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Finite Element Analysis

Spring 2008

Office Hours:

Prof. Fengyan Li
Amos Eaton 332,, *3201
Tuesdays, Fridays, 12:00pm-1:50pm, Carnegie 101
Tuesdays, Thursdays, 3:00pm-4:00pm, or by appointment

MATH/CSCI-4800 or equivalent knowledge of numerical methods

1. To understand the mathematical aspects of the main components of finite element
methods (formulating the methods, assembling matrices for implementation,
finite element spaces, approximation theories, numerical integration, error
estimates: stability and accuracy, etc)
2. To implement finite element methods for model problems in science and
engineering: elliptic, parabolic, hyperbolic equations
3. To be able to interpret and comment on the numerical results
There is no required textbook for this course. The following is the list of references, and we will
use some of them for this course. References 1 & 4 are on reserve in RPI library; and you could
get the electronic copy of most of the selected chapters in reference 1, 3, 4 from the class
reserves in RPI library (if they are not there yet, check back later). And you can always contact
the instructor for any missing reference. On the course website, there will be a link for ongoing
topics and reference list which will be updated along the semester.

1. Numerical Solution of Partial Differential Equations by the Finite Element

method, Claes Johnson, Cambridge University Press (Chapter 0-5)
2. Finite Element Analysis, lecture notes by Dr. Joseph E. Flaherty
3. The Mathematical Theory of Finite Element Methods, Susanne C. Brenner, L.
Ridgway Scott, 2nd edition, Springer (Chapter 0-2, 10, 12).
4. The Finite Element Method for Elliptic Problems, Philippe G. Ciarlet, SIAM
(Chapter 3.1, 4.1 for approximation theory)
5. The Finite Element Method, linear static and dynamic finite element analysis,
Dover, Thomas J.R. Hughes
6. An Analysis of the Finite Element Method, Gilbert Strang and George J. Fix,
Wellesley-Cambridge Press
7. Lecture notes on Discontinuous Galerkin methods for convection-dominated
problems, Bernardo Cockburn

8. Additional reference: class notes or other references announced in class or

through course website
Contents: (topics tentatively to be covered)

Variational /weak
Finite element methods for elliptic equations:
formulation of the model problem, formulation of finite element methods, implementation,
relation with minimization problem, construction of finite elements and the approximation
theory, numerical integration, error estimate theory (energy norm, L2 norm), adaptivity,
variational crime (perturbations resulting from boundary approximation, numerical
integration, non-conforming finite elements); mixed finite element methods;
Finite element methods for parabolic and hyperbolic equations :
finite element formulation and/or discontinuous Galerkin methods;
Applications: heat conduction, wave propagation, solid and fluid mechanics etc

Homework Assignments and Exams:

Homework will be assigned regularly and will be collected within one or two
weeks. No late homework is accepted.

There is one in-class exam and one take-home final project. The in-class exam
will be on March 7, 2008. Except for unforeseen reasons, one must obtain
approval from the instructor in advance for missing the exam. The instructor
reserves the right to make change to the exam date if necessary.

No exemption will be granted for the exam and the final project.

Your final grade for this course is determined as follows: 45% from homework
assignments, 30% from the in-class exam, 25% from the take-home final
Academic Integrity:
Student-teacher relationships are built on trust. Acts, which violate this trust, undermine the
educational process. The Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities defines
various forms of Academic Dishonesty and you should make yourself familiar with these. In this
class, discussion is always encouraged, yet all assignments that are turned in for a grade must
represent your own work. In cases where help is received, or teamwork is allowed, a notation on
the assignment should indicate your collaboration. Submission of any assignment that is in
violation of this policy will result in a penalty of a significant reduction of the grade or no grade
for this assignment. If you have any question concerning this policy before submitting an
assignment, please ask for clarification.
Attendance policy:
Attendance is expected.

Programming assignments:
Programs could be written in Fortran, Matlab or in C/C++. There is no
formal tutorial lecture on programming languages during this course.
The structure of the programming work should consist of

Brief description of the problem

Results such as data organized in tables or plots. Try to avoid attaching large
set of data unless it is necessary.

Discussion, comments, explanation and conclusion on your numerical


Computer codes printouts. Program text is expected to be well structured

such that it is easy for others to read. Add extra notes if needed.