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Chapter 4

Isoparametric Elements

Method of Finite Elements I

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previous lecture

• Looking for a uniform mapping across

element types

• Isoparametric elements
• 1D Demonstration: Bar elements

Method of Finite Elements I

30-Apr-10
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The Galerkin Method

In the previous lecture, we defined an approximation for the displacement field:

Displacement
field

Strain field

Method of Finite Elements I

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The Galerkin Method

where u1,u2 are so far random coefficients. Instead, we can choose to write the same
relationship using a different basis N(x):
Vector of degrees
of freedom at the
{} [
u = N ( x) d ]{ } element nodes

field Matrix

In this case we express u in terms of the degrees of freedom, i.e., the

displacements at the ends of the bar:
𝑢𝑢0 −1
𝑢𝑢(𝑥𝑥 = 0) 1 0 𝑢𝑢1 𝑢𝑢1 1 0 𝑢𝑢0
𝑑𝑑 = = 𝑢𝑢 = ⇔ =
𝑢𝑢(𝑥𝑥 = 𝐿𝐿) 𝐿𝐿 1 𝐿𝐿 𝑢𝑢2 𝑢𝑢2 1 𝐿𝐿 𝑢𝑢𝐿𝐿

Substituting in our initial displacement approximation we obtain:

−1 𝑢𝑢0
1 0 𝐿𝐿 − 𝑥𝑥 𝑥𝑥 𝑢𝑢0 𝐿𝐿 − 𝑥𝑥 𝑥𝑥
𝑢𝑢 = 1 𝑥𝑥 𝑢𝑢𝐿𝐿 = ⇒ 𝑁𝑁(𝑥𝑥) =
1 𝐿𝐿 𝐿𝐿 𝐿𝐿 𝑢𝑢𝐿𝐿 𝐿𝐿 𝐿𝐿
Method of Finite Elements I
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The Galerkin Method

Then:
Vector of degrees
of freedom at the
u = [ N ( x ) ] {d } element nodes

Displacement
field

The weak form also involves the first derivative of the approximation

d [ N ( x)]
=ε = {d } [ B ] {d }
Strain field dx
Strain
d [ N ( x) ] 1 Displacement
where [ B=] = [ −1 1] Matrix
dx L
Method of Finite Elements I
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and set:

Why??
or even better

Method of Finite Elements I

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properties

Method of Finite Elements I

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The Galerkin Method

Indeed, if we use the proposed formulation for [N], [B]:

L 1  −1 1
k =
L
[ ] ∫0 [ ] [ ] 
B
T
EA B dx = [ k] ∫   EA [ −1 1] dx ⇒
0 L1 L
⇒
[ B ] =  −1 L 1 L   = 1  −1
2   EA [ −1 1] L ⇒
L 1

EA  1 −1
[k ] =  bar
L  −1 1  stiffness!

Method of Finite Elements I

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The Shape Function

Therefore: Shape functions will be defined as interpolation functions
which relate the variables in the finite element with their values in the
element nodes. The latter are obtained through solving the problem using
finite element procedures.

=
In general we may write: u ( x) ∑=
N ( x)u
i
i i Nu

where:
u ( x) is the function under investigation (for example:
displacement field)
N( x) is the shape functions matrix

u = [u1 u2  u N ]
T
is the vector of unknowns in the nodes
(for example: displacements)
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The Shape Function

Regardless of the dimension of the element used, we have to bear in
mind that Shape Functions need to satisfy the following constraints:
• Ni ( x ) in node i has a value of 1 and in all other nodes Why??
assumes a value of 0.
• Furthermore we have to satisfy the continuity between the
Example: rectangular element with 6 nodes

H4 H5

Method of Finite Elements I

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The Shape Function

Usually, polynomial functions are used as interpolation functions,
for example:
N
Pn ( x ) = ∑ ai x i
i =0

where n is the order of the polynomial; is equal to the

number of unknowns in the nodes (degrees of freedom).

In the MFE we use three different polynomials:

 Lagrange
 Serendipity and
 Hermitian polynomials.

