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# INTRODUCTION

## TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 Mechanics of Solids 2B
AMEC 3706 Aircraft Structures 1B

Mr. M. TAHTALI

S chool of
Ae rospace and
M echanical
E ngineering
Australian Defence Force Academy
School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

1
Chapter I: INTRODUCTION

1.1 Need for Approximate Analysis
It is not possible to obtain closed form analytical solutions for most of the actual complex
engineering problems. Therefore, we try to approximate the physical nature of the problem
such that an acceptable solution, ie-acceptable accuracy, can be obtained in reasonable time
and at reasonable cost.
As engineers we seek for convergence of the approximate solution: we must be sure that if we
increase the degree of approximation we will obtain better results.
We are asked to measure the circumference of a circle with unit diameter (exact result:
=3.14). However, the only equipment supplied is a ruler for measuring straight lines. What
we will do is to approximate the circle by polygons:

1
n = 4 n = 6 n = 8

Figure I-1 Approximating a circle by polygons

Convergence Characteristics
2.5
2.7
2.9
3.1
3.3
3.5
3.7
3.9
4.1
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
# of segments (n)
M
e
a
s
u
r
e
d

C
i
r
c
u
m
f
e
r
e
n
c
e
Internal polygon
External polygon
AVR

Figure I-2 Convergence of circumference
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INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

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Hence: Our method of approximation converges if we increase the degree of approximation
(here: n). Therefore it is of practical use.
Note that knowing the bounding nature of two different approximations, their average can
give an even better approximation. Here we know that the circumference of the internal
polygon will be always below the actual value and the circumference of the external polygon
will be always above the actual value, ie bounding the actual value. In this case the average
will give a much better approximation.
1.2 Numerical Approximation: Discretisation
The basic idea of any numerical approximation is DISCRETISATION, ie, the reduction of
the infinitely many unknowns to a finite number of them.
Given the continuous function y=x
4
, find the derivative dy/dx in the interval [1,4].
The closed form analytical solution, obtained by the application of differential calculus, is:
3
4x
dx
dy
=
(exact)
Assume that the function is given only at two discrete points:
( )
( ) 4 ,
1 ,
4
4
= = =
= = =
b b b f y
a a a f y
b
a

0 1
16
81
256
y = 85x - 169
-150
-100
-50
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
0 1 2 3 4
x
y
assumed
exact variation

Figure I-3 Function f(x) and linear approximation
The variation of f( ) within the interval must be assumed:
+ = x y

Using two discrete points and the assumed variation, the approximate result is
Australian Defence Force Academy
School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

3

dx
dy

Where is found by solving the algebraic system of equations:

+ =
+ =
b y
a y
b
a

85 =

=
a b
y y
a b

0
4
32
108
256
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
0 1 2 3 4
x
dy/dx
approximate
numerical result
exact y=4 x^3
error e(x)
emax =171

Figure I-4 Derivative dy/dx and constant approximation
Now, if the error is acceptable (this is an engineering judgement), there is no problem: the
analytical problem of finding dy/dx is converted into a numerical problem of finding . But
if the error is too much, we have two alternatives to modify the approximation:
a) Increase the number of discrete points keeping assumed linear form of the function
between those discrete points. Or,
b) Increase the order of the approximation, here form linear to quadratic.

Taking on option b) the variation of f( ) within the interval can be assumed:
+ + = x x y
2

Using three discrete points and the assumed variation, the approximate result is
+ x
dx
dy
2

Australian Defence Force Academy
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INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

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Where and is found by solving the algebraic system of equations:

+ + =
+ + =
+ + =
c c y
b b y
a a y
c
b
a
2
2
2

=
=

90
35

-50
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
0 1 2 3 4
x
y
approximate
exact y= x^4

Figure I-5 Function f(x) and quadratic approximation
0
4
32
108
256
-150
-100
-50
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
0 1 2 3 4
x
dy/dx
approximate
linear
exact y=4 x^3
emax =66

Figure I-6 Derivative dy/dx and linear approximation
Australian Defence Force Academy
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INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

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Chapter II: SCOPE OF THE FEM, DIRECT APPROACH
In the previous section, we said that the FEM offers a way to solve a complex continuum
problem by subdividing it into simpler ones that can be solved individually without much
effort. By continuum, we mean a body of matter or simply a region of space in which a
particular phenomenon is occurring. This can be a piece of metal subjected to a temperature
difference, a region of space subjected to a magnetic field, or a fluid subjected to a pressure
difference. In any case, we are after the distribution of the field variable resulting from the
imposed boundary conditions. The simpler is the continuum the easier is the solution.
One of the basic and intuitive discretisation we can consider in mechanics is to represent an
elastic structure simply by its stiffness and its mass. This is called lumping the distributed
material properties into simple distinct elements. For a simple static problem, we can even
consider the stiffness alone and represent it by a linear massless spring. This approximation
may not always represent the actual problem due to shape irregularities, however, it may be
suitable to represent a smaller part of the problem. Thus the complete solution of the problem
can be obtained as an assemblage of solutions. In the case of a system made up uniquely of
interconnected springs, the solution would be a series of displacement values at the
interconnection points that we will call nodes. Each spring in the system may have a different
stiffness constant but the governing equation for each spring has the same form all over the
system. Each governing equation can be represented as a matrix equation having a stiffness
matrix multiplied by a displacement vector equal to a force vector. Then the individual
matrices can be combined together using the fact that the displacement at a shared node is the
same for the springs sharing it. The result would be the representation of the governing
equations for the whole system in matrix form.
2.1 Common Procedure of FE-Approach in Solid Mechanics
Regardless of the geometry, material, boundary conditions and type of the problem, the finite
element method follows a general, well-defined step-by-step procedure:
Step 1: IDEALISATION
The continuum is divided into a finite number of ideal elements bearing the following
simplification w.r.t. the actual elements:
a) Ideal geometry usually curved boundaries are replaced by straight ones.
b) Ideal element response e.g. real displacement field is approximated.
c) Others e.g. boundary conditions and/or material properties are simplified.
Remarks:
1) This step is completely an engineering judgement.
2) This step is not necessary for discrete systems.
Step 2: DISCRETISATION
Reduce the number of infinite unknowns (degrees of freedom DOF) to a finite number:
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INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

6
u(x,y)
v(x,y)
1 2
3
4
u
(4)
v
(4)
NODES
ELEMENT
Interpolation (shape)
functions

Figure II-1 Displacement Discretisation
Interpolation functions usually polynomials of low orders (linear, quadratic,)
Similarly, the stress state is expressed by fictitious nodal forces:
Traction t
1 2
3
4
f
y
(4)
f
x
(4)

Figure II-2 Force Discretisation
Hence, at a general point within the element:
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
( )

u
v u v u v u v u
y x v
y x u
4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1
, , , , , , , of Function
) , (
) , (

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INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

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( )
( )
( )
( )
O O O O O O O ` O O O O O O O U Q

f
y x y x y x y x
xy
yy
xx
f f f f f f f f
y x
y x
y x
) 4 ( ) 4 ( ) 3 ( ) 3 ( ) 2 ( ) 2 ( ) 1 ( ) 1 (
, , , , , , , of Function
,
,
,

Remark: We are not completely free in selecting interpolation functions (see chapter IV).
Step 3: DETERMINATION OF ELEMENT PROPERTIES (STIFFNESSES)
Once the finite element model is established - ie the continuum is idealised by elements, and
discretised by nodal point unknowns and interpolation functions-, we can determine the
relationship between unknown displacements and known forces at the nodes(= element
response) as:
{ } [ ]{ } u k f =

