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Module 3: Element Properties

Lecture 4: Lagrange and Serendipity Elements

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In last lecture note, the interpolation functions are derived on the basis of assumed polynomial from
Pascals triangle for the filed variable. As seen, the inverse of the large matrix is quite cumbersome
if the element is of higher order.
3.4.1 Lagrange Interpolation Function
An alternate and simpler way to derive shape functions is to use Lagrange interpolation polynomials.
This method is suitable to derive shape function for elements having higher order of nodes. The
Lagrange interpolation function at node iis defined by

(x - x j ) = (x - x1 )(x - x2 )....(x - xi-1 )(x - xi+1 )....(x - xn )

(xi - x1 )(xi - x2 )....(xi - xi-1 )(xi - xi+1 )....(xi - xn )
j=1 (xi - x j )
ji
n

f i (x ) =

(3.4.1)
The function fi() produces the Lagrange interpolation function for i node, and j denotes
coordinate ofjth node in the element. In the above equation if we put = j, and j i, the value of the
function fi() will be equal to zero. Similarly, putting = i, the numerator will be equal to
denominator and hence fi() will have a value of unity.Since, Lagrange interpolation function for ith
node includes product of all terms except jthterm; for an element with n nodes, fi() will have n-1
degrees of freedom. Thus, for one-dimensional elements with n-nodes we can define shape function
th

as Ni (x) = f i (x) .
3.4.1.1Shape function for two node bar element
Consider the two node bar element discussed as in section 3.1.1. Let us consider the natural
coordinate of the center of the element as 0, and the natural coordinate of the nodes 1 and 2 are -1
and +1 respectively. Therefore, the natural coordinate at any point x can be represented by,

x=

2 ( x - x1 )
-1
l

Fig. 3.4.1 Natural coordinates of bar element

(3.4.2)

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The shape function for two node bar element as shown in Fig. 3.4.1 can be derived from eq.(3.4.1) as
follows:

(x - x 2 ) (x -1) 1
=
= (1 - x)
(x1 - x 2 ) -1 - (1) 2
(x - x1 ) (x + 1) 1
N 2 = f1 (x) =
=
= (1 + x)
(x 2 - x1 ) 1 - (1) 2

N1 = f1 (x) =

(3.4.3)

Fig.3.4.2 Shape functions for two node bar element

3.4.1.2 Shape function for three node bar element
For a three node bar element as shown in Fig.3.4.3, the shape function will be quadratic in nature.
These can be derived in the similar fashion using eq.(3.4.1) which will be as follows:
N1 (x) = f1 (x) =

(x - x2 )(x - x3 ) (x)(x -1) 1

=
= x (x -1)
(x1 - x2 )(x1 - x3 ) (-1)(-2) 2

N 2 (x ) = f 2 (x ) =

(x - x1 )(x - x3 ) (x + 1)(x -1)

=
= (1 - x 2 )
(1)(-1)
(x2 - x1 )(x2 - x3 )

N 3 (x ) = f 3 (x ) =

(x - x1 )(x - x2 ) (x + 1)(x) 1
=
= x (x + 1)
2
(2)(1)
(x3 - x1 )(x3 - x 2 )

(3.4.4)

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Fig.3.4.3 Quadratic shape functions for three node bar element

3.4.1.3 Shape function for two dimensional elements
We can derive the Lagrange interpolation function for two or three dimensional elements from one
dimensional element as discussed above. Those elements whose shape functions are derived from
the products of one dimensional Lagrange interpolation functions are called Lagrange elements. The
Lagrange interpolation function for a rectangular element can be obtained from the product of
appropriate interpolation functions in the direction [fi( )] and direction [fi()]. Thus,

(3.4.5)

The procedure is described in details in following examples.

Four node rectangular element
The shape functions for the four node rectangular element as shown in the Fig.3.4.4 can be derived
by applying eq.(3.4.3) eq.(3.4.5)which will be as follows.

N1 (x, h) = f1 (x)f1 (h) =

`

(x - x 2 ) ( h - h 2 )
(x1 - x 2 ) (h1 - h2 )

(x -1) (h -1) 1
=

= (1 - x)(1 - h)
-1 - (1) -1 - (1) 4

(3.4.6)

Similarly, other interpolation functions can be derived which are given below.

1
N 2 (x, h) = f 2 (x)f1 (h) = (1 + x)(1 - h)
4
1
N 3 (x, h) = f 2 (x)f 2 (h) = (1 + x)(1 + h)
4
1
N 4 (x, h) = f1 (x)f 2 (h) = (1 - x)(1 + h)
4

(3.4.7)

These shape functions are exactly same as eq.(3.3.13) which was derivedearlier by choosing
polynomials.

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Fig. 3.4.4Four node rectangular element

Nine node rectangular element
In a similar way, to the derivation of four node rectangular element, we can derive the shape
functions for a nine node rectangular element. In this case, the shape functions can be derived using
eq.(3.4.4) and eq.(3.4.5).