Method of Finite Elements I

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The Shape Function

Lagrange Polynomials

A function φ(x) can be approximated by a polynomial of the order m

and the values of φ(x) in those m+1 points:

m +1

∑ i
φ ( x) ≈ φ ( x) =L ( x ) φ
i =1
i

where:

Li ( x ) ∏
= =
x − xjm +1
( x − x1 )( x − x2 ) ( x − xm+1 )
j =1 xi − x j ( xi − x1 )( xi − x2 ) ( xi − xm+1 )
i≠ j

Method of Finite Elements I

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The Shape Function

Lagrange Polynomials

A function φ(x) can be approximated by a polynomial of the order m

and the values of φ(x) in those m+1 points:

Method of Finite Elements I

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Lagrange Polynomials – 2D Example

4 ( x4 , y4 ) 3 ( x3 , y3 )

Let us break the process into steps:

1. Interpolate along borders 1-2, 4-3:
y
1( x1 , y1 ) =φ1− 2 L11− 2 ( x ) φ1 + L12− 2 ( x ) φ2
2 ( x2 , y2 ) =φ3− 4 L14−3 ( x ) φ3 + L42−3 ( x ) φ4
x

1 L1 1 L2

x2 − x 1− 2 x − x1
Therefore: L11− 2 ( x )
= = , L2 ( x )
x2 − x1 x2 − x1
x4 − x 4−3 x − x3
L ( x) =
= 4 −3
1 , L2 ( x )
x4 − x3 x4 − x3
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Lagrange Polynomials – 2D Example

4 ( x4 , y4 ) 3 ( x3 , y3 )

x2 − x x − x1
φ1− 2
= φ1 + φ2
x2 − x1 x2 − x1
y x4 − x x − x3
1( x1 , y1 ) φ3− 4
= φ3 + φ4
x4 − x3 x4 − x3
2 ( x2 , y2 )
x

1 L1 1 L2

2. Interpolate along borders 1-2, 4-3: (one possible way is below)

φ = L1 ( y ) φ1− 2 + L2 ( y ) φ3− 4 =
= L11− 4 ( y ) L11− 2 ( x ) φ1 + L12−3 ( y ) L12− 2 ( x ) φ2 + L22−3 ( y ) L14−3 ( x ) φ3 + L12− 4 ( y ) L42−3 ( x ) φ4

Method of Finite Elements I

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Lagrange Polynomials – 2D Example

4 : u 4 , v4 3 : u 3 , v3

To interpolate the displacement field

for this 2D element, using the
horizontal (ui) and vertical
y
1: u1 , v1 displacements (vi) at each one of the 4
nodes (i) of this element
2 : u 2 , v2
x

we can use the following approximation:

( x2 − x )( y4 − y ) ( x − x1 )( y3 − y ) ( x4 − x )( y − y2 ) ( x − x3 )( y − y1 )
u ( x, y ) = u1 + u2 + u3 + u4
( 2 1 )( 4 1 )
x − x y − y ( 2 1 )( 3 2 )
x − x y − y ( 4 3 )( 3 2 )
x − x y − y ( 4 3 )( 4 1 )
x − x y − y

( x2 − x )( y4 − y ) ( x − x1 )( y3 − y ) ( x4 − x )( y − y2 ) ( x − x3 )( y − y1 )
v ( x, y ) = v1 + v2 + v3 + v4
( x2 − x1 )( y4 − y1 ) ( x2 − x1 )( y3 − y2 ) ( x4 − x3 )( y3 − y2 ) ( x4 − x3 )( y4 − y1 )

Method of Finite Elements I

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Lagrange Polynomials – 2D Example

4 : u 4 , v4 3 : u 3 , v3

The polynomials we used in this

simple example are of order 1
y
1: u1 , v1
2 : u 2 , v2
x

If polynomials of higher order are to be used, further nodes should be typically

introduced within the elements.

In fact, in the 2D domain a simple geometrical rule, based on Pascal’s triangle

defines how many nodes are required for the representation of displacement
fields of any order, according to the type of element used.

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Pascal’s Triangle – 2D Example

For triangular elements:

Method of Finite Elements I
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Pascal’s Triangle – 2D Example

For square elements & Lagrange Polynomials (which are complete:

Method of Finite Elements I
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Serendipity Polynomials
These functions are similar to Lagrangian polynomials, but for their
incompleteness (missing terms). Due to this fact we do not need to introduce
additional inner nodes, as for Lagrangian polynomials of higher order.