Eq. II-1
Where, [k] is the element stiffness matrix. There are three possible approaches to derive [k]:
a) Direct Approach:
intuitive, restricted to very simple elements (chapter II)
b) Variational Approach:
general and powerful for any type of problems possessing variational statements
(chapter III)
c) Weighted Residual Methods:
applicable to any type of differential problems (chapter VII)
Step 4: ASSEMBLY OF ELEMENT STIFFNESSES
TO DISCRETISE THE WHOLE CONTINUUM
Assembly is performed according to the <<nodal principles of discretisation>> within the
scope of the direct approach:
Condition (1): Compatibility
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INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

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1 2
3
4
[1]
v
(3)
v
<i>
<i>
system
node
u
<i>
[2]
v
(1)
[2]
u
(1)
1
2
3 4
Element [2] Element [1]
X
Y
0,0

Figure II-3 Compatibility of Nodal Displacements
Hence:

= =
= =
> <
> <
i
i
v v v
u u u
) 1 ( ] 2 [ ) 3 ( ] 1 [
) 1 ( ] 2 [ ) 3 ( ] 1 [

Eq. II-2
Notation: [i] element i
(i) element node i
<i> common (global) system node i
Remark:
The compatibility of nodal displacements does not imply that there is compatibility
between the elements (edges). No overlapping or gaps between elements are
allowed!
overlapping
gap

Figure II-4 Element overlapping and gap
Condition (2): Equilibrium of nodal forces
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INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

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1 2
3
4
[1]
f
y
(3)
[1]
f
x
(3)
F
y
<i>
F
x
<i>
[2]
f
y
(1)
[2]
f
x
(1)
1
2
3 4
Element [2] Element [1]
X
Y
0,0
External forces on
system node <i>
[2]
f
y
(1)
[2]
f
x
(1)
[1]
f
y
(3)
[1]
f
x
(3)

Figure II-5 Equilibrium of nodal forces
Hence

+ =
+ =
> <
> <
) 1 ( ] 2 [ ) 3 ( ] 1 [
) 1 ( ] 2 [ ) 3 ( ] 1 [
y y
i
y
x x
i
x
f f F
f f F

Eq. II-3
Applying these two conditions we end up with the equations for the whole system:
[ ]{ } { } F U K =

Eq. II-4
Where, [K] is the overall or global system stiffness matrix, {U}={u
<1>
u
<2>
}
T
and
{F}={F
<1>
F
<2>
}
T
.
Step 5: INTRODUCE BOUNDARY CONDITIONS
The equations of the assemblage do not involve any B.C., therefore the global stiffness matrix
in Eq. II-4 is SINGULAR (rigid body motions are still included).
After the introduction of B.C.s (ie, known external forces and known displacements) Eq. II-4
reduces to:
[ ]{ } { } F U K =
unknown known

Eq. II-5
Step 6: SOLUTION OF THE SYSTEM OF EQUATIONS
Using numerical methods Eq. II-5 is solved for the unknown displacements as:
Australian Defence Force Academy
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INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

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{ } [ ] { } F K U
1
=

Eq. II-6
Step 7: COMPUTE STRAINS AND STRESSES
With the known displacements, we are now able to compute the dependent variables such as
strains and stresses in the element.

CONCLUSION
By using many simple elements, we describe approximately the complex
geometry and response of the continuum (system) on behalf of introducing many
unknowns.
Australian Defence Force Academy
School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

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2.2 Linear Spring System
The linear system shown in Figure II-6 is one of the most elementary systems that we can
consider from a FEM viewpoint. We have two springs connected in series in the x coordinate
direction. One end of the compound spring is fixed while the other end is free to move. Both
springs are capable of either tension or compression. The only parameters in this system are
forces, displacements and spring stiffnesses. In this case, the discretisation is almost self
imposed; each spring will be defined as an element. The resulting FEM model will comprise 2
elements and 3 nodes. The nodes are the points of connection where forces can be transmitted
and displacements can exist.
Linear Spring System
x
k
2
k
1
F
A C B

Figure II-6 A simple linear spring system
Given: k
1
=100 N/mm, k
2
=50 N/mm, F=1000 N
B
, u
C
and F
A

Preliminary observations:
1. It is a natural discrete system,
2. Natural idealisation is supplied,
3. System is linear and one-dimensional.
Step 1: Idealisation
Inherently given by the system as:
A C B
Element [1] Element [2]

Figure II-7 Idealised system
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Step 2: Discretisation
Also inherently supplied:
1 2
[1]
f
(2) [1]
f
(1)
[1]
u
(1) [1]
u
(2)
[2]
f
(2) [2]
f
(1)
[2]
u
(1) [2]
u
(2)
1 2
[1]
k=k
1
[2]
k=k
2
Figure II-8 Discretised system

Elements: two-degree-of-freedom (u
(1)
, u
(2)
)
Nodes: single-degree-of-freedom (u)
Step 3: Element Stiffnesses (Direct Approach)
Consider the free body diagram of a general element:
1 2
f
(2)
f
(1)
u
(1)
u
(2)
k

Figure II-9 Free body diagram of a general element
From statics and Hooks Law, we know that:
a)
) 2 ( ) 1 (
f f =

b)
) (
) 2 ( ) 1 ( ) 1 (
u u k u k f = =

Hence, for a general element [e]:

+ =
=
) 2 ( ) 1 ( ) 2 (
) 2 ( ) 1 ( ) 1 (
u k u k f
u k u k f

Eq. II-7
Or in matrix form:
{ } [ ] { }
1 2
] [
2 2
] [
1 2
] [

= u k f
e e e

Eq. II-8
Where,
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INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

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{ } { }
[ ]

=
k k
k k
k k
k k
k
u
u
u
f
f
f
e
e e
22 21
12 11 ] [
) 2 (
) 1 (
] [
) 2 (
) 1 (
] [
and ,

In the direct approach, the component k
ij
of the elemental stiffness matrix can be interpreted
as influence coefficients. For example, k
ij
is the force (response) of the element at the i
th

node if the displacement at the j
th
node is unity and remaining displacements are zero.
Hence, we obtain for the elements:

Element [1]
{ } { } u k f
] 1 [
1
] 1 [
1 1
1 1

=

Element [2]

{ } { } u k f
] 2 [
2
] 2 [
1 1
1 1

=

Step 4: Assembly
a) Condition of compatibility (interconnectivity):
System nodes:
<1> <3> <2>
Element [1] Element [2]
System
node
1 2 1 2

Figure II-10 Interconnectivity
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Hence:
Table II-1 Correspondence between local
and global numbering schemes for Figure II-10
Element # Local node # System node #
(1) <1> 1
(2) <2>
(1) <2> 2
(2) <3>

So,
[1]
u
(1)
= u
<1>
,
[1]
u
(2)
=
[2]
u
(1)
= u
<2>
,
[2]
u
(2)
= u
<3>

4 unknowns are reduced to 3!
b) Condition of nodal force equilibrium:
> < > < > <
=
> < > <
= = =

2
1
1
1
1 ] 1 [
1
1
1 ] [ 1
u k u k f f F
i
i

> < > < > <
> < > <
=
> < > <
+ + =
+ = =

3
2
2
2 1
1
1
1 ] 2 [ 2 ] 1 [
2
1
2 ] [ 2
) ( u k u k k u k
f f f F
i
i

> < > < > <
=
> < > <
= = =

3
2
2
2
3 ] 1 [
1
1
3 ] [ 3
u k u k f f F
i
i

Or, in matrix notation:

