FEniCS is a user-friendly tool for solving partial differential equations (PDEs). The goal of this tutorial is to get you started with FEniCS through a series of simple examples that demonstrate

- how to define the PDE problem in terms of a variational problem,
- how to define simple domains,
- how to deal with Dirichlet, Neumann, and Robin conditions,
- how to deal with variable coefficients,
- how to deal with domains built of several materials (subdomains),
- how to compute derived quantities like the flux vector field or a functional of the solution,
- how to quickly visualize the mesh, the solution, the flux, etc.,
- how to solve nonlinear PDEs in various ways,
- how to deal with time-dependent PDEs,
- how to set parameters governing solution methods for linear systems,
- how to create domains of more complex shape.

The mathematics of the illustrations is kept simple to better focus on FEniCS functionality and syntax. This means that we mostly use the Poisson equation and the time-dependent diffusion equation as model problems, often with input data adjusted such that we get a very simple solution that can be exactly reproduced by any standard finite element method over a uniform, structured mesh. This latter property greatly simplifies the verification of the implementations. Occasionally we insert a physically more relevant example to remind the reader that changing the PDE and boundary conditions to something more real might often be a trivial task.

FEniCS may seem to require a thorough understanding of the abstract
mathematical version of the finite element method as well as
familiarity with the Python programming language. Nevertheless, it
turns out that many are able to pick up the fundamentals of finite
elements *and* Python programming as they go along with this
tutorial. Simply keep on reading and try out the examples. You will be
amazed of how easy it is to solve PDEs with FEniCS!

Reading this tutorial obviously requires access to a machine where the FEniCS software is installed. The section Installing FEniCS explains briefly how to install the necessary tools.

All the examples discussed in the following are available as executable Python source code files in a directory tree.

Our first example regards the Poisson problem,

\[\begin{split}- \nabla^2 u(\pmb{x}) &= f(\pmb{x}),\quad \pmb{x}\mbox{ in } \Omega,
\\
u(\pmb{x}) &= u_0(\pmb{x}),\quad \pmb{x}\mbox{ on } \partial \Omega\thinspace .\end{split}\]

Here, \(u(\pmb{x})\) is the unknown function, \(f(\pmb{x})\)
is a prescribed function, \(\nabla^2\) is the Laplace operator
(also often written as \(\Delta\)), \(\Omega\) is the spatial
domain, and \(\partial\Omega\) is the boundary of
\(\Omega\). A stationary PDE like this, together with a complete
set of boundary conditions, constitute a *boundary-value problem*,
which must be precisely stated before it makes sense to start solving
it with FEniCS.

In two space dimensions with coordinates \(x\) and \(y\), we can write out the Poisson equation as

\[- {\partial^2 u\over\partial x^2} -
{\partial^2 u\over\partial y^2} = f(x,y)\thinspace .\]

The unknown \(u\) is now a function of two variables, \(u(x,y)\), defined over a two-dimensional domain \(\Omega\).

The Poisson equation arises in numerous physical contexts, including heat conduction, electrostatics, diffusion of substances, twisting of elastic rods, inviscid fluid flow, and water waves. Moreover, the equation appears in numerical splitting strategies of more complicated systems of PDEs, in particular the Navier-Stokes equations.

Solving a physical problem with FEniCS consists of the following steps:

- Identify the PDE and its boundary conditions.
- Reformulate the PDE problem as a variational problem.
- Make a Python program where the formulas in the variational problem are coded, along with definitions of input data such as \(f\), \(u_0\), and a mesh for the spatial domain \(\Omega\).
- Add statements in the program for solving the variational problem, computing derived quantities such as \(\nabla u\), and visualizing the results.

We shall now go through steps 2–4 in detail. The key feature of FEniCS is that steps 3 and 4 result in fairly short code, while most other software frameworks for PDEs require much more code and more technically difficult programming.

FEniCS makes it easy to solve PDEs if finite elements are used for
discretization in space and the problem is expressed as a *variational
problem*. Readers who are not familiar with variational problems will
get a brief introduction to the topic in this tutorial, but getting
and reading a proper book on the finite element method in addition is
encouraged. The section Books on the Finite Element Method contains a list of
some suitable books.