Lagrange Polynomials

Serendipity Polynomials

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Pascal’s Triangle – 2D Example

For square elements & serendipity Polynomials (which are incomplete:

Method of Finite Elements I
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Hermitian Polynomials
Lagrangian polynomials and serendipity functions provide a C0
continuity. If we additionally need continuity of the first derivatives
between the finite elements we use Hermitian polynomials.
A Hermitian polynomial of the order n, Hn(x), is a 2n+1 order
polynomial. For example a Hermitian polynomial of the first order is
actually a third order polynomial.
Let us consider a bar element with nodes on its ends. Unknowns are
values of the function φ in the nodes 1 and 2, φ1 and φ2, and first
derivatives of φ in respect to x , φ1,x and φ2,x

ϕ ( x) dϕ ( x ) dϕ ( x )
ϕ2,x=ϕ1, x = , ϕ2, x
ϕ1 dx x x= dx x
= x2
ϕ1,x ϕ2 1

Remember: The 1st derivative of

1 ( x1 ) 2 ( x1 ) displacement, corresponds to rotation

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Hermitian Polynomials
Hermitian shape functions relate not only the displacements at
nodes to displacements within the elements but also to the first
order derivatives (e.g. rotational DOFs for a beam element).

2
∂ui ( x)
=
Shape function u ( x) ∑ N0i ( x ) ui + N1i ( x ) ∂x
Shape function of
the derivative
of u(x) i =1
u´(x)

N 01 N 02
N 0i ( x ) = 1 at node i and 0 at other nodes
N 0′i ( x ) = 0 at all nodes
N1i ( x ) = 0 at all nodes
N1′i ( x ) = 1 at node i and 0 at other nodes N11
N12

Method of Finite Elements I

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Isoparametric Elements
In general, we would like to be able to represent any element in a
standardized manner – introducing a transformation between a set
of standardized (natural) coordinates and the real (global)
coordinates
Different schemes exist for establishing such transformations:
Here we will use this one

1 sub parametric representations (less nodes for

geometric than for displacement representation)

2 isoparametric representations (same nodes for both

geometry and displacement representation)

3 super parametric representations (more nodes for

geometric than for displacement representation)

Method of Finite Elements I

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Isoparametric Elements
Displacement fields as well as the geometrical representation of the
finite elements are approximated using the same approximating
functions – shape functions

4 uˆ4 , vˆ4
s
y -1, 1 1, 1

r
2 uˆ2 , vˆ2
-1, -1 1, -1
x

This transformation allows us to refer to similar elements (eg. truss, beams, 2D

elements, in a standard manner, using the natural coordinates (r,s), without
every time referring to the specific global coordinate system (x,y).

Method of Finite Elements I

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Isoparametric Elements

Isoparametric elements can be one-, two- or three-dimensional:

Geometric interpolation
n n n
same approximating = x = hi xi ; y = ∑
hi yi ; z ∑
hi zi ∑
functions – shape =i 1 =i 1 =i 1

functions for n n n
=u ∑=
h uˆ ; v ∑
i i i i=
=i 1 =i 1 =i 1
h vˆ ; w ∑ h wˆ
i i

Displacement Interpolation

The principle is to assure that the value of the shape function hi is

equal to one in node i and equals zero in other nodes.

Method of Finite Elements I

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Isoparametric Elements
In order to establish the stiffness matrixes we must differentiate the
displacements with respect to the coordinates (x, y, z).

Since the shape functions are usually defined in natural coordinates

we must introduce the necessary coordinate transformation between
natural and global or local coordinate system. For example in the 3D
domain we can express the derivative of a function 𝜙𝜙, which is
expressed in terms of coordinates (x,y,z), with respect to another set of
coordinates (r,s,t) as:

∂φ ∂φ ∂x ∂φ ∂y ∂φ ∂z
= + +
∂r ∂x ∂r ∂y ∂r ∂z ∂r
∂φ ∂φ ∂x ∂φ ∂y ∂φ ∂z Chain rule of differentiation!
= + +
∂s ∂x ∂s ∂y ∂s ∂z ∂s
∂φ ∂φ ∂x ∂φ ∂y ∂φ ∂z
= + +
∂t ∂x ∂t ∂y ∂t ∂z ∂t
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Isoparametric Elements

Written in matrix notation:

∂φ ∂φ ∂x ∂φ ∂y ∂φ ∂z  ∂φ   ∂x ∂y ∂z   ∂φ 
= + +
∂r ∂x ∂r ∂y ∂r ∂z ∂r  ∂r   ∂r ∂r ∂r   ∂x 
   
∂φ ∂φ ∂x ∂φ ∂y ∂φ ∂z  ∂φ  =  ∂x ∂y ∂z   ∂φ 
= + + ⇒
∂s ∂x ∂s ∂y ∂s ∂y ∂s  ∂s   ∂s ∂s ∂s   ∂y 
    
∂φ ∂φ ∂x ∂φ ∂y ∂φ
= + +
∂z  ∂φ   ∂x ∂y ∂z   ∂φ 
∂t ∂x ∂t ∂y ∂t ∂z ∂t  ∂t   ∂t ∂t ∂t   ∂z 

Method of Finite Elements I

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Isoparametric Elements

We recall the Jacobian operator J:

 ∂φ   ∂x ∂y ∂z   ∂φ 
 ∂r   ∂r ∂r ∂r   ∂x 
    ∂ ∂ ∂ −1 ∂
 ∂φ  =  ∂x ∂y ∂z   ∂φ  = J ⇒ = J
 ∂s   ∂s ∂s ∂s   ∂y  ∂r ∂x ∂x ∂r
    
 ∂φ   ∂x ∂y ∂z   ∂φ 
 ∂t   ∂t ∂t ∂t   ∂z 

Method of Finite Elements I

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Consider the bar element with two end

nodes at points x1, x2 defined on the
Bar Element
Cartesian axis x.

and now consider the following standard

truss element defined on the natural axis r

r=-1 r=0 r=1

Is there a function that can map each point on the x axis to a point on the
r axis, so that:
1.
2.

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Bar Element

x2
The relation between the x-coordinate y
x1
and the r-coordinate is given as:

1 1 x
x= (1 − r ) x1 + (1 + r ) x2 û1 û2
2 2
2 r = −1 r =0 r =1
= ∑ N i ( r ) xi
i =1

The relation between the displacement 1 1

u and the nodal displacements are u (r ) = (1 − r )uˆ1 + (1 + r )uˆ2
2 2
defined in the same way: 2
= ∑ N i ( r ) uˆi
i =1

Method of Finite Elements I

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Isoparametric Elements

Let us now consider the derivation of the stiffness matrix K. Firstly,

we write for the strain matrix (using matrix B):

ε = Buˆ
and then we can write up the integrals for calculating the stiffness
matrix:

K = ∫ BT EABdV
V

= ∫ BT EAB det J dr ds dt
V

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Bar Element
We need to be able to establish the strains – meaning we need to be
able to take the derivatives of the displacement field in regard to
the x-coordinate
x2
y
du du dr x1
ε
= =
dx dr dx
du d  1 1  1 x
=  (1 − r )uˆ1 + (1 + r )uˆ 2 = ( uˆ2 − uˆ1 ) û1 û2
dr dr  2 2  2
dx d  1 1  1 L r = −1 r =0 r =1
=  (1 − r ) x1 + (1 + r ) x2  = ( x2 − x1 ) = =J
dr dr  2 2  2 2
⇓ B
dx 2
du du dr uˆ2 − uˆ1 uˆ2 − uˆ1 1 uˆ2  −1
= J=
=ε= = = = [1 −1]  uˆ  dr L
dx dr dx x2 − x1 L L  1

Method of Finite Elements I

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Bar Element
The strain-displacement matrix then becomes:
1 uˆ2 
B= [ −1 1] since ε =
B 
L  uˆ1 
or this also occurs as
∂N ( x ) dN ( r ) dr d  1 J= L
 −1 2 1
B= = =  [1 − r 1 + r ]  J = [ −1 1]
∂x dr ds dx  2  L

and the stiffness matrix is calculated as:

AE  −1
1
dx L
K=2 ∫   [ −1 1] Jdr , J= = ⇒
L −1  1 dr 2
1
AE L  1 −1 AE  1 −1
K = r ⇒ K
L2 2  −1 1 −1 L  −1 1
Method of Finite Elements I
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AE  −1
1
=K 2 ∫   [ −1 1] Jdr
L −1  1

How can we calculate such integrals in an automated manner for

higher order elements and higher dimensions?

30-Apr-10