The Finite Element Method: An Introduction

Dr. Garth N. Wells

University of Cambridge and Delft University of Technology

c G. N. Wells 2009


1 Finite element method with piecewise linear basis functions 4. .5 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . .Contents 1 Introduction 1. . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . 6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Stiffness matrix storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . 2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations 2. . . . .4 Minimisation of potential energy .1 One-dimensional bar . . . . . . . . 2.4 Isoparametric mapping . . . . . . . . .3 Local-global . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Post-processing . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 7 13 15 16 19 21 21 23 25 26 27 28 29 31 31 32 33 34 35 35 37 49 50 54 57 60 63 63 64 65 70 71 73 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 General finite element basis functions . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Definition of trial and weight function spaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Galerkin method Approximate solution . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The 3. . . . . . . . . 5 Implementation of the finite element 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Essentials from continuum mechanics 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 3. . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Convergence of the Galerkin method Exercises . 4 Formulation of the finite element method 4. . . . . .1 Preprocessing . .3 Poisson equation . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . .3 Linear algebra . . 2. . . . . . .2 Vector calculus . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Numerical integration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Tensor basics . . . . . Basic error analysis . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . .5 Regularity requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Program flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . 1. . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Continuum elasticity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . .3 Governing equations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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

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

In the case n = 2. x = √ x · x.1: Example of orthonormal base vectors. i =1 3 (1.2 January 21.4) 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.5) ∑ a i bi . ai where i runs from one to n. where repeated indices imply summation: a·b = For n = 3. (1. a= a1 . 2011 . which is denoted a · b.7) 8 Version 0.3) Consider the dot product between two vectors a and b.6) ∑ a i b i = a 1 b1 + a 2 b2 + a 3 b3 . a·b = (1. a2 (1.1 Introduction x2 a e2 = [0 1 0] e1 = [1 0 0] x1 e3 = [0 0 1] x3 Figure 1. i =1 n (1. A vector a in an n-dimensional space R n can be expressed in terms of its components.

The second-order tensor A in R3 can be expressed as   A11 A12 A13 A = Aij =  A21 A22 A23  . At times. The transpose of a tensor is denoted by the superscript ‘T’. a = Ab = Aij b j = ∑ Aij bj j =1 n (1. Aij .1. which is expressed as D = AB. It is defined by: a · Bc = Bc · a = c · B T a. A.14) January 21. A = Aij . Consider the case a = ABc = Dc. ei · e j = δij .12) Second-order tensors are linear operators that act upon vectors. the dot product maybe written as a T b. Second-order tensors can be multiplied. a second-order tensor A can be expressed in terms of components. and in index notation as Dij = Aik Bkj . in the vein of matrix multiplication. (1.16) (1.11) (1. 0 if i = j.13) where n is the dimension of the vector b.10) As with vectors. A second-order tensor A takes the vector b and transforms it into the vector a.15) (1. K.9) Second-order tensors (which possess some similar properties to matrices) are generally denoted by uppercase bold characters. allowing the base vectors to be discarded and the more familiar notation a · b = ai b j δij = ai bi .17) (1. A31 A32 A33 (1. M.1 Tensor basics For an orthonormal basis. The symbol δij is known as the Kronecker delta: δij = 1 if i = j. R (1.8) can be used.2 9 . (1. (1. 2011 Version 0.

2011 .2 January 21. A = a ⊗ b. is provided for two second-order tensors.18) The transpose of a second-order tensor implies interchanging the rows and columns of its components. (1. this implies: tr ( A) = A11 + A22 + A33 . The repeated i and j indices implies: Aij Bij = (1. For a second-order tensor A in R3 . tr ( a ⊗ b) = ai bi and tr ( A) = Aii .1 Introduction In terms of indices: Aij T = A ji . A useful identity involving the transpose is: ( AB) T = B T A T . For example. an inner product. i =1 j =1 n n (1.28) 10 Version 0. It also yields a scalar. This is equivalent to A : B = Aij Bij . which is equivalent to Aij = ai b j .26) (1. an operation similar to the dot product of two vectors.23) (1.25) ∑ ∑ Aij Bij . (1.21) (1. A : B = A11 B11 + A12 B12 + A21 B21 + A22 B22 .22) Using the trace. = ai b j . (1. (1.27) This operation has no equivalent in matrix-vector convention.24) (1. It is defined by: A : B = tr A T B . (1.19) Second-order tensors can be formed through the dyadic production of two vectors.20) The trace of a second-order tensor is essentially the summation of its diagonal components. For two second-order tensors in R2 .

a tensor Aij is symmetric if: Aij = A ji .2 (1. is equal to the identity tensor. A third-order tensor maps a second-order tensor to a first order tensor.36) The expression for E in terms of the basis ei is lengthy and not shown here. Using index notation. It is defined for a. The result of the above equation is rather simple. If any of the indices are repeated.1 Tensor basics The identity tensor I is defined by: a = Ia.33) (1.34) (1. and if the permutation {i. b ∈ R3 by:   a 2 b3 − a 3 b2 (1. The cross product can be introduced via the third-order tensor E . and is equal to I = δij ei ⊗ e j . or vector.29) A second-order tensor A. (1. January 21. (1. multiplied by its inverse A−1 . (1. A third-order tensor can be defined which will make manipulations more convenient. k} is even. The components of E are given by: [E ] = Eijk = ei · e j × ek . E : ( a ⊗ b) = a × b. A common third-order tensor is the alternating (or permutation) tensor E . Eijk = 1. A matrix A is symmetric if: A T = A. A tensor A is orthogonal if: A T = A −1 .37) 11 . Eijk = 0. AA−1 = A−1 A = I. j.30) (1. j. (1. Eijk = −1. If the permutation {i.1.35) [ a × b ] =  a 3 b1 − a 1 b3  .32) As will be shown in the following section. Another important operation is the cross.31) Second-order tensors are often characterised by their special properties. a 1 b2 − a 2 b1 Such a definition however is not convenient for manipulation. k} is odd. matrices which rotate the reference frame are orthogonal. 2011 Version 0. The cross product of two vectors yields a vector. product.

it is convenient to rotate the coordinate frame.38) In elasticity. denoted here as C . Coordinate transformations For many problems. due to physical symmetries.40) (1.39) Fortunately. This operation is particularly important when considering moments. Consider the orthonormal coordinate systems in Figure 1. (1. ′ the components ai are given by ′ ai = Q ji a j .1 Introduction x2 ′ e2 = [− sin θ cos θ ] e2 = [0 1] ′ e1 = [cos θ sin θ ] θ e1 = [1 0] x1 Figure 1. 2011 . in terms of indices.2: Rotation between coordinate systems. (1. which is orthogonal. They are related to each other via a fourth-order tensor.2 January 21. the components in ei system are known.41) 12 Version 0. (1. ′ and it would be convenient to have the components in the ei system. it will not be necessary to manipulate fourthorder tensors directly. For an orthonormal basis. Defining Qij by Qij = ei · e′j . C = Cijkl . Vector and tensor components can be rotated (change of basis) using a rotation matrix Q. A : B = Aijk Bjk .2. Consider that for a vector a. It may prove convenient to transform vector components relative to the ei system to components ′ in the ei system. the stress and strain are second-order tensors.

It is convenient to rotate the ′ reference such such the position along the bar is given by [ x]′ = x1 .xyy . (1. An example is a onedimensional rod element in a three-dimensional space.2 (1.2 Vector calculus which can also be expressed as: a′ = Q T a.1. Consider a function u which is dependent on the position x.xxxx . The divergence of a vector field a yields a scalar.2. It is expressed as: ∇ · a.44) Therefore. cos θ (1. (1. 1. An important operator is the divergence. (1. components in the rotated reference frame can be transformed back to the original reference frame by: a = Qa′ .45) At times it is necessary to also rotate the components of a second-order tensor from one coordinate system to another. and A = QA′ Q T .49) 13 . = u.xy . Some of its derivatives can be written as: ∂u = u. 0 .xx .48) This notation is used commonly throughout these notes. = u. Considering the coordinate systems illustrated in Figure 1. QQ T = Q T Q = I. Q= ′ e1 · e1 ′ e2 · e1 ′ e1 · e2 cos θ ′ = sin θ e2 · e2 (1. 0. Characters after a comma in the subscript denote differentiation with respect to that variable.46) Often coordinate transforms are used to simplify a problem. ∂x ∂4 u ∂2 u = u.2 Vector calculus Subscripts are commonly used as a short-hand notation for derivatives. ∂x2 ∂x4 ∂2 u ∂3 u = u.47) (1. January 21. ∂x∂y ∂x∂y2 (1. 2011 Version 0. This is done by the operation: A′ = Q T AQ.42) − sin θ .x . which effectively reduces the three-dimensional problem to a one-dimensional problem.43) and note that Q is orthogonal.

 ∂y      ∂a ∂z The gradient of a vector is given by: ∇a = ∂ai = ai.50) In a three-dimensional space R3 .51) The divergence of a second-order tensor is given by: ∇·A = ∂Aij = Aij.2 January 21. The gradient of a scalar a is given by: ∇a = ∂a = a. the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a1 ∂a1 ∂a1  ∂x ∂y ∂z     ∂a2 ∂a2 ∂a2   . 2011 . the components of ∇ a are given by:   ∂a  ∂x     ∂a  (1. ∇ · a is equal to ∇·a = ∂ai = ai.52) For a two-dimensional tensor A.   ∂A11 + ∂A12 ∂x ∂x2  .i .55) ∇a =   .1 Introduction In terms of indices. ∂x j (1. ∇·a = ∂ay ∂a ∂a x ∂a ∂az ∂a1 + 2+ 3 = + + . ∇ · A =  ∂A 1 ∂A22 21 ∂x + ∂x 1 2 (1. ∇a =  (1.57) ∂y ∂z   ∂x   ∂a3 ∂a3 ∂a3  ∂x ∂y ∂z 14 Version 0.53) Another important operator is the gradient. ∂x1 ∂x2 ∂x3 ∂x ∂y ∂z (1.j . ∂x j (1. In a three-dimensional space.56) which yields a second-order tensor.i .54) which yields a vector. In a three-dimensional space. ∂xi (1. ∂xi (1.j .

The outward unit normal to the body is denoted n.2 15 . and the January 21.3 Linear algebra n Ω Γ Figure 1. For a vector a.60) The above equation also holds for the case in which a is replaced by a scalar and B is replaced by a vector. ∂x j i ij (1. The boundary of the body Ω is denoted Γ = ∂Ω.3.3: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n bounded by Γ.61) and then applying the divergence theorem. The divergence theorem states: Ω ∇ · A dΩ = ∂Ω An dΓ. (1. It transforms a volume integral to a surface integral. For example. Ω ∇ · a dΩ = ∂Ω a · n dΓ. (1.3 Linear algebra The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix provide information as to its properties. It implies that: Ω a · (∇ · B) dΩ = − Ω ∇ a : B dΩ + ∂Ω a · Bn dΓ. The above formula is simple to derive by using the product rule for differentiation to expand Ω ∇ · ( aB ) dΩ = Ω ∂ a B dΩ.1.58) where n is the outward normal to the body Ω. 2011 Version 0.59) Integration by parts is used frequently in the formulation of the finite element method. (1. 1. An essential theorem in formulating the finite element method is the divergence theorem (also known as Gauss’s theorem). the eigenvalues of the stress tensor are the principal stresses. The surface of Ω is given by ∂Ω. Consider the body Ω in Figure 1.

For a symmetric matrix. For a matrix A.1 Introduction corresponding eigenvectors are the principal stress directions. The polynomial is known as the characteristic equation of A. (1.64) where K is an n × n matrix.j (1.62) are known as eigenvectors and eigenvalues. For large matrices.65) Typically. (1. 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). A zero eigenvalue implies that the matrix A has a linearly dependent column. 1. K will often be referred to as the ‘stiffness matrix’ and f the ‘right-hand side vector’. and is unique. For a positive definite matrix A. Equation (1. all eigenvalues are positive and real.2 January 21. Eigenvalue tests are often used in studying the matrices arising in the finite element method. The strain ǫ is defined as the symmetric gradient of the displacement vector: ǫij = 1 u + u j. all eigenvalues are real. the system of equations in a finite element equation will be very large. 2011 . the roots of a cubic equation must be found. the eigenvalues of a matrix indicates if a matrix has a unique inverse. This requires some background in continuum mechanics and linear-elasticity.66) 16 Version 0.i . of A. The solution u is given by: u = K −1 f . The system of equations is usually solved using a direct method (such as Gauss elimination or LU decomposition) or an approximate iterative method.63) For a 2 × 2 matrix. vectors b and scalars λ which satisfy ( A − λI ) b = 0 (1.62) implies that: det ( A − λI ) = 0. Also. respectively. Solvers for finite element problems are discussed in Chapter 8. special numerical algorithms are used to calculate the eigenvalues. For a 3 × 3 matrix. finding λ requires finding the roots of a quadratic equation. This section is intended to cover only the important concepts which are used later in these notes. It is not a comprehensive coverage of the topic. (1.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics The finite element method is used in these notes to solve primarily problems in continuum mechanics. In the context of the finite element method. which guarantees that the inverse of A exists. and u and f are vectors of length n. A system of n linear equations can be expressed as: Ku = f . 2 i.

Due to symmetry.71) (1. Similar to the strain tensor.4 Essentials from continuum mechanics which is clearly a second-order tensor. For convenience. In a homogeneous body. The constants λ and µ are often referred to as Lam´ constants.72) (1.1. In two-dimensions. σij = Cijkl ǫkl where C is a fourth-order tensor. the symmetric gradient using index notation will be expressed as: u(i. this reduces to four.j (1.i . the above expression can be written as: ǫ = ∇s u = 1 ∇u + (∇u) T .67) For convenience. 2011 Version 0.74) νE (1 + ν) (1 − 2ν) (1. 2 i.69) where n is the unit normal vector to the surface. in three-dimensions the stress and strain tensors have only six independent components.68) where the bracket around the subscript denotes the symmetric gradient. the strain tensor is symmetric. 2 (1. January 21.73) (1. or in index notation. In compact notation. A constitutive equation relates the stresses in a material to the strain. it is defined by: Cijkl = µ δik δjl + δil δjk + λδij δkl where λ= and µ= E 2 (1 + ν ) (1. Obviously. as will be shown in the next chapter). the stress tensor is symmetric (which can be proved by considering the balance of angular momentum.2 17 .70) with E the Young’s modulus and ν Poisson’s ratio. σn = t (1. linear-elastic continua. Lam´ constants are indepene e dent of the position. this can be written as: σ = C : ǫ. For linear elasticity. The stress tensor is defined through the traction vector t (force per unit area) on a surface.j) = 1 u + u j. For solid.

An axisymmetric formulation is for example commonly used when simulating a circular foundation. such as many beams.        ǫ11   ǫ11   u. there are three possibilities. the constitutive relationship can be written as: σ = Dǫ (1.76) σ= σ12        σ13      σ23 Using the vector format for stress and strain.x                    2ǫ13  γ13  u.z + w. The third possibility is axisymmetric.x           ǫ22   ǫ22   v. The first is known as plane strain. 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.z ǫ33 ǫ33 . particular attention will be paid to solving elastic continuum problems. In these notes.y γ23 2ǫ23 The stress tensor is expressed in a vector form.y + v.1 Introduction ‘engineering’ notation is often adopted. It is then likely that the stress in the out-of-plane direction is not equal to zero. This is reasonable for problems which are relatively thick in the third direction. containing components of the fourthorder tensor C .   σ11      σ22        σ33 (1. The second possibility is plane stress (σ33 = 0). This approximation is good for very thin members. the strain in the out-of-plane direction is dependent on the distance from an axis of rotation.x              v. in which the stress and strain are represented as vectors.77) When reducing a three-dimensional problem to two-dimensions.78) D=  0 0 0 µ 0 0    0 0 0 0 µ 0 0 0 0 0 0 µ 18 Version 0. In this case. This assumes that the normal strain in the out-of-plane direction is zero (ǫ33 = 0). (1.75) = = ǫ= 2ǫ12  γ12   u. the normal stress out-of-plane is assumed to be zero.2 January 21. 2011 . For isotropic linear-elasticity. such as a dam wall.z + w. In this case. although without the factor ‘2’ on the shear terms.y                        u. This will require identification of the equations which govern equilibrium of where the matrix D is the constitutive matrix.