The core of the recipe for turning a PDE into a variational problem is
to multiply the PDE by a function \(v\), integrate the resulting
equation over \(\Omega\), and perform integration by parts of
terms with second-order derivatives. The function \(v\) which
multiplies the PDE is in the mathematical finite element literature
called a *test function*. The unknown function \(u\) to be
approximated is referred to as a *trial function*. The terms test and
trial function are used in FEniCS programs too. Suitable function
spaces must be specified for the test and trial functions. For
standard PDEs arising in physics and mechanics such spaces are well
known.

In the present case, we first multiply the Poisson equation by the test function \(v\) and integrate,

(1)\[ -\int_\Omega (\nabla^2 u)v \, \mathrm{d}x = \int_\Omega fv \, \mathrm{d}x\thinspace .\]

Then we apply integration by parts to the integrand with second-order derivatives,

(2)\[ -\int_\Omega (\nabla^2 u)v \, \mathrm{d}x
= \int_\Omega\nabla u\cdot\nabla v \, \mathrm{d}x - \int_{\partial\Omega}{\partial u\over
\partial n}v \, \mathrm{d}s ,\]

where \({\partial u\over \partial n}\) is the derivative of \(u\) in the outward normal direction at the boundary. The test function \(v\) is required to vanish on the parts of the boundary where \(u\) is known, which in the present problem implies that \(v=0\) on the whole boundary \(\partial\Omega\). The second term on the right-hand side of the last equation therefore vanishes. It then follows that

This equation is supposed to hold for all \(v\) in some function
space \(\hat V\). The trial function \(u\) lies in some
(possibly different) function space \(V\). We say that the last
equation is the *weak form* of the original boundary value problem
consisting of the PDE \(-\nabla^2u=f\) and the boundary condition
\(u=u_0\).

The proper statement of our variational problem now goes as follows: Find \(u \in V\) such that

(4)\[ \int_{\Omega} \nabla u \cdot \nabla v \, \mathrm{d}x =
\int_{\Omega} fv \, \mathrm{d}x
\quad \forall v \in \hat{V}.\]

The test and trial spaces \(\hat{V}\) and \(V\) are in the present problem defined as

\[\begin{split}\hat{V} &= \{v \in H^1(\Omega) : v = 0 \mbox{ on } \partial\Omega\}, \\
V &= \{v \in H^1(\Omega) : v = u_0 \mbox{ on } \partial\Omega\}\thinspace .\end{split}\]

In short, \(H^1(\Omega)\) is the mathematically well-known Sobolev space containing functions \(v\) such that \(v^2\) and \(||\nabla v||^2\) have finite integrals over \(\Omega\). The solution of the underlying PDE must lie in a function space where also the derivatives are continuous, but the Sobolev space \(H^1(\Omega)\) allows functions with discontinuous derivatives. This weaker continuity requirement of \(u\) in the variational statement, caused by the integration by parts, has great practical consequences when it comes to constructing finite elements.

To solve the Poisson equation numerically, we need to transform the
continuous variational problem to a discrete variational problem. This
is done by introducing *finite-dimensional* test and trial spaces,
often denoted as \(\hat{V}_h\subset\hat{V}\) and
\(V_h\subset{V}\). The discrete variational problem reads: Find
\(u_h \in V_h \subset V\) such that

(5)\[ \int_{\Omega} \nabla u_h \cdot \nabla v \, \mathrm{d}x =
\int_{\Omega} fv \, \mathrm{d}x
\quad \forall v \in \hat{V}_h \subset \hat{V}\thinspace .\]

The choice of \(\hat{V}_h\) and \(V_h\) follows directly from the kind of finite elements we want to apply in our problem. For example, choosing the well-known linear triangular element with three nodes implies that \(\hat V_h\) and \(V_h\) are the spaces of all piecewise linear functions over a mesh of triangles, where the functions in \(\hat V_h\) are zero on the boundary and those in \(V_h\) equal \(u_0\) on the boundary.

