces. The most convenient system is one in which the axis of the truss element is aligned with the x coordinate axis. Joints (nodes) of the truss can translate in both the x. This has serious consequences for the shape functions which can be employed.and y-directions. Each element is rotated to a convenient coordinate system. They are used in situations where conventional solid elements perform poorly with a practicably allowable number of elements. a finite element model will require two degrees of freedom at each node. plate and shell elements. The use of truss elements in a two. 73 .1: Two-dimensional truss structure.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Special finite elements are often used in structural mechanics. That is. Consider the truss element in Figure 6. For a truss structure in F Figure 6. Examples are beam. These elements are derived from different governing equations.

(6. a node will have three degrees of freedom. and in two dimensions.2) 0 Q11 Q21   a2x   a2x⋆   0      ⋆   0 0 Q12 Q22 a2y a2y where Qij are components of the matrix Q.and y⋆ -directions are given by:      Q Q21 0 0  a1x   a1x⋆       ⋆   11   a1y Q Q22 0 0  a1y  =  12 .3) = a2x⋆ 0 0 Q11 Q21  a2x      a2y a⋆ = e a1x⋆ a2x⋆ . the above problem can be reduced to give:    a1x      a1y a1x⋆ Q11 Q21 0 0 . (6.2 January 21. the rotation matrix has the form: QT = cos θ − sin θ sin θ cos θ (6. Therefore. For a two dimensional truss structure. Since truss elements are based on the assumption that only normal forces (σx⋆ ) can be transmitted. three dimensions. of a linear bar. the rotation is particularly simple.1) The vector ae holds the displacement components at the nodes of an element. 2011 . two degrees of freedom. (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Fx* x* y* y z* z x Figure 6.1) to give the nodal displacements in terms of the coordinate system aligned with the axis of the truss element. in the x ⋆ . The displacement components can be rotated using the matrix Q (see section 1. the vector ae has four components (a component in the x and y direction at each node). The only displacement of any consequence for an element is in the x ⋆ -direction. Denoting the angle between the x-axis and the x ⋆ -axis as θ.2: Linear truss element in three-dimensional space.4) The following definitions are now adopted: 74 Version 0. displacements in the y⋆ -direction are not resisted by an element. The displacements at nodes one and two. Given that the only displacements of interest are the in x ⋆ -direction.

e (6.9) is the stiffness matrix. A classic sign of a mechanism is singularity of the global stiffness matrix of the structure.10) Ωe This is equivalent to ke = q T k⋆ q.6. January 21. 2011 Version 0. Q21 (6. the element stiffness matrix is equal to: ke = q T B⋆ T EB⋆ q dΩ.1 Rod elements in space and q= Q11 0 Q21 0 0 Q11 0 . (6. The ‘star’ denotes that the shape functions are constructed relative to the coordinate system on the bar. The strain in the x ⋆ -direction is therefore given by: h ǫh⋆ = u. where k⋆ is the standard one-dimensional stiffness e e matrix for a bar. Inserting now the discretised fields into the weak governing equation for a onedimensional bar. multidimensional coordinate system.19) for a linear element). the stiffness matrix for a one-dimensional element can be formed.6) where N ⋆ contains the shape functions for a one-dimensional bar (see equation (4.x⋆ = B⋆ qbe ⋆ (6.7) Similarly. Ωe ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh ( Nbe ) T h dΓ.12). the derivative of a weight function w can be expressed in the local coordinate system in terms of the global degrees of freedom.5) The displacement in the x ⋆ -direction along the bar is therefore given by: uh⋆ = N ⋆ a⋆ = N ⋆ qae . It is important to ensure that a truss structure does not form a mechanism.8) (recall that be is a variation). h w.x⋆⋆ = B⋆ qae (6. and eliminating be .2 75 .9) where the LHS of equation (6.7) and (6. (6. Inserting the relationships in equations (6.8) into the weak governing equation (2. Clearly. and with the aid of the matrix q it can be transformed into the global.

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

The first is to elaborate the kinematics of the beam. where n is the outward unit normal vector. For a beam segment subjected to both rotation and shear deformation.11) − h/2 σxx y dy.5: Beam segment subjected to pure shear. as illustrated in Figure 6. The fibre is indicated by the heavy line. (6. It is clear from Figure 6. which will be followed here. the rotation θ of a fibre which is initially perpendicular to the beam’s axis is shown in Figure 6. (6. it is clear January 21.2 Beams γ v.6 that θ = v.7 show the ‘resultant’ force Q and moment M due to a moment m and a shear force q in a beam. Relative to the fibre which has not rotated.x − γ.12) and the shear stress q is defined by q= h/2 − h/2 σxy dy. a plane which remains perpendicular to the axis undergoes a rotation γ. which together with some assumptions as to the stress in different directions can be inserted into the elasticity equations from Chapter 1. Considering translational equilibrium of a beam segment Ω.2.x y x Figure 6.13) Figure 6. which is initially perpendicular to the beam axis. 2011 Version 0.2 77 . equilibrium of a beam can be considered directly. Subjecting a segment from a beam to pure shear. Note that M = m n and Q = q n.6. In the second method. the fibre will not rotate.5. 6.2 Equilibrium of a beam The equilibrium equations for a beam can be developed in two ways. The bending moment m in a beam is defined as m= h/2 (6.6.

6: Rotation of fibre in a beam. 78 Version 0. +Q n y n +M x Figure 6. 2011 .x y x Figure 6.2 January 21.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γ θ v.7: Sign conventions for a bending moment and shear force resultant.

x dΩ − q dΩ − q.x Ω Ω Ω Ω (6. therefore rotational equilibrium requires that m. Γθ ∪ ΓM = Γ. (6. on Γθ .20b) Denoting applied end forces Fy .21d) These equations.x x dΩ − f y x dΩ = 0. For rotational equilibrium.2 79 . distributed loads f y and applied moments T (all shown in Figure 6.21b) (6. January 21.19) (6. it is required that: m n dΓ − q nx dΓ − f y x dΩ = 0.x + f y = 0.2 Beams that: q n dΓ + dΩ dΩ Ω f y dΩ = 0.18) Satisfaction of the translational equilibrium equation implies that 0.20a) (6. (6. the boundary conditions are v = gv θn = gθ mn = T q n = Fy on Γv . it is clear that Ω Ω q. 2011 Version 0. on ΓM . on ΓQ . translational equilibrium requires that q. and boundary conditions. (6.3).14) Noting that q n dΓ = q| x= L2 − q| x= L1 .21a) (6. Ω (q. Γθ ∩ ΓM = ∅ + f y ) x dΩ = (6.x dΩ + f y dΩ = 0.16) dΩ dΩ Ω This expression can be rearranged such that m. The boundary Γ of a beam is partitioned such that: Γv ∪ ΓQ = Γ. are valid for both Bernoulli-Euler and Timoshenko beam theories.15) Since equilibrium must hold for an infinitely small segment of a beam. Γv ∩ ΓQ = ∅.17) (6.x − q = 0.6.21c) (6. (6.

2011 .25) by a weight function v.2 January 21. the weak form of equilibrium for a beam ¯ can be developed. This assumption implies that the shear rotation γ is equal to zero.22) which also implies that κ= (6.21c) and (6. and Neumann involve either the shear force or moment (equations (6. (6. Being a fourth-order equation.26) which is the strong equation of equilibrium for a Bernoulli-Euler beam. the boundary value problem is complete and can be solved. dx2 (6.24) where I is the moment of inertia of the beam. and inserting the constitutive relationship from equation (6.23) The bending moment in the beam is related to the curvature by: m = − EIκ = − EI (6. dx d2 v . so the rotation can be directly related to the displacement v.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. θ= dv .21a) and (6. Taking now the derivative of all terms in equation (6.xx dΩ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. which is equal to zero where Dirichlet (kinematic) boundary conditions are applied (the bar is used in this section to denote a weight function) and integration over the beam Ω yields: Ω ¯ vm.27) 80 Version 0. The negative sign is due to the sign convention in which the rotation and the resultant moment are in opposite directions.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6.25) Assuming EI to be constant.19) with respect to x.21b)).21d)). − EI d4 v + f y = 0. dx2 d2 v . Dirichlet boundary conditions involve the prescription of the displacement or the rotation (equations (6. Multiplying equation (6. dx4 (6. Weak governing equation Following the procedures from Chapter 2.16) yields: d2 m + f y = 0. from an appropriately defined space. and then inserting equation (6.24).2. two boundary conditions are required at both ends of the beam. With appropriate boundary conditions. dx2 (6.