5 Exercises 1. Therefore.81) Consider now moment equilibrium (balance of angular momentum). and not specific to elasticity. Note that this equation is general. Then. since E : σ T = 0. leading to: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω (1. This will also be referred to as the ‘strong’ governing equation.83) If translational equilibrium (equation (1. Considering that t = σn.80).80)) is satisfied. For three-dimensions (i = 1 → 3. consider first translational equilibrium (balance of linear momentum) of a body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ = ∂Ω. and applying the divergence theorem.1.5 Exercises elastic bodies. Ω r × (∇ · σ + b) dΩ + Ω E : σ T dΩ = 0 (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 (1.82) where r is the position vector of a point on ∂Ω. 2011 Version 0. How many independent components does a symmetric second-order tensor in R n have? January 21.79) where b is a body force. expand the terms: a) b) c) d) e) f) a i bi ai b j Aij Bij Cij bi Cij b j Fik Gkj 2.83) is zero. moment equilibrium is satisfied if the stress tensor is symmetric.). Application of the divergence theorem to the integral over ∂Ω gives: Ω ∇ · σ + b dΩ = 0 (1. the partial differential equation of equilibrium is given by equation (1.80). etc.80) Balance of linear momentum should also be satisfied for any subdomain of Ω. if σ is symmetric. the first term in equation (1. the integral can be removed from equation(1. which requires that ∂Ω t dΓ + Ω b dΩ = ∂Ω σn dΓ + Ω b dΩ = 0 (1. Therefore. In order to derive the governing partial differential equation. 1.2 19 .

A common and important operator in applied mathematics (and mechanics) is the Laplace operator ∆ (sometimes denoted ∇2 ).2 January 21.60). Confirm that the rotation matrix R in equation (1. derive the integration by parts formula in equation (1.1 Introduction 3. 7. It is equivalent to ∇ · ∇. What is the trace of the identity tensor I equal to in R n ? 4. 2011 . 6.43) is orthogonal. Using the product rule for differentiation and the divergence theorem. 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. 5.

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

Considering that σ = Eu.9) must hold point-wise. derivatives of order 22 Version 0. which has an infinite number of members).10) can be integrated by parts and the Neumann boundary condition from equation (2.60).x = w f L 0 ∀w ∈ V .5) where n is the outward normal to the bar (equal to 1 in this case).6) are multiplied by a scalar weight function w ∈ V (w ∈ V means that w comes from the appropriately defined space of functions V . L 0 (2.x dx = L 0 w. then − wσ. Since both sides of the equation are multiplied by the weight function. (2.x dx = w f dx ∀w ∈ V . Taking guidance from equation (1.6) (2.9) where ‘∀w ∈ V ’ means ‘for all w ∈ V ’. applying a force at the end of the bar is equivalent to prescribing u.x Eu. Note that in the strong form.1) by w.x n = h 0 < x < L. σn = h at x = L. Multiplying equation (2. The above boundary condition sets the applied traction at x = L equal to h. (2. A Neumann (natural) boundary condition prescribes the applied traction.3). The mathematical problem can now be summarised as: find u such that: − Eu. (2. the equation must still hold for all admissible weight function (this is a technical point which is discussed in section 2.x . An important requirement on the space V is that functions w be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.x n| x=0 is not included as by definition the weight function w is equal to zero at x = 0. both sides of equation (2. equation (2. at x = 0. (2.10) is also true.12) where S is an appropriately defined space of functions which satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions.x .x σ dx − wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V .x dx = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L ∀w ∈ V . solving the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that L 0 w.1 to be equal to zero. This is the weak form of the governing equation.11) Note the term wEu. at x = L.xx = f u=0 Eu. 2011 .2 January 21. If equation (2.8) To develop the weak form of the governing equation. which yields: − L 0 wσ.7) (2. (2. −wσ. Inserting now the constitutive relationship σ = Eu.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations prescribes the displacement at one end of the bar in Figure 2.x .8) inserted. after inserting the constitutive relationship (2.6).

xx + f )2 ≥ 0. Returning to equation (2. satisfying the strong governing equation (in a distributional sense).xx + f ) Eu.13). w(0) = 0.13). The basic form of the equations is the same as the one-dimensional bar in the previous section.xx + f ). it follows that a solution of the strong form is also a solution of the weak form.xx + f )2 dx = 0.16) proving that the Neumann boundary conditions are satisfied. (2. − L 0 φ ( Eu. Assuming that E is constant and integrating by parts the first term in (2. the above equation can only hold if − Eu. as by construction. 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. Consider now the continuous body in Figure 2.17) 23 .12). What remains now is to ensure that the Neumann boundary condition is satisfied (Dirichlet boundary conditions are satisfied by construction).x n| x= L = L 0 w f dx + wh| x= L . In the weak form (2. (2. only first derivatives with respect to x appear. for any allowable weight function at x = L. Recall that the governing equation is given by: ∇ · σ + b = 0 in Ω.2 Continuum elasticity two with respect to x appear.2. Inserting the weight function into equation (2. Eu. Since the weak form is derived from the strong form. Following Hughes (1987).xx dx = L 0 φ ( Eu. The complication arises from the three-dimensional setting.13) Note again that no terms at x = 0 appear.2 Continuum elasticity A more complicated example is continuum elasticity.14) which can be rearranged to give L 0 φ ( Eu. The strong governing equation for this problem was developed in the previous chapter. L[ and zero outside (specifically at x = 0 and x = L). it is now proven that the first term is equal to zero. see Brenner and Scott (1994). consider a weight function w ∈ V which is equal to φ ( Eu.2.15) Since φ > 0 and ( Eu.x n = h.xx = f . (2.12) yields − L 0 wEu. (2. 2011 Version 0. Hence. at least in a generalised sense).xx dx + wEu.2 (2. January 21. For a more elaborate mathematical treatment. where φ is greater than zero over the interval ]0. 2.xx + f ) f dx.

21) can be integrated by parts (see equation (1. a constitutive relationship is required. tractions (potentially zero) are applied (traction ≡ force per unit area on a surface). u=g on Γg . Boundary conditions are still required to complete the problem. (2. On part of the boundary. (2. Multiplying equation (2.20) The boundary-value problem is now complete. (2. Note that in this case. σ = C : ǫ.22) 24 Version 0. For a linearelastic material.21) The first term in equation (2. the same steps as in the case of the one-dimensional bar are followed. As in the one-dimensional case. 2011 . the weight function w is a vector.2. (2. (2.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations h Γh Ω Γg n Figure 2. the governing equation is multiplied by a weight function w ∈ V . Γg ∩ Γh = ∅). t=h on Γh . To derive the weak form. yielding: − Ω ∇w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0.60)). First.2: Continuous body Ω ⊂ R n with boundary Γ (Γ = Γg ∪ Γh . the part of the boundary where displacements are prescribed is denoted Γg .18) where C is a fourth-order tensor. where again V is an appropriately defined function space (w = 0 on Γg ). and integrating over the body Ω yields: Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . In Figure 2.17) by w ∈ V .2 January 21. the displacements are prescribed (Dirichlet boundary conditions). Γh .19) On the remaining boundary. and integrated over the body.

(2. Consider the following equation: −∇ · q + f = 0 in Ω (2. In Darcy’s law. the symmetric gradient of w. including steady-state heat conduction and flow in permeable media (Darcy’s law). Often the term ∇w is written as ∇s w. A wide range of physical phenomena are governed by this equation.18). the scalar u is the temperature. a solution to the weak form involves: find u ∈ S such that − Ω ∇w : C : ǫ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . Ω δǫ : C : ǫ dΩ = Ω δu · b dΩ + Γh δu · h dΓ.3 Poisson equation where σn has been replaced by the prescribed traction h (the Neumann boundary condition). Consistency can be proven in the same fashion as was used for the onedimensional problem.23). The constitutive relationship depends on the problem being solved. 2011 Version 0.3 Poisson equation An equation which is often solved using the finite element method is the Poisson equation. Therefore ∇s w ≡ δǫ. For Darcy’s law.25) yields a Poisson equation. q is the heat flux vector. However. This is the weak equilibrium equation for a stationary continuous elastic body. (2. the variational framework is more general. κ = κI.2 25 . In the case of heat conductivity. Inserting now the constitutive relationship from equation (2. The previous example of continuum elasticity was an example of a system of Poisson equations – one for each spatial direction. 2.25) where q is a flux vector and f is a source term. q is the flow rate. For an isotropic medium.26) where u is a potential. where κ is the thermal conductivity. Inserting this into equation (2.23) where S is an appropriate space of functions which satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions. It is simple to show that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric (see exercise 1). The equation of virtual work is therefore the weak form of the governing equation.24) which is the equation of virtual work. Here the Poisson equation is addressed in a more generic fashion. Inserting the constitutive equation into (2.2.j ) (2. The constitutive relationship is given by: q = −κ ∇ u (qi = −κij u. Consider now w as a ‘virtual displacement’ δu. January 21. For linear heat conduction. u is the hydraulic head and κ is known as the hydraulic conductivity. There exists a close link between weak forms and virtual work for a range of problems.

32) The potential energy for another displacement field. 2011 . this imposes the heat flux on Γh . (2. there exists a close link between minimisation of energy and solution of the weak form.4 Minimisation of potential energy For particular equations. suppose that u is the solution to the weak problem. (2. For heat conduction. the boundary-value problem requires boundary conditions. 2. Multiplying equation (2. In the case of heat conduction.27) which prescribes the potential on the boundary. such as equilibrium of an elastic body. The Neumann boundary condition requires that: −q · n = h on Γh (2.2 January 21.29) 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. it is the hydraulic head.2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations As for all previous examples.28) where n is the outward normal to the surface Γh (see Figure 2. w = u + v.33) 26 Version 0. The weak form of the Poisson equation is derived following the same steps as in the previous two examples.25) by a weight function w and integrating over the body Ω. and for Darcy flow is it the inflow/outflow across a boundary.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 Dirichlet conditions impose: u=g on Γg (2. For Darcy flow. I (u) = 1 2 Ω ∇s u : C : ∇s u dΩ − Ω u · b dΩ − ∂Ω u · h dΩ.2). (2. this is the temperature on the boundary Γg . and consider the potential energy functional I. − Ω w (∇ · q) dΩ + Ω w f dΩ = 0 ∀w ∈ V . is given by I (u) ≤ I (u + v) = 1 2 Ω ∇s (u + v) : C : ∇s (u + v) dΩ − Ω (u + v) · b dΩ − ∂Ω (u + v) · h dΩ. (2.31) which is the weak form of the Poisson equation. (2.

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

The weight functions come from the space V (w ∈ V ). Clearly. For multiple spatial dimensions. The function space S is defined by: S = {u | u ∈ H 1 (Ω) . which is denoted H 1 (Ω). there do however exist functions from H 1 (Ω) which are not C0 continuous.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’. Trial functions u come from the space S (u ∈ S ). When solving second-order differential equations. Consider first a scalar problem in an n-dimensional domain Ω. The notation u ∈ H 1 means that u comes from (is an element of) H 1 . A function u is said to be square integrable if: Ω (u)2 dx < ∞. This can be seen in the well-known Sobolev embedding theorem.2 January 21. which is defined by: V = {w | w ∈ H 1 (Ω) . from which the trial and weight functions come.36) are known as members of the Sobolev space on degree one. Functions for which: Ω (u)2 + (u. an infinite number of different functions belong to a given Sobolev space.x )2 dΩ < ∞ (2. 2. Importantly. This is of crucial importance. Sobolev spaces are infinite-dimensional. such functions may be discontinuous. Note that C0 functions belong to H 1 .35) Functions which are square integrable come from the Hilbert space known as L2 (Ω). It is useful to define function spaces. (2. Functions spaces can be considered the ‘family’ of functions from which u and w can come. In physical terms. u| Γg = g}. w| Γg = 0}. but this point is not important here). 28 Version 0. That is. functions which have square-integrable derivatives are of interest. 2011 .2 Strong and weak forms of the governing equations The theory of which functions are allowed is discussed on more detail in the following advanced section. (2.38) 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. (2. since a fundamental step in the finite element method will involve finite-dimensional function spaces.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. the requirement that the trial functions be square-integrable implies that energy must be finite.

40) Further details can be found in texts on functional analysis and the mathematical analysis of the finite element method.2. prove that ∇w : σ = ∇s w : σ if σ is symmetric. The Helmholtz equation is given by: ∇ · (∇φ) + kφ = 0 and is often used in wave propagation problems. Derive the weak form.2 29 . Show whether the following functions belong to H 1 on the given domain: a) b) c) d) u = 1/r on 1 < r < 2 u = 1/r on 0 < r < 2 √ u = 1/ r on 0 < r < 2 u = ax for x < 0 and u = bx for x > 0 on −1 < x < 1 (a and b are arbitrary constants. is u a possible trial solution? January 21. 2011 Version 0. ui | Γg = gi } and similarly for weight functions w ∈ V . wi | Γg = 0}. (2. (2. 3.23) for elasticity using index notation. (Hint: use index notation.7 Exercises 1. 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). 2.) 2. Derive the weak equilibrium equation (2. 4. u ∈ S where S = {ui | ui ∈ H 1 (Ω) . where r is the distance from the crack tip (r ≥ 0).7 Exercises In multiple dimensions. Solutions for the displacement field from linear-elastic fracture mechanics often √ involve a term r.39) V = {wi | wi ∈ H 1 (Ω) . a = b) 5. For 3 × 3 second-order tensors (matrices).


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

9) into equation (3. B wh . often in fluid mechanics. u − L w h = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h .2. In the finite element method.2 Basic error analysis It is interesting to check how the solution computed using the Galerkin procedure compares to the exact solution.1).3 The Galerkin method where ǫ h = ∇s uh . The approximate solution is therefore equal to: uh = u − e (3.8) where u is the exact solution and uh is the solution to equation (3. 2011 . taking into account the special requirements on the weight and trial functions where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. (3. piecewise low-order polynomials defined on ‘finite elements’. e = B wh .6) wh · b dΩ + Γh (3. the Bubnov-Galerkin method) requires that the weight and trial functions come from the same finite-dimensional space. uh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. the error in the displacement e at a point is defined by: e = u − uh (3. For the one-dimensional problem. u − B wh . why it doesn’t work). A basic question which arises when computing an approximate solution is how uh relates to the exact solution u.7) The Galerkin method (more specifically. Different Galerkin-based methods are defined by how the unknown field uh is represented. u − B wh .2). 3. This is examined in the following section. uh = and L wh = Ω Ω ∇s wh : C : ǫh dΩ wh · h dΓ. e − L wh = 0 ∀w h ∈ V h (3. Spectral Galerkin methods for example use a truncated Fourier series as the basis.11) 32 Version 0. this will be investigated using the abstract notation. this implies that: B wh . which solution does the method seek? Understanding this requires some basic error analysis. 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 January 21. Given a finite number of possibilities in S h . B wh .9) For generality. uh and w h will be simple continuous. In the abstract notation of equation 3. This method is used for special applications.10) Since u is the exact solution. B w h . the weight functions come from a different function space than the trial functions. In Petrov-Galerkin method. Inserting equation (3.

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

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


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

∀w h ∈ V h


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

= 1 B (v, v) 2


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

≤ u − wh


∀w h ∈ V h


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

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

January 21, 2011

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

lim uh = u


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

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


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January 21, 2011

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

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


1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0








1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0

L Figure 4.1: One-dimensional bar.