> <
> <
> <
> <
> <
> <
3
2
1
2 2
2 2 1 1
1 1
3
2
1
0
) (
0
u
u
u
k k
k k k k
k k
F
F
F

or:
{ } [ ]{ } U K F =

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Remarks:
1) [K] is the exact stiffness matrix
Therefore, some people argue that this is not an actual FE-application.
2) An alternative procedure to obtain the overall stiffness matrix [K] is to rewrite
the elemental expressions in blown-up form:
{ }

> <
> <
> <

3
2
1
1 1
1 1
) 2 ( ] 1 [
) 1 ( ] 1 [
] 1 [ ] 1 [
0 0 0
0
0
0 u
u
u
k k
k k
f
f
u k f

{ }

> <
> <
> <

3
2
1
2 2
2 2
) 2 ( ] 2 [
) 1 ( ] 2 [
] 2 [ ] 2 [
0
0
0 0 0 0
u
u
u
k k
k k
f
f u k f

Therefore,
{ } { } { } u k u k f f F

=

] 2 [ ] 1 [ ] 2 [ ] 1 [

or:
{ }
[ ]
{ } u k k F
K
|
|
|
|

'

=

] 2 [ ] 1 [

This method will prove itself very useful for understanding the construction of [K] using
variational methods.
Step 5: Introduce Boundary Conditions
The boundary conditions are given as follows:
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INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

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Node <1>: u
<1>
=0 (displacement specified)
Node <2>: F
<2>
=0 (force specified)
Node <3>: F
<3>
=1000 N (force specified)
Remark:
At any node, either the displacement or the force must be known.
NEVER BOTH, NEVER NONE!!!!
The system of equations are now:
mm
u
u
mm
N
N
F

> <
> <
> <
3
2
1
0
50 50 0
50 150 100
0 100 100
1000
0

Or, after relevant rows and columns
mm
u
u
mm
N
N
)
`

'

=
)
`

'
> <
> <
3
2
50 50
50 150
1000
0

Step 6: Solve for Unknown Displacements
Solution of the reduced set of equations yields:
u
<2>
=10 mm and u
<3>
=30 mm
Step 7: Solve for Unknown Forces
By using the deleted row of step 5 we find
F
<1>
=-1000 N as it should be in equilibrium.
2.3 Assembly Procedure in Detail
After obtaining the individual elemental stiffness matrices, it is essential to assemble them to
obtain the global stiffness matrix. The first obstacle in achieving this is the difference in size
of the elemental stiffness matrices and the global stiffness matrix. The size of each elemental
stiffness matrix depends on the total DOF of each element. Each node can have more than one
DOF, whereas in structural mechanics this is limited to 6 (3 displacements and 3 rotations).
Therefore, the total DOF of an element is equal to:
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( ) ( ) ( ) NODE each at DOF of # NODES of # DOF of # TOTAL =

Since a system will have more than one element, the total number of nodes will be greater that
the number of nodes in a single element. This brings the necessity of keeping track of the
interconnectivity information in a very systematic way in order to build the larger global
stiffness matrix starting from the smaller elemental stiffness matrices.
2.3.1 The Interconnectivity Table
The interconnectivity table will contain the correspondence between local and global
numbering schemes. Consider the following interconnectivity table:
Element # Local node # System node #
(1) <1> 1
(2) <2>
(1) <1> 2
(2) <3>
(1) <2> 3
(2) <3>
(1) <3> 4
(2) <4>
2.3.2 Blown-up or Expanded Stiffness Matrix
Once the interconnectivity (or look-up) table is set up, obtaining the blown-up form of the
individual elemental stiffness matrices is only a matter of labelling the rows and column of
these matrices according to this look-up table:
Element #1:
[ ]
> <
> <

=
2
1
2 1
1 1
1 1
1
k k
k k
k

> <
> <
> <
> <

4
3
2
1
0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
0 0
0 0
1 1
1 1
1
4 3 2 1
k k
k k
k

Element #2:
[ ]
> <
> <

=
3
1
3 1
2 2
2 2
2
k k
k k
k

> <
> <
> <
> <

## > < > < > < > <

4
3
2
1
0 0 0 0
0 0
0 0 0 0
0 0
2 2
2 2
2
4 3 2 1
k k
k k
k

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Element #3
[ ]
> <
> <

=
3
2
3 2
3 3
3 3
3
k k
k k
k

> <
> <
> <
> <

4
3
2
1
0 0 0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0 0 0
3 3
3 3
3
4 3 2 1
k k
k k
k

Element #4
[ ]
> <
> <

=
4
3
4 3
4 4
4 4
4
k k
k k
k

> <
> <
> <
> <

## > < > < > < > <

4
3
2
1
0 0
0 0
0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
4 4
4 4
4
4 3 2 1
k k
k k
k

The global stiffness matrix is obtained by adding all the individual blown-up elemental
stiffness matrices:
[ ]

+ +
+
+
=

4 4
4 4 3 2 3 2
3 3 1 1
2 1 2 1
4
1
0 0
0
0
k k
k k k k k k
k k k k
k k k k
k K
e
e

2.4 Introducing the Boundary Conditions
Regardless of the type of problem for which a set of system equations has been assembled, the
final equations will have the form
[ ]{ } { }
1 1
=
n n n n
F x K

Eq. II-9
The boundary conditions involving specified external or applied nodal actions are already
taken into account during the assembly. However, for a unique solution of Eq. II-9, at least
one and sometimes more than one nodal variable must be specified and [K] must be modified
to render it non-singular. The physics of the problem dictates the required number of specified
nodal variables. Nodal variables may be specified for either interior or boundary nodes, but
for nodes whose coordinates are fixed, it is physically impossible to specify both displacement
and force at the same time. However, at every node we know either the displacement or the
force. The application of the boundary conditions effectively reduces the number of equations
to be solved. However, to avoid major rearrangement of the equations, it is most convenient to
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introduce the known variables in a way that leaves the original number of equations
unchanged.
One way to include prescribed nodal variables in Eq. II-9 while retaining its original nn
arrangement is to modify the matrices [K] and {F} as follows.
If i is the subscript of a prescribed nodal variable, the i-th row and the i-th column of [K]
are set equal to zero and K
ii
is set to unity.
The term F
i
of the column vector {F} is replaced by the known value of x
i
, which is
i
.
Each of the n-1 remaining terms of {F} is modified by subtracting from it the value of the
prescribed nodal variable multiplied by the appropriate column term from the original [K]
matrix. This procedure is repeated for each prescribed x
i
until all of them have been
included.
This procedure can be illustrated by considering a simple example with only four system
equations:

4
3
2
1
4
3
2
1
44 43 42 41
34 33 32 31
24 23 22 21
14 13 12 11
F
F
F
F
x
x
x
x
K K K K
K K K K
K K K K
K K K K

Suppose that for this hypothetical system, nodal variables x
1
and x
3
are specified as
x
1 1
=
,
x
3 3
=

When these boundary conditions are inserted, the equations become
1 0 0 0
0 0
0 0 1 0
0 0
22 24
42 44
1
2
3
4
1
2 21 1 23 3
3
4 41 1 43 3
K K
K K
x
x
x
x
R K K
R K K