21c) and (6. which contains functions satisfying: Ω v2 + v2 + v2 dx < ∞.x .29) Inserting now the Neumann (natural) boundary conditions from equations (6.28) Applying integrating by parts again.32a) (6.33) δv.30) gives: Ω (6. 2011 Version 0.xx EIv.2 81 .34) which is the equation of virtual work for a Bernoulli-Euler beam beam.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. after integrating by parts twice.32b) For the case of an elastic continuum.6. v. For the weak form to ‘make sense’. which require C0 continuity only.x m.xx (6. the trial functions (v ∈ S ) and the ¯ weight (test) functions (v ∈ V ) must possess a higher degree of regularity (roughly speaking. Note that a fourth-order problem. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .1.xx dΩ = − ΓM δv.21d).x = 0 on Γθ .x = gθ on Γθ .31) In one dimension this is equivalent to the trial and test functions being at least C1 continuous. Both S and V must be subspaces of the Sobolev space H 2 (Ω). v = 0 on Γv . v = gv on Γv .x T dΓ + ΓQ δvFy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6.x = 0 on Γθ .x m.xx dΩ − ΓM ¯ v.24). . January 21. (6.2 Beams Integrating by parts the term involving the moment M once yields: − Ω ¯ v. it implies that the weak form of the governing equation is identical to the equation of virtual work. this time to the term Ω ¯ v. Consistency of the above weak form can be proven following the same procedure as in in Section 2. v.x mn dΓ + Γ ¯ vm. (6. (6. (6.x dΩ.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vFy dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀v ∈ V .x dΩ + Γ ¯ vm. which means that both their first and second derivatives exist.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.xx m dΩ − Γ ¯ v. solving the governing weak equation for a beam involves: find v ∈ S such that − Ω ¯ v. it was shown that if the weight function could be considered as a ‘virtual displacement’. continuity) than for classical continuum problems. and v.30) where S and V are appropriately defined spaces. This is in contrast to second-order problems. The existence of second-order derivatives in the weak form deserves some special attention. Consider now: ¯ v ≡ δv Inserting this relationship into equation (6. and inserting the constitutive relation in equation (6.xx EIv. has second-order derivatives in its weak form. ¯ Ω v. For completeness. the spaces S and V are formally defined by: S = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) . The integration domain for the ¯ ¯ boundary integrals has been changed since v = 0 on Γv .

36) where G is the shear modulus and As is the effective shear area. 82 Version 0.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. and are hence suitable for relatively short beams. 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.4 Timoshenko beam Timoshenko beams are more general Bernoulli-Euler beams as they allow for shear deformation. The governing equations are given by the equilibrium conditions in equations (6. q = GAs γ = GAs (6. and the second for the displacement v.16) with the constitutive relationships m = − EIκ. This means that shear deformations can be taken into account. an additional unknown.37) dv −θ . (6.2 January 21. the shear strain γ.35) where γ is the rotation due to shear. Inserting the constitutive relationships into the equilibrium equations in (6. Planes must remain plane. Relative to the Bernoulli-Euler theory.39) (6. has been introduced.19) and (6. it is related to the shear force by the constitutive relationship: γ= q . dx (6.40) + fy = 0 which are two coupled second-order equations. 2011 .16) leads to: d2 θ − GAs dx2 dθ d2 v − dx dx2 dv −θ dx − EI GAs =0 in Ω. the problem is complete. dx (6. the first for the rotation θ. They also provide a solid introduction to moderately thick plate theories where the advantage of shear deformable theories will become more apparent. In terms of the shear force and properties of the beam. Recall from equation (6.19) and (6. Together with the previously defined boundary conditions. GAS (6.38) and considering v and θ to be the fundamental unknowns. but not necessarily normal. in Ω.11) that rotation θ of a plane is given by θ= dv − γ.2.

6. and using γ = v.x EIθ.xx − θ.43) (6.39) and (6. and v = 0 on Γv . The test and trial functions should be at least C0 continuous (in contrast to the C1 continuity for the Bernoulli-Euler theory).x GAs (v.x − θ. It is however assumed that θ = 0 on Γθ and that θ satisfies ¯ the rotation boundary condition.x dΩ − Ω Ω Γ ¯ θEIθ.x dΩ − Ω Ω ¯ θGAs (v. Ω (6. As with all problems. and v satisfies the transverse displacement boundary condition.xx dΩ = − ΓM ¯h v.x − θ ) dΩ + ΓQ ΓM Ω ¯ θT dΓ = 0. (6.48) January 21.x GAs (v.46) − ¯ v.x ) dΩ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.45) (6.xx EIv.46) is equivalent to the virtual work equation.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 ) n x dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. consistency can be proven through the application of integration by parts. adding the weak forms in equations (6. ¯ ¯ As before.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vGAs (v.2.x n dΓ − Γ Ω ¯ θGAs (v. − Ω Ω ¯ θEIθ.x − θ ) dΩ = 0.xx dΩ − Ω ¯ θGAs (v. ¯ ∀θ ∈ Vθ ¯ ∀v ∈ Vv .44) − ¯ v.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.47) For many mechanical problems. ¯ θ.x − θ ) dΩ = 0. the weak form or virtual work expressions appear naturally and can be used as a starting point in developing a finite element model. Ω (6.2 83 .x EIθ. Applying integration by parts once. 6.40) by appropriately defined weight functions θ ¯ and v.45) and (6. − Ω δκ m dΩ + Ω δγ q dΩ = − ΓM δθ T dΓ + ΓQ δv Fy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6.41) (6.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vh Fy dΓ + Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀vh ∈ V h (6. 2011 Version 0. 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. considering δθ ≡ θ and δv ≡ v.42) ¯ vGAs (v.2 Beams Weak governing equations ¯ Multiplying equations (6.

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.x ae = N1. The use of C0 interpolations for fourth-order problems is not mathematically consistent and can lead to unpredictable results.x = N. and the shape functions are equal to: − ( x − x2 )2 (− h + 2 ( x1 − x )) (6.x  v2      θ2 84 Version 0. A Hermitian beam element with two nodes has four degrees of freedom (two displacement degrees of freedom and two rotation degrees of freedom).50c) M1 = h2 ( x − x1 )2 ( x − x2 ) M2 = (6.50b) h3 ( x − x1 ) ( x − x2 ) 2 (6. we wish to express the displacement field v in terms of shape functions and nodal degrees of freedom. The solution is to use C1 shape functions. The problem that arises is that simple C0 finite element shape functions are not suitable.x N2.52) v. The above equation requires the evaluation of the second derivative of the interpolated displacement field.49) where vi and θi are degrees of freedom associated with node i. The displacement field vh is given by: vh ( x ) = ∑ ( Ni ( x ) vi + Mi ( x ) θi ) . i 2 (6.x M2. Such shape functions can be constructed relatively easily in one dimension (the extension to multiple dimensions is however far from trivial). convergence of the solution is not assured for interpolations with insufficient continuity.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis where S h ⊂ S and V h ⊂ V are finite-dimensional spaces.50a) h3 ( x − x1 )2 ( h + 2 ( x2 − x )) N2 = (6.x M1. the second derivative of a C0 continuous function does not exist in a classical sense. This results in a cubic interpolation of the displacement along the element. and involve both displacement and rotational degrees of freedom. Hermitian polynomials are C1 functions. As for continuum elements.50d) h2 for an element of length h with ends from x1 to x2 (x2 > x1 ). Crucially. However. The displacement at a point in the beam is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6.2 January 21. The first derivative is given by:    v1      θ1 h (6. 2011 .

xx M2. 2011 Version 0.xx = N. Ω N.xx N2.54) After some rearranging.xx ae dΩ = − ΓM ( N.2 85 . (6.2 Beams The second derivative of v is given by:    v1      θ1    v2    θ2 h v.xx T EI N.xx dΩ.xx T EI N.x and v.xx (6.56) and the RHS vector by: fe = ΓQ N T Fy dΓ − ΓM N T T dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.xx can be computed given ae . Ω ( N. they can be inserted into the Galerkin problem.x be ) T T dΓ + ΓQ ( Nbe ) T Fy dΓ Ω + ( Nbe ) T f y dΩ (6.53) h h Now that vh .xx be ) T EI N.6.55) The element stiffness matrix is given by: ke = Ω N.xx ae = N1. (6.xx M1. January 21. v.x T T dΓ + ΓQ N T Fy dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.xx dΩ ae = − ΓM N. (6.57) The operation to form the RHS vector essentially translates the applied loads into equivalent nodal shear forces and moments.

xx = − 3 .xx = h2 N1.x = . h2 2 ( x − x1 ) (3x − h − x1 − 2x2 ) N2.59b) (6.59c) (6.58c) (6. N1. x1 = − h/2).xx = 2 − .xx = − .56). N1. h3 2 (6x − h − 4x1 − 2x2 ) N2. M2. h h 12x N2.58e) (6.xx = 2 + .2 January 21. the above equations can be simplified significantly.xx = 12x .xx = . h2 2 (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) M1.60) Integrating the terms in the stiffness matrix exactly from − h/2 to h/2 (assuming EI 86 Version 0.58d) (6.59a) (6. h h (6.x = (6. the stiffness matrix is of the form:  12x   h3   6x 1    h/2  2 −  h  EI 12x h ke =   h3 − h/2  − 12x   h3   6x 1  + h h2 6x 1 − h h2 − 12x h3 6x 1 + h h2 dx. M2.58h) Assuming the centre of the element is at x = 0 (x2 + x1 = 0. h3 ( x − x1 ) (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) .x = − . Considering just the second derivatives with respect to x.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Taking derivatives of the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6. h3 6x 1 M1.58b) (6. (6.58g) (6.59d) Inserting these terms into equation (6.50).58f) (6.xx = h3 ( x − x2 ) (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) M1.x = h2 2 (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) . 2 ( x − x2 ) (3x + h − 2x1 − x2 ) . 2011 . h3 2 (6x + h − 2x1 − 4x2 ) .58a) (6. h 6x 1 M2.