2 January 21.6) for all possible values of wi . 2011 . (4.x wi i =1 n h dΓ (4. the approximate displacement field uh is given by uh = ∑ Ni ( x) ui . (4.   x i − x i −1 x i − x i −1   x i +1 x Ni = x i < x < x i +1 . The basis function at node i. hence wh = ∑ Ni wi . In finite element analysis. discretised with n nodal points. is given by  x x i −1   − x i −1 < x ≤ x i .3) To develop the Galerkin problem.x u j j =1 n dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ. these basis functions are known as ‘shape functions’. the strain field can be computed easily by taking the derivative of the shape functions.5) and inserting the expression for the expressions for the approximate displacement field and the weight function. it can be taken outside of the integrals.x u j j =1 n dΩ = Ω ∑ Ni wi i =1 n f dΩ + Γh ∑ Ni.x dΩ = Ω w h f dΩ + Γh w h h dΓ ∀ wh ∈ V h . Hence. ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni. Ω ∑ Ni.  x i − x i +1 − x i − x i +1     0 otherwise. (4.2) where ui is the value of the field uh at node i. dx i i =1 ∑ n (4. the approximate displacement field is given in terms of the shape functions and the approximate displacement at a finite number of points (nodes). h ǫh = u. i =1 n (4. For a one-dimensional bar. From this expression. It is expressed using the same basis functions as the displacement field. an expression is needed for the weight function w h .x Eu.x = dNi u.4) Recalling the weak form for a one-dimensional elastic rod.4 Formulation of the finite element method nodes.1) where xi is the coordinate of node i.x E ∑ Nj.7) 36 Version 0. i =1 n (4. Given that wi is not a function of spatial position. Ω h h w.x wi i =1 n E ∑ Nj.

2 37 . A finite element mesh consists of nodal points and elements. surfaces (2D) or volumes (3D) which are constructed by joining nodal points. 2011 Version 0. where Kij = and fi = Ω Ω (4. for each i ∑ uj j =1 n Ω Ni. Nodes are points in space.2. then the row and the column k is removed from the stiffness matrix. ∑ wi ∑ u j i =1 j =1 n n Ω Ni. u j can also be taken outside of the integrals. If a boundary condition is applied at node k. and n unknowns in the form of ui ). Elements may not overlap.x dΩ (4.10) Ni. In order the solve the linear system. A discussion of more general boundary conditions is delayed until the end of the chapter. and f = f i as the right-hand side (RHS) vector. Dirichlet boundary conditions must be enforced. It is useful to define shape functions on finite elements.12) The matrix K = Kij is commonly known as the stiffness matrix. Solving this linear system of equations provides u j .8) This equation must hold for all possible combinations of wi .4.x E Nj.x dΩ = Ω Ni f dΩ + Γh Ni h dΓ (4.9) must hold. which can be expressed as the system of equations.2 General finite element basis functions Likewise. Kij u j = f i . Consider the case that all but one wi is equal to zero.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. 4. this is relatively simple. (4. while elements are lines (1D). A typical finite element mesh is shown in Figure 4.x E Nj. and the kth term is deleted from the vector f . This yields n equations (one for each wi .x E Nj. A mesh divides a body into a number of elements. and hence an expression for the approximate displacement field along the rod. A simple finite element January 21. The problem has been divided into many quadrilateral elements. Matrices and vectors can be built for each element before being assembled into global matrices and vectors.11) Nj f dΩ + Γh Nj h dΓ (4. For the zero Dirichlet conditions. Therefore.x dΩ = ∑ wi i =1 n Ω Ni f dΩ + ∑ wi i =1 n Γh Ni h dΓ.

3: Simple two-dimensional finite element mesh.2: Typical two-dimensional finite element mesh. 2011 .4 Formulation of the finite element method Figure 4. 6 4 3 4 3 1 2 1 2 5 9 Figure 4.2 January 21. 7 8 5 7 8 6 38 Version 0.

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

(4. In matrix-vector notation. where the matrix B is equal to: B= dN1 dx dN2 . uh = − x x + 1 a1 + a2 .16) with respect to x. L L (4. ǫh = duh dN1 dN2 1 1 = a + a2 = − a1 + a2 . Now.5. The shape functions corresponding to each node are given by: N1 = − N2 = Hence.18) The strain is given by: ǫh = Bae . 40 Version 0. Taking the derivative of equation (4. Note also that these shape functions posses C0 continuity – they are continuous but their derivatives involve jumps across element boundaries. Therefore.15) x .17) In the case of a linear displacement interpolation.19) (4. to solve a problem. dx (4. The matrix-vector notation for uh and ǫh may seem trivial for one-dimensional problems. the displacement field is expressed as: uh = Nae . where N = N1 and ae = a1 .21) The shape functions for two linear elements are shown in Figure 4. L (4.14) (4. 2011 . the derivative of the displacement field with respect to x (the strain) is required. the displacement and strain can be calculated in any part of the element.16) x + 1.4 Formulation of the finite element method where ai is the displacement at node i (it is ‘stored’ at the node). a2 (4. The weak form of the governing equations involves derivatives with respect to the spatial position.2 January 21. the derivative of the shape function with respect to x is a constant function within an element.22) (4. dx dx 1 dx L L (4. in terms of nodal degrees of freedom ae .20) N2 . It does however make the generalisation to multiple dimensions simple. L This type of element is known as a linear element. as its shape functions are linear polynomials.

25) The matrix N contains the element shape functions.2 41 .27) January 21.6 illustrates shape functions for quadratic and cubic elements. In two dimensions.23) Therefore. Nnn 0 0 .. and the strain field (using engineering notation) is given by: ǫ h = Bae . Higher-order elements simply have more nodes. 2011 Version 0. Figure 4. each unknown field (such as displacement in each direction) is interpolated using the polynomial shape functions.26) (4. . (4.4. the N matrix has the form: N = N1 N2 N3 . 4. Higher-order one-dimensional elements It is possible to develop one-dimensional elements with higher-order polynomial interpolations. i =1 3 (4..5: Shape functions for two one-dimensional linear bar elements.2. The displacement field for an element is given by: uh = Nae . obviously the strain field is linear. The interpolation basis for higher-order elements is richer since both constant. linear and quadratic (and even higher) variations in the unknown field can be described within an element. For a one-dimensional quadratic element. (4. it has the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 ..2 General finite element basis functions 1 1 1 L1 L2 Figure 4. Nnn (4.24) and the B matrix has a similar form. More nodes through which the shape function must interpolate naturally means a higher-order polynomial is required. the displacement field is given by: uh = ∑ Ni (x) ai . Since the displacement field is quadratic.2 Two-dimensional continuum elasticity elements In two or more dimensions..

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

y3 ) 3 1 2 ( x1 .2 43 . (4. Given the following coordinates of each of where ( xi .8: Shape function for a three-node element. (4. (4. y1 ) = c1 x1 + c2 y2 + c3 = 1. y3 ) = c1 x3 + c2 y3 + c3 = 0. Consider node 1 in Figure 4. y2 ) = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 = 0. N1 ( x3 . Given that a shape function should have a value of unity at its node and zero at other nodes. N1 ( x2 . Example 4.7. the coefficients c can be found by solving a linear system of equations.7.30) The shape function for a node is illustrated in Figure 4.32) (4.4. y1 ) ( x2 .33) Solving the above system of equations yields the coefficients for the shape function of node 1.31) (4. yi ) is the location of the ith node. This can be cast in a matrix form as:      x 1 y 1 1  c 1  1   x2 y2 1 c2 = 0 . N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 . Figure 4. 2011 Version 0.1 Consider the element in Figure 4.34)     c3 x3 y3 1 0 January 21.7: Three-node triangular element. Its shape function must satisfy: N1 ( x1 . It is clear from the linear form of the shape functions for the three-node triangle that the derivatives are constant. hence the strain in the element is constant.8. y2 ) Figure 4.2 General finite element basis functions ( x3 .

x 0 N1.25x − 0.4 Formulation of the finite element method the nodes.      1 2 1  c1  0 4 1 1  c 2 = 1     c3 2 3 1 0 Solving this system of equations gives: N2 = 0. 2) ( x2 .x N3.x N2. The shape functions for a six-node triangle are of the form: N = c1 x2 + c2 y2 + c3 xy + c4 x + c5 y + c6 (4.y N1.y B= 0 N1.25 Once the shape functions have been computed for each node. (4. find the shape function for node 2. A shape function for a four-node element is shown in Figure 4. plane and three-dimensional elements can have higher-order interpolations. y3 ) = (2.9. the N and B matrices can be formed. Since the shape function for node 2 is being calculated.x 0 N2.35) It is also know as a bilinear element. The N matrix for this element is of the form: N= N1 0 0 N1 N2 0 0 N2 N3 0 0 N3  0 N3.2 January 21. A four-node quadrilateral element is shown in Figure 4. Unlike the three-node triangle.34)) is formed. 1) ( x3 .x 0 N3.y A very commonly used element in finite element analysis is the four-node quadrilateral.y 0 N2.36) 44 Version 0. Higher-order solid elements As in one-dimensional problems. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xy + c2 x + c3 y + c4 . the strain in this element is not constant.10. a system of equations (see equation (4.25y + 0. due to the presence of the xy terms in the shape functions.y N2.y  N3. 3) To find the coefficients. ( x1 .x and the B matrix is of the form:  N1. 2011 . y2 ) = (4. the only non-zero term on the RHS corresponds to node 2. y1 ) = (1.

a new ‘row’ of terms from the Pascal triangle is added to the shape functions. 2011 Version 0.4.37) January 21.15. Linear. As with the three-node triangle.2 45 . Figure 4. Serendipity elements have nodes only on element boundaries. A Pascal triangle for serendipity elements is shown in Figure 4. quadratic and cubic triangular elements are shown in Figure 4.  2 x1 y2 1 y2 2 y2 3 y2 4 2 y5 y2 6 x1 y1 x2 y2 x3 y3 x4 y4 x5 y5 x6 y6 x1 x2 x3 x4 x5 x6 y1 y2 y3 y4 y5 y6  2  x2   2  x3   2  x4   x2  5 2 x6 Two shape functions for a six-node triangle are shown in Figure 4.14. Note that serendipity     1  c1  1                 1  c2  0               c  0 1  3     . Note that triangular elements are complete – that is the shape functions contain all polynomial terms up to a given order. They belong to one of two families: serendipity or Lagrange. Each time the order of a triangle is increased.10: A shape function for four-node quadrilateral element.13. Solving the below system of equations would yield the coefficients for node 1.12).11 The polynomial terms needed for triangular elements can be taken from a Pascal triangle (see Figure 4. Higher-order quadrilateral elements can also be constructed. Several serendipity and Lagrange finite elements are shown in Figure 4. whereas Lagrange elements have nodes on the element interior. =  1  c4  0                 1  c5  0                  c6  0 1 (4. the coefficients can be found by solving a linear system of equations.9: Four-node quadrilateral element.2 General finite element basis functions 4 3 1 2 Figure 4.

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

2011 Version 0.. (4. Internal nodes must be introduced to ensure all polynomial terms are included. .39) January 21.. and are therefore not recommended. The Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements is shown in Figure 4.. elements of order higher than three ’miss’ polynomial terms..4..2 General finite element basis functions (a) (b) Figure 4.38) and for the nine-node Lagrange quadrilateral the shape functions have one extra term and are of the form: N = c1 x2 y2 + c2 x2 y + c3 xy2 + c4 x2 + c5 y2 + c6 xy + c7 x + c8 y + c9 . 1 x x2 x3 x4 .15: Pascal triangle for serendipity elements.and nine-node quadrilateral elements are commonly used in finite element analysis. Eight.14: Serendipity (a) and Lagrange (b) quadrilateral finite elements.. Figure 4. The shape functions for the eight-node serendipity quadrilateral have the form: N = c1 x2 y + c2 xy2 + c3 x2 + c4 y2 + c5 xy + c6 x + c7 y + c8 ...2 47 . x3 y x2 y xy xy2 xy3 .16. The elements do not suffer from the limitation of missing polynomial terms for any order interpolation. y y2 y3 y4 . (4.

17: Tetrahedral and brick three-dimensional finite elements. These two elements are shown in Figure 4.and two-dimensional elements....41) This is known as a ‘trilinear element’. xy xy2 xy3 .4 Formulation of the finite element method 1 x x2 x3 . Commonly used shapes are tetrahedra and bricks.2 January 21. They are of the form: N = c1 x + c2 y + c3 z + c4 .. Higher-order version of both tetrahedral and brick elements also exist. wedge type elements are often used for generating meshes for complex geometries.2.. x3 y x 3 y2 x 3 y3 x2 y x 2 y2 x 2 y3 . (4. 48 Version 0.3 Three-dimensional elements Three-dimensional elements are increasingly used in engineering analysis. they often have more degrees of freedom per node. .16: Pascal triangle for Lagrange elements. 2011 .. Its shape functions are of the form: N = c1 xyz + c2 xy + c3 xz + c4 yz + c5 x + c6 y + c7 z + c8 . . the derivatives of the shape functions are constant within an element. The numbers of nodes per element increases rapidly. Also. They can be formed in the same fashion as one. The computational effort required for three-dimensional analysis can become high. Figure 4. Not only do the elements tend to have more nodes..40) Similar to the three-node triangle.. The simplest brick element has eight nodes. (4.... A four-node tetrahedral element has linear shape functions.17. Figure 4. y y2 y3 .. 4.

and can therefore be eliminated.4. 1989) 4. l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = Γh. Therefore. the one-dimensional governing equation for an elastic rod (equation (3. (4. Take a single element (of any order) which extends from l1 to l2 (see Figure 4.3 Governing equations x=0 x x = l1 x = l2 x=L Figure 4.43) ∇ w = Bbe .2 49 . 2011 Version 0. (4.1)) is considered. 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). wh = Nbe .46) January 21. (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).18: One-dimensional bar showing the element that extends from x = l1 to x = l2 .18). The discretised governing equation for the element is expressed as: l2 l1 ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh.45) The be terms appear on both sides of the equality.e N T h dΓ. Now. The weight (test) functions are discretised in the same fashion as the unknown field uh . for the multi-dimensional case within an element.42) (4. (4.3 Governing equations At this point. What remains is the insertion of the discretised field uh into the governing weak equation.e ( Nbe ) T h dΓ. The discrete nodal values can be removed from the integrals. 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.44) where the integral over Γh. which after some rearranging (using ( Ac) T = c T A T ) leads to: be T l2 l1 B T EB dΩ ae = be T Γh.e N T h dΓ.e is only non-zero if the boundary of the element coincides with the boundary Γh .

