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FEA solver integration framework



Conrad E. Bock, Jerome Szarazi


Integrating finite element analysis (FEA) with systems engineering (SE) would improve traceability, consistency, and interoperability between SE and FEA activities in multiple engineering disciplines. The first step in achieving this is a software-independent description of FEA models, which are characterized by numerical approximations of partial differential equations (PDEs) derived from physical laws, and FEs representing unknown physical quantities. In previous work, we presented an FE mathematics specification that is formal and understandable by most engineers. It provides all information needed for generation of shape functions for physical quantities. In this work, we propose a specification of physics in FEA. We first compare existing FEA physics descriptions and their software implementations to highlight the benefits of domain-independent model descriptions used by PDE solvers. A significant drawback of PDE representations is they do not show all physical quantities from which they are derived. To tackle this, we represent physical laws and derivations in human- and machine-readable graphs. Instead of classifying physics problems by the kind of PDE, as in PDE solver packages, we formalize problems as paths through these graphs. This increases transparency by capturing modelling decisions currently done on paper or in electronic documents. We combine the graph-based specification of FEA physics with the finite element mathematics specification to generate linear system of equations (algebraic FEA models) for solving the problem numerically. This combination will enable FEA engineers to design their own libraries (potentially automatically) if they choose, or associate existing solvers. It also generalizes mappings from physics to FEA models, a task currently repeated across specific disciplines. The framework could be standardized and integrated with SE modeling languages, improving interoperability and collaboration between systems and FEA engineers.
Proceedings Title
NAFEMS World Congress 2019
Conference Dates
June 17-21, 2019
Conference Location
Quebec City


Finite element analysis, systems engineering, model-based


Bock, C. and Szarazi, J. (2019), FEA solver integration framework, NAFEMS World Congress 2019, Quebec City, -1, [online], (Accessed May 26, 2024)


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Created June 20, 2019, Updated June 2, 2021