6. Inserting the expressions for the unknown fields in terms of nodal variables and variations into equations (6.63) leads to: Bθ EIBθ dΩ aθ + e T Ωe Ωe N θ GAs N θ dΩ aθ − e T Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ av e T =− Γe. (6.64a) (6. A distinction is made between the shape functions for vh and θ h as these may differ. e θ = ¯ v = ¯ θh = h h (6.64d) N θ aθ .64c) (6.66) January 21.x EIθ. 2011 Version 0. (6. − 6EI  h2  4EI h (6.63) Consider the representation of the fields vh and θ h .62) and (6. in terms of shape functions and nodal variable.x dΩ − Ω h ¯ θ h GAs v.2 Beams to be constant).65) Ωe Bv T GAs Bv dΩav − e Ωe Bv T GAs N θ dΩaθ e = Γe. (6.M N θ T dΓ.x − θ h dΩ = − ΓQ ΓM ¯ θ h T dΓ h ¯ ∀θ h ∈ Vθ . h h The Galerkin problem for the Timoshenko beam involves: find vh ∈ Sv and θ h ∈ Sθ such that Ω Ω h ¯h θ.x − θ h dΩ = Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ + ¯ vh Fy dΓ h ¯ ∀v h ∈ Vv . the element stiffness matrix is equal to:  12EI h3  6EI  2  h  12EI  − h3  6EI h2 6EI h2 4EI h 6EI − h2 2EI h − 12EI h3 − 6EI h2 12EI h3 − 6EI h2 ke = 6EI  h2 2EI   h  . e θ θ N be . v h = N v av .2 87 .64b) (6. and corresponding derivatives.61) Timoshenko beams The finite element formulation for the Timoshenko beam is relatively simple. e N v bv .x GAs v. This will allow the use of the standard shape functions introduced in Chapter 4.62) h ¯h v. due to the second-order nature of the governing equations.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe N v T f y dΩ. T (6.

Ideally.72) (6. T Bv T GAs Bv dΩ. resulting in an overly stiff response.73) Γe. This is the effect in which the shear contribution to the energy does not vanish.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. when applying Timoshenko elements for thin bending problems. The components of the stiffness matrix are given by:   GAs L EI GAs L EI − +  L + 3 L 6  . with linear shape functions for both the displacement and rotation. However. and both short and slender beams could be analysed. This would be advantageous from the point of view of generality.75) kθv =  e  GA GAs  s − 2 2 88 Version 0. Locking Conceptually. Ωe Ωe T T (6. Bv T GAs N θ dΩ.M N θ T dΓ.2 January 21.70) (6.69) (6. (6.71) kθv = − kvθ = − kvv = Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ. N v T f y dΩ. kθθ =  (6.67) where the components of the the element stiffness matrix are given by kθθ = Ωe Bθ EIBθ + N θ GAs N θ dΩ. and components of the element RHS vector are given by fθ = − fv = Γe.68) (6. Timoshenko beam theory is superior to the Bernoulli-Euler theory in that it is valid for both short and slender beams. the result are plagued by shear locking. T T (6.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe Note that the stiffness matrix is symmetric (kθv = kvθ ). only a Timoshenko beam element would be necessary in practice. 2011 .74) e  EI GAs L GAs L  EI + − + L 6 L 3   GAs GAs −  2 2  . and for simplicity as the Timoshenko element used C0 shape functions. Consider a Timoshenko beam element of length L.

the displacement v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/3) EIGAs /L2 + G2 A2 /12 s (6. v2 ≈ 4PL . this element will exhibit a very stiff response. GAs (6.81) which is the correct result. and a shear load P is applied one end.2 89 .78) Therefore.77) If at one end the beam is clamped. As L → 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. If the term Ωe N θT GAs N θ dΩ is evaluated using one-point numerical integration T January 21. 2011 Version 0.2 Beams and GAs  L =  GA s − L    GAs − L   GAs  L  GAs 2   GAs   −  2   GAs   − L   GAs  L kvv e (6. EI GAs L  L + 3 ke =   GAs − 2 −  GAs     θ 0 2   2    =  GAs v2 P L (6.76) Therefore. Even with a very fine mesh. GAs (6.80) which is independent of I. θ1 = v1 = 0.6.79) If L is large. will yield a very stiff response. v2 ≈ PL .

85) When using reduced integration. 2011 .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis (which is reduced for this term).83) If L is very large.82) ke =    GAs  GAs GAs GAs   −  2 2 L L     GAs GAs GAs  GAs − − − 2 2 L L Now. v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/4) EIGAs /L2 (6. v2 ≈ PL3 4EI (6. The case is similar for quadratic elements. this element performs quite well when the mesh is sufficiently well-refined. v2 ≈ PL GAs (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. for the one element problem clamped at one end. where selective integration (two-point) leads to a dramatic reduction in locking response. and as L → 0.2 January 21. 90 Version 0.84) which qualitatively the desired response.

u2 and u3 when using indexes. A serious problem stems from the need for C1 interpolations in the classic thin plate and shell bending theories. 1996).86a) (6. x2 and x3 . y) . The plate has a thickness t.86b) where θα is the rotation of a fibre in the plate (see Figure 6.3 Plate x3 p θ1 x2 t x1 θ2 Figure 6. or x1 . A particularly accessible account can be found in Cook et al. The three coordinates are denoted x. For convenience. v and w (displacements in the x. y and z. T When using Greek subscripts. Plate finite elements can be extremely complex and are an area of ongoing research. summation is implied from one to two. 6. 1987.6. Given the enormous number of different plate and shell elements.3. The rotation of the January 21. 2011 Version 0.1 Plate kinematics The adopted coordinate system and sign convention for rotations θα for plates is shown in Figure 6.8: Coordinate system for a plate. Hughes. and the coordinate z = 0 corresponds to the mid-surface of the plate. Also. y) . or u1 . They are flat two-dimensional entities. The basic governing equations of shell and plate elements and the most common finite element approaches are discussed. the displacement of a point is given by: uα = −zθα ( x. the convention differs from the right-hand rule. respectively). u3 = u3 ( x.2 91 . The surface of the plate in the x1 –x2 plane is denoted Ω. Similarly. 6. In plate theory. are are typically loaded out of plane. It is convenient to express many relationships for plates using index notation. this section does not provide an exhaustive coverage.3 Plate Plates are effectively generalisations of beam elements to two spatial dimensions. y and z directions. More detailed coverage can be found in a number of books (Zienkiewicz and Taylor. Bathe. 1991. displacement may be denoted u. (1989).9). (6. The adopted definitions simplify the formulation as it will avoid the need for a −1 factor on particular terms. and the boundary is Γ.8. the relevant dangers in analysing plate and shell structures with the finite element method are presented.

α 1 w x3 xα Figure 6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γα θ α w. 2011 .2 January 21. 92 Version 0.9: Plate kinematics with shear deformation included.

87) Note that if γα = 0.86).89) 6. The alternative approach would be to insert the plate kinematics into the elasticity equations. and the shear strain is given by γα . From the displacement field in equations (6.2 Equilibrium of a plate The equilibrium equations for a plate are developed here in the same fashion as for plates.α = θ(α.6.88a) (6.α .β + θ β.i )). The moment tensor mαβ in a plate is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σαβ z dz (6.α 2 (6. 2011 Version 0.β) . γα = w. the strain field can be calculated at any point (recall ǫ = (1/2)(ui.88b) A useful quantity is the curvature.90) From symmetry of the stress tensor.j + u j. it is clear that the moment tensor is symmetric. The shear force vector qα is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σα3 dz (6.α 2 −θα + w. and lies in the plane of Ω. ǫαβ = ǫα3 = −z θα. which is a second-order tensor and at a point is given by: καβ = 1 θ + θ β. This allows the definition of following notation for January 21.3.91) The different resultant moments and transverse forces acting on cross-sections of a plate are shown in Figure 6. then θα = w.3 Plate mid-surface of the plate is given by w. 2 α.2 93 . It is useful to define a vector s which is normal to the vector n.α − θα .10 (‘resultants’ are forces which are equivalent to a moment or shear stress).α . (6.β (6.

w.s = w.11.92g) (6.n = w.92f) (6.α sα mnn.92e) (6. (6. ∂mnn .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis q2 m21 m22 m11 x3 m12 x2 θ1 q1 q2 m11 q1 m12 m22 m21 x1 θ2 Figure 6.92a) (6. 2011 .95) 94 Version 0. mns. quantities relative to an arbitrarily oriented plate edge: mnn = mαβ n β nα . θn = θα nα . Translation equilibrium of a plate requires that: ∂Ω (6.α nα w.93) Applying the divergence theorem to the term involving qα leads to Ω qα.s = ∂s qn = qα nα .92c) (6. ∂s ∂mns .10: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on cross-sections of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).92d) (6. (6.92h) qα nα dΓ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.α dΩ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.94) which must also hold for an infinitesimally small piece of the plate. therefore qα.s = The quantities are illustrated in Figure 6.α + pz = 0. (6. mns = mαβ n β sα .92b) (6.2 January 21.