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

4. and nn is number of nodes of the element.53) The difficulty that arises is when computing derivatives with respect to the real coordinates. shape functions can be defined on simple shapes. The mapping for a four-node quadrilateral element is illustrated in Figure 4.1) (1. ξ and η. consider the application of the product rule for differentia- January 21.19. y) system. as the shape functions are defined in terms of the natural coordinates. η ) are known as the ‘natural coordinates’. derivatives of the unknown field with respect to x and y are required.52) ∑ Ni (ξ. such as the bi-unit square. For example the displacement in the x-direction at a point is given by: nn uh = ∑ Ni (ξ.1) 2 4 4 3 η ξ 1 (−1. The position on the bi-unit square is given by the natural coordinates. In the governing weak equations. η ) yi . The map x takes a point within the bi-unit square in the (ξ. η ) domain and maps it to a point in the ‘real’ element in the Cartesian ( x. where (ξ.−1) y 2 (1. The map ξ is the inverse of x. η ) aix .−1) x 1 ξ Figure 4.2 51 . To proceed. 2011 Version 0. y) system and mapping to a point (ξ. i =1 nn i =1 (4. i =1 (4.19: Isoparametric mapping for a bi-unit square. η ) xi . η ) in the bi-unit square. configuration is given by: nn x= y= ∑ Ni (ξ. taking a point in the real Cartesian ( x.4 Isoparametric mapping x 3 (−1. Using an isoparametric mapping.

nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x.ξ x j  ∂Ni      j =1 j= ∂y ∂η 52 Version 0.54) (4. Using the shape function.ξ y j  ∂ξ    ∂x  1 ∑ j=1 Nj.      ∂y  ∂ f  ∂y ∂f      −  ∂x  ∂ξ   ∂ξ  1  ∂η  =  . 2011 . Taking the inverse of the Jacobian.56) where the matrix J is commonly known as the Jacobian matrix.55) (4.52)).η x j     ∑nn1 Nj. defined in terms of ξ and η. ∂ξ ∂x ∂ξ ∂y ∂ξ ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + . (4. (4. the terms in the matrix J can be computed. ∂f ∂ f ∂x ∂ f ∂y = + .4 Formulation of the finite element method tion for a function f .       ∂Ni   nn  ∂Ni  nn    − ∑ j=1 Nj.59) Once terms of the matrix J have been formed.  ∂ f   ∂x ∂y   ∂ f          ∂η ∂η ∂η ∂y J (4. ∂η ∂x ∂η ∂y ∂η This can be written in matrix form as:      ∂x ∂y  ∂ f  ∂f       ∂ξ   ∂ξ ∂ξ   ∂x   = .57) the derivatives of the shape function of node i with respect to x and y can be computed.60)  ∂Ni  j − ∑nn Nj.57) ∂x   ∂ f  ∂f  j  ∂x         − ∂y ∂η ∂ξ ∂η J where j = det J. from equation (4.58) In light of the isoparametric mapping (equation (4.2 January 21. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂x ∂Ni =∑ x.η y j  =  . (4. ∂η ∂η i i =1 (4. ∂ξ ∂ξ i i =1 nn ∂y ∂Ni =∑ y. ∂η ∂η i i =1 nn ∂Ni ∂y =∑ y.

While this procedure may seen complex.1) 3 3 6 5 2 1 (0. This way. once the derivatives of the shape functions have been calculated on the simple isoparametric domain.0) 4 2 (1.62) January 21.20. the shape function of the ith node is given by: Ni (ξ.61) Similar formulae can be found for eight. and an eight-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a six-node triangular element.0) r 1 (0.1) s (0.2 53 .20: Three-node and six-node triangles using area coordinates. it can be implemented in a computer code in a simple and compact fashion.4 Isoparametric mapping s (0. they can be calculated for the real configuration. a four-node quadrilateral element can be reduced to a threenode triangular element.4. 2011 Version 0. s and t. Hughes. Is is also possible to directly address isoparametric triangular elements. 1987).19. 1987).and nine-node elements (Hughes. (4. η ) = 1 (1 + ξ i ξ ) (1 + ηi η ) . For the bi-unit quadrilateral in Figure 4. where: t = 1 − r − s. Quadrilateral elements The shape functions for quadrilateral elements on a bi-unit square is particularly simple. Triangular elements Isoparametric mappings are also applied for triangular elements.0) (1. 1996. A popular approach is to ‘degenerate’ a quadrilateral element to a triangular element (Bathe. The position of a point inside the triangle is given by r. 4 (4. The latter approach is followed here.0) r Figure 4. Triangular elements are often described using area coordinates. Now. Consider the triangle in Figure 4.

To do this. To evaluate the stiffness matrix of an element. Numerical integration is illustrated in Figure 4.63) (4.4 Formulation of the finite element method The shape functions for the nodes of the element in Figure 4. then the mid-side nodes.5 Numerical integration At this stage.3). To make the formulation fully discrete (and amendable to computer implementation). Before proceeding to the element matrices. 166). the shape functions are equal to: N1 = 2t2 − t. η ) domain.64) (4. p.68) 54 Version 0. 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 . N2 = r. 4. the problem is not yet fully discrete. It is common for higher-order elements that the apexes are first numbered (corner nodes in the case of quadrilateral elements). it convenient to integrate in the (ξ. (4.66) N3 = 2s2 − s. 2 N4 = 4rt. s and t on triangles (Hughes. N2 = 2r − r. (4. For the integration of a function f (ξ ) from −1 to 1. 1987. (4. Two schemes which arise in finite element analysis are Newton-Cotes and Gauss integration. 2011 . (4. Different integration schemes specify where the points are located and the weight associated with each point. numerical integration in one-dimension is considered.20. For a quadratic (six-node) triangular element.20 are then: N1 = t.67) i =1 where ξ i are discrete points on the integral domain. N5 = 4rs. 1 nint −1 f (ξ ) dξ ≃ ∑ f ( ξ i ) wi . the element stiffness matrices and RHS vectors still involve integration over volumes and surfaces (see section 4. There is a formula for the shape functions of arbitrary order in terms of r. consider in two dimensions that: B T DB dΩ = 1 1 Ωe −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη.2 January 21. numerical integration is applied. N3 = s.65) Note the numbering of the nodes for the quadratic triangle in Figure 4. While the displacement field has been discretised. N6 = 4st.21.

21: Numerical integration of the function f . which when squared give a January 21. two and three dimensions). one integration point is sufficient (in one. where B contains derivatives of the shape functions.2. However. (n + 1) integration points are required when using a Newton-Cotes scheme to integrate an nth-order polynomial. evaluated at the point (ξ i . Full integration means that the stiffness matrix is integrated exactly (assuming j = constant). Therefore. Note the appearance of the determinant of the Jacobian.5 Numerical integration f −1 ξ1 ξ2 ξ3 ξ4 1 ξ Figure 4. For a (2n − 1)th-order polynomial. it requires the least number of points. (4. This is due to dx dy = j dξ dη (the substitution rule for integration has been applied). Therefore. the terms in B are constant and the stiffness matrix is also constant throughout the element. in multiple dimensions Gauss integration is not necessarily the most efficient scheme.4. The integrand of the stiffness matrix is B T DB. The question that arises in finite element analysis is: How many integration points should be used? Generally. ηi )T DB (ξ i . 2011 Version 0. Application of numerical integration leads to: 1 1 −1 −1 B T DBj dξ dη ≃ ∑ B (ξ i . If the shape functions are quadratic. ηi ). containing derivatives of the shape functions with respect to x and y.69) Note that B (ξ i . j. ηi ) j (ξ i . The location and weights for Gauss integration in one dimension for up to three points are given in Table 4.1. Three points integrate as 5th order polynomial exactly in one dimension. Gauss integration is used. Optimal means that to integrate a polynomial exactly. full integration schemes are recommended for their robustness. The sampling points and weights are listed in Table 4. B contains linear terms. ηi ) i n wi .2 55 . This is simple when using isoparametric elements. To perform the numerical integration of the element stiffness matrix. Gauss integration requires n points to integrate the polynomial exactly. the last remaining issue is the selection of an appropriate integration scheme. A Newton-Cotes scheme uses equally spaced integration points. Gauss quadrature is the optimal numerical integration scheme for polynomials in one dimension. Most commonly in finite element analysis. For multi-dimensional problems. if the shape functions are linear. the one-dimensional scheme can be extended in each spatial direction. ηi ) is the usual B matrix. Importantly. It is also known as ‘Gauss quadrature’.

2011 .2: Gauss integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1.4 Formulation of the finite element method n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 1 weight wi 2 1 1 1 3 4 3 1 3 1 4 3 4 3 4 1 4 3 −1 0 1 4 −1 − 1 3 1 3 1 Table 4.2 January 21. 1]. 56 Version 0. n 1 2 location ξ i 0 1 −√ 3 1 √ 3 3 − 5 0 3 5 weight wi 2 1 1 5 9 8 9 5 9 3 Table 4.1: Newton-Cotes integration rules for one dimension on the domain [−1. 1].

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

2 January 21. 58 Version 0.4 Formulation of the finite element method element two-node bar three-node bar integration scheme 1 2 three-node triangle (T3) 1 six-node triangle (T6) or 3 four-node quadrilateral (Q4) 2×2 eight-node quadrilateral(Q8) 3×3 Table 4. 2011 .3: Recommended integration schemes for commonly used elements.

and g are the applied Dirichlet boundary conditions. In discretised form at element level. Since the weight function is defined to be zero where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied.mod = f ie − nn (4. 4.71) where av are the nodal unknowns at nodes where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. vv vg In terms of indexes.70) where uh is the displacement. vh is equal to zero where Dirichlet (displacement) boundary conditions are applied and gh satisfies the Dirichlet boundary conditions. it is not included in the global system of equations to be solved.6 Imposition of Dirichlet boundary conditions this means that the uh must satisfy the prescribed displacements where they are specified. January 21.72) Since g is known. Two common approached are outlined below. (4. ke av = f e − ke g. ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv .74) j =1 ∑ ke ge .73) where av is the only unknown. 0 (4.2 59 . Since g is known. f ie. (4. Classical enforcement of Dirichlet boundary conditions in the finite element method relies on the property of the shape functions that they are non-zero at their own node and equal to zero at all other nodes. It is possible to write: ke av + ke g = f v . ij j (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. ke a = ke vv ke gv ke vg ke gg av g = fv fg . the element RHS vector is modified. Dirichlet boundary conditions can be enforced by modifying the RHS vector. 2011 Version 0. vv vg (4.1 Elimination of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom The displacement field can be expressed by: uh = vh + gh .6. the element RHS vector can be modified to enforce Dirichlet boundary conditions before assembly into the global RHS vector.4.75) Once the element stiffness matrix has been formed.

2004). compare the matrix K for the finite element method with linear elements and for the secondorder central finite difference method. In one dimension and for equally spaced nodal points (nodes are a distance h apart). symmetry is lost. The advantage of this scheme is its simplicity. However. The three-node triangle element is often referred to as the ‘constant strain triangle’ (CST). Form the shape functions for a Lagrange nine-node quadrilateral element 3. Show why this is. 60 Version 0. 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. Under what conditions the matrix B T DB is symmetric? 5. at which points is the stress from the finite element solution not uniquely defined when using C0 elements? 2. which is given by: ∆u = ∇ · (∇u) = 0 To solve this problem. For a plane elasticity problem.2 Retention of ‘Dirichlet’ degrees of freedom A simpler approach to imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions is to set all terms on the row of the stiffness matrix corresponding to a node where a Dirichlet boundary condition is applied (row k) equal to zero.2 January 21. 2011 . 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. and that the value of the Dirichlet boundary condition is returned in the solution vector which simplifies postprocessing. 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. Consider the Laplace equation. 4. 4.7 Exercises 1. The value of Dirichlet boundary condition is then inserted into the vector f at position k. 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. modern iterative linear solvers can deal with the consequences of boundary conditions being applied in this fashion is a very efficient manner (Ern and Guermond.6.4 Formulation of the finite element method 4.

7 Exercises 6. Calculate and plot the shape functions for the eight-node quadrilateral element on a bi-unit square. 2011 Version 0.2 61 . Calculate its eigenvalues using one-point and 2 × 2 integration. Formulate the stiffness matrix for the element in Figure 4. Form the stiffness matrix for a four-node quadrilateral on a bi-unit square. Calculate the eigenvalues of the stiffness matrix and comment on their significance.1 and for E = 1 and ν = 0.7 using the nodal coordinates in Example 4.4. 8.2. 7. January 21.


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

The problem in Figure 5.2. For each element.5 0. The connectivity list for Figure 5. The density is necessary when taking the self-weight into account. In addition to nodal coordinates and the connectivity.0 0. For each node.0 2.5 Implementation of the finite element method % node 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 x 0. For an isotropic linear-elastic analysis.7 0.0 1.3.4 gives the applied boundary condition.3: Element connectivity.0 0.82 1.2 January 21. The list can begin with any node of the element. the is Young’s modulus.2 Program flow Once the input for a finite element analysis has been prepared. the node to which a boundary condition is applied is listed.0 0.1 2. boundary conditions must be specified. 2011 . the calculation phase can begin. First.1 y 0. the Poisson’s ratio and the density of the material.2: Nodal coordinates. % element 1 2 3 4 node1 2 3 9 5 node 2 1 2 4 6 node 3 6 5 5 7 node 4 5 4 8 8 Figure 5. The list in Figure 5.0 0.1 2.0 Figure 5. The preprocessing is completed by specify the material data.1 involves both Dirichlet (displacement) and Neumann (force) boundary conditions.8 2. This is either a prescribed force or the prescribed displacement.1 is given in Figure 5. 5. the node numbers are listed. the nodal coordinates is shown in Figure 5. The final column is the value of the applied boundary condition. the x and y coordinate is given.76 2. The outline of a typical finite element program for linear static problems 64 Version 0.5 2. although the numbering must process in an anti-clockwise direction (to avoid calculating a negative volume and hence a negative element stiffness).6 0. The second column gives the boundary condition type: Dirichlet (displacement) = 1 and Neumann (force) = 0. The third column gives the degree-of-freedom to which the boundary condition is applied (dof=1 represents the x-direction and dof=2 represents the y-direction).0 0.

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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2011 .:) = x(connect(i.8: Set-up of local element arrays for element i.5 Implementation of the finite element method % setup local arrays for element i for j=1:nodes_per_element % loop over each node x_e(j.j). 68 Version 0.:) % copy nodal postions % copy displacements from global to local array for k=1:dof_per_node % loop over each degree of freedom jj = j*dof_per_node .j).k) ~= 0 a_e(jj) = a( ID(connect(i. k) ) else a_e(jj) = g_e(jj) % displacement is prescribed end end end % return to main program Figure 5. % form element stiffness matrix ip_scheme % determine integration scheme for i=1:number_ip_points % loop over integration points ip_location % calculate position of integration point shape_function % evaluate shape functions at integration point form_B_matrix form_D_matrix k_e = k_e + B’*D*B*w(i)*xj(i) % add contribution of ip to k_e f_e = f_e + N’*b*w(i)*xj(i) % add contribution of ip to f_e if postprocess == true % if stress is required stress(i) = D*B*a_e end end % return to main program Figure 5.2 January 21.9: Formation of element stiffness matrix.j).dof_per_node + k if ID(connect(i.

5.jj) + k_e(kk.dof_per_node + k for l=1:nodes_per_element for m=1:dof_per_node jj = ID(connect(i. 2011 Version 0.3 Local-global % impose Dirichlet boundary conditions for i=1:nodes_per_element*dof_per_node f_e(:) = f_e(:) .l).i)*g_e(i) end % return to main program Figure 5. January 21.2 69 . m) ll = l*dof_per_node .j).ll) end end end if ii ~= 0 f(ii) = f(ii) + f_e(kk) end end end % return to main program Figure 5.10: Imposing Dirichlet boundary conditions. % assemble k_e and f_e for element i into K and f for j=1:nodes_per_element for k=1:dof_per_node ii = ID(connect(i.dof_per_node + m if ii~=0 & jj~=0 K(ii.11: Assembly of local arrays into global arrays. k) kk = j*dof_per_node .k_e(:.jj) = K(ii.

