Continuum Physics on Ansys Innovation Courses

Introduction to Continuum Physics on edX

The Finite Element Method for Problems in Physics on Coursera

Lectures on Continuum Physics

open.michigan, YouTube

The idea for these Lectures on Continuum Physics grew out of a short series of talks on materials physics at University of Michigan, in the summer of 2013. Those talks were aimed at advanced graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and faculty colleagues. From this group the suggestion emerged that a somewhat complete set of lectures on continuum aspects of materials physics would be useful. The lectures that you are about to dive into were recorded over a six-week period at the University. Given their origin, they are meant to be early steps on a path of research in continuum physics for the entrant to this area, and I daresay a second opinion for the more seasoned exponent of the science.


Introduction to Finite Element Methods

open.michigan, YouTube, Coursera

Here they are then, about 50 hours of lectures covering the material I normally teach in an introductory graduate class at University of Michigan. The treatment is mathematical, which is natural for a topic whose roots lie deep in functional analysis and variational calculus. It is not formal, however, because the main goal of these lectures is to turn the viewer into a competent developer of finite element code. We do spend time in rudimentary functional analysis, and variational calculus, but this is only to highlight the mathematical basis for the methods, which in turn explains why they work so well. Much of the success of the Finite Element Method as a computational framework lies in the rigor of its mathematical foundation, and this needs to be appreciated, even if only in the elementary manner presented here. A background in PDEs and, more importantly, linear algebra, is assumed, although the viewer will find that we develop all the relevant ideas that are needed.

The development itself focuses on the classical forms of partial differential equations (PDEs): elliptic, parabolic and hyperbolic. At each stage, however, we make numerous connections to the physical phenomena represented by the PDEs. For clarity we begin with elliptic PDEs in one dimension (linearized elasticity, steady state heat conduction and mass diffusion). We then move on to three dimensional elliptic PDEs in scalar unknowns (heat conduction and mass diffusion), before ending the treatment of elliptic PDEs with three dimensional problems in vector unknowns (linearized elasticity). Parabolic PDEs in three dimensions come next (unsteady heat conduction and mass diffusion), and the lectures end with hyperbolic PDEs in three dimensions (linear elastodynamics). Interspersed among the lectures are responses to questions that arose from a small group of graduate students and post-doctoral scholars who followed the lectures live. At suitable points in the lectures, we interrupt the mathematical development to lay out the code framework, which is entirely open source, and C++ based.

It is hoped that these lectures on Finite Element Methods will complement the series on Continuum Physics to provide a point of departure from which the seasoned researcher or advanced graduate student can embark on work in (continuum) computational physics.