This set of equations, unaltered in dimension, is now ready to be solved for all the nodal
variables. The solution yields x
1
=
1
and x
3
=
3
along with the actual unknowns, x
2
and x
4
.
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2.5 Simple Elements from Structural Mechanics
The idea of modelling a structure as a series of finite elements began as an extension of the
traditional methods used for analysing framed structures such as trusses and bridges. These
structures consist of bars in the form of spars or ribs that are distinct parts interconnected only
at certain points where forces can be transmitted. To find the force-deflection characteristics
or the stiffness of a complete framed structure, first the stiffness of its individual components
is determined, and the method originally used is now known as the direct stiffness method. To
illustrate the direct stiffness method the stiffness matrices for two simple elements, a pin-
connected bar element and a triangular element for a thin plate will be derived.
The simplest type of truss element is a pin-connected bar. It provides a good starting point to
illustrate how the direct method is used to calculate the stiffness matrix of a structural
element. Consider the pin-connected truss member and coordinate system shown in Figure
II-11
2.5.1 A Truss Element (2-D)
This element has two DOFs at each node unlike the spring element with only one DOF at each
node. In total, the element has four DOFs and we will need as many equations to describe its
force-deflection characteristics. In matrix notation these equation will be in the standard form:

y
x
F
4
,
4

L
A = Cross-sectional
AE = Youngs Modulus

L
2
Node 1
Node 2

3 33 3
=0 =0 =0 =0
(a)
F
3
,
3
(x
2
, y
2
)
(x
1
, y
1
)
F
1
,
1
F
2
,
2

4 44 4
=0 =0 =0 =0
L
2
=sin( )

1 11 1
=0 =0 =0 =0

2 22 2
=1 =1 =1 =1 (b)

Figure II-11 A pin-connected truss element with forces and displacements defined at its
nodes. (a) A truss element and an assigned coordinate system. (b) Element configuration
for
2
=1,
1
=
3
=
4
= 0.
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K K K K
K K K K
K K K K
K K K K
u
v
u
v
F
F
F
F
11 12 13 14
21 22 23 24
31 32 33 34
41 42 43 44
1
1
2
2
1
2
3
4

Eq. II-10
or
[ ]{ } { }
K F =

Eq. II-11
where
{ }

=

1
2
3
4
1
1
2
2
u
v
u
v

Eq. II-12
We know that K
ij
is the force required at coordinate i to produce a unit deflection at coordinate
j. If we assume that when the beam is displaced at its ends, its change in length is small
compared to its initial length, and that its angle of inclination remains essentially the same.
Then we may apply linear theory to relate forces and displacements. From elementary
strength of materials, the axial tensile force necessary to elongate the beam by an amount L
is given by
F
A E
L
L =

Eq. II-13
Then the compression force required to shorten the element by L
2
is
= ( / ) ( / ) sin A E L L A E L
2

Eq. II-14
The reaction components of this force in the x and y directions are the stiffness coefficients
K
12
and K
22
, respectively:
K
A E
L
12
=

sin cos

Eq. II-15
K
A E
L
22
=

sin sin

Eq. II-16
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The other two coefficients in the second column are the reaction forces, which are equal in
magnitude but opposite in sign:
K
A E
L
32
=

sin cos

Eq. II-17
K
A E
L
42
=

sin sin

Eq. II-18
The remaining of the coefficients are calculated in a similar manner to form a symmetric
matrix:
[ ]

=

2 2
2 2
2 2
2 2
sin sin cos sin sin cos
sin cos cos sin cos cos
sin sin cos sin sin cos
sin cos cos sin cos cos
L
E A
K

where
L x x y y = + ( ) ( )
1 2
2
1 2
2

cos =
x x
L
2 1

sin =
y y
L
2 1

Eq. II-19
Example II-1:Numerical application
L
L
1.4142 L
30

100kN
F
v2
F
u2
F
v3
F
u3
u
1
v
1
2
2 1
3
1
(a) (b)

Figure II-12 A truss and its FE model. (a) Truss with applied loads. (b) FE model with
unknown displacements and reactions
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Table II-2 Element property for Figure II-12
Element # (A) (E) (L) Inclination ()
1 30 cm
2
200 GPa 2 m 0
2 40 cm
2
70 GPa 2.83 m 135
Using Eq. II-19, we compute the element stiffness matrices in local coordinates:

Element 1:
[ ] m N
v
u
v
u
k /
0 0 0 0
0 1 0 1
0 0 0 0
0 1 0 1
10 300
1
1
2
2
6
1

=

Element 2:
[ ] m N
v
u
v
u
k /
1 1 1 1
1 1 1 1
1 1 1 1
1 1 1 1
10
2
94 . 98
3
3
1
1
6
2

=

Note that the extra column showing the local numbering scheme is included for clarity
purposes to help building the expanded element matrices.
The respective expanded element matrices in global numbering scheme are then:
m N
v
u
v
u
v
u
k / 10
0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 300 0 300
0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 300 0 300
6
3
3
2
2
1
1
1

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m N
v
u
v
u
v
u
k / 10
47 . 49 47 . 49 0 0 47 . 49 47 . 49
47 . 49 47 . 49 0 0 47 . 49 47 . 49
0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0
47 . 49 47 . 49 0 0 47 . 49 47 . 49
47 . 49 47 . 49 0 0 47 . 49 47 . 49
6
3
3
2
2
1
1
2

The next step is to obtain the global stiffness matrix by adding the individual expanded
element matrices:
[ ]

=

k k K
2 1

Referring to Figure II-12.b, we list the knowns and unknowns:

= = = = = = = u v u v u v
1 1 2 2 3 3
0 0 0 0 ? ?

F F F F F F F
u v u v u v
= = = = = = =
1 1 2 2 3 3
50 866 0 0 0 0 .

Thus we can write the system equation as
300 49 47 49 47 300 0 49 47 49 47
49 47 49 47 0 0 49 47 49 47
300 0 300 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0
49 47 49 47 0 0 49 47 49 47
49 47 49 47 0 0 49 47 49 47
0
0
0
0
50
866
1
1
2
2
3
3
+

. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
.
u
v
F
F
F
F
u
v
u
v

or
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[ ] [ ]
[ ] [ ]
K K
K K
u
v
F
F
F
F
u
v
u
v
11 12
21 22
1
1
0
0
0
0
50
866
2
2
3
3

'

'

'

'

.

The segregation of the equations allows us to solve for the unknown displacements without
running into the trouble of adjusting the total stiffness matrix to incorporate the boundary
conditions:
[ ]
K
u
v
11
1
1
50
866

.

[ ]
u
v
K
1
1
11
1
50
866

.

F
F
F
F
u
v
u
v
u
v
2
2
3
3
300 0
0 0
49 47 49 47
49 47 49 47
1
1

. .
. .