12: Graphical representation of a stiffness matrix 5. Typically. as all non-zero terms are close to the diagonal which minimises the bandwidth.5 Implementation of the finite element method 0 500 1000 1500 0 500 1000 1500 Figure 5.12 is well-numbered. solvers are implemented such that operations are not performed on non-zero terms which reduces the number of floating point operations required. or have the option to relabel nodes to minimise the stiffness matrix bandwidth. However. Non-zero terms are marked by a dot. For this method to be efficient. Figure 5. The dimension of the matrix is 1530 × 1530 (giving a total of 2 340 900 entries). mesh generation programs will label nodes optimally. 2011 . This means that the stiffness matrix contains many zeros. both in terms of memory and computational time.2 January 21.12 represents graphically the structure of the stiffness matrix for a problem involving 700 four-noded quadrilateral elements. the mesh must be constructed in an ‘optimal’ fashion to minimise the bandwidth of the stiffness matrix. This essentially requires that the node numbers of nodes which are close to each should also be close. Assuming double precision storage. Taking advantage of the sparse nature of the stiffness matrix yields significant computational savings. and hence the computational time. The stiffness matrix in Figure 5. 70 Version 0. significantly.4 Stiffness matrix storage A feature of the finite element method is that the stiffness matrix is sparse. Many finite element programs store the stiffness matrix in a skyline format. This is relatively small for a finite element analysis. storing the whole matrix would require almost 18 megabytes of memory. Yet further savings can be achieved by taking into account symmetry of the stiffness matrix. Storing only the non zero terms requires on 283 kilobytes of memory! In addition. only 23 638 entries are non-zero (1% of the total matrix elements).

More reliable are the reaction forces at nodes where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. Reaction forces can be evaluates by calculating the so-called internal force vector f int . post-processing of the data is required. Three quantities of potential interest from a linear-elastic calculation are displacements. 2011 Version 0. This means that the body is in equilibrium. stresses and reaction forces. January 21.5 Post-processing 5.5.5 Post-processing After a calculation has been completed. including where Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied). the internal force vector should be zero where no Dirichlet boundary conditions are applied. it gives the reaction force at each node.2 71 .1) Once assembled for all elements (at all nodes. It is important to realise that the stress computed at a point is not always reliable. 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.


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

the vector ae has four components (a component in the x and y direction at each node). (6.4) The following definitions are now adopted: 74 Version 0.2) 0 Q11 Q21   a2x   a2x⋆   0      ⋆   0 0 Q12 Q22 a2y a2y where Qij are components of the matrix Q. The displacements at nodes one and two. (6.3) = a2x⋆ 0 0 Q11 Q21  a2x      a2y a⋆ = e a1x⋆ a2x⋆ . The only displacement of any consequence for an element is in the x ⋆ -direction. the above problem can be reduced to give:    a1x      a1y a1x⋆ Q11 Q21 0 0 . the rotation matrix has the form: QT = cos θ − sin θ sin θ cos θ (6. Given that the only displacements of interest are the in x ⋆ -direction. three dimensions. Since truss elements are based on the assumption that only normal forces (σx⋆ ) can be transmitted. Therefore.and y⋆ -directions are given by:      Q Q21 0 0  a1x   a1x⋆       ⋆   11   a1y Q Q22 0 0  a1y  =  12 . two degrees of freedom. of a linear bar. The displacement components can be rotated using the matrix Q (see section 1.2: Linear truss element in three-dimensional space. and in two dimensions. For a two dimensional truss structure. Denoting the angle between the x-axis and the x ⋆ -axis as θ.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Fx* x* y* y z* z x Figure 6. displacements in the y⋆ -direction are not resisted by an element.1) The vector ae holds the displacement components at the nodes of an element.2 January 21. a node will have three degrees of freedom. 2011 . in the x ⋆ . (6.1) to give the nodal displacements in terms of the coordinate system aligned with the axis of the truss element. the rotation is particularly simple.

7) Similarly.8) into the weak governing equation (2. Ωe ( Bbe ) T EBae dΩ = Γh ( Nbe ) T h dΓ.x⋆⋆ = B⋆ qae (6.12). January 21. multidimensional coordinate system. Clearly.1 Rod elements in space and q= Q11 0 Q21 0 0 Q11 0 .7) and (6. h w. Inserting the relationships in equations (6. (6. The strain in the x ⋆ -direction is therefore given by: h ǫh⋆ = u. e (6. The ‘star’ denotes that the shape functions are constructed relative to the coordinate system on the bar. the stiffness matrix for a one-dimensional element can be formed. (6. where k⋆ is the standard one-dimensional stiffness e e matrix for a bar.9) where the LHS of equation (6.5) The displacement in the x ⋆ -direction along the bar is therefore given by: uh⋆ = N ⋆ a⋆ = N ⋆ qae .6. A classic sign of a mechanism is singularity of the global stiffness matrix of the structure.19) for a linear element).6) where N ⋆ contains the shape functions for a one-dimensional bar (see equation (4. and eliminating be .2 75 .x⋆ = B⋆ qbe ⋆ (6. Inserting now the discretised fields into the weak governing equation for a onedimensional bar. the derivative of a weight function w can be expressed in the local coordinate system in terms of the global degrees of freedom. Q21 (6.9) is the stiffness matrix. It is important to ensure that a truss structure does not form a mechanism. the element stiffness matrix is equal to: ke = q T B⋆ T EB⋆ q dΩ. 2011 Version 0.10) Ωe This is equivalent to ke = q T k⋆ q. and with the aid of the matrix q it can be transformed into the global.8) (recall that be is a variation).

4: Rotation of a line normal to the axis in a beam segment.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 development of beam elements follows the same steps as for continuum elements. For a transverse displacement v. 6. Consistent with previous sections. Consider now a fibre in a beam 76 Version 0. Figure 6. 2011 .2 Beams Two types of beams are considered in this section. x2 ). 6.2. The governing equation is identified and then the weak form developed. there are no out-of plane forces or moments.4 shows the rotation of the plane due to a rigid body rotation. is denoted Ω = ( x1 . in-plane beams are considered. x2 ). v.x y x Figure 6.2 January 21.3.3: Plane beam element Ω = ( x1 . the ‘domain’ of the beam. and its ends (the boundary of Ω) are denoted Γ = x1 ∪ x2 . Such a beam is illustrated in Figure 6. straight. The outward normal is denoted n.x v. The first is the classic BernoulliEuler beam. which is valid for relatively slender beams.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis y fy Fy x T x = x1 x = x2 Figure 6. The second is the Timoshenko beam. For simplicity. which takes into account shear deformations.

Note that M = m n and Q = q n. equilibrium of a beam can be considered directly. Subjecting a segment from a beam to pure shear. which together with some assumptions as to the stress in different directions can be inserted into the elasticity equations from Chapter 1.x y x Figure 6.13) Figure 6. It is clear from Figure 6. it is clear January 21. 6.6. For a beam segment subjected to both rotation and shear deformation. The bending moment m in a beam is defined as m= h/2 (6.6. which will be followed here. In the second method. (6.2 Equilibrium of a beam The equilibrium equations for a beam can be developed in two ways.2 Beams γ v.2. Considering translational equilibrium of a beam segment Ω.5. the rotation θ of a fibre which is initially perpendicular to the beam’s axis is shown in Figure 6.12) and the shear stress q is defined by q= h/2 − h/2 σxy dy.2 77 . 2011 Version 0.6 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. the fibre will not rotate. where n is the outward unit normal vector.11) − h/2 σxx y dy.x − γ. Relative to the fibre which has not rotated. which is initially perpendicular to the beam axis. The first is to elaborate the kinematics of the beam. (6. a plane which remains perpendicular to the axis undergoes a rotation γ. as illustrated in Figure 6. The fibre is indicated by the heavy line.5: Beam segment subjected to pure shear.

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

15) Since equilibrium must hold for an infinitely small segment of a beam.14) Noting that q n dΓ = q| x= L2 − q| x= L1 .3). it is clear that Ω Ω q.21b) (6.x Ω Ω Ω Ω (6. (6. on ΓQ . January 21. translational equilibrium requires that q. Γθ ∪ ΓM = Γ.x dΩ − q dΩ − q.21c) (6. Ω (q.x + f y = 0.x x dΩ − f y x dΩ = 0. and boundary conditions. are valid for both Bernoulli-Euler and Timoshenko beam theories. distributed loads f y and applied moments T (all shown in Figure 6.2 79 .18) Satisfaction of the translational equilibrium equation implies that 0. 2011 Version 0.19) (6. it is required that: m n dΓ − q nx dΓ − f y x dΩ = 0. on Γθ . the boundary conditions are v = gv θn = gθ mn = T q n = Fy on Γv .2 Beams that: q n dΓ + dΩ dΩ Ω f y dΩ = 0.x − q = 0.6. therefore rotational equilibrium requires that m. Γθ ∩ ΓM = ∅ + f y ) x dΩ = (6.21d) These equations. (6.20a) (6. (6.20b) Denoting applied end forces Fy .17) (6. Γv ∩ ΓQ = ∅.21a) (6. (6.x dΩ + f y dΩ = 0. For rotational equilibrium. on ΓM .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.

and Neumann involve either the shear force or moment (equations (6. so the rotation can be directly related to the displacement v. Being a fourth-order equation. and inserting the constitutive relationship from equation (6. dx2 (6.2.22) which also implies that κ= (6. dx d2 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. dx2 d2 v .21a) and (6. The negative sign is due to the sign convention in which the rotation and the resultant moment are in opposite directions. Taking now the derivative of all terms in equation (6. from an appropriately defined space.24).21b)). dx4 (6. 2011 . the boundary value problem is complete and can be solved.26) which is the strong equation of equilibrium for a Bernoulli-Euler beam.21d)). (6.2 January 21.23) The bending moment in the beam is related to the curvature by: m = − EIκ = − EI (6. This assumption implies that the shear rotation γ is equal to zero.24) where I is the moment of inertia of the beam. Multiplying equation (6.19) with respect to x. − EI d4 v + f y = 0.25) Assuming EI to be constant. θ= dv . the weak form of equilibrium for a beam ¯ can be developed.27) 80 Version 0. and then inserting equation (6. Weak governing equation Following the procedures from Chapter 2. dx2 (6. which is equal to zero where Dirichlet (kinematic) boundary conditions are applied (the bar is used in this section to denote a weight function) and integration over the beam Ω yields: Ω ¯ vm. Dirichlet boundary conditions involve the prescription of the displacement or the rotation (equations (6.xx dΩ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.16) yields: d2 m + f y = 0. two boundary conditions are required at both ends of the beam.21c) and (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. With appropriate boundary conditions.25) by a weight function v.

xx dΩ − ΓM ¯ v. For completeness.x T dΓ + ΓQ δvFy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6.x = 0 on Γθ . the trial functions (v ∈ S ) and the ¯ weight (test) functions (v ∈ V ) must possess a higher degree of regularity (roughly speaking. (6.x mn dΓ + Γ ¯ vm.21d). ¯ Ω v. and inserting the constitutive relation in equation (6. The integration domain for the ¯ ¯ boundary integrals has been changed since v = 0 on Γv .x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.xx dΩ = − ΓM δv. For the weak form to ‘make sense’. 2011 Version 0. which contains functions satisfying: Ω v2 + v2 + v2 dx < ∞. Note that a fourth-order problem.1.xx m dΩ − Γ ¯ v. . The existence of second-order derivatives in the weak form deserves some special attention. this time to the term Ω ¯ v. continuity) than for classical continuum problems.30) gives: Ω (6.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vFy dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀v ∈ V .31) In one dimension this is equivalent to the trial and test functions being at least C1 continuous.xx (6. it implies that the weak form of the governing equation is identical to the equation of virtual work.2 81 . which require C0 continuity only. has second-order derivatives in its weak form. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) . (6.33) δv.x = 0 on Γθ .x m.x dΩ.6.xx EIv. and v. Consider now: ¯ v ≡ δv Inserting this relationship into equation (6.24).x m. Both S and V must be subspaces of the Sobolev space H 2 (Ω). v.28) Applying integrating by parts again. it was shown that if the weight function could be considered as a ‘virtual displacement’. v = gv on Γv . v = 0 on Γv . v.x = gθ on Γθ .21c) and (6.32a) (6. January 21.x . after integrating by parts twice.x n dΓ + Ω ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.32b) For the case of an elastic continuum.xx EIv. Consistency of the above weak form can be proven following the same procedure as in in Section 2. This is in contrast to second-order problems.30) where S and V are appropriately defined spaces. solving the governing weak equation for a beam involves: find v ∈ S such that − Ω ¯ v. (6. which means that both their first and second derivatives exist.2 Beams Integrating by parts the term involving the moment M once yields: − Ω ¯ v. the spaces S and V are formally defined by: S = v | v ∈ H 2 (Ω) .x dΩ + Γ ¯ vm.34) which is the equation of virtual work for a Bernoulli-Euler beam beam. (6.29) Inserting now the Neumann (natural) boundary conditions from equations (6.

37) dv −θ .16) leads to: d2 θ − GAs dx2 dθ d2 v − dx dx2 dv −θ dx − EI GAs =0 in Ω. 2011 . the first for the rotation θ.19) and (6.35) where γ is the rotation due to shear. Relative to the Bernoulli-Euler theory. GAS (6.40) + fy = 0 which are two coupled second-order equations. This means that shear deformations can be taken into account.38) and considering v and θ to be the fundamental unknowns. an additional unknown. (6.19) and (6. and are hence suitable for relatively short beams. dx (6.2 January 21.11) that rotation θ of a plane is given by θ= dv − γ. They also provide a solid introduction to moderately thick plate theories where the advantage of shear deformable theories will become more apparent.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis 6. dx (6. 82 Version 0. it is related to the shear force by the constitutive relationship: γ= q . in Ω. has been introduced.4 Timoshenko beam Timoshenko beams are more general Bernoulli-Euler beams as they allow for shear deformation. 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. Together with the previously defined boundary conditions. and the second for the displacement v. but not necessarily normal. the shear strain γ. In terms of the shear force and properties of the beam.16) with the constitutive relationships m = − EIκ. The governing equations are given by the equilibrium conditions in equations (6.36) where G is the shear modulus and As is the effective shear area. Inserting the constitutive relationships into the equilibrium equations in (6. Recall from equation (6.39) (6. Planes must remain plane. the problem is complete. q = GAs γ = GAs (6.2.

It is however assumed that θ = 0 on Γθ and that θ satisfies ¯ the rotation boundary condition. The test and trial functions should be at least C0 continuous (in contrast to the C1 continuity for the Bernoulli-Euler theory).x − θ ) n x dΓ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0.xx − θ.x − θ.5 Finite element formulations form beams Euler beams A Galerkin problem for a Bernoulli-Euler beam involves: find vh ∈ S h such that: Ω h ¯h v.x − θ ) dΩ + ¯ vGAs (v. Ω (6.x ) dΩ + ¯ v f y dΩ = 0. 6. 2011 Version 0.x dΩ − Ω Ω ¯ θGAs (v.43) (6.x dΩ − Ω Ω Γ ¯ θEIθ. Ω (6.6. ¯ ¯ As before.40) by appropriately defined weight functions θ ¯ and v.39) and (6. the weak form or virtual work expressions appear naturally and can be used as a starting point in developing a finite element model.x T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ vh Fy dΓ + Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀vh ∈ V h (6.x GAs (v. ¯ θ.45) and (6.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.2 83 .44) − ¯ v.x − θ ) dΩ + ΓQ ΓM Ω ¯ θT dΓ = 0.2 Beams Weak governing equations ¯ Multiplying equations (6. − Ω δκ m dΩ + Ω δγ q dΩ = − ΓM δθ T dΓ + ΓQ δv Fy dΓ + Ω δv f y dΩ (6. ¯ ∀θ ∈ Vθ ¯ ∀v ∈ Vv . Applying integration by parts once. adding the weak forms in equations (6. and then inserting the Neumann boundary conditions yields the weak problem for a Timoshenko beam of: find v ∈ Sv and θ ∈ Sθ such that Ω ¯ θ.41) (6. and v satisfies the transverse displacement boundary condition.x EIθ.x − θ ) dΩ = 0.45) (6.xx dΩ − Ω ¯ θGAs (v.xx EIv. consistency can be proven through the application of integration by parts.46) is equivalent to the virtual work equation.x n dΓ − Γ Ω ¯ θGAs (v.x EIθ.xx dΩ = − ΓM ¯h v.x GAs (v. considering δθ ≡ θ and δv ≡ v.48) January 21. and using γ = v.47) For many mechanical problems. (6.42) ¯ vGAs (v. As with all problems.2.46) − ¯ v. − Ω Ω ¯ θEIθ.x − θ ) dΩ = 0. and v = 0 on Γv .