The mathematics literature on variational problems writes \(u_h\)
for the solution of the discrete problem and \(u\) for the
solution of the continuous problem. To obtain (almost) a one-to-one
relationship between the mathematical formulation of a problem and the
corresponding FEniCS program, we shall use \(u\) for the solution
of the discrete problem and \(u_{e}\) for the exact solution of
the continuous problem, *if* we need to explicitly distinguish between
the two. In most cases, we will introduce the PDE problem with
\(u\) as unknown, derive a variational equation
\(a(u,v)=L(v)\) with \(u\in V\) and \(v\in \hat V\), and
then simply discretize the problem by saying that we choose
finite-dimensional spaces for \(V\) and \(\hat V\). This
restriction of \(V\) implies that \(u\) becomes a discrete
finite element function. In practice, this means that we turn our PDE
problem into a continuous variational problem, create a mesh and
specify an element type, and then let \(V\) correspond to this
mesh and element choice. Depending upon whether \(V\) is
infinite- or finite-dimensional, \(u\) will be the exact or
approximate solution.

It turns out to be convenient to introduce the following unified notation for linear weak forms:

\[a(u, v) = L(v)\thinspace .\]

In the present problem we have that

\[\begin{split}a(u, v) &= \int_{\Omega} \nabla u \cdot \nabla v \, \mathrm{d}x,
\\
L(v) &= \int_{\Omega} fv \, \mathrm{d}x\thinspace .\end{split}\]

From the mathematics literature, \(a(u,v)\) is known as a
*bilinear form* and \(L(v)\) as a *linear form*. We shall in
every linear problem we solve identify the terms with the unknown
\(u\) and collect them in \(a(u,v)\), and similarly collect
all terms with only known functions in \(L(v)\). The formulas for
\(a\) and \(L\) are then coded directly in the program.

To summarize, before making a FEniCS program for solving a PDE, we must first perform two steps:

- Turn the PDE problem into a discrete variational problem: find \(u\in V\) such that \(a(u,v) = L(v)\quad\forall v\in \hat{V}\).
- Specify the choice of spaces (\(V\) and \(\hat V\)), which means specifying the mesh and type of finite elements.

The test problem so far has a general domain \(\Omega\) and general functions \(u_0\) and \(f\). For our first implementation we must decide on specific choices of \(\Omega\), \(u_0\), and \(f\). It will be wise to construct a specific problem where we can easily check that the computed solution is correct. Let us start with specifying an exact solution

(6)\[ u_{\rm e}(x, y) = 1 +x^2 + 2y^2\]

on some 2D domain. By inserting eq:ref:tut:poisson1:impl:uex in our Poisson problem, we find that \(u_{\rm e}(x,y)\) is a solution if

\[f(x,y) = -6,\quad u_0(x,y)=u_{\rm e}(x,y)=1 + x^2 + 2y^2,\]

regardless of the shape of the domain. We choose here, for simplicity, the domain to be the unit square,

\[\Omega = [0,1]\times [0,1] .\]

The reason for specifying the solution eq:ref:tut:poisson1:impl:uex is that the finite element method, with a rectangular domain uniformly partitioned into linear triangular elements, will exactly reproduce a second-order polynomial at the vertices of the cells, regardless of the size of the elements. This property allows us to verify the implementation by comparing the computed solution, called \(u\) in this document (except when setting up the PDE problem), with the exact solution, denoted by \(u_{\rm e}\): \(u\) should equal \(u_{\rm}\) to machine precision emph{at the nodes}. Test problems with this property will be frequently constructed throughout this tutorial.

A FEniCS program for solving the Poisson equation in 2D with the given choices of \(u_0\), \(f\), and \(\Omega\) may look as follows:

```
"""
FEniCS tutorial demo program: Poisson equation with Dirichlet conditions.
Simplest example of computation and visualization with FEniCS.
-Laplace(u) = f on the unit square.
u = u0 on the boundary.
u0 = u = 1 + x^2 + 2y^2, f = -6.
"""
from dolfin import *
# Create mesh and define function space
mesh = UnitSquare(6, 4)
#mesh = UnitCube(6, 4, 5)
V = FunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', 1)
# Define boundary conditions
u0 = Expression('1 + x[0]*x[0] + 2*x[1]*x[1]')
def u0_boundary(x, on_boundary):
return on_boundary
bc = DirichletBC(V, u0, u0_boundary)
# Define variational problem
u = TrialFunction(V)
v = TestFunction(V)
f = Constant(-6.0)
a = inner(nabla_grad(u), nabla_grad(v))*dx
L = f*v*dx
# Compute solution
u = Function(V)
solve(a == L, u, bc)
# Plot solution and mesh
plot(u)
plot(mesh)
# Dump solution to file in VTK format
file = File('poisson.pvd')
file << u
# Hold plot
interactive()
```

The complete code can be found in the file `d1_p2D.py`

in the
directory `stationary/poisson`

.