1
1
1
N1 (x, h) = f1 (x)f1 (h) = x(x -1) h(h -1) = xh(x -1)(h -1)
2
2
4

(3.4.8)
In a similar way, all the other shape functions of the element can be derived. The shape functions of
nine node rectangular element will be:

1
1
N1 = xh (x - 1)(h - 1),
N 2 = xh (x + 1)(h - 1)
4
4
1
1
N 3 = xh (x + 1)(h + 1),
N 4 = xh (x - 1)(h + 1)
4
4
1
1
N 5 = h (1 - x 2 )(h - 1),
N 6 = x (x + 1)(1 - h 2 )
2
2
1
1
N 7 = h (1 - x 2 )(h + 1),
N 8 = x (x - 1)(1 - h 2 )
2
2
2
N 9 = (1 - x )(1 - h 2 )

(3.4.9)

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Fig.3.4.5 Nine node rectangular element

Thus, it is observed that the two dimensional Lagrange element contains internal nodes (Fig. 3.4.6)
which are not connected to other nodes.

3.4.2 Serendipity Elements

Higher order Lagrange elements contains internal nodes, which do not contribute to the interelement connectivity. However, these can be eliminated by condensation procedure which needs
extra computation. The elimination of these internal nodes results in reduction in size of the element
matrices.Alternatively, one can develop shape functions of two dimensional elements which contain
nodes only on the boundaries. These elements are called serendipity elements (Fig. 3.4.7) and their
interpolation functions can be derived by inspection or the procedure described in previous lecture

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(Module 3, lecture 3). The interpolation function can be derived by inspection in terms of natural
coordinate system as follows:
(a) Linear element

1
Ni (x, h) = (1 + xxi )(1 + hhi )
4

(3.4.10)

(i)

For nodes at x = 1, h = 1

1
Ni (x, h) = (1 + xxi )(1 + hhi )(xxi + hhi -1)
4
(ii)

For nodes at x = 1, h = 0

1
Ni (x, h) = (1 + xxi )(1 - h2 )
2
(iii)

(3.4.11a)

(3.4.11b)

For nodes at x = 0, h = 1

Ni (x, h) =

1
1 - x 2 )(1 + hhi )
(
2

(3.4.11c)

(c) Cubic element

(i)

For nodes at x = 1, h = 1

(ii)

1
(1 + xxi )(1 + hhi ) 9(x 2 + h 2 ) - 10
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1
For nodes at x = 1, h =
3
9
N i (x, h) = (1 + xxi )(1 - h 2 )(1 + 9hhi )
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N i (x , h ) =

(3.4.12a)

(3.4.12b)

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Fig. 3.4.7 Two dimensional serendipity elements and Pascal triangle

Thus, the nodal conditions must be satisfied by each interpolation function to obtain the functions
serendipitously. For example, let us consider an eight node element as shown in Fig. 3.4.8 to derive
its shape function. The interpolation function N1 must become zero at all nodes except node 1, where
its value must be unity. Similarly, at nodes 2, 3, and 6, = 1, so including the term 1 satisfies the
zero condition at those nodes. Similarly, at nodes 3, 4 and 7, = 1 so the term 1 ensures the zero
condition at these nodes.

Fig. 3.4.8 Two dimensional eight node rectangular element

Again, at node 5, (, ) = (0, 1), and at node 8, (, ) = (1, 0). Hence, at nodes 5 and 8, the term (
+ + 1) is zero. Using this reasoning, the equation of lines are expressed in Fig. 3.4.9. Thus,

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theinterpolation function associated with node 1 is to be of the form N1 = y1 (h -1)(x -1)(x + h +1)
where, 1 is unknown constant. As the value of N1 is 1 at node 1, the magnitude unknown constant
1 will become -1/4. Therefore, the shape function for node 1 will become

1
N1 = - (1- h )(1- x )(x + h +1) .
4
Similarly, 2 will become -1/4 considering the value of N2 at node 2 as unity and the shape function
1
(1+ x )(1- h )(x - h -1) . In a similar
4
fashion one can find out other interpolation functions from Fig. 3.4.9 by putting the respective values
at various nodes. Thus, the shape function for 8-node rectangular element is given below.
for node 2 will be N2 = y2 (h -1)(x +1)(x - h -1) = -

Fig. 3.4.9 Equations of lines for two dimensional eight node element

1
1
N1 = - (1 - x)(1 - h)(1 + x + h),
N 5 = (1 - x 2 )(1 - h),
4
2
1
1
N 2 = - (1 + x)(1 - h)(1 - x + h),
N 6 = (1 + x)(1 - h2 ),
4
2
1
1
N 3 = - (1 + x)(1 + h)(1 - x - h),
N 7 = (1 - x 2 )(1 + h),
4
2
1
1
N 4 = - (1 - x)(1 + h)(1 + x - h) and N8 = (1 - x)(1 - h 2 )
4
2

(3.4.13)

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It may be observed that the Lagrange elements have a better degree of completeness in polynomial
function compare to serendipity elements. Therefore, Lagrange elements produce comparatively
faster and better accuracy.