Minimal finite element spaces for 2m-th-order partial differential equations in Rn

Ming Wang, Jinchao Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


This paper is devoted to a canonical construction of a family of piecewise polynomials with the minimal degree capable of providing a consistent approximation of Sobolev spaces Hm in Rn (with n≥m≥1) and also a convergent (nonconforming) finite element space for 2m-th-order elliptic boundary value problems in Rn. For this class of finite element spaces, the geometric shape is n-simplex, the shape function space consists of all polynomials with a degree not greater than m, and the degrees of freedom are given in terms of the integral averages of the normal derivatives of order m-k on all subsimplexes with the dimension n-k for 1≤k≤m. This sequence of spaces has some natural inclusion properties as in the corresponding Sobolev spaces in the continuous cases. The finite element spaces constructed in this paper constitute the only class of finite element spaces, whether conforming or nonconforming, that are known and proven to be convergent for the approximation of any 2m-th-order elliptic problems in any Rn, such that n≥m≥1. Finite element spaces in this class recover the nonconforming linear elements for Poisson equations (m=1) and the well-known Morley element for biharmonic equations (m=2). © 2012 American Mathematical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-43
Number of pages19
JournalMathematics of Computation
Issue number281
StatePublished - Jan 17 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-02-15

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Algebra and Number Theory
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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