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

6.57) The operation to form the RHS vector essentially translates the applied loads into equivalent nodal shear forces and moments.xx = N.xx ae = N1. January 21.54) After some rearranging. (6.xx N2.xx M1.x and v. Ω N.2 85 .xx T EI N.xx ae dΩ = − ΓM ( N. 2011 Version 0. they can be inserted into the Galerkin problem. (6.xx M2.53) h h Now that vh .xx be ) T EI N.xx T EI N.56) and the RHS vector by: fe = ΓQ N T Fy dΓ − ΓM N T T dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.xx can be computed given ae . (6.55) The element stiffness matrix is given by: ke = Ω N. v.xx dΩ ae = − ΓM N.xx (6.x T T dΓ + ΓQ N T Fy dΓ + Ω N T f y dΩ.xx dΩ. Ω ( N.x be ) T T dΓ + ΓQ ( Nbe ) T Fy dΓ Ω + ( Nbe ) T f y dΩ (6.2 Beams The second derivative of v is given by:    v1      θ1    v2    θ2 h v.

50). 2011 .xx = h2 N1. h 6x 1 M2.2 January 21.59a) (6.58g) (6.60) Integrating the terms in the stiffness matrix exactly from − h/2 to h/2 (assuming EI 86 Version 0. h3 ( x − x1 ) (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) .58e) (6.xx = h3 ( x − x2 ) (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) M1.x = (6.56). N1. 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.58b) (6. h h (6. h2 2 ( x − x1 ) (3x − h − x1 − 2x2 ) N2. (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Taking derivatives of the Hermitian shape functions in equation (6. Considering just the second derivatives with respect to x.xx = 12x .x = . the above equations can be simplified significantly. h3 2 (6x − h − 4x1 − 2x2 ) N2.xx = .58d) (6.59c) (6.x = h2 2 (3x − 2x1 − x2 ) . 2 ( x − x2 ) (3x + h − 2x1 − x2 ) . N1. h2 2 (3x − x1 − 2x2 ) M1.x = − .58f) (6. x1 = − h/2). h h 12x N2.xx = 2 + .xx = 2 − .59d) Inserting these terms into equation (6.58a) (6.58c) (6. M2. h3 2 (6x + h − 2x1 − 4x2 ) .58h) Assuming the centre of the element is at x = 0 (x2 + x1 = 0. h3 6x 1 M1.xx = − 3 .59b) (6.xx = − . M2.

2 Beams to be constant). h h The Galerkin problem for the Timoshenko beam involves: find vh ∈ Sv and θ h ∈ Sθ such that Ω Ω h ¯h θ.63) Consider the representation of the fields vh and θ h . in terms of shape functions and nodal variable. (6. This will allow the use of the standard shape functions introduced in Chapter 4. e θ = ¯ v = ¯ θh = h h (6.65) Ωe Bv T GAs Bv dΩav − e Ωe Bv T GAs N θ dΩaθ e = Γe.64d) N θ aθ .61) Timoshenko beams The finite element formulation for the Timoshenko beam is relatively simple.2 87 .Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe N v T f y dΩ.x GAs v. A distinction is made between the shape functions for vh and θ h as these may differ. e N v bv .62) h ¯h v.66) January 21.x − θ h dΩ = Ω ¯ vh f y dΩ + ¯ vh Fy dΓ h ¯ ∀v h ∈ Vv .x − θ h dΩ = − ΓQ ΓM ¯ θ h T dΓ h ¯ ∀θ h ∈ Vθ . e θ θ N be .64a) (6. (6. v h = N v av . Inserting the expressions for the unknown fields in terms of nodal variables and variations into equations (6.64c) (6.6.x EIθ.64b) (6.x dΩ − Ω h ¯ θ h GAs v.62) and (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. and corresponding derivatives. due to the second-order nature of the governing equations.M N θ T dΓ. 2011 Version 0. − 6EI  h2  4EI h (6. the element stiffness matrix is equal to:  12EI h3  6EI  2  h  12EI  − h3  6EI h2 6EI h2 4EI h 6EI − h2 2EI h − 12EI h3 − 6EI h2 12EI h3 − 6EI h2 ke = 6EI  h2 2EI   h  . (6. T (6.

70) (6. However. when applying Timoshenko elements for thin bending problems. Consider a Timoshenko beam element of length L.72) (6.75) kθv =  e  GA GAs  s − 2 2 88 Version 0. 2011 . Bv T GAs N θ dΩ. T Bv T GAs Bv dΩ. only a Timoshenko beam element would be necessary in practice. Ideally.68) (6. (6. and components of the element RHS vector are given by fθ = − fv = Γe.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. and both short and slender beams could be analysed.Q N v T Fy dΓ + Ωe Note that the stiffness matrix is symmetric (kθv = kvθ ).71) kθv = − kvθ = − kvv = Ωe N θ GAs Bv dΩ. N v T f y dΩ.M N θ T dΓ. Ωe Ωe T T (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 (6.74) e  EI GAs L GAs L  EI + − + L 6 L 3   GAs GAs −  2 2  .69) (6. resulting in an overly stiff response.67) where the components of the the element stiffness matrix are given by kθθ = Ωe Bθ EIBθ + N θ GAs N θ dΩ. The components of the stiffness matrix are given by:   GAs L EI GAs L EI − +  L + 3 L 6  . Locking Conceptually. kθθ =  (6. with linear shape functions for both the displacement and rotation. and for simplicity as the Timoshenko element used C0 shape functions.73) Γe. This would be advantageous from the point of view of generality. This is the effect in which the shear contribution to the energy does not vanish.2 January 21.

80) which is independent of I.2 89 . will yield a very stiff response. EI GAs L  L + 3 ke =   GAs − 2 −  GAs     θ 0 2   2    =  GAs v2 P L (6. 2011 Version 0. v2 ≈ PL .6. the displacement v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/3) EIGAs /L2 + G2 A2 /12 s (6. this element will exhibit a very stiff response. GAs (6.78) Therefore. GAs (6. Even with a very fine mesh.79) If L is large.76) Therefore.77) If at one end the beam is clamped. θ1 = v1 = 0. v2 ≈ 4PL . If the term Ωe N θT GAs N θ dΩ is evaluated using one-point numerical integration T January 21.2 Beams and GAs  L =  GA s − L    GAs − L   GAs  L  GAs 2   GAs   −  2   GAs   − L   GAs  L kvv e (6.81) which is the correct result. As L → 0. 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. and a shear load P is applied one end.

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 (6.2 January 21. The case is similar for quadratic elements. this element performs quite well when the mesh is sufficiently well-refined. and as L → 0.85) When using reduced integration.84) which qualitatively the desired response. where selective integration (two-point) leads to a dramatic reduction in locking response. for the one element problem clamped at one end.83) If L is very large. 2011 .82) ke =    GAs  GAs GAs GAs   −  2 2 L L     GAs GAs GAs  GAs − − − 2 2 L L Now.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis (which is reduced for this term). v2 is equal to v2 = P ( EI/L + GAs L/4) EIGAs /L2 (6. v2 ≈ PL3 4EI (6. 90 Version 0. v2 ≈ PL GAs (6.

More detailed coverage can be found in a number of books (Zienkiewicz and Taylor. u3 = u3 ( x. The surface of the plate in the x1 –x2 plane is denoted Ω. A serious problem stems from the need for C1 interpolations in the classic thin plate and shell bending theories. the relevant dangers in analysing plate and shell structures with the finite element method are presented.86a) (6. this section does not provide an exhaustive coverage. x2 and x3 . or u1 . 1987. Similarly. u2 and u3 when using indexes. y) . Bathe. y) . Plate finite elements can be extremely complex and are an area of ongoing research. T When using Greek subscripts. Also. y and z directions.3 Plate Plates are effectively generalisations of beam elements to two spatial dimensions. A particularly accessible account can be found in Cook et al. In plate theory. The rotation of the January 21. It is convenient to express many relationships for plates using index notation. Hughes.3. respectively).9).6. They are flat two-dimensional entities. and the boundary is Γ.8. The adopted definitions simplify the formulation as it will avoid the need for a −1 factor on particular terms. v and w (displacements in the x. (6. 1991.8: Coordinate system for a plate. are are typically loaded out of plane.86b) where θα is the rotation of a fibre in the plate (see Figure 6. the displacement of a point is given by: uα = −zθα ( x. 1996). For convenience. 6. The three coordinates are denoted x. displacement may be denoted u. The basic governing equations of shell and plate elements and the most common finite element approaches are discussed. or x1 . 2011 Version 0. y and z. Given the enormous number of different plate and shell elements.1 Plate kinematics The adopted coordinate system and sign convention for rotations θα for plates is shown in Figure 6. summation is implied from one to two.3 Plate x3 p θ1 x2 t x1 θ2 Figure 6. and the coordinate z = 0 corresponds to the mid-surface of the plate. 6. The plate has a thickness t. (1989). the convention differs from the right-hand rule.2 91 .

92 Version 0.9: Plate kinematics with shear deformation included. 2011 .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis γα θ α w.α 1 w x3 xα Figure 6.2 January 21.

α .β (6. The shear force vector qα is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σα3 dz (6. The alternative approach would be to insert the plate kinematics into the elasticity equations.α − θα . and lies in the plane of Ω. From the displacement field in equations (6.j + u j. which is a second-order tensor and at a point is given by: καβ = 1 θ + θ β. the strain field can be calculated at any point (recall ǫ = (1/2)(ui. γα = w.3 Plate mid-surface of the plate is given by w. ǫαβ = ǫα3 = −z θα.89) 6. 2 α.α = θ(α.88a) (6.91) The different resultant moments and transverse forces acting on cross-sections of a plate are shown in Figure 6.87) Note that if γα = 0.86).α 2 −θα + w. The moment tensor mαβ in a plate is defined as: t/2 −t/2 σαβ z dz (6.i )).90) From symmetry of the stress tensor.6.88b) A useful quantity is the curvature.2 Equilibrium of a plate The equilibrium equations for a plate are developed here in the same fashion as for plates. This allows the definition of following notation for January 21.3.2 93 .10 (‘resultants’ are forces which are equivalent to a moment or shear stress).α . (6. 2011 Version 0.β) . it is clear that the moment tensor is symmetric.α 2 (6.β + θ β. and the shear strain is given by γα . then θα = w. It is useful to define a vector s which is normal to the vector n.

(6.92h) qα nα dΓ + Ω pz dΩ = 0. ∂mnn .s = ∂s qn = qα nα .s = w. therefore qα. 2011 .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 6.94) which must also hold for an infinitesimally small piece of the plate.92d) (6.α dΩ + Ω pz dΩ = 0.n = w.s = The quantities are illustrated in Figure 6.92g) (6.92e) (6.α sα mnn. quantities relative to an arbitrarily oriented plate edge: mnn = mαβ n β nα .92a) (6.92f) (6. (6. mns = mαβ n β sα .2 January 21.95) 94 Version 0.93) Applying the divergence theorem to the term involving qα leads to Ω qα. (6.10: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on cross-sections of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).92c) (6.α + pz = 0. θn = θα nα . mns. Translation equilibrium of a plate requires that: ∂Ω (6.92b) (6. w.11. ∂s ∂mns .α nα w.

It is applicable for thin plates where shear deformations are negligible.β − qα = 0. (6.11: Moment and transverse shear force resultants acting on an edge of a plate (adapted from Hughes (1987)).96) ∂Ω ∂Ω Ω which leads to: Ω mαβ. Ironically.3. To complete the problem.3 Plate q2 m21 m22 qn x3 x2 θ1 mns m11 q1 m12 s mnn n x1 θ2 Figure 6.Kirchhoff theory The Kirchhoff plate model theory is analogous to the Bernoulli-Euler beam.β dΩ − Ω qα dΩ − Ω q β.α xα . mαβ n β dΓ − q β n β xα dΩ − pz xα dΩ = 0.PSfrag 6. These constitutive relationships will also be elaborated upon in the context of the different theories. hence boundary conditions are elaborated upon in the context of a given theory. constitutive relationships are required which relate the moment tensor and the shear force to deformations. (6. 6.β + q β. the outwardly simplest plate theory presents the most problems when formulating the finite January 21. Considering now rotational equilibrium.2 95 .3 Thin plates . is the equation for translational equilibrium.β xα dΩ − Ω pz xα dΩ = 0. rotational equilibrium requires that mαβ. (6. and are specific to the considered plate theory.β + pz = 0.β = q β xα. Since translation equilibrium requires that q β.97) noting that q β xα .α xα = qα + q β. 2011 Version 0.98) The boundary conditions for a plate are more complicated that for a beam.

and the Kirchhoff plate model requires two boundary conditions at all points 96 Version 0. ∂x y ∂x4 ∂y (6. The goal is now to eliminate qα from the governing equations. This can be done by differentiating equation (6. four different types of boundary conditions are possible. 12 (6. mαβ.95). 12 1 − ν2 ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 = pz . ∂x y Et3 ∂x4 ∂y (6.105) This equation is known as the ‘biharmonic equation’. Assuming transverse shear deformations are zero.ααββ = 12 1 − ν2 pz .87) reduces to: θα = w.αβ + w. the curvature κ is equal to: καβ = 1 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.102) into equation (6. 2 (6. Inserting the constitutive relationship (6. After some rearranging.αβ + pz = 0.103) ¯ where λ = 2λµ/ (λ + 2µ).101) (6. 2011 . the governing equation can be expressed in a particularly convenient form: w.98) and inserting equation (6. ∇4 w = ∂4 w ∂4 w ∂4 w +2 2 2 + 4 . The shear force qα is no longer ‘independent’. where the constitutive tensor is equal to: (6.104) Expanding this equation. equation (6. It is often written in a shorthand format using the biharmonic operator ∇4 .βα .100) yields a fourthorder partial differential equation.106) As a fourth-order equation. Since shear deformations are zero.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis element method.100) The moment is related to the curvature by mαβ = −Cαβγδ κγδ . Et3 (6.2 January 21.α (6.102) Cαβγδ = t3 ¯ µ δαβ δβδ + δαδ δβγ + λδαβ δγδ .

β dΩ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. (6.α mαβ n β dΓ + Γ ¯ wmαβ. 2011 Version 0. the boundary conditions are given by: w = gw θ n = gθ mnn = T qn + mns.s + qn ) dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.αβ dΩ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.100).110) which is the weak form of the governing equation for thin plate bending.n mnn dΓ + Γ ¯ w (mns.s dΓ − wmns | B A (6.105) by a weight function w.111) =− The last term will be ignored.110) (ignoring the point terms).3 Plate on the boundary. and leads to the well known ‘corner forces’ in thin plate theory.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. then integrated by parts. for which w = 0 on Γw and w. Rather than multiplying the governing ¯ equation (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.2 97 . − Ω ¯ w. Ω ¯ w. and the last two are Neumann boundary conditions. yields Ω ¯ w.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w. The last boundary condition is known as the ‘modified shear’ boundary condition.6. The problem here is that too many boundary terms appear in the first boundary integral.s mns dΓ ¯ ¯ wmns. (6. and integrating over the surface of the plate.α mαβ n β dΓ = − Γ Γ ¯ w. Integrating the moment term by parts once.αβ mαβ dΩ − Γ ¯ w.107b) (6. − Γ ¯ w.20).108) where Ω is the surface of the plate. The governing equation is multiplied by a weight function.107a) (6. Multiplying by a weight ¯ function w.α mαβ.107d) The first two boundary conditions are Dirichlet boundary conditions.112) January 21. Ω ¯ wmαβ. and integrating over the plate surface Ω.n mnn dΓ + Γ Γ ¯ w.s = Q on Γw on Γθ on ΓM on ΓQ (6.109) Using integration by parts again on the first term.n mnn dΓ − ¯ w.β nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. Considering the partition of the boundary in equation (6. (6.107c) (6. The moment can only be applied normal to the boundary (mαβ n β nα ). Inserting the above relationship into equation (6. (6.n = 0 on Γθ . it is convenient to carry out the process on equation (6.