3 Plate q2 m21 m22 qn x3 x2 θ1 mns m11 q1 m12 s mnn n x1 θ2 Figure 6.β − qα = 0. (6. mαβ n β dΓ − q β n β xα dΩ − pz xα dΩ = 0. Considering now rotational equilibrium. hence boundary conditions are elaborated upon in the context of a given theory.α xα .11: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on an edge of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).β xα dΩ − Ω pz xα dΩ = 0.3 Thin plates .Kirchhoff theory The Kirchhoff plate model theory is analogous to the Bernoulli-Euler beam. and are specific to the considered plate theory. 6.β dΩ − Ω qα dΩ − Ω q β. To complete the problem. It is applicable for thin plates where shear deformations are negligible. rotational equilibrium requires that mαβ.β = q β xα.PSfrag 6.β + pz = 0. These constitutive relationships will also be elaborated upon in the context of the different theories.98) The boundary conditions for a plate are more complicated that for a beam.3.2 95 .97) noting that q β xα .96) ∂Ω ∂Ω Ω which leads to: Ω mαβ. 2011 Version 0. (6. constitutive relationships are required which relate the moment tensor and the shear force to deformations. the outwardly simplest plate theory presents the most problems when formulating the finite January 21. is the equation for translational equilibrium. (6. Ironically.β + q β. Since translation equilibrium requires that q β.α xα = qα + q β.

105) This equation is known as the ‘biharmonic equation’. where the constitutive tensor is equal to: (6.98) and inserting equation (6.ααββ = 12 1 − ν2 pz .100) The moment is related to the curvature by mαβ = −Cαβγδ κγδ . Since shear deformations are zero. The goal is now to eliminate qα from the governing equations. four different types of boundary conditions are possible. Inserting the constitutive relationship (6.αβ + pz = 0.103) ¯ where λ = 2λµ/ (λ + 2µ). ∇4 w = ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 . ∂x y ∂x4 ∂y (6.α (6.αβ + w. Et3 (6. the governing equation can be expressed in a particularly convenient form: w.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. 12 1 − ν2 ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 = pz . 2011 . Assuming transverse shear deformations are zero. and the Kirchhoff plate model requires two boundary conditions at all points 96 Version 0.2 January 21. the curvature κ is equal to: καβ = 1 w.102) into equation (6. 12 (6.87) reduces to: θα = w.95). The shear force qα is no longer ‘independent’.βα .102) Cαβγδ = t3 ¯ µ δαβ δβδ + δαδ δβγ + λδαβ δγδ .106) As a fourth-order equation. mαβ. It is often written in a shorthand format using the biharmonic operator ∇4 .101) (6. equation (6. ∂x y Et3 ∂x4 ∂y (6.104) Expanding this equation.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis element method.100) yields a fourthorder partial differential equation. After some rearranging. 2 (6. This can be done by differentiating equation (6.

3 Plate on the boundary. and leads to the well known ‘corner forces’ in thin plate theory.β dΩ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. − Γ ¯ w. Integrating the moment term by parts once.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. (6. The last boundary condition is known as the ‘modified shear’ boundary condition. The governing equation is multiplied by a weight function.n = 0 on Γθ . The moment can only be applied normal to the boundary (mαβ n β nα ).110) which is the weak form of the governing equation for thin plate bending. Rather than multiplying the governing ¯ equation (6.α mαβ. Considering the partition of the boundary in equation (6. it is convenient to carry out the process on equation (6. yields Ω ¯ w.20). and the last two are Neumann boundary conditions. − Ω ¯ w.6. Weak form The weak form of the governing equation for a thin plate is derived using the same processes applied for second-order problems.112) January 21.n mnn dΓ + Γ Γ ¯ w.107a) (6.100). Inserting the above relationship into equation (6.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.109) Using integration by parts again on the first term. and integrating over the surface of the plate.107b) (6. then integrated by parts.108) where Ω is the surface of the plate.α mαβ n β dΓ = − Γ Γ ¯ w. The problem here is that too many boundary terms appear in the first boundary integral. Ω ¯ w.s = Q on Γw on Γθ on ΓM on ΓQ (6.107c) (6.s dΓ − wmns | B A (6.110) (ignoring the point terms).107d) The first two boundary conditions are Dirichlet boundary conditions. (6.2 97 .105) by a weight function w.α mαβ n β dΓ + Γ ¯ wmαβ.s + qn ) dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. the boundary conditions are given by: w = gw θ n = gθ mnn = T qn + mns.αβ dΩ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Ω ¯ wmαβ.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Multiplying by a weight ¯ function w.s mns dΓ ¯ ¯ wmns. (6. and integrating over the plate surface Ω. for which w = 0 on Γw and w.n mnn dΓ + Γ ¯ w (mns.n mnn dΓ − ¯ w. 2011 Version 0.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w.111) =− The last term will be ignored. (6.

qα.αβ mαβ dΩ − ΓM ¯ w.n = 0 on Γθ .116b) 98 Version 0. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . (6. However. w.2. w and θα . ¯ ¯ ¯ Considering w as a virtual displacement δw.3. The difference lies in the kinematics and the constitutive model.n T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ V . the governing equations cannot be further reduced since θα is not a direct function of w. The problem now involves two different unknowns. some serious practical problems arise in finite element analysis when applying Reissner-Mindlin elements for the analysis of thin plates. solving the weak problems then involves: find w ∈ S such that Ω ¯ w. and w. The governing equations for a thick plate are those given in Section 6. The key to the success of this approach in a finite element context is that the moment tensor mαβ is calculated from the curvature. The equations of equilibrium are: mαβ. the spaces S and V for the weak form of Kirchhoff plate theory are defined as follows: S = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) .115b) Consistency can proven through the repeated application of integration by parts. it is applicable for both thick and thin plates. It is analogous to the Timoshenko beam. w = gw on Γw . the above equation is the equation of virtual work for a plate: δκαβ mαβ dΩ − δθn T dΓ + δwQ dΓ + δwpz dΩ = 0 (6.116a) (6. hence the highest order derivatives in the weak governing equation are order two.2 January 21.3. For completeness.α ).6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Inserting the Neumann boundary conditions. δκαβ . The rotation of the plate cannot be calculated simply as a derivative of the transverse displacement. (6. Unlike for thin plates.n = gθ on Γθ .4 Moderately thick plates – Reissner-Mindlin theory The Reissner-Mindlin theory for plates includes shear deformation.αβ as the virtual curvature. which depends on θα which is no longer calculated directly from w (θα = w. which in turn involves second derivatives of w. As such. For this theory.α + pz = 0.114) Ω ΓM ΓQ Ω Recall that the bending moment mαβ is a function of the curvature. w = 0 on Γw . 6.115a) (6. (6.113) where the functions in S satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. 2011 . w. the governing equations for equilibrium are the same as for the Kirchhoff theory. w.β − qα = 0.α as a virtual rotation δθα .

β − Cαβ w. qα = Cαβ γβ = Cαβ w. ¯ equation (6.102)).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.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.120a) (6. three boundary conditions must be applied at all points on the boundary.119a) and (6. on ΓM . θα .β − θ β dΩ = 0.119a) (6. − Ω ¯ θ(α.120d) Given that one of the unknowns. (6. Weak form To derive the weak form. (6. is a vector. Firstly.αβ − θ β.123) January 21. Ω ¯ θα mαβ. This is due to θα and w being decoupled.α + pz = 0 It is these equations which will be solved. This set of equations cannot be reduced further.β − θ β = 0 (6.117) Cαβ w.119a) is multiplied by a weight function θα . on ΓQ .3 Plate In addition to the constitutive relationship relating moment and curvature (equation (6.β − θ β dΩ = 0.β) mαβ dΩ + Γ ¯ θα mαβ n β dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.120c) (6. and k is a correction factor which is equal to 5/6. (6.2 99 .120b) (6. 2011 Version 0. on Γθ .β − θ β .119b) (6.121) Integrating the above equation by parts.β − θ β dΩ = 0. This set of equations can be reduced by eliminating qα . where Cαβ = ktµδαβ .6. both equations (6. The ‘naturally’ occurring boundary conditions involve w = gw θα = gαθ mαn = Tα qn = Q on Γw . (6. mαβ.118) (6.β dΩ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. a constitutive relation relating the shear forces to the shear strain is introduced. This means than the governing equations are being solved in their irreducible form.119b) are addressed.