We shall now dissect this FEniCS program in detail. The program is written in the Python programming language. You may either take a quick look at the official Python tutorial to pick up the basics of Python if you are unfamiliar with the language, or you may learn enough Python as you go along with the examples in the present tutorial. The latter strategy has proven to work for many newcomers to FEniCS. (The requirement of using Python and an abstract mathematical formulation of the finite element problem may seem difficult for those who are unfamiliar with these topics. However, the amount of mathematics and Python that is really demanded to get you productive with FEniCS is quite limited. And Python is an easy-to-learn language that you certainly will love and use far beyond FEniCS programming.) the section Books on Python lists some relevant Python books.

The listed FEniCS program defines a finite element mesh, the discrete function spaces \(V\) and \(\hat{V}\) corresponding to this mesh and the element type, boundary conditions for \(u\) (the function \(u_0\)), \(a(u,v)\), and \(L(v)\). Thereafter, the unknown trial function \(u\) is computed. Then we can investigate \(u\) visually or analyze the computed values.

The first line in the program,

```
from dolfin import *
```

imports the key classes `UnitSquare`

, `FunctionSpace`

,
`Function`

, and so forth, from the DOLFIN library. All FEniCS
programs for solving PDEs by the finite element method normally start
with this line. DOLFIN is a software library with efficient and
convenient C++ classes for finite element computing, and `dolfin`

is
a Python package providing access to this C++ library from Python
programs. You can think of FEniCS as an umbrella, or project name,
for a set of computational components, where DOLFIN is one important
component for writing finite element programs. The ```
from dolfin
import *
```

statement imports other components too, but newcomers to
FEniCS programming do not need to care about this.

The statement

```
mesh = UnitSquare(6, 4)
```

defines a uniform finite element mesh over the unit square
\([0,1]\times [0,1]\). The mesh consists of *cells*, which are
triangles with straight sides. The parameters 6 and 4 tell that the
square is first divided into \(6\times 4\) rectangles, and then
each rectangle is divided into two triangles. The total number of
triangles then becomes 48. The total number of vertices in this mesh
is \(7\cdot 5=35\). DOLFIN offers some classes for creating
meshes over very simple geometries. For domains of more complicated
shape one needs to use a separate *preprocessor* program to create the
mesh. The FEniCS program will then read the mesh from file.

Having a mesh, we can define a discrete function space `V`

over this
mesh:

```
V = FunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', 1)
```

The second argument reflects the type of element, while the third argument is the degree of the basis functions on the element.

The type of element is here “Lagrange”, implying the standard Lagrange
family of elements. (Some FEniCS programs use `'CG'`

, for
Continuous Galerkin, as a synonym for `'Lagrange'`

.) With degree 1,
we simply get the standard linear Lagrange element, which is a
triangle with nodes at the three vertices. Some finite element
practitioners refer to this element as the “linear triangle”. The
computed \(u\) will be continuous and linearly varying in
\(x\) and \(y\) over each cell in the mesh. Higher-degree
polynomial approximations over each cell are trivially obtained by
increasing the third parameter in `FunctionSpace`

. Changing the
second parameter to `'DG'`

creates a function space for
discontinuous Galerkin methods.

In mathematics, we distinguish between the trial and test spaces
\(V\) and \(\hat{V}\). The only difference in the present
problem is the boundary conditions. In FEniCS we do not specify the
boundary conditions as part of the function space, so it is sufficient
to work with one common space `V`

for the and trial and test
functions in the program:

```
u = TrialFunction(V)
v = TestFunction(V)
```

The next step is to specify the boundary condition: \(u=u_0\) on \(\partial\Omega\). This is done by

```
bc = DirichletBC(V, u0, u0_boundary)
```

where `u0`

is an instance holding the \(u_0\) values, and
`u0_boundary`

is a function (or object) describing whether a point
lies on the boundary where \(u\) is specified.

Boundary conditions of the type \(u=u_0\) are known as *Dirichlet
conditions*, and also as *essential boundary conditions* in a finite
element context. Naturally, the name of the DOLFIN class holding the
information about Dirichlet boundary conditions is `DirichletBC`

.

The `u0`

variable refers to an `Expression`

object, which is used
to represent a mathematical function. The typical construction is