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Chapter III: DESCRIPTION OF A PHYSICAL PROBLEM
Problems in engineering and science can be formulated in two different ways.
3.1.1 Lagrangian Description
The aim of this method is to follow an identified particle in space in the course of time.
z x
y
t=0
t=t
P[x
p
(t=0),y
p
(t=0),z
p
(t=0),t=0]
P[x
p
(t),y
p
(t),z
p
(t),t]

Figure III-1
The coordinates are then functions of time which is the only independent variable. This is the
basis for Newtonian mechanics.
3.1.2 Eulerian Description
In this description, the material is in the form of continuum.
z
x
y
t=0
P
0
[x
0
,y
0
,z
0
,t=0]
x
0
z
0
y0
z
x
y
t=t
P
0
[x
0
,y
0
,z
0
,t]
x
0
z
0
y0

Figure III-2
Then all properties are characterised as field quantities and they are defined at each point in
space. The attention is focused to a certain point in space and the variation of the properties at
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that point is considered. Some examples for field properties are temperature, stress, mass
concentration and displacement.
3.2 Stress and Equilibrium
Points in a three-dimensional body are located by x,y and z coordinates. The deformation of a
point p(x,y,z) is given by the three components of its displacement:

=
w
v
u
u

Eq. III-1

Any body force per unit volume can be represented by the vector f given by its components:

=
z
y
x
f
f
f
f

Eq. III-2

Any external forces acting on the body can be expressed as a traction given by its component
values at points of the surface:

=
z
y
x
T
T
T
T

Eq. III-3

The stresses acting in on an elemental volume dV can be represented by:

=
xy
xz
yz
z
y
x

Eq. III-4

Recall equilibrium condition from solid mechanics; the sum of the forces in all directions
should be zero. Note that dV=dx dy dz and the force (shear or normal) is equal to stress (shear
or normal) multiplied by dA.
The sum of the forces in the x-direction is then:
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0 = +

+ +

+ +

+
dxdydz f dxdy dzdxdy
z
dxdy
dxdz dydxdz
y
dxdz
dydz dxdydz
x
dydz
x xz
xz
xz
xy
xy
xy
x
x
x

Eq. III-5
Similarly in the y and z directions lead to the following set after simplification and
factorisation of the dV=dx dy dz term:
0
0
0
= +

= +

= +

z
z
yz
xz
y
yz y xy
x
xz
xy
x
f
z y x
f
z y x
f
z y x

Eq. III-6

Figure III-3 Equilibrium of elemental volume
3.3 Boundary Conditions (BCs)
Consider the equilibrium of an elemental tetrahedron ABCD sitting on a triad formed by the
x,y and z axes, shown in Figure III-4. With n=[n
x
,n
y
,n
z
]
T
as the unit normal to dA, then area
BDC=n
x
y
dA, and area ADB=n
z
dA. Writing the equilibrium equation along
each axis:
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dA T dA n dA n dA n
dA T dA n dA n dA n
dA T dA n dA n dA n
z z z y yz x xz
y z yz y y x xy
x z xz y xy x x
= + +
= + +
= + +

Eq. III-7

Factorising dA:
z z z y yz x xz
y z yz y y x xy
x z xz y xy x x
T n n n
T n n n
T n n n
= + +
= + +
= + +

Eq. III-8

Figure III-4 Elemental tetrahedron at surface
3.4 Strain-Displacement Relations
Strains are represented in vector form, similar to the stresses in Eq. III-4,

=
xy
xz
yz
z
y
x

Eq. III-9
z y x , ,

z y x , ,

## are the engineering shear strains.

For small deformations, the strains can be expressed in terms of the deformations with the
following relations:
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=
x
v
y
u
x
w
z
u
y
w
z
v
z
w
y
v
x
u
xy
xz
yz
z
y
x

Eq. III-10

Figure III-5 Deformed elemental surface
3.5 Stress-Strain Relations
Linear elastic materials obey the stress-strain relations derived from the generalised Hookes
law. The material properties for isotropic materials are Youngs modulus E and Poissons
ratio . For an elemental cube inside the body, Hookes law gives:
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G
G
G
E E E
E E E
E E E
xy
xy
xz
xz
yz
yz
z
y
x
x
z
y
x
x
z
y
x
x

=
=
=
+ =
+ =
=

Eq. III-11

3.6 Mathematical Formulation of Continuous Systems
Continuum problems are usually represented by differential equations. To solve these
equations, a classification is necessary. Consider the following second order differential
equation:
A x y
u
x
B x y
u
x y
C x y
u
y
D x y u
u
x
u
y
( , ) ( , ) ( , ) ( , , , , )

2
2
2 2
2
2 + + =

Eq. III-12
which may be linear or nonlinear depending on D with u being the static variable or
dependent variable.

If B
2
-AC<0 ELLIPTIC
If B
2
-AC=0 PARABOLIC
If B
2
-AC>0 HYPERBOLIC
In elliptic problems, the unknown static variable must be specified at all boundaries. Then the
problem is defined by CLOSED BOUNDARIES. Known as Boundary Value problems.
x
y
u(x,y)
BC is known
BC is known
BC is known
BC is known

Therefore, the solution at a general interior point is affected from all points in the boundary.
The parabolic or hyperbolic problems usually include time as the independent variable and
they involve wave propagation problems. They are known as initial value problems.
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The solution at an interior point is dependent on the boundary conditions, on a part of
boundary, and also on the initial conditions at the interior points.
x
y
u(x,y)
BC must be
known
BC must be
known
BC must be
known

The differential equations may be derived either by applying THE DIRECT METHOD
(DIFFERENTIAL APPROACH) or by VARIATIONAL METHODS.
3.6.1 The Direct Method (Differential Approach)
In this approach, the basic equations are applied to a differential element.
Example III-1: HYPERBOLIC EQUATION (Wave Equation)
The rod which is shown in the figure is initially at rest when a load R
0
(t) is applied at its free
end. Find the differential equation an the related BCs.

A
x
A dx A Adx
u
t
+ = ( )
2
2

x
u
t
=
2
2
Recalling Hooks Law:

= E
u
x

Where E is the Youngs modulus.
A

A
x
A dx + ( )
dx
x
u
R
0
(t)
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E
u
x
u
t

2
2
2
2
=

with the initial conditions:
u x t ( , ) = = 0 0

u
x
x t ( , ) = = 0 0

with the boundary conditions:
u x t ( , ) = = 0 0

u
x
x L t
R t
AE
( , )
( )
= =
0

Consider a variable area bar which is fixed at one end (x=0) and it is exposed to a load of
R=1000N at the free end (x=2m). Find the governing differential equation and the related
BCs:

A
x
A dx A + = ( ) 0

x
A ( ) = 0

From Hooks Law:

= E
u
x

x
E
u
x
A ( ) = 0

with the boundary conditions:
u x ( ) = = 0 0

u
x
x
R
AE
( ) = = 200

A
x
= + ( . ) 0 01
100
2
x
R=1000N
2m

A
x
A dx + ( ) A
dx
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3.7 Some Methods for the Solution of Continuum Problems
There are several methods available for solving linear or non-linear boundary value problems
ranging from completely analytical to completely numerical.
1. DIRECT INTEGRATION (Exact Solutions)
a) Separation of variables
b) Similarity solutions
c) Fourier and Laplace solutions
2. APPROXIMATE METHODS
a) Perturbation
b) Power series
c) Method of Weighted Residuals
d) Finite difference techniques
e) Probability schemes
f) Ritz Method
g) Finite Element Method (FEM)
3.8 Direct Integration
Example III-2
Solve the differential equation, which is derived in Example III-1

E=100 GPa

SOLUTION:
d
dx
EA
du
dx

= 0 with B.C.
u = 0 at x = 0
A
x
= + ( . ) 0 01
100
2
x
R=9000N
2m

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( )
du
dx
R
AE
= =
+
=
9000
0 01 0 02 10
0 0001
2
11
. .
. at x m = 2
Integrating once: EA
du
dx
C =
1

du
dx
C
E
x
=
+

1
2
0 01
100
.