− Ω ¯ w. (6.α − θα . It is equations (6.αβ − θ( β.β) and δγα = w. the highest order derivative appearing for both terms is one.β − θ β dΩ = 0. However.119a).β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. the above equation includes a contribution to the energy due to shear ( Ω δγα qα dΩ). ¯ wCαβ w. 2011 .126) which is the weak form of equation (6. Hence. Note that different to the virtual work equation for a Kirchhoff plate (6.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis which is the weak form of equation (6.119b) by a ¯ weight function w. and taking advantage of the symmetry of mαβ .α) dΩ + ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. yields: Ω −δκαβ mαβ dΩ + Ω δγα qα dΩ + ΓM δθα Tα dΓ − ΓQ Ω δwQ dΓ δwpz dΩ = 0 (6.α Cαβ w. 100 Version 0.119b). δκαβ = θ(α. C0 shape functions can be applied.127b) by minus one). (6.α Cαβ w. adopting ¯ ¯ ¯ the notation δw = w.2 January 21.124) Ω Ω Integrating the above equation by parts yields: − Ω ¯ w. ¯ ∀θα ∈ Vθ (6.114). This will require the interpolation of both the transverse displacement w and the rotation θα .β − θ β dΩ + Γ ¯ wCαβ γβ nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.127b) that are solved using the finite element method.125) ¯ Inserting again Neumann boundary conditions (w = 0 where w is prescribed).127b) Note that both weak equations contains derivatives no higher than order one. Combining both equations (multiplying equation (6. (6.127a) and (6.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ Vw (6. Multiplying now equation (6. The weak problem therefore involves: find θα ∈ Sθ and w ∈ Sw such that: − Ω ¯ θα.127a) − Ω ¯ w.128) − which is the equation of virtual work for a Reissner-Mindlin plate.α Cαβ w.

constant strain implies constant curvature. In the context of plates.131) Kirchhoff plate elements There are few reliable. symmetry of mαβ and καβ allows the use of simplified ‘engineering’ notation. In particular. it tests whether an element can represent rigid body modes and a state of constant strain. The matrix D b has the form: 1 ν 1 0 0 0 Et3 D = 12 (1 − ν2 ) b  ν    0 (1 − ν ) 2   . It does not however satisfy C1 continuity. (6. where Ds = tkµ 0 0 . q = D s γ.129) where m = (m11 .2 101 . none of which are of general applicability.130) For the shear forces qα .   (6. In place of requiring C1 continuity. a less severe requirement is that elements satisfy a ‘patch test’.6.3. The complications are rooted in the need for C1 continuity. 2κ12 ) T . 2011 Version 0. m22 .132) (6. tkµ (6. The majority of Kirchhoff plate elements are non-conforming – this means that they do not satisfy C1 continuity. However. 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 .5 Plate finite elements As in elasticity. flexible and robust Kirchhoff plate elements. A common Kirchhoff plate element is rectangular and has four nodes and twelve degrees of freedom. m12 ) T and κ = (κ11 . some non-conforming elements yield satisfactory results. m = −Db κ   (6. κ22 . January 21. The element is still useful as it passes the patch test.3 Plate 6. There exists a range of Kirchhoff plate elements. 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.133) The applicability of this element is however limited by its inability to satisfy the patch test as a quadrilateral – the element can only be used as a rectangle.

6 Structural elements for finite element analysis
Reissner-Mindlin plate elements Plate finite elements based on the Reissner-Mindlin principle do not require C1 continuity. Two fields are interpolated (the transverse displacement and the rotation), with derivatives of order no higher than one for both fields appearing in the weak form. This is a significant advantage. It is then possible to form different elements using the same procedures as for plane and three-dimensional continuum elements. Isoparametric mappings can be used to construct arbitrary shapes. The procedures developed in Chapter 4 for continuum elements can be applied to develop plate elements. When using C0 shape functions with full integration, convergence requirements are guaranteed. The unknown fields, w h and θh are interpolated using C0 shape functions in terms of nodal unknowns, w h = N w aw θ =N a
h θ θ

(6.134) (6.135)

Taking derivatives,
h w,α = Bw aw

(6.136) (6.137)

κ =B a


θ θ

Inserting the discretised fields into equations (6.127a) and (6.127b) gives:


Bθ D b Bθ dΩ aθ − e


N θ CBw dΩaw + e


N θ CN θ dΩaθ e



T Nθ T dΓ



Bw T CBw dΩaw − e


Bw T CN θ dΩaθ e



N w T Q dΓ +


N w T pz dΩ


for an element. This can be expressed as: kww e kθw e kwθ e kθθ e f ew aw e θ = fθ , ae e



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6.3 Plate
where kww = e

Bw T CBw dΩ Bw T CN θ dΩ N θ CBw dΩ

(6.140a) (6.140b) (6.140c) N θ CN θ dΩ

kwθ = − e kθw = − e kθθ = e f ew =

Ωe Ωe

Bθ D b Bθ dΩ + N w T Q dΓ +
T Nθ T dΓ T


(6.140d) (6.140e) (6.140f)


N w T pz dΩ

f eθ = −


Note again that the element stiffness matrix is symmetric. These are the equations that are assembled into a global stiffness matrix, and solved. Shape functions of different orders can be formulated (even different orders for the transverse displacement and the rotation) and numerical integration is applied. While different elements can be used which will result in a consistent formulation, the performance of different elements may vary drastically. It is possible to simulate thin plates using elements based on the Reissner-Mindlin formulation. It is of course attractive if both thick and thin plates can be analysed using the same elements. To do this, the response of Reissner-Mindlin elements in the limit (t → 0) should be studied. The result should converge to the thin plate theory. This is not the case in practice, and is discussed in the following section. Mindlin-Reissner plate elements for thin plate problems Ideally, thick plate formulations could be used for analysing thin plates. The problem which is confronted is shear locking. As t → 0, Reissner-Mindlin elements typically show an overly stiff response, compared to exact thin plate solutions. The reason for this is that the contribution of the transverse shear deformation to the energy does not vanish. The locking effect can be so extreme as to render elements unusable. For this reason, extensive research efforts have been aimed at developing Reissner-Mindlin elements which do not lock in the thin plate limit. The simplest solution to shear locking is to use reduced or selective integration. This excludes the spurious contribution of the transverse shear deformation to the bending energy. For example, a four-node quadrilateral with 2 × 2 integration for bending terms and one-point integration for transverse shear terms yields good results for thin plate problems. Using full integration for this element results in extreme shear locking. Many Reissner-Mindlin elements involve reduced or selective integration to avoid shear locking. Another possibility to avoid shear locking is to use a mixed formulation. The governing equations are not reduced to their primal form in terms of w and θα , but three

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6 Structural elements for finite element analysis
fields are interpolated: w, θα and qα . It can be shown however that most mixed formulations are equivalent to reduced or selective integration (Hughes, 1987). Discrete Kirchhoff elements are based on thick shell formulations. What they require is that the Kirchhoff thin plate requirement of zero transverse shear strain is met at a discrete number of points within an element. These elements do not require reduced integration to avoid shear locking. However, some ambiguities arise when applying distributed loads.

6.4 Shell elements
Shells exist in a three-dimensional space. They are essentially curved plates. A simple approximation to a shell structure is to use a collection of flat combined plate/membrane elements to approximate the curved surface. Shell elements can also be formulated directly. The three-dimensional nature of the element makes them more complicated than plates. The direct formulation of shell elements is not addressed here. Details of their formulation can be found in numerous references (Bathe, 1996; Hughes, 1987; Cook et al., 1989; Zienkiewicz and Taylor, 1991).

6.5 Exercises
1. For a truss element with ends located at ( x1 , y1 ) and ( x2 , y2 ), find the rotation matrix R that rotates from the ( x, y) system to the convenient ( x ′ , y′ ) system. 2. For a two-node Hermitian beam element, how does the bending moment and the shear forces vary along the length of the element? 3. Sketch the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6.50). 4. Give the stiffness matrix for a two-node beam element in two-dimensions that allows for axial deformations. 5. Give two examples of when finite element analysis with continuum elements is preferable and two examples where beam, plate or shell elements is preferable. Provide a short reasoning for each case. 6. What is the danger in applying reduced or selective integration for plate elements? 7. If a constant distributed load is applied normal to a plate surface, pz , calculate the equivalent nodal forces for an eight-node Reissner-Mindlin element.


