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-advantages in terms of numerical implementationcomputer


Strong form of a PDE holds all the partial derivatives and boundary conditions
requirements and the solution is exact, while Weak form of a PDE weakens the
differentiability requirements and satisfaction of boundary conditions
requirements on the some part of the domain. Thus it is easier to implement FEM
after driving the weak form of the PDE. In simple words, decreasing the order of
higher differential equation to the lower orders, equation can be changed from
strong to weak form. This is to solve the problem easier while the conditions to
solve in strong form are very hard to manipulate easily.
The major advantage of this is the ability to decrease the order of the basic
functions use to express the solution to the differential equation.
Equations of the theory of elasticity need to be solved in a given domain for
finding an equilibrium configuration of a deformable elastic body. This is a strong
form of the problem. The governing differential equation of order (2n) along with
the essential and natural boundary conditions are called strong form
At the same time, the total mechanical energy (strain energy of the body +
potential energy of externally applied forces) is at minimum in an equilibrium
state, which means that a certain functional needs to be minimized with respect
to the unknown field of displacements for finding the solution. This is a weak
form (one among many possible). The governing equation is combined with the
natural boundary conditions in an integral form. The order of derivatives are
reduced to (n) and hence "weak" form. the resulted equation is called the weak
Both formulations are mathematically equivalent, but allow for different
numerical methods for finding approximate solutions. Typically, one uses finite
difference method for solving differential equations and Ritz method (or FEM as
one of its particular forms) for minimizing the total energy.

Strong form is the conventional differential equation. Weak form is an alternate

representation of the differential equation. The strong form imposes continuity and

differentiability requirements on the potential solutions to the equation. The weak form
relaxes these requirements on solutions to a certain extent. This means that a larger set
of functions are solutions of the weak form. By construction all solutions of the strong
form satisfy the weak form but not vice-versa.
A standard strategy to prove the existence of solution to the differential equation (strong
form) is to prove the existence of a function which satisfies the weak form (which is
sometimes easier to prove) and then proving that the function is sufficiently continuous
and differentiable to satisfy the strong form.
In Mechanics the weak form is the same as principle of virtual work.
In this form it is used to construct to approximate solutions to strong form.
Sometimes the weak form makes more physical sense than the strong form. An example
is the vibration of the string. The appropriate equation describing the mechanics is the
wave equation which states that the acceleration at any point on the string is directly
proportional to the curvature at that point. All solutions to the strong form must have a
second derivative. A physical solution in which the string is initially bent in a V-shape
does not satisfy the differentiability requirement of the strong form. This solution can be
shown to satisfy the weak form.
Consider the zero vector. This is written as x= 0. Another way of saying the vector 'x' is
the zero vector is that it is orthogonal to every other vector.
So x.v =0 for every v. Translating the idea to a differential equations, consider the
equation in the form Lu=f where L is a differential operator, u is the unknown and f is
the given function. Rewriting the equation as Lu-f = 0. This can be rewritten as (Lu-f, g)
=0 where the brackets denote the dot product. The dot product is the integral of the
product of the function taken on the domain over which the equation is being solved.
This is called the weak form.
This form can be used to construct approximate solutions. The function 'u' is an element
of the function space which is infinite dimensional. Instead of 'u' we substitute 'uapprox'
in the equation which approximates 'u' and belongs to a finite dimensional subspace. g is
typically a function belonging to the subspace. Then L(uapprox)-f is the error or residue
because of the approximation. Then the equation essentially means the error is
orthogonal to the subspace. This is the central idea of finite element method and it
comes naturally from weak form.