Now let z
x
= + 0 01
100
. dz
dx
=
100
du
C dz
Ez
=
100
1
2

Integrating twice: u
C
Ez
C
C
E
x
C = + =
+

+
100 100
0 01
100
1
2
1
2
.

Applying the second B.C.:
du
dx
C
E
x
=
+

=
1
2
0 01
100
0 0001
.
. C
1
9000 =
u
E
x
C
E
x
C =

+

+ =

+

+
100 9000
0 01
100
9 10
001
100
2
5
2
. .

Applying the first B.C.:
C
2
0 0009 = .
u x
x
( )
.
=

+

+

9 10
10 001
100
9 10
5
11
4

u x
x
x
( ) =

+

9 10
1
4

3.9 Ritz Method
The basic step in this method is to assume a solution of the form:
= + + + =
=

a f a f a f a f
n n i i
i
n
1 1 2 2
1
...

where f
i
s are linearly independent trial solutions and a
i
s are the parameters to be determined
in the solution.
If is the functional of a C
m-1
variational problem, then in the Ritz method the trial function
is substituted into . Then is rendered stationary as

a
i
= 0 for i=1,2,...,n
An important feature of Ritz trial functions is that they have to satisfy only the essential
boundary condition since the natural boundary condition is already contained in .
0.00
0.10
0.20
0.30
0.40
0.50
0.60
X[m]
u-exact
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Apply the Ritz method to find an approximate solution for the displacements in Example III-2
A
x
= + ( . ) 0 01
100
2
x
R=9000N
2m
E=100 GPa
SOLUTION:
The functional governing the problem is
=

1
2
0
2
EA
du
dx
dx u R
L
L
with the B.C. u(0)=0
Now assume a trial function of the form
u a x a x a f a f = + = +
1 2
2
1 1 2 2

Each of these functions f
1
=x and f
2
=x
2
satisfy the essential B.C. at x=0
x a a
dx
u d
2 1
2 + =

( ) ( ) = +

+ +

1
2
001
100
2 9000 2 4
2
1 2
2
0
1 2
E
x
a a x dx a a
L
.
( ) ( ) = + +

+ + +

1
2
0 0001 2 10
10000
4 4 9000 2 4
4
2
1
2
1 2 2
2 2
0
1 2
E x
x
a a a x a x dx a a
L
.
Let b=0.0001 , c=0.0002 and d=10000
( )
( )
= + + + + +
|
\

| + +
|
\

| +

]
]
]
+

1
2
4 4 4 4
4 4
9000 2 4
1
2
1 2 1
2
2
2
1 2
1
2
2
2
2 1 2 3 2
2
4
0
1 2
E ba a a b ca x a b ca a
a
d
x ca
a a
d
x
a
d
x dx
a a
L
( ) ( ) = + + + + +

|
.
| + +

|
.
| +

+
10
2
4
2
4 4
3
4
5
9000 2 4
11
1
2
1 2 1
2
2
2
2
1 2
1
2 3
2
2 1 2 4 2
2 5
0
2
1 2
ba x a a b ca
x
a b ca a
a
d
x
ca
a a
d
x
a
d
x
a a

= + + + + +
+ + +
a a a a a a a
a a a a a a a
1
2 7
1 2
7
1
2 7
2
2 7
1 2
8
1
2 7
2
2 7
1 2
7
2
2 8
1 2
10 4 10 2 10 5333 10 1067 10
1333 10 8 10 8 10 128 10 18000 36000
. .
. .

= + + a a a a a a
1
2 7
1 2
8
2
2 8
1 2
4 333 10 2 267 10 3413 10 18000 36000 . . .

a
a a
1
1
7
2
8
8 667 10 2 267 10 18000 0 = + = . .

a
a a
2
1
8
2
8
2 267 10 6827 10 36000 0 = + = . .

a a
1
4
2
4
5299 10 1232 10 = =

. . and
2 4 4
10 232 . 1 10 299 . 5 ) ( x x x u

=

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3.10 The Method of Weighted Residuals
It is a method for finding approximate solutions for linear and nonlinear problems.
Consider the differential equation for the state variable .

g

Eq. III-13
where is a differential operator and g is a known function of independent variables.
In
d
dx
AE
du
dx

= 0
where
=

d
dx
AE
d
dx
,
= u
and
g = 0

The first step in the application is to assume an approximate solution as in the case of Ritz
method. The approximate solution must satisfy the governing differential equation and its
boundary conditions.

=
=

a f
i
i
n
i
1

Eq. III-14
If the approximate solution is substituted into the governing differential equation, then it will
result in an error called the RESIDUAL:

g R =

Eq. III-15

R a f g
i i
i
n
=

1

Eq. III-16

0.00
0.10
0.20
0.30
0.40
0.50
0.60
0.70
0.00 0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00
X[m]
u
[
m
m
]
u-exact
u-Ritz
x u-exact u-Ritz
0.00 0.00 0.00
0.25 0.18 0.12
0.50 0.30 0.23
0.75 0.39 0.33
1.00 0.45 0.41
1.25 0.50 0.47
1.50 0.54 0.52
1.75 0.57 0.55
2.00 0.60 0.57
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For EXACT solution, the residual should be zero at all points. For an approximate solution,
the residual should be small at all points of the solution domain.
Different WRM employ different criteria for the determination of a
i
so that a weighted
average of R vanishes.
(a) Galerkins method: In this technique a
i
s are obtained from
f RdD i n
i
D

= = 0 1 2 3 , , ,...,
where D is the domain
(b) Least Square Method: The residuals are minimised with respect to the parameters
as

a
R dD i n
i
D
2
0 1 2 3

= = , , ,...,

a
a f g dD
i
i i
i
n
D
=

|
\

|
.
|

=
1
2
0

a
a f g dD
i
i i
i
n
D
=

=
1
2
0

2 0
1 1

a
a f g a f g dD
i
D
i i
i
n
i i
i
n

= =
|
\

}
.
]

|
\

}
.
]

=

( ) f a f g dD
i
D
i i
i
n
R

|
\

|
.
|

=
=1
0
L M OO N OO

( ) f R dD i n
i
D

= = 0 1 2 , ,...,

(c) Collocation Method: In this method, the residual R is set to zero at n distinct
points of the solution domain giving n simultaneous equations for a
1
, a
2
, ..., a
n
.
(d) Subdomain method: The domain is subdivided into n subdomains and R is then
integrated over each subdomain and then set to zero for yielding n equations for a
1
,
a
2
, ..., a
n
.
In all these methods, the result is n simultaneous equations for n unknowns.
In the Galerkins method, the resulting coefficient matrix is symmetric positive and
definite if is a symmetric and positive definite operator.
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In the Least Square method, the coefficient matrix is always symmetric and positive
definite without depending on .
In Collocation and Subdomain method one may end up with an asymmetric coefficient
matrix.
Example III-3
Apply the Galerkins method to find an approximate solution to the displacements of Example
III-1 with the following displacement function assumption:
u a x a x a u a u = + = +
1 2
2
1 1 2 2