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

i (7. c is an unknown constant. 2011 . uI = ∑ Ni aiI .7 Analysis of the finite element method involve n = 0 and n = 1. An important semi-norm is the energy norm. Setting n = 1.10) into the above expression.8) The nodal interpolate is equal to the exact solution at the nodes (u − u I = 0 at the nodes). Consider the nodal interpolate u I .6) which involves only a particular order derivative. (7. and h is a measure of the element size. setting n = 0 gives: 1/2 e 0 = Ω (e · e) dΩ .5) which now includes the gradient of e.2 (7. it holds that u − uh E ≤ u − uI E. 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) where r is the order of the derivatives appearing in the weak form.4) which is a measure of the error in the displacements. It is defined by: u 2 E = | u |2 = r Ω ( Dr u)2 dΩ. Given that a finite solution is known to be the best possible solution from the finite-dimensional space S h . (7. (7. rather a question which can be answered from interpolation theory. u − uh 106 r ≤ Chk+1−r |u|k+1 . Inserting now equation (7. In this way. k + 1 > m. Interpolation theory provides the inequality u − uI m ≤ chk+1−m |u|k+1 . A Sobolev semi-norm is given by |u|n = Ω ( D n u)2 dΩ 1/2 . hence it interpolates the exact solution using the provided shape functions. (7. Version 0. (7.9) where k is the polynomial order. Note that to ensure convergence. For example. 1/2 e 1 = Ω (e · e + ∇e : ∇e) dΩ . (7.11) January 21.10) This means that the finite element solution is at least as accurate as the nodal interpolate in terms if energy.

hence it represents the error in the energy. hence u − uh 1 ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . this norm is dominated by the error in the strain.16) Hence linear elements are known as being O(h2 ) in terms of displacements. the greater a the smaller the error.2 A posteriori error estimation where C is a constant.14) In terms of the strain. January 21. If the exact solution is not sufficiently smooth. e 1 (7. such as the error in the displacement. Therefore.2 107 .1. In elasticity. For practical purposes. The notation O(h a ) means that the error is ‘of the order h a ’. a natural question is how close the solution is to the exact solution. independent of h. (7.7. This is error analysis. (7.2 A posteriori error estimation Once a finite element solution has been calculated. The order of convergence of a particular element type indicates how quickly the exact solution is approached. which tells ‘how good’ the calculated solution is. e e 0 1 ≤ Ch2 |u|2 ≤ Ch|u|2 . It would be useful to find an estimate in terms of lower norms. This result is however conditional upon the seminorm |u|k+1 existing. (7. 7. ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . 2(k + 1 − r )). Larger a implies faster convergence. It leads to the estimate: u − uh s ≤ Ch β |u|k+1 . The convergence order for different polynomial orders is given in Table 7. The error in the displacements is given by e 0 .15) which implies that the approximate strains converge to the exact result slower than the approximate displacements. there may be no gain in accuracy through increasing the polynomial order. u − uh 0 . For an elasticity problem. For k ≥ 1. the displacement error is: which is equal to Ω e · e dΩ e 0 ≤ Chk+1 |u|k+1 . and O(h) in terms of strains. but does not tell how far the computed solution is from the exact solution. 1/2 .12) This implies that the solution converges in this norm at a rate equal to the polynomial order. (7.13) where β = min (k + 1 − s. An estimate can be obtained using ‘Nitsche’s trick’ (see Strang and Fix (1973) for details). k = 1. Of course as h becomes small. the two quantities of special interest are the displacements and the strains (and hence the stresses). For linear elements. r = 1. 2011 Version 0.

Error estimation is a rich field of applied mathematical research. adaptivity can be employed to reduce the error where needed.2 January 21. A mathematically appealing concept is hp-adaptivity. and adaptivity is employed. The most common is the Zienkiewicz-Zhu (ZZ) (Zienkiewicz and Zhu. a finite element mesh can be adapted to improve the solution. Research is ongoing for more sophisticated error estimators for more complicated problems. To halve the error in a particular problem using h-adaptivity. the problem is re-analysed.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. At this point. Given a measure of the error. padaptivity involves increasing the polynomial order of elements to reduce the error in the calculated solution. it 108 Version 0. Fortunately. A posteriori error estimators are generally either residual-based or rely on stress recovery techniques. assuming that the exact solution is sufficiently smooth. an adaptive scheme is required to reduce the error to the prescribed levels. or to devise procedures which sub-divide elements where the error is large. It relies upon reducing the size of the element. The process can be repeated until the prescribed error tolerance is met. Then.1: Order of convergence O(hk ) for commonly used finite elements in terms of displacements and strain. 1987) stress recovery error estimator. That is. 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. 2011 . by comparing the stresses interpolated from the super convergent points with the stress computed from the derivative of the displacement field. Two forms of adaptivity are commonly used: p-adaptivity and h-adaptivity. some relatively simple error estimators exist for linear problems. Based on an analysis of the error. It is possible to generate an entirely new mesh. a new mesh must be constructed. knowing the order of convergence of an element may prove useful. It is based on the property that the stresses at certain points within an element are super-convergent. but is challenging to implement. the error can be estimated. they converge faster toward the exact solution than other points. Given a estimation of the error. It may be desirable to reduce the error to a specified value throughout a mesh. adaptivity techniques can be employed in combination with an error estimator. h-adaptivity uses another technique to reduce the error. Hence. Then. It has an extraordinary rate of convergence. the error is again estimated. 7.3 Adaptivity To improve the accuracy of a finite element solution.

4 Exercises helps to know how quickly the error reduces for a particular element. 7. 2011 Version 0. how much smaller would you expect the error in the displacements and the stresses to be if all the elements are made 2. January 21.7 times smaller? 3. When using Q4 elements.4 Exercises 1.and h-adaptivity.2 109 . 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. List some advantages and disadvantages of p.7.


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

k)/A(k. In a computer implementation.3) is solved (the ‘result’ being y). ‘Pivoting’ is often used to avoid numerical problems associated with large and small terms on the diagonal. ‘backward substitution’. yielding considerable computational savings. is then to solve the system: Ua = y (8.8 Solvers for large linear systems The first step is to factorise the matrix K in L and U. Then. The procedure can be implemented in a computer programming surprisingly simply.n) K(i. Unlike direct solvers. The following step.k)*K(k. Also.n) for i=k+1:min(k+p. The process is stopped when the desired tolerance is reached. This is step is known as ‘forward substitution. iterative solvers are generally faster than direct solvers. Iterative solvers ‘iterate’ toward the exact solution. although the time required for convergence depends heavily on the nature of the matrix K.j) = K(i. they can become prohibitively expensive for very large problems.K(i.4) which yields the solution to the original problem.n) K(i. 2011 .k) = K(i. the system of equations: Ly = f (8.2 January 21. a. 112 Version 0. The following code extracts for solving a banded system are taken from Golub and Loan (1996).j) . for symmetric systems the algorithm can be modified. An alternative is the use of iterative solvers. for k=1:n-1 for i=k+1:min(k+p. the factorised matrices can be stored in the memory allocated for K. For large system of equations. 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.j) end end end There are several variations on this procedure to improve its performance. it is not possible to compute exactly the required computational effort before starting the computation.2 Iterative solvers Direct solvers are relatively simple to program and are robust. 8.k) end for j=k+1:min(k+q. However.

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

This stems from the fact that the dependence on time t has not been addressed in the same fashion as the spatial dependency x.2 January 21.6) 9. restrained at one end.9 Time-dependent problems free end of a restrained rod. 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 . ¨ ¨ h (9. which when considering the semidiscrete formulations are constant in time. a reaction force is felt immediately at the other end. the finite-dimensional velocity and acceleration fields in an element are given by: uh = N ae . the Galerkin form must be developed. The equations for elastodynamics are hyperbolic. and integrating gives: Ω ρw · u dΩ = ¨ Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ (9. Therefore.8a) (9.e N T h dΓ. 2011 . With hyperbolic problems ‘information’ travels at finite speeds. This is again done using finite element shape functions. Ωe N T ρN dΩ ae = − ¨ Ωe B T DB dΩ ae + Ωe N T b dΩ + Γh. From the weak from in the previous section. The time dimension is left continuous.7) which is known as ‘semi-discrete’. for an element.7) and rearranging. The velocity and acceleration fields are represented using the shape functions. To solve dynamic problems using a computer.1) by a weight function w. Multiplying equation (9.5) Integrating by parts. (9.8b) where ae = dae /dt and ae = d2 ae /dt2 . like for the static case the governing equation must be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns and basis functions. a stress wave will travel through the bar and a force at the restrained end will not be felt until the stress wave arrives. (9. using the same steps outlined in Chapter 2. Deriving the weak form for dynamic problems follows the familiar procedure.1. and inserting Neumann boundary conditions. If a bar.2 Semi-discrete Galerkin form To reach a finite element formulation. (9. ˙ ˙ u = N ae . is hit with a hammer at the free end. find u ∈ S such that Ω ρw · u dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ ∀w ∈ V . Inserting the discretised displacement field ˙ ¨ and the expression for the acceleration field into equation (9. solving the weak form involves: for a given t > 0. which is independent of time.9) 114 Version 0.