3. which in turn involves second derivatives of w. the governing equations for equilibrium are the same as for the Kirchhoff theory. w and θα . As such. δκαβ . 6. ¯ ¯ ¯ Considering w as a virtual displacement δw.n T dΓ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ V . The equations of equilibrium are: mαβ. w. The difference lies in the kinematics and the constitutive model.αβ mαβ dΩ − ΓM ¯ w.3. qα.α + pz = 0. hence the highest order derivatives in the weak governing equation are order two. 2011 . w. w = 0 on Γw . For this theory. However. The problem now involves two different unknowns. the governing equations cannot be further reduced since θα is not a direct function of w. the spaces S and V for the weak form of Kirchhoff plate theory are defined as follows: S = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . (6.4 Moderately thick plates – Reissner-Mindlin theory The Reissner-Mindlin theory for plates includes shear deformation. some serious practical problems arise in finite element analysis when applying Reissner-Mindlin elements for the analysis of thin plates.113) where the functions in S satisfy the Dirichlet boundary conditions.αβ as the virtual curvature. the above equation is the equation of virtual work for a plate: δκαβ mαβ dΩ − δθn T dΓ + δwQ dΓ + δwpz dΩ = 0 (6.β − qα = 0. Unlike for thin plates.α as a virtual rotation δθα .6 Structural elements for finite element analysis Inserting the Neumann boundary conditions.116b) 98 Version 0. w = gw on Γw .114) Ω ΓM ΓQ Ω Recall that the bending moment mαβ is a function of the curvature.2. It is analogous to the Timoshenko beam.2 January 21. ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ V = w | w ∈ H 2 (Ω) . (6.n = gθ on Γθ .n = 0 on Γθ . which depends on θα which is no longer calculated directly from w (θα = w. w. The governing equations for a thick plate are those given in Section 6. solving the weak problems then involves: find w ∈ S such that Ω ¯ w. it is applicable for both thick and thin plates. For completeness.α ).115a) (6. and w. The rotation of the plate cannot be calculated simply as a derivative of the transverse displacement. The key to the success of this approach in a finite element context is that the moment tensor mαβ is calculated from the curvature. (6.115b) Consistency can proven through the repeated application of integration by parts.116a) (6.

This set of equations cannot be reduced further. qα = Cαβ γβ = Cαβ w. three boundary conditions must be applied at all points on the boundary. on Γθ . (6. − Ω ¯ θ(α. This is due to θα and w being decoupled. on ΓQ .119a) and (6. and k is a correction factor which is equal to 5/6. Ω ¯ θα mαβ.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. on ΓM .123) January 21.α + pz = 0 It is these equations which will be solved. is a vector. 2011 Version 0.119a) (6. Weak form To derive the weak form.β − θ β dΩ = 0.β − θ β dΩ = 0.120a) (6.αβ − θ β. (6.119b) (6.120d) Given that one of the unknowns.120b) (6.119a) is multiplied by a weight function θα . both equations (6. a constitutive relation relating the shear forces to the shear strain is introduced.2 99 .102)).119b) are addressed.β − Cαβ w. Firstly.121) Integrating the above equation by parts. ¯ equation (6.β dΩ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.118) (6. mαβ. where Cαβ = ktµδαβ . This set of equations can be reduced by eliminating qα .β − θ β = 0 (6.117) Cαβ w.β − θ β dΩ = 0.6.122) ¯ Inserting now Neumann boundary conditions (θα = 0 where θα is prescribed) yields: − Ω ¯ θα. The structure of the governing equations for Mindlin-Reissner plates theory offers a greater degree of flexibility in applying boundary conditions than the Kirchhoff theory.β) mαβ dΩ + Γ ¯ θα mαβ n β dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w.β − θ β .120c) (6. (6. The ‘naturally’ occurring boundary conditions involve w = gw θα = gαθ mαn = Tα qn = Q on Γw .3 Plate In addition to the constitutive relationship relating moment and curvature (equation (6. θα . (6. This means than the governing equations are being solved in their irreducible form.

However.α − θα .127b) Note that both weak equations contains derivatives no higher than order one. 100 Version 0.119a).α Cαβ w. The weak problem therefore involves: find θα ∈ Sθ and w ∈ Sw such that: − Ω ¯ θα. Combining both equations (multiplying equation (6.α Cαβ w. It is equations (6.127a) − Ω ¯ w. the above equation includes a contribution to the energy due to shear ( Ω δγα qα dΩ). δκαβ = θ(α.127b) by minus one). Multiplying now equation (6. 2011 .127b) that are solved using the finite element method.114).2 January 21.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.αβ − θ( β.β mαβ dΩ + ΓM ¯ θα Tα dΓ − Ω ¯ θα Cαβ w. ¯ ∀θα ∈ Vθ (6.128) − which is the equation of virtual work for a Reissner-Mindlin plate.β) and δγα = w.125) ¯ Inserting again Neumann boundary conditions (w = 0 where w is prescribed).β − θ β dΩ + Γ ¯ wCαβ γβ nα dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0. adopting ¯ ¯ ¯ the notation δw = w. Note that different to the virtual work equation for a Kirchhoff plate (6. (6.β − θ β dΩ + ΓQ ¯ wQ dΓ + Ω ¯ wpz dΩ = 0 ¯ ∀w ∈ Vw (6.6 Structural elements for finite element analysis which is the weak form of equation (6. the highest order derivative appearing for both terms is one. ¯ wCαβ w.126) which is the weak form of equation (6.α) dΩ + ¯ wpz dΩ = 0.124) Ω Ω Integrating the above equation by parts yields: − Ω ¯ w. (6. − Ω ¯ w. (6. Hence. This will require the interpolation of both the transverse displacement w and the rotation θα .β − θ β dΩ = 0.127a) and (6. C0 shape functions can be applied.α Cαβ w.119b). yields: Ω −δκαβ mαβ dΩ + Ω δγα qα dΩ + ΓM δθα Tα dΓ − ΓQ Ω δwQ dΓ δwpz dΩ = 0 (6.119b) by a ¯ weight function w. and taking advantage of the symmetry of mαβ .

m22 . However. 2κ12 ) T . It does not however satisfy C1 continuity. 2011 Version 0. The matrix D b has the form: 1 ν 1 0 0 0 Et3 D = 12 (1 − ν2 ) b  ν    0 (1 − ν ) 2   . it tests whether an element can represent rigid body modes and a state of constant strain. q = D s γ. There exists a range of Kirchhoff plate elements.129) where m = (m11 . a less severe requirement is that elements satisfy a ‘patch test’. κ22 . In the context of plates. The majority of Kirchhoff plate elements are non-conforming – this means that they do not satisfy C1 continuity. The element is still useful as it passes the patch test.5 Plate finite elements As in elasticity. some non-conforming elements yield satisfactory results.6. In particular.132) (6. flexible and robust Kirchhoff plate elements.   (6. A common Kirchhoff plate element is rectangular and has four nodes and twelve degrees of freedom. where Ds = tkµ 0 0 .130) For the shear forces qα .3 Plate 6.133) The applicability of this element is however limited by its inability to satisfy the patch test as a quadrilateral – the element can only be used as a rectangle. 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. 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 . tkµ (6. (6. m12 ) T and κ = (κ11 .131) Kirchhoff plate elements There are few reliable. In place of requiring C1 continuity. constant strain implies constant curvature. none of which are of general applicability. January 21.2 101 . symmetry of mαβ and καβ allows the use of simplified ‘engineering’ notation. m = −Db κ   (6.3. The complications are rooted in the need for C1 continuity.

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

Setting n = 1.4) which is a measure of the error in the displacements. (7. For example.5) which now includes the gradient of e.7 Analysis of the finite element method involve n = 0 and n = 1. (7. u − uh 106 r ≤ Chk+1−r |u|k+1 . 1/2 e 1 = Ω (e · e + ∇e : ∇e) dΩ . (7. uI = ∑ Ni aiI . Given that a finite solution is known to be the best possible solution from the finite-dimensional space S h . c is an unknown constant.10) into the above expression. (7.2 (7. Inserting now equation (7. It is defined by: u 2 E = | u |2 = r Ω ( Dr u)2 dΩ. rather a question which can be answered from interpolation theory.10) This means that the finite element solution is at least as accurate as the nodal interpolate in terms if energy.8) The nodal interpolate is equal to the exact solution at the nodes (u − u I = 0 at the nodes). (7. Consider the nodal interpolate u I . (7.9) where k is the polynomial order. setting n = 0 gives: 1/2 e 0 = Ω (e · e) dΩ . k + 1 > m. hence it interpolates the exact solution using the provided shape functions. An important semi-norm is the energy norm. In this way.11) January 21. 2011 . Version 0.7) where r is the order of the derivatives appearing in the weak form. thereby introducing a measure of the error in the strain.6) which involves only a particular order derivative. 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 . the question of determining an error estimate is no longer a finite element question. i (7. Note that to ensure convergence. it holds that u − uh E ≤ u − uI E. and h is a measure of the element size.

a natural question is how close the solution is to the exact solution. The error in the displacements is given by e 0 . It would be useful to find an estimate in terms of lower norms. (7. u − uh 0 . such as the error in the displacement.1. For practical purposes. k = 1. 1/2 .2 A posteriori error estimation where C is a constant. The order of convergence of a particular element type indicates how quickly the exact solution is approached. The convergence order for different polynomial orders is given in Table 7. which tells ‘how good’ the calculated solution is. hence u − uh 1 ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . independent of h. the greater a the smaller the error. January 21.16) Hence linear elements are known as being O(h2 ) in terms of displacements. e 1 (7.15) which implies that the approximate strains converge to the exact result slower than the approximate displacements. This result is however conditional upon the seminorm |u|k+1 existing. In elasticity. For an elasticity problem. hence it represents the error in the energy.13) where β = min (k + 1 − s.7. It leads to the estimate: u − uh s ≤ Ch β |u|k+1 . For linear elements.2 107 . (7. (7. the displacement error is: which is equal to Ω e · e dΩ e 0 ≤ Chk+1 |u|k+1 .2 A posteriori error estimation Once a finite element solution has been calculated. Larger a implies faster convergence. For k ≥ 1. ≤ Chk |u|k+1 . the two quantities of special interest are the displacements and the strains (and hence the stresses). 2011 Version 0. Of course as h becomes small. An estimate can be obtained using ‘Nitsche’s trick’ (see Strang and Fix (1973) for details).12) This implies that the solution converges in this norm at a rate equal to the polynomial order. This is error analysis.14) In terms of the strain. e e 0 1 ≤ Ch2 |u|2 ≤ Ch|u|2 . and O(h) in terms of strains. The notation O(h a ) means that the error is ‘of the order h a ’. r = 1. 2(k + 1 − r )). 7. there may be no gain in accuracy through increasing the polynomial order. If the exact solution is not sufficiently smooth. Therefore. this norm is dominated by the error in the strain. but does not tell how far the computed solution is from the exact solution. (7.

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

List some advantages and disadvantages of p.7. 7. 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. 2011 Version 0.and h-adaptivity.4 Exercises 1. Give the order of convergence in terms of the strain for the following element: a) b) c) d) e) T3 Q4 T6 Q8 Q9 2.4 Exercises helps to know how quickly the error reduces for a particular element. When using Q4 elements.2 109 .7 times smaller? 3.


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

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

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

The velocity and acceleration fields are represented using the shape functions. 2011 . the finite-dimensional velocity and acceleration fields in an element are given by: uh = N ae .e N T h dΓ. Ωe N T ρN dΩ ae = − ¨ Ωe B T DB dΩ ae + Ωe N T b dΩ + Γh. ¨ ¨ h (9. the Galerkin form must be developed. which is independent of time. Multiplying equation (9.8a) (9.5) Integrating by parts. is hit with a hammer at the free end. The equations for elastodynamics are hyperbolic.2 January 21. With hyperbolic problems ‘information’ travels at finite speeds. restrained at one end.9) 114 Version 0. The time dimension is left continuous. a stress wave will travel through the bar and a force at the restrained end will not be felt until the stress wave arrives.2 Semi-discrete Galerkin form To reach a finite element formulation.6) 9. the Galerkin problem involves: find uh ∈ S h such that Ω ρwh · uh dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s wh : σ h dΩ + Ω wh · b dΩ Γh + wh · h dΓ ∀wh ∈ V h . solving the weak form involves: for a given t > 0. for an element.7) which is known as ‘semi-discrete’. (9. ˙ ˙ u = N ae . like for the static case the governing equation must be expressed in terms of nodal unknowns and basis functions.9 Time-dependent problems free end of a restrained rod. From the weak from in the previous section. To solve dynamic problems using a computer. and integrating gives: Ω ρw · u dΩ = ¨ Ω w · (∇ · σ ) dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ (9. a reaction force is felt immediately at the other end. (9.7) and rearranging. and inserting Neumann boundary conditions.1. using the same steps outlined in Chapter 2. This stems from the fact that the dependence on time t has not been addressed in the same fashion as the spatial dependency x. This is again done using finite element shape functions. If a bar. (9. which when considering the semidiscrete formulations are constant in time. Deriving the weak form for dynamic problems follows the familiar procedure.1) by a weight function w. Inserting the discretised displacement field ˙ ¨ and the expression for the acceleration field into equation (9. Therefore. find u ∈ S such that Ω ρw · u dΩ = − ¨ Ω ∇s w : σ dΩ + Ω w · b dΩ + Γh w · h dΓ ∀w ∈ V .8b) where ae = dae /dt and ae = d2 ae /dt2 .

for a given time tn M an + Kan = f n .1. this will yield a diagonal mass matrix. but with integration points located only at element nodes. there is some freedom in determining exactly how the lumped mass matrix should be calculated. All off-diagonal terms are equal to zero. Once the element contributions have been assembled into the global mass and stiffness matrices and the global RHS vector.9. As with the element stiffness matrix. Perhaps the simplest procedure to form lumped mass matrices is to form the matrices using numerical integration. Other more January 21. ¨ (9. 9. This procedure however can lead to negative masses on the diagonal.3 Mass matrix There are several methods to form the mass matrix. Since finite element shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes.11) Before this equation can be solved.12) This is typically formed by integrating numerically. cons = Me Ωe ρN T N dΩ. 2011 Version 0. This property is highly advantageous in combination with some time integration schemes. a strategy is required to deal with the time derivatives of a. It is however possible that nodes will have zero or negative masses.1 Elastodynamics This equation is commonly called the ‘semi-discrete’ equation.10) where Me is the element mass matrix. This equation can be written is a shorthand format as: Me a e + k e a e = f e ¨ (9. Since shape functions are equal to unity at their node and zero at all other nodes. Another procedure is based on summing rows of the consistent mass matrix. the lumped mass matrix has non-zero terms only on the diagonal. Mii lump = j =1 cons ∑ Mij n (9. the mass matrix is symmetric and will have off-diagonal terms.13) where n is the dimension of the mass matrix. lumped masses at each node. The obvious choice from the variational approach is the consistent mass matrix.2 115 . This corresponds to having discrete. This is formed similarly to the stiffness matrix. (9. Since lumped schemes do not follow naturally from the variational formulation. Before the variational basis of the finite element method was properly understood. A common approach was to form a lumped mass matrix. as will be discussed in the following sections. in the same fashion as for the element stiffness matrix. it was not entirely clear how the mass matrix should be formed.