E=100Gpa
The governing differential equation is
d
dx
AE
du
dx

= 0
with the B.C.s
u x
du
dx
x m
R
AE
( )
( )
= =
= = =

=

0 0
2
9000
9 10
10
7
4

The residual is then

=
dx
du
AE
dx
d
RES
u
d
dx
AE
du
dx
dx i
i

= =

0
2
0 1 2 , Note that
d
dx
u AE
du
dx
du
dx
AE
du
dx
u
d
dx
AE
du
dx
i
i
i

= +

0
2
0
2
0
=

dx
dx
du
AE
dx
du
dx
dx
du
AE u
dx
d
i
i

u AE
du
dx
du
dx
AE
du
dx
dx
i
x
x
i
=
=
=

0
2
0
2
0

du
dx
AE
du
dx
dx u AE
du
dx
u AE
du
dx
i
i
x
i
x
0
2
0
0
9000
2
0

+ =
=
=
L M O N O
LMN

A
x
= + ( . ) 0 01
100
2
x
R=9000N
2m

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du
dx
AE
du
dx
dx u
i
i
x
0
2
2
9000 0

=
=
Now let u u x
i
= =
1

( ) 10 0 01
100
2 18000 0
11
2
1 2
0
2
+

+ =

.
x
a a x dx

( ) 10 0 0001 0 0002
10000
2 18000 0
11
2
1 2
0
2
+ +

+ =

. . x
x
a a x dx
( )( ) 100 100 200 100 2 18 0
2
1 2
0
2
+ + + =

x x a a x dx

( ) ( ) ( ) 100 100 200 100 2 100 200 100 18 0
1
2
2
2 3
0
2
a x x a x x x dx + + + + + =

## 100 100 100

100
3
100
400
3
50 18 0
1
2 3
2
2 3 4
0
2
a x x x a x x x
x
x
+ +
|
'

] + + +
|
'

=
=
=
8666667 226666 67 18 0
1 2
. . a a + = ...A

Now let u u x
i
= =
2
2

( ) 10 2 0 01
100
2 9000 0
11
2
1 2
0
2
2
2
+

+ =

=
x
x
a a x dx x
x
.

( ) 10 2 0 0001 0 0002
10000
2 36000 0
11
2
1 2
0
2
+ +

+ =

x x
x
a a x dx . .
( )( ) 100 2 100 200 100 2 36 0
2
1 2
0
2
+ + + =

x x x a a x dx

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( ) ( ) ( ) 0 36 200 400 200 2 200 400 200 100
2
0
4 3 2
2
3 2
1
= + + + + +

dx x x x a x x x a
100 100
400
3
50
400
3
200 80 36 0
1
2 3 4
2
3 4 5
0
2
a x x x a x x x
x
x
+ +
|
'

] + + +
|
'

=
=
=
226666 67 682666 67 36 0
1 2
. . a a + = ... B

Simultaneously solving A & B yields
a a
1
4
2
4
5299 10 1232 10 = =

. . and
The approximate solution is then
u x x x ( ) . . =

5299 10 1232 10
4 4 2

x u-exact u-Ritz u-Galerkin
0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
0.25 0.18 0.12 0.12
0.50 0.30 0.23 0.23
0.75 0.39 0.33 0.33
1.00 0.45 0.41 0.41
1.25 0.50 0.47 0.47
1.50 0.54 0.52 0.52
1.75 0.57 0.55 0.55
2.00 0.60 0.57 0.57
Displacement
0.00
0.10
0.20
0.30
0.40
0.50
0.60
0.70
0.00 0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00
X[m]
u
[
m
m
]
u-exact
u-Ritz
u-Galerkin
3.11 THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD (FEM)
The FEM is equivalent to Ritz method or Galerkins method of MWR since:
(i) They all use a set of trial functions for obtaining an approximate solution.
(ii) They all use linear combinations of these trial functions.

The major differences between FEM and Ritz or Galekins method is that:
(i) In Fem, the trial functions are not defined over the whole domain, therefore they
dont have to satisfy the boundary conditions. But they must possess some
continuity requirements.
(ii) In the Ritz and Galerkins method, the trial functions are defined for the whole
domain so that they can be used for relative simple geometries. The same
requirement also holds for FEM, but only for the element. Then, these elements
may be assembled to represent quite complex geometries.
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3.11.1 Definition of a Node and an Element
The basic idea behind FEM is to divide the solution domain into a number of subdomains,
which are known as the ELEMENTS.
The points at which two or more elements are connected are known as NODES. The finite
elements can be thought as elemental control volumes in space rather than the material
volume.
The trial functions, which are now defined over each element, are known as
INTERPOLATION FUNCTIONS, SHAPE FUNCTIONS or BASIS FUNCTIONS.
3.11.2 Requirements for interpolation (Basis) functions
The requirement for constructing finite element interpolation functions may be stated as
follows:
(i) In FEM, these interpolation functions may be defined piecewise over each element.
Moreover, they maybe chosen as simple polynomials of low degree.
(ii) These interpolation functions must have continuous partial derivatives up to one order
less than the highest order derivative functional or two orders less than the highest order
derivative in the differential equation so that the required order of the interpolation
function 2-2=0. Therefore the function itself must be continuous (COMPATIBILITY
REQUIREMENT)
(iii) The interpolation functions are chosen such that the parameters a
i
defining the
approximate solution has the values of the function at x=x
i

i i
x = ( )
(iv) All uniform states of and its partial derivatives up to the highest order appearing in
( ) should have representation in
e
when the element shrinks to zero in the limit
(COMPLETENESS CONDITION).
For the following discretisation with constant element length

N1 N2 N5 N4 N3
1 4 3 2
Domain

The approximate solution may be defined as
= + + + + N N N N N
1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5

where the interpolation functions N
i
are defined piecewise over the domain. Since each
interpolation function relates each node to the adjacent ones (nodes shared by the same
element), they are only defined across that element. So an interpolation function N
i
should be
zero at node i-1, increase to unity at node i and decrease back to zero at node i+1. Any
function meeting the above requirements can be chosen as interpolation function. Linear
interpolation functions would look as follows
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0
1
Node 1 Node 2 Node 3 Node 4 Node 5
N1

0
1
Node 1 Node 2 Node 3 Node 4 Node 5
N2
0
1
Node 1 Node 2 Node 3 Node 4 Node 5
N3
0
1
Node 1 Node 2 Node 3 Node 4 Node 5
N4
0
1
Node 1 Node 2 Node 3 Node 4 Node 5
N5

The interpolation functions are defined as:
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( )
N x
x x
x x
x x
h
x x x
x x
x x
x x
h
x x x
x x x x
i
i
i i
i
i
i i
i
i i
i
i
i i
i i
=

+
+
+
+
+
+
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1 1
0
for
for
for or }

where h x x
i i i
=
1
is the length of each element
Then the first derivatives are
( )
=

+ +
+
+
N x
x x h
x x x
x x h
x x x
x x x x
i
i i i
i i
i i i
i i
i i
1 1
1 1
0
1
1
1 1
1
1 1
for
for
for or }

For example for N
2

0
1
Node 1 Node 2 Node 3 Node 4 Node 5
N2

Node 1 Node 2 Node 3 Node 4 Node 5
N2'
1/hi
-1/hi

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3.11.3 FEM with Galerkins Technique
Example III-4
Apply the FEM with the Galerkins technique to find an approximate solution to the
displacements of Example III-1. Divide the domain into four equal elements.
E=100Gpa
N1 N2 N5 N4 N3

1

4

2

Recall the governing differential equation for the
problem.

d
dx
AE
du
dx

= 0
with the B.C.s
u x
du
dx
x m
R
AE
( )
( )
= =
= = =

=

0 0
2
9000
9 10
10
7
4

Assume the following trial function for the displacements:
u N x u N x u N x u N x u N x u = + + + +
1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

where N
i
(x) are the interpolation functions and u
1
,u
2
,...,u
5
are the displacements at nodes
1,2,...,5 respectively.
Now applying the Galerkins method:
N
d
dx
AE
du
dx
dx i
i
L
0
0 1 2 5