Since finite element shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. 9. the mass matrix is symmetric and will have off-diagonal terms. Perhaps the simplest procedure to form lumped mass matrices is to form the matrices using numerical integration. A common approach was to form a lumped mass matrix.3 Mass matrix There are several methods to form the mass matrix.9. It is however possible that nodes will have zero or negative masses.10) where Me is the element mass matrix. for a given time tn M an + Kan = f n . All off-diagonal terms are equal to zero. cons = Me Ωe ρN T N dΩ. ¨ (9. This corresponds to having discrete. in the same fashion as for the element stiffness matrix. Once the element contributions have been assembled into the global mass and stiffness matrices and the global RHS vector.11) Before this equation can be solved. but with integration points located only at element nodes. lumped masses at each node. Since shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. Before the variational basis of the finite element method was properly understood. This procedure however can lead to negative masses on the diagonal. This is formed similarly to the stiffness matrix.2 115 . as will be discussed in the following sections. it was not entirely clear how the mass matrix should be formed. The obvious choice from the variational approach is the consistent mass matrix. 2011 Version 0. This equation can be written is a shorthand format as: Me a e + k e a e = f e ¨ (9.12) This is typically formed by integrating numerically.13) where n is the dimension of the mass matrix. Other more January 21. Another procedure is based on summing rows of the consistent mass matrix.1. Since lumped schemes do not follow naturally from the variational formulation. a strategy is required to deal with the time derivatives of a. (9. this will yield a diagonal mass matrix.1 Elastodynamics This equation is commonly called the ‘semi-discrete’ equation. As with the element stiffness matrix. Mii lump = j =1 cons ∑ Mij n (9. there is some freedom in determining exactly how the lumped mass matrix should be calculated. the lumped mass matrix has non-zero terms only on the diagonal. This property is highly advantageous in combination with some time integration schemes.

The contribution of the stiffness matrix to the damping matrix increases damping with increasing frequency. only one type of initial condition may be provided. There is no rich theory underlying the choices. Damping is often included by adding the term C a to the governing equations. u is the temperature. kappa is the conductivity. (9. the contribution of the mass matrix increases damping with decreasing frequency.3. This topic is left to other courses which address non-linear material behaviour. This is known as Rayleigh damping. The precise source of damping and its mathematical form is often vague.1.16) where in the context of diffusion of heat.14) where the matrix C represents the sources of damping in the structure. Damping due to the material response can also be included. It will become clear when addressing particular time integration schemes why lumped mass matrices are popular. The problem requires boundary conditions. (1989). 2011 . u ( x. Conversely. as outlined in Section 2. and initial conditions. unsteady heat diffusion is governed by: ˙ ρcu + ∇ · q = f . q = −κ ∇u is the heat flux. it involves first order derivatives with respect to time.3.15) where τ and ψ are user chosen parameters. namely the temperature at t = 0. (9. The steady-state version of the equation was introduced in Section 2. The choice of the parameters τ and ψ is certainly arbitrary. A discussion can be found in Cook et al.9 Time-dependent problems sophisticated lumping schemes are possible which will avoid negative masses. They two key points are that zero and negative masses on the diagonal should be avoided. In strong form.2 January 21. representing the uncertainty in the source of damping. It can be included through the damping matrix C. The performance of lumped mass matrices is guided primarily by experience. c is the ‘capacity’. ¨ ˙ (9. ˙ M a + C a + Ka = f . A simple method of introducing damping is to say: C = τM + ψK. 9. Unlike elastodynamics. (9.4 Damping Problems in structural dynamics often involve damping. 9.17) 116 Version 0. or through the constitutive model relating stress and strain.2 Heat equation The heat equation is introduced here as a step to the problems in elastodynamics. t) = u0 ( x) . Given that only the first derivative with respect to time is involved.

An upper bound to the highest frequency can be found by calculating the frequencies for all individual elements.24) The highest frequency from all elements provides an upper bound to the highest frequency of the problem.23) can be very large. The difficulty is that the size of the problem in equation (9.19) In matrix form.2 117 . there are n eigenvalues λ (λ = ω 2 ). Following the usual processes in developing the weak form. ¯ det K − ω 2 M = 0. the semi-discrete Galerkin problem for the heat equation involves: for a given t > 0. this is immediately felt (an infinitesimal amount) and increases with time. it is relatively simple to calculate the natural frequencies. For explicit time integration procedures. 2 det ke − ωe me = 0 (9. If one end of a rod is heated.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics If an undamped system is allowed to vibrate freely (no forcing terms). For a one-dimensional linear element.20) where ω is the frequency (radians per second). find uh ∈ S h such that Ω ˙ w h ρcuh dΩ + Ω ∇wh · κ ∇uh dΩ − Γh w h h dΓ = Ω w h f dΩ ∀wh ∈ V h (9. The displacements at the nodes can be described by a = a cos (ωt − α) . It turns out that for a lumped mass matrix.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics The heat equation is parabolic. it is important to know the highest natural frequency of the discrete problem. Non-trivial solutions (a = 0) require that: ¯ (9. the highest frequency is equal to: ωe = 2 L E ρ E/ρ.23) where ω are the natural frequencies of the system. this can be expressed at time tn as: M an + Kan = f n . ¨ ¯ Inserting these results into equation (9. 2011 Version 0.9. its motion is harmonic.22) which is a matrix eigenvalue problem. The acceleration is therefore given by: (9. For the consistent mass matrix. ¯ a = −ω 2 a cos (ωt − α) . ˙ 9. which ¯ are also known as natural modes.25) √ for an element of length L. ωe = 2 3/L January 21.11) and rearranging.21) −ω 2 M + K a = 0. (9. The eigenvectors are a. (9. (9. If stiffness and mass matrices are of dimension n.18) (9.

it is then possible to treat each mode individually.27) where Ψi are eigenvectors. and are known as vibration modes.9 Time-dependent problems 9. and ωi are the natural frequencies.31) Pre-multiplying both sides of this equation by Ψj T . i = j. (9. separate equations. The sum of the modes gives the total displacement. Inserting equation (9.30) 1 0 i = j. (9.32) The orthogonality property means that the equation has been decoupled into nm simple. (9. K − ωi2 M Ψi = 0. A special property of the eigenmodes Ψi is that they are orthogonal.4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics Modal analysis involves the dividing of the response of a structure into a number of modes. For linear problems. 2011 . i = j. The nodal displacements can be expressed as a summation of eigenfunctions.28) where αi (t) is the amplitude of the ith eigenmode.11) yields: ¨ M ∑ αi Ψi + K ∑ αi Ψi = f i i (9. ¨ αi + ωi2 αi = Ψi T f .29) Orthogonality implies that the vibration modes do not interact with each other. (9. Consider a solution a = ψi cos (ωi t + θi ) . ¨ Ψj T M ∑ αi Ψi + Ψj T K ∑ αi Ψi = Ψj T f i i (9. (9.11) .26) Inserting the above equation into the unforced version ( f = 0) of equation (9.28) into equation (9.2 January 21. a (t) = ∑ αi (t) Ψi i (9. This means that: Ψi T MΨj = and Ψi T KΨj = ωi2 0 i = j.33) 118 Version 0. It is then possible to treat each mode separately.

Further discussion of modal methods can be found in Craig (1981) and Cook et al. and perhaps information at time step n and earlier steps. equation (9. (9. ˙ ¨ a time stepping scheme is needed. 2011 Version 0.5 Time stepping algorithms Time stepping algorithms involve schemes to increment the time in discrete steps ∆t. In structural analysis. implicit schemes may have a low degree of accuracy (such as the backward Euler scheme. equation (9. To do this. usually only the low frequency modes have a significant influence on the structural response. the values an+1 . the unsteady heat equation is first considered. 9. Time is then incremented until the desired time is reached. rapidly diverging from any sensible result. which is O(∆t) accurate). Implicit schemes rely on information at time step n + 1. Explicit integrators rely only on information at time step n. There are no known unconditionally stable explicit schemes. this equation can be solved analytically. it will ‘blow-up’. Stability means the range of time steps ∆t for which an integrator will calculate a stable result (small errors do not grow exponentially). Hence. for each mode of interest. If an integrator is unstable. the computational effort lies in finding the eigenvectors and eigenvalues. 9.33) is a homogeneous ordinary partial differential equation. Conversely. compared to explicit schemes. (1989). For the unforced case.34) Solutions for forced cases are dependent on the type of loading.2 119 . It provides a step towards the more complicated schemes for elastodynamics. an+1 and an+1 at time tn+1 = tn + ∆t are needed. Given the values of an . and perhaps earlier steps (such as n − 1) to compute the solution at time step n + 1. Modal analysis relies on the orthogonality property of the eigenfunctions.33) is only solved for a few modes.9. Accuracy is not the difference between explicit and implicit schemes. There are known schemes of exceptional accuracy.1 One-step algorithms for the heat equation To introduce time stepping algorithms. which is O(∆t4 ) accurate). with the solution αi = c1 sin (ωi t) + c2 cos (ωi t) . Typically. an and an at time tn (and perhaps also at earlier times ˙ ¨ steps). Time stepping schemes are distinguished by being either explicit or implicit. the orthogonality property does not hold.5. January 21. Therefore.5 Time stepping algorithms Now. The difference between explicit and implicit schemes lies in stability. This means a system of equations must be solved for implicit schemes. but due to their extremely poor stability properties they are useless. implicit schemes generally require significantly extra computational effort. the above equation can be solved. In applying modal analysis. Explicit schemes can be constructed to have a high degree of accuracy (such as the 4th order Runge-Kutta method. For non-linear problems. Therefore it is limited to linear analysis.