(9.14) where the matrix C represents the sources of damping in the structure. A discussion can be found in Cook et al. representing the uncertainty in the source of damping.2 January 21. Given that only the first derivative with respect to time is involved. Unlike elastodynamics. u is the temperature. unsteady heat diffusion is governed by: ˙ ρcu + ∇ · q = f . u ( x. They two key points are that zero and negative masses on the diagonal should be avoided.3. t) = u0 ( x) . Damping due to the material response can also be included.4 Damping Problems in structural dynamics often involve damping. c is the ‘capacity’. This is known as Rayleigh damping. There is no rich theory underlying the choices. A simple method of introducing damping is to say: C = τM + ψK. as outlined in Section 2. (1989).15) where τ and ψ are user chosen parameters.3. 2011 . q = −κ ∇u is the heat flux.17) 116 Version 0.9 Time-dependent problems sophisticated lumping schemes are possible which will avoid negative masses. Damping is often included by adding the term C a to the governing equations.1. namely the temperature at t = 0. (9. The steady-state version of the equation was introduced in Section 2. the contribution of the mass matrix increases damping with decreasing frequency. or through the constitutive model relating stress and strain. The contribution of the stiffness matrix to the damping matrix increases damping with increasing frequency. The problem requires boundary conditions.16) where in the context of diffusion of heat. The precise source of damping and its mathematical form is often vague. It will become clear when addressing particular time integration schemes why lumped mass matrices are popular. ˙ M a + C a + Ka = f . only one type of initial condition may be provided. kappa is the conductivity. This topic is left to other courses which address non-linear material behaviour. (9. 9. Conversely.2 Heat equation The heat equation is introduced here as a step to the problems in elastodynamics. In strong form. ¨ ˙ (9. and initial conditions. it involves first order derivatives with respect to time. The choice of the parameters τ and ψ is certainly arbitrary. The performance of lumped mass matrices is guided primarily by experience. 9. It can be included through the damping matrix C.

(9. The acceleration is therefore given by: (9. the semi-discrete Galerkin problem for the heat equation involves: for a given t > 0. Non-trivial solutions (a = 0) require that: ¯ (9. there are n eigenvalues λ (λ = ω 2 ). If one end of a rod is heated. For a one-dimensional linear element. 2011 Version 0. An upper bound to the highest frequency can be found by calculating the frequencies for all individual elements. For explicit time integration procedures. ωe = 2 3/L January 21. this is immediately felt (an infinitesimal amount) and increases with time. which ¯ are also known as natural modes.19) In matrix form. The displacements at the nodes can be described by a = a cos (ωt − α) .24) The highest frequency from all elements provides an upper bound to the highest frequency of the problem. (9.23) where ω are the natural frequencies of the system. It turns out that for a lumped mass matrix. it is relatively simple to calculate the natural frequencies. ¯ det K − ω 2 M = 0. the highest frequency is equal to: ωe = 2 L E ρ E/ρ.9. it is important to know the highest natural frequency of the discrete problem. The difficulty is that the size of the problem in equation (9. (9. its motion is harmonic. this can be expressed at time tn as: M an + Kan = f n . ¨ ¯ Inserting these results into equation (9.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics The heat equation is parabolic.21) −ω 2 M + K a = 0.2 117 .18) (9.11) and rearranging.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 (9.3 Frequency analysis for elastodynamics If an undamped system is allowed to vibrate freely (no forcing terms).23) can be very large. 2 det ke − ωe me = 0 (9.25) √ for an element of length L. If stiffness and mass matrices are of dimension n. ¯ a = −ω 2 a cos (ωt − α) .22) which is a matrix eigenvalue problem. The eigenvectors are a. ˙ 9. For the consistent mass matrix. Following the usual processes in developing the weak form.

2 January 21. a (t) = ∑ αi (t) Ψi i (9. Inserting equation (9.11) . (9. The sum of the modes gives the total displacement.28) into equation (9.27) where Ψi are eigenvectors. K − ωi2 M Ψi = 0. Consider a solution a = ψi cos (ωi t + θi ) .33) 118 Version 0. For linear problems. ¨ Ψj T M ∑ αi Ψi + Ψj T K ∑ αi Ψi = Ψj T f i i (9. ¨ αi + ωi2 αi = Ψi T f . (9. A special property of the eigenmodes Ψi is that they are orthogonal. (9.32) The orthogonality property means that the equation has been decoupled into nm simple. 2011 . (9.11) yields: ¨ M ∑ αi Ψi + K ∑ αi Ψi = f i i (9.4 Modal analysis for elastodynamics Modal analysis involves the dividing of the response of a structure into a number of modes. This means that: Ψi T MΨj = and Ψi T KΨj = ωi2 0 i = j.29) Orthogonality implies that the vibration modes do not interact with each other.26) Inserting the above equation into the unforced version ( f = 0) of equation (9.30) 1 0 i = j.9 Time-dependent problems 9. (9. It is then possible to treat each mode separately. i = j. and ωi are the natural frequencies. i = j. separate equations. The nodal displacements can be expressed as a summation of eigenfunctions.28) where αi (t) is the amplitude of the ith eigenmode. and are known as vibration modes.31) Pre-multiplying both sides of this equation by Ψj T . it is then possible to treat each mode individually.

Therefore. usually only the low frequency modes have a significant influence on the structural response. For the unforced case. and perhaps information at time step n and earlier steps.5 Time stepping algorithms Now. Time stepping schemes are distinguished by being either explicit or implicit. but due to their extremely poor stability properties they are useless.9. Time is then incremented until the desired time is reached. an and an at time tn (and perhaps also at earlier times ˙ ¨ steps). the computational effort lies in finding the eigenvectors and eigenvalues. To do this. which is O(∆t4 ) accurate). which is O(∆t) accurate). compared to explicit schemes. implicit schemes generally require significantly extra computational effort. The difference between explicit and implicit schemes lies in stability.5 Time stepping algorithms Time stepping algorithms involve schemes to increment the time in discrete steps ∆t.33) is only solved for a few modes. Conversely. the unsteady heat equation is first considered. Implicit schemes rely on information at time step n + 1.2 119 . This means a system of equations must be solved for implicit schemes. and perhaps earlier steps (such as n − 1) to compute the solution at time step n + 1. Therefore it is limited to linear analysis. ˙ ¨ a time stepping scheme is needed.34) Solutions for forced cases are dependent on the type of loading. Explicit integrators rely only on information at time step n. In structural analysis. equation (9. If an integrator is unstable. this equation can be solved analytically. 9.1 One-step algorithms for the heat equation To introduce time stepping algorithms. the above equation can be solved. Hence. There are known schemes of exceptional accuracy. Further discussion of modal methods can be found in Craig (1981) and Cook et al. January 21. Modal analysis relies on the orthogonality property of the eigenfunctions. it will ‘blow-up’. the orthogonality property does not hold. Accuracy is not the difference between explicit and implicit schemes. 2011 Version 0. Given the values of an . 9. There are no known unconditionally stable explicit schemes. for each mode of interest.33) is a homogeneous ordinary partial differential equation. For non-linear problems. rapidly diverging from any sensible result. implicit schemes may have a low degree of accuracy (such as the backward Euler scheme. Typically.5. It provides a step towards the more complicated schemes for elastodynamics. In applying modal analysis. equation (9. Stability means the range of time steps ∆t for which an integrator will calculate a stable result (small errors do not grow exponentially). the values an+1 . with the solution αi = c1 sin (ωi t) + c2 cos (ωi t) . an+1 and an+1 at time tn+1 = tn + ∆t are needed. Explicit schemes can be constructed to have a high degree of accuracy (such as the 4th order Runge-Kutta method. (1989). (9.

but only first-order accurate. where 1 ˆ K= M+K θ∆t 1 (1 − θ ) fˆn+1 = f n+1 + Man + M an . 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. and the implicit trapezoidal (θ = 1/2) and backward Euler (θ = 1) methods. ˙ θ∆t θ and an is computed from equation (9. the problem to solve an+1 has become ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 . The backward Euler method is also unconditionally stable. the heat equation at time tn+1 must satisfy: M an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 .38) 120 Version 0.37) (9.35).35) where 0 ≤ θ ≤ 1. Newmark time integrators are a family of schemes.41b) (9. In matrix form.5.9 Time-dependent problems A popular family of algorithms are ‘generalised trapezoidal’ methods. the forward Euler is not particularly useful as its stability properties are poor. Choosing parameters appropriately for a Newmark algorithm yields a number of different.40a) (9. For the problems to be considered here. a n +1 = ˙ 1 1 (1 − θ ) a − an − an . 2011 . ˙ θ∆t n+1 θ∆t θ (9.41a) (9. 1 1 (1 − θ ) M + K a n +1 = f n +1 + Man + M an . both explicit and implicit.36) gives. the trapezoidal method is particularly attractive as it is unconditionally stable. ˙ 9. ˙ ˙ (9. Well known methods are the explicit forward Euler (θ = 0) method. and is second-order accurate.40b) (9. ˙ θ∆t θ∆t θ In compact notation. ˙ Rearranging equation (9.37).36) and inserting the above result into equation (9. They involve: an+1 = an + ∆t ((1 − θ ) an + θ an+1 ) . In practice.2 One-step algorithms for elastodynamics The most commonly used time integration scheme in solid and structural mechanics is the generalised Newmark scheme.39) (9.2 January 21. well known integrators.

∆t2 (9.41) for β = 0 and γ = 1/2. The Newmark method is unconditionally stale for: 2β ≥ γ ≥ 1 2 (9.2 121 . an+1 = an + ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) 4 (9. This scheme is O(∆t2 ) accurate. 2 (9. Therefore. but as will be shown later. Calculating the necessary terms using ˙ ¨ central differences. Its stability properties are attractive.43a) (9. 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. A commonly used time integrator is the central difference method.47) This integrator is implicit.46b) Inserting equation (9. It corresponds to β = 1/4 and γ = 1/2 in the Newmark family of integrators. 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).46b).45) which is the Courant. 2011 Version 0. a Newmark scheme is second-order accurate. Another commonly used time integrator is based on the trapezoidal rule. ∆t ≤ L . The term ω h can be estimated for linear elements as 2c/L. This method is unconditionally stable and the accuracy is O(∆t2 ). a n +1 = a n + ˙ ˙ a n +1 ∆t ¨ ¨ ( a n + a n +1 ) . c (9. January 21. Appropriate choices of β and γ yield well known integration methods.42) For γ = 1/2. where c is the dilatational wave speed (c = E/ρ) and L is the length of an element. it requires the factorisation of a large matrix.9. but it is conditionally stable. Friedrichs and Lewy (CFL) stability condition.43b) It is possible to rearrange these terms and show that they are equivalent to equation (9.46a) (9. It is necessary to express the terms a and a in terms of a. 2 ∆t ˙ ˙ = an + ( a n + a n +1 ) .44) where ω h is the highest natural frequency (highest value from det K − ω 2 M = 0. an = ˙ an = ¨ a n +1 − a n −1 2∆t an−1 − 2an + an+1 .46a) into equation (9. It is also energy conserving.

1 1 1 1 M+ C an+1 = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . with damping.48) It is assumed that a and its time derivatives are known at time t and unknown at time t + ∆t (corresponding to n + 1). Given an and an−1 . 2011 .53) 1 1 C M+ 2 2∆t ∆t (9. (9. it is possible to calculate an+1 .51) If both M and C are diagonal matrices. has the appearance: M an + C an + Kan = f n . it is not necessary to form the stiffness matrix K. Inserting the central difference expressions from equation (9. The term Kan is equivalent to: Kan = B T σn dΩ. A procedure is required to ‘start’ the 122 Version 0. In practice.54) (9.43). The above equations can be written in a shorthand format as: ˆ Man+1 = fˆn . and unknown at step n + 1. M an−1 − 2an + an+1 a − a n −1 + Kan = f n .9 Time-dependent problems Explicit time integration – central difference approach The system of equations to be solved. + C n +1 2 2∆t ∆t (9. the displacement vector a at step n + 1 is given by: ˆ an+1 = M −1 fˆn (9.55) Ω A difficulty with explicit central-difference time integration is the need for information at n − 1 when starting a calculation. ¨ ˙ (9. an+1 can be calculated without solving a system of equations (hence the attractiveness of lumped mass matrices when using explicit time integrators).49) Rearranging the above equation such that all terms at t + ∆t are on the LHS and all terms at time t are on the RHS.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. 2∆t n−1 ∆t Then.2 January 21.52) (9. where ˆ M= and 1 1 fˆn = 2 M (2an − an−1 ) + Ca − Kan + f n . (9.

Furthermore.43) it is possible to express an−1 in terms of quantities at n (time t = 0). 1 M + K a n +1 = M β∆t2 1 1 1 an + ˙ an − an ˙ ¨ a + 2 n β∆t 2β β∆t +f (9. damping is ignored.2 123 . Implicit time integration – the Newmark family Formulation of a Newmark scheme starts by inserting the expressions for the velocity and accelerations into: M an+1 + C an+1 + Kan+1 = f n+1 ¨ ˙ (9. For simplicity. a n +1 = ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9. The central difference procedure is popular in finite element analysis. This yields.56) The vector an−1 can be used to start the time integration procedure. it is very efficient and suitable for very large problems. In combination with a lumped mass matrix. M 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 + Kan+1 = f n+1 (9. Combining equations (9.58b) These equations are then inserted into equation (9. which are the initial conditions. it is second-order accurate.57).57) Rearranging the expressions in equation (9.59) Rearranging such that all unknown quantities appear on the LHS.9. The significant drawback is the conditional stability.41) for β = 0 to express the accelerations and velocity at step n + 1 in terms of step n and earlier. and all known quantities on the RHS. The time step must be chosen carefully for a particular discretisation. an−1 = an − ∆t an + ˙ ∆t2 an ¨ 2 (9.5 Time stepping algorithms algorithm at t = 0.58a) a n +1 = a n ˙ ˙ + ∆t (1 − γ) an + γ ¨ 1 1 1 an − ˙ an + an ¨ ¨ ( a n +1 − a n ) − β∆t 2β β∆t2 (9.61) January 21.60) which in a short-hand notation can be expressed as: ˆ Kan+1 = fˆn+1 (9. 2011 Version 0.

9 Time-dependent problems Since the stiffness matrix K is not diagonal. With the Newmark scheme. Derive the mass matrix for a two-noded beam element. Numerical damping aids in controlling undesirable spurious high frequency modes in the solution. 9. Decreasing α increases the dissipation. 124 Version 0. A number of algorithms have been developed to preserve second-order accuracy while allowing for the introduction of numerical damping. At time step n.7 Exercises 1. It involves using a Newmark scheme to solve : M an+1 + (1 − α) Kan+1 − αKan = f n+1+α . which is also known as the Hilber-Hughes-Taylor Method (Hughes. Solving the resulting system of equations yields an+1 .2 January 21.5. If −1/3 < α < 0. The problem with the Newmark scheme is that the introduction of any numerical damping reduces the order of accuracy from two to one. 3.6 Space-time formulations Time as a degree of freedom. Numerical dissipation can be controlled through the parameter α. calculating an requires the solution of a system of equations. the vector fˆ can be calculated from an . One such algorithm is the α-Method.41) to show for β = 0 and γ = 1/2 the scheme is equivalent to a central-difference procedure. the α-Method reduces to the Newmark scheme. However. numerical damping can be introduced by choosing γ > 1/2. 9. ¨ (9. 1987). Note that calculating the ‘new’ an+1 introduces a dependency ˙ on the parameter γ. 2011 . choosing γ = 1/2 reduces the integration scheme to first order accuracy O(t).3 α-Method for elastodynamics In dynamic simulations. the terms in f are prescribed and both M and K can be formed. it is usually desirable to introduce some numerical damping to suppress spurious high-frequency modes. If α = 0. the algorithm is unconditionally stable and second-order accurate. γ = (1 − 2α) /2 and β = (1 − α)2 /4. 9. Rearrange equation (9. 2.62) where f n+1+α = f n+1+θ∆t . Calculate the consistent and lumped mass matrices for the four-noded quadrilateral element.

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