= = for , , ,

The above equation can be rewritten by applying chain rule:
N
d
dx
AE
du
dx
dx
d
dx
N AE
du
dx
dN
dx
AE
du
dx
i i
i

thus
d
dx
N AE
du
dx
dx
dN
dx
AE
du
dx
dx
i
L
i
L

=

0 0

on the other hand
du
dx
dN
dx
u
j
j
j
=
=

1
5

A
x
= + ( . ) 0 01
100
2
x
R=9000N
2m

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N AE
du
dx
N AE
du
dx
dN
dx
AE
dN
dx
u dx
i
x L
i
x
i
j
j
j
L
= =
=
=

0
1
5
0

taking the summation sign out of the integral:
N AE
du
dx
N AE
du
dx
AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
u dx
i
x L
i
x
i
j
j
L
j
= =
=
=

0 0
1
5

The above equation has a familiar form, which is actually:
{ }
[ ]{ }
F K u
i ij j
=

where
{ } F N AE
du
dx
N AE
du
dx
i i
x L
i
x
=
= =0
and
[ ]
K AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
dx
ij
i
j
L
=

0
Coefficient (Stiffness) Matrix
The stiffness matrix and the load vector are obtained by substituting the piecewise defined
interpolation functions and their derivatives.

(0 x 0.5) (0.5 x 1.0) (1.0 x 1.5) (1.5 x 2.0)
N
1
(0.5-x)/0.5 0 0 0
N
2
x/0.5 (1.0-x)/0.5 0 0
N
3
0 (x-0.5)/0.5 (1.5-x)/0.5 0
N
4
0 0 (x-1.0)/0.5 (2.0-x)/0.5
N
5
0 0 0 (x-1.5)/0.5
N
1

-1/0.5 0 0 0
N
2

1/0.5 -1/0.5 0 0
N
3

0 1/0.5 -1/0.5 0
N
4

0 0 1/0.5 -1/0.5
N
5

0 0 0 1/0.5
du
dx
u u
2 1
05

.

u u
3 2
05

.

u u
4 3
05

.

u u
5 4
05

.

K AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
dx E dx E
L
x
11
0
1 1
100
2
0
0 5
5
0 01
1
05
1
05
316667 10 = = +

=

( . )
. .
.
.

K AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
dx E dx E
L
x
12
0
1 2
100
2
0
0 5
5
0 01
1
05
1
05
316667 10 = = +

=

( . )
. .
.
.

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K AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
dx E dx E dx
K E
L
x x
22
0
2 2
100
2
0
0 5
100
2
0 5
1 0
22
5
0 01
1
05
1
05
0 01
1
05
1
05
93333 10
= = + + +

( . )
. .
( . )
. .
.
.
.
.
K AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
dx E dx E
L
x
23
0
2 3
100
2
0 5
1 0
5
0 01
1
05
1
05
616667 10 = = +

=

( . )
. .
.
.
.

K AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
dx E dx E dx
K E
L
x x
33
0
3 3
100
2
0 5
1 0
100
2
1 0
1 5
33
5
0 01
1
05
1
05
0 01
1
05
1
05
1633333 10
= = + + +

( . )
. .
( . )
. .
.
.
.
.
.
K AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
dx E dx E
L
x
34
0
3 4
100
2
1 0
1 5
5
0 01
1
05
1
05
1016667 10 = = +

=

( . )
. .
.
.
.
K AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
dx E dx E dx
K E
L
x x
44
0
4 4
100
2
1 0
1 5
100
2
1 5
2 0
44
5
0 01
1
05
1
05
0 01
1
05
1
05
2533333 10
= = + + +

( . )
. .
( . )
. .
.
.
.
.
.
K AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
dx E dx E
L
x
45
0
4 5
100
2
1 5
2 0
5
0 01
1
05
1
05
1516667 10 = = +

=

( . )
. .
.
.
.
K AE
dN
dx
dN
dx
dx E dx E
L
x
55
0
5 5
100
2
1 5
2 0
5
0 01
1
05
1
05
1516667 10 = = +

=

( . )
. .
.
.
.

[ ] K E =

316667 316667 0 0 0
316667 933333 616667 0 0
0 616667 1633333 1016667 0
0 0 1016667 2533333 1516667
0 0 0 1516667 1516667
10
5
. .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. .
F N AE
du
dx
N AE
du
dx
N
du
dx
x x
x
x
1 1
2 0
1
0
1
2 0
0
0 0 0 = = = =
= =
=
= .
.
since and
F N AE
du
dx
N AE
du
dx
N N
x x
x x
2 2
2 0
2
0
2
2 0
2
0
0 0 0 = = = =
= =
= =
.
.
since and
F N AE
du
dx
N AE
du
dx
N N
x x
x x
3 3
2 0
3
0
3
2 0
3
0
0 0 0 = = = =
= =
= =
.
.
since and
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F N AE
du
dx
N AE
du
dx
N N
x x
x x
4 4
2 0
4
0
4
2 0
4
0
0 0 0 = = = =
= =
= =
.
.
since and
F N AE
du
dx
N AE
du
dx
F
du
dx
F
AE
F
x x
x
x
5 5
2 0
5
0
2 0
2 0
1
5 9000
= = = =
=
= =
=
= .
.
.
since N and
5

{ }

=
9000
0
0
0
0
F

Knowing that u
1
=0, the first equation is meaningless which we discard by removing the first
row and column of [K] and the first row of {F}. The four equations for four unknowns
become
9333330 6166670 0 0
6166670 16333330 10166670 0
0 10166670 25333330 15166670
0 0 15166670 15166670
0
0
0
9000
2
3
4
5

u
u
u
u
when solved for displacements:

u
1
=0 mm , u
2
=0.28 mm , u
3
=0.43 mm , u
4
=0.52 mm , u
5
=0.58 mm

The piecewise interpolation functions are then

Domain [m] Interpolation Function [m]
0x0.5
u N u N u = +
1 1 2 2

u x x ( ) . =

56 10
4

0.5x1.0
u N u N u = +
2 2 3 3

u x x ( ) . = +

0 00013 3 10
4

1.0x1.5
u N u N u = +
3 3 4 4

u x x ( ) . . = +

0 00025 18 10
4

1.5x2.0
u N u N u = +
4 4 5 5

u x x ( ) . . = +

0 00034 12 10
4

Australian Defence Force Academy
School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
INTRODUCTION TO THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD

AMEC 3508 & AMEC 3706 by Murat TAHTALI.

49
Interpolation Functions
0.00
0.10
0.20
0.30
0.40
0.50
0.60
0.00 0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00
X[m]
u-FEM
N2
N3
N4
N5

x u-exact u-Ritz u-Galerkin u-FEM
0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
0.25 0.18 0.12 0.12 0.14
0.50 0.30 0.23 0.23 0.28
0.75 0.39 0.33 0.33 0.36
1.00 0.45 0.41 0.41 0.43
1.25 0.50 0.47 0.47 0.48
1.50 0.54 0.52 0.52 0.52
1.75 0.57 0.55 0.55 0.55
2.00 0.60 0.57 0.57 0.58
Displacement
0.00
0.10
0.20
0.30
0.40
0.50
0.60
0.70
0.00 0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00
X[m]
u
[
m
m
]
u-exact
u-Ritz
u-Galerkin
u-FEM