For the problems to be considered here.40b) (9. the problem to solve an+1 has become ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 . the heat equation at time tn+1 must satisfy: M an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 . 2011 .36) gives. ˙ θ∆t n+1 θ∆t θ (9. They involve: an+1 = an + ∆t ((1 − θ ) an + θ an+1 ) . and the implicit trapezoidal (θ = 1/2) and backward Euler (θ = 1) methods.9 Time-dependent problems A popular family of algorithms are ‘generalised trapezoidal’ methods. both explicit and implicit. 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. 1 1 (1 − θ ) M + K a n +1 = f n +1 + Man + M an .41b) (9. well known integrators. the trapezoidal method is particularly attractive as it is unconditionally stable. where 1 ˆ K= M+K θ∆t 1 (1 − θ ) fˆn+1 = f n+1 + Man + M an . and is second-order accurate.35). Newmark time integrators are a family of schemes.37). The backward Euler method is also unconditionally stable. Well known methods are the explicit forward Euler (θ = 0) method.41a) (9. a n +1 = ˙ 1 1 (1 − θ ) a − an − an . ˙ θ∆t θ∆t θ In compact notation. ˙ θ∆t θ and an is computed from equation (9. but only first-order accurate. the forward Euler is not particularly useful as its stability properties are poor.37) (9.2 One-step algorithms for elastodynamics The most commonly used time integration scheme in solid and structural mechanics is the generalised Newmark scheme.38) 120 Version 0.40a) (9.35) where 0 ≤ θ ≤ 1. Choosing parameters appropriately for a Newmark algorithm yields a number of different.5. ˙ ˙ (9.39) (9.2 January 21. ˙ Rearranging equation (9. In practice.36) and inserting the above result into equation (9. ˙ 9. In matrix form.

43b) It is possible to rearrange these terms and show that they are equivalent to equation (9. a n +1 = a n + ˙ ˙ a n +1 ∆t ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) .46a) (9. 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. but it is conditionally stable.9. but as will be shown later. Its stability properties are attractive. a Newmark scheme is second-order accurate. 2011 Version 0. It is stable for: ∆t ≤ 2 ωh (9.5 Time stepping algorithms where β and γ are parameters which define the nature and properties of the algorithm.46b). January 21. This scheme is O(∆t2 ) accurate. A commonly used time integrator is the central difference method. Appropriate choices of β and γ yield well known integration methods.46a) into equation (9. 2 (9. Another commonly used time integrator is based on the trapezoidal rule. an = ˙ an = ¨ a n +1 − a n −1 2∆t an−1 − 2an + an+1 . It is also energy conserving.45) which is the Courant. It is necessary to express the terms a and a in terms of a.2 121 . an+1 = an + ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) 4 (9. it requires the factorisation of a large matrix. Therefore. 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). 2 ∆t ˙ ˙ = an + ( a n + a n +1 ) .42) For γ = 1/2. This method is unconditionally stable and the accuracy is O(∆t2 ). The term ω h can be estimated for linear elements as 2c/L.41) for β = 0 and γ = 1/2. ∆t2 (9.46b) Inserting equation (9.43a) (9. It corresponds to β = 1/4 and γ = 1/2 in the Newmark family of integrators. The Newmark method is unconditionally stale for: 2β ≥ γ ≥ 1 2 (9. where c is the dilatational wave speed (c = E/ρ) and L is the length of an element.47) This integrator is implicit. ∆t ≤ L . c (9. Friedrichs and Lewy (CFL) stability condition.

2011 . with damping.2 January 21. The term Kan is equivalent to: Kan = B T σn dΩ.55) Ω A difficulty with explicit central-difference time integration is the need for information at n − 1 when starting a calculation. 2∆t n−1 ∆t Then. it is not necessary to form the stiffness matrix K.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.49) Rearranging the above equation such that all terms at t + ∆t are on the LHS and all terms at time t are on the RHS.53) 1 1 C M+ 2 2∆t ∆t (9. M an−1 − 2an + an+1 a − a n −1 + Kan = f n . 1 1 1 1 M+ C an+1 = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . (9.52) (9. it is possible to calculate an+1 . and unknown at step n + 1. the displacement vector a at step n + 1 is given by: ˆ an+1 = M −1 fˆn (9. (9.43). Given an and an−1 . where ˆ M= and 1 1 fˆn = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . + C n +1 2 2∆t ∆t (9. In practice. an+1 can be calculated without solving a system of equations (hence the attractiveness of lumped mass matrices when using explicit time integrators). The above equations can be written in a shorthand format as: ˆ Man+1 = fˆn . Inserting the central difference expressions from equation (9. has the appearance: M an + C an + Kan = f n .54) (9. A procedure is required to ‘start’ the 122 Version 0.51) If both M and C are diagonal matrices. ¨ ˙ (9.48) It is assumed that a and its time derivatives are known at time t and unknown at time t + ∆t (corresponding to n + 1).9 Time-dependent problems Explicit time integration – central difference approach The system of equations to be solved.

In combination with a lumped mass matrix.56) The vector an−1 can be used to start the time integration procedure. a n +1 = ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9. it is very efficient and suitable for very large problems.43) it is possible to express an−1 in terms of quantities at n (time t = 0). M 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 + Kan+1 = f n+1 (9. it is second-order accurate.59) Rearranging such that all unknown quantities appear on the LHS. damping is ignored.60) which in a short-hand notation can be expressed as: ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 (9.41) for β = 0 to express the accelerations and velocity at step n + 1 in terms of step n and earlier. For simplicity. The time step must be chosen carefully for a particular discretisation. Furthermore. 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. 1 M + K a n +1 = M β∆t2 1 1 1 an + ˙ an − an ˙ ¨ a + 2 n β∆t 2β β∆t +f (9.57). which are the initial conditions.2 123 . 2011 Version 0.57) Rearranging the expressions in equation (9.58a) 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. and all known quantities on the RHS.61) January 21. The central difference procedure is popular in finite element analysis.9.58b) These equations are then inserted into equation (9. This yields.5 Time stepping algorithms algorithm at t = 0. Combining equations (9. The significant drawback is the conditional stability. an−1 = an − ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 an ¨ 2 (9.

2 January 21.6 Space-time formulations Time as a degree of freedom. Rearrange equation (9. Calculate the consistent and lumped mass matrices for the four-noded quadrilateral element. 1987).9 Time-dependent problems Since the stiffness matrix K is not diagonal. Solving the resulting system of equations yields an+1 .5. Note that calculating the ‘new’ an+1 introduces a dependency ˙ on the parameter γ.3 α-Method for elastodynamics In dynamic simulations. 2. With the Newmark scheme. choosing γ = 1/2 reduces the integration scheme to first order accuracy O(t). the algorithm is unconditionally stable and second-order accurate. If α = 0. calculating an requires the solution of a system of equations. 124 Version 0. One such algorithm is the α-Method. it is usually desirable to introduce some numerical damping to suppress spurious high-frequency modes. Numerical damping aids in controlling undesirable spurious high frequency modes in the solution. 9. It involves using a Newmark scheme to solve : M an+1 + (1 − α) Kan+1 − αKan = f n+1+α . Numerical dissipation can be controlled through the parameter α. If −1/3 < α < 0. 2011 . A number of algorithms have been developed to preserve second-order accuracy while allowing for the introduction of numerical damping. ¨ (9. the vector fˆ can be calculated from an . However. Decreasing α increases the dissipation. numerical damping can be introduced by choosing γ > 1/2. the α-Method reduces to the Newmark scheme.41) to show for β = 0 and γ = 1/2 the scheme is equivalent to a central-difference procedure. the terms in f are prescribed and both M and K can be formed. 9. At time step n. The problem with the Newmark scheme is that the introduction of any numerical damping reduces the order of accuracy from two to one.7 Exercises 1. Derive the mass matrix for a two-noded beam element. which is also known as the Hilber-Hughes-Taylor Method (Hughes.62) where f n+1+α = f n+1+θ∆t . γ = (1 − 2α) /2 and β = (1 − α)2 /4. 3. 9.

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