The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 54 (1976) > Issues > Issue 10 > A Finite Element Primer for Structural Engineering
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A Finite Element Primer for Structural Engineering

The purpose of this short paper is to describe in a simple way the operation of the finite element method and to indicate the principles involved. This has been approached by a description of the general processes of structural analysis by the stiffness method using simple matrices when their use is advantageous. The finite element method is presented as an approximation in which a continuum is replaced by a number of discrete elements and an indication is given as to bow the engineer can satisfy himself as to the accuracy of his results. It has not been possible to discuss the suitability of types of elements for particular purposes but details of some of the commonly used elements with appropriate references and comments have been given. Reference has also been made to the use of computers infinite element applications. O.C. Zienkiewicz, D.M. Brotton and L. Morgan