```
u0 = Expression(formula)
```

where `formula`

is a string containing the mathematical expression.
This formula is written with C++ syntax (the expression is
automatically turned into an efficient, compiled C++ function, see the
section User-Defined Functions for details on the syntax). The
independent variables in the function expression are supposed to be
available as a point vector `x`

, where the first element `x[0]`

corresponds to the \(x\) coordinate, the second element `x[1]`

to the \(y\) coordinate, and (in a three-dimensional problem)
`x[2]`

to the \(z\) coordinate. With our choice of
\(u_0(x,y)=1 + x^2 + 2y^2\), the formula string must be written as
`1 + x[0]*x[0] + 2*x[1]*x[1]`

:

```
u0 = Expression('1 + x[0]*x[0] + 2*x[1]*x[1]')
```

The information about where to apply the `u0`

function as boundary
condition is coded in a function `u0_boundary`

:

```
def u0_boundary(x, on_boundary):
return on_boundary
```

A function like `u0_boundary`

for marking the boundary must return a
boolean value: `True`

if the given point `x`

lies on the Dirichlet
boundary and `False`

otherwise. The argument `on_boundary`

is
`True`

if `x`

is on the physical boundary of the mesh, so in the
present case, where we are supposed to return `True`

for all points
on the boundary, we can just return the supplied value of
`on_boundary`

. The `u0_boundary`

function will be called for
every discrete point in the mesh, which allows us to have boundaries
where \(u\) are known also inside the domain, if desired.

One can also omit the `on_boundary`

argument, but in that case we
need to test on the value of the coordinates in `x`

:

```
def u0_boundary(x):
return x[0] == 0 or x[1] == 0 or x[0] == 1 or x[1] == 1
```

As for the formula in `Expression`

objects, `x`

in the
`u0_boundary`

function represents a point in space with coordinates
`x[0]`

, `x[1]`

, etc. Comparing floating-point values using an
exact match test with `==`

is not good programming practice, because
small round-off errors in the computations of the `x`

values could
make a test `x[0] == 1`

become false even though `x`

lies on the
boundary. A better test is to check for equality with a tolerance:

```
def u0_boundary(x):
tol = 1E-15
return abs(x[0]) < tol or \
abs(x[1]) < tol or \
abs(x[0] - 1) < tol or \
abs(x[1] - 1) < tol
```

Before defining \(a(u,v)\) and \(L(v)\) we have to specify the \(f\) function:

```
f = Expression('-6')
```

When \(f\) is constant over the domain, `f`

can be more
efficiently represented as a `Constant`

object:

```
f = Constant(-6.0)
```

Now we have all the objects we need in order to specify this problem’s \(a(u,v)\) and \(L(v)\):

```
a = inner(nabla_grad(u), nabla_grad(v))*dx
L = f*v*dx
```

In essence, these two lines specify the PDE to be solved. Note the very close correspondence between the Python syntax and the mathematical formulas \(\nabla u\cdot\nabla v \, \mathrm{d}x\) and \(fv \, \mathrm{d}x\). This is a key strength of FEniCS: the formulas in the variational formulation translate directly to very similar Python code, a feature that makes it easy to specify PDE problems with lots of PDEs and complicated terms in the equations. The language used to express weak forms is called UFL (Unified Form Language) and is an integral part of FEniCS.

Instead of `nabla_grad`

we could also just have written `grad`

in
the examples in this tutorial. However, when taking gradients of
vector fields, `grad`

and `nabla_grad`

differ. The latter is
consistent with the tensor algebra commonly used to derive vector and
tensor PDEs, where the “nabla” acts as a vector operator, and
therefore this author prefers to always use `nabla_grad`

.

Having `a`

and `L`

defined, and information about essential
(Dirichlet) boundary conditions in `bc`

, we can compute the
solution, a finite element function `u`

, by

```
u = Function(V)
solve(a == L, u, bc)
```

Some prefer to replace `a`

and `L`

by an `equation`

variable, which is accomplished by this equivalent code:

```
equation = inner(nabla_grad(u), nabla_grad(v))*dx == f*v*dx
u = Function(V)
solve(equation, u, bc)
```

Note that we first defined the variable `u`

as a `TrialFunction`

and used it to represent the unknown in the form `a`

. Thereafter,
we redefined `u`

to be a `Function`

object representing the
solution, i.e., the computed finite element function \(u\). This
redefinition of the variable `u`

is possible in Python and often
done in FEniCS applications. The two types of objects that `u`

refers to are equal from a mathematical point of view, and hence it is
natural to use the same variable name for both objects. In a program,
however, `TrialFunction`

objects must always be used for the
unknowns in the problem specification (the form `a`

), while
`Function`

objects must be used for quantities that are computed
(known).

The simplest way of quickly looking at `u`

and the mesh is to say

```
plot(u)
plot(mesh)
interactive()
```

The `interactive()`

call is necessary for the plot to remain on the
screen. With the left, middle, and right mouse buttons you can rotate,
translate, and zoom (respectively) the plotted surface to better
examine what the solution looks like. Figures
Plot of the solution in the first FEniCS example and Plot of the mesh in the first FEniCS example
display the resulting \(u\) function and the finite element mesh,
respectively.

It is also possible to dump the computed solution to file, e.g., in the VTK format:

```
file = File('poisson.pvd')
file << u
```

The `poisson.pvd`

file can now be loaded into any front-end to VTK,
say ParaView or VisIt. The `plot`

function is intended for quick
examination of the solution during program development. More in-depth
visual investigations of finite element solutions will normally
benefit from using highly professional tools such as ParaView and
VisIt.

The next three sections deal with some technicalities about specifying the solution method for linear systems (so that you can solve large problems) and examining array data from the computed solution (so that you can check that the program is correct). These technicalities are scattered around in forthcoming programs. However, the impatient reader who is more interested in seeing the previous program being adapted to a real physical problem, and play around with some interesting visualizations, can safely jump to the section Solving a Real Physical Problem. Information in the intermediate sections can be studied on demand.

Sparse LU decomposition (Gaussian elimination) is used by default to solve linear systems of equations in FEniCS programs. This is a very robust and recommended method for a few thousand unknowns in the equation system, and may hence be the method of choice in many 2D and smaller 3D problems. However, sparse LU decomposition becomes slow and memory demanding in large problems. This fact forces the use of iterative methods, which are faster and require much less memory.

Preconditioned Krylov solvers is a type of popular iterative methods that are easily accessible in FEniCS programs. The Poisson equation results in a symmetric, positive definite coefficient matrix, for which the optimal Krylov solver is the Conjugate Gradient (CG) method. Incomplete LU factorization (ILU) is a popular and robust all-round preconditioner, so let us try the CG–ILU pair:

```
solve(a == L, u, bc)
solver_parameters={'linear_solver': 'cg',
'preconditioner': 'ilu'})
# Alternative syntax
solve(a == L, u, bc,
solver_parameters=dict(linear_solver='cg',
preconditioner='ilu'))
```

the section Linear Solvers and Preconditioners lists the most popular choices of Krylov solvers and preconditioners available in FEniCS

The actual CG and ILU implementations that are brought into action
depends on the choice of linear algebra package. FEniCS interfaces
several linear algebra packages, called *linear algebra backends* in
FEniCS terminology. PETSc is the default choice if DOLFIN is compiled
with PETSc, otherwise uBLAS. Epetra (Trilinos) and MTL4 are two other
supported backends. Which backend to apply can be controlled by
setting

```
parameters['linear_algebra_backend'] = backendname
```

where `backendname`

is a string, either `'PETSc'`

, `'uBLAS'`

,
`'Epetra'`

, or `'MTL4'`

. All these backends offer high-quality
implementations of both iterative and direct solvers for linear
systems of equations.

A common platform for FEniCS users is Ubuntu Linux. The FEniCS
distribution for Ubuntu contains PETSc, making this package the
default linear algebra backend. The default solver is sparse LU
decomposition (`'lu'`

), and the actual software that is called is
then the sparse LU solver from UMFPACK (which PETSc has an interface
to).

We will normally like to control the tolerance in the stopping
criterion and the maximum number of iterations when running an
iterative method. Such parameters can be set by accessing the *global
parameter database*, which is called `parameters`

and which behaves
as a nested dictionary. Write

```
info(parameters, True)
```

to list all parameters and their default values in the database.
The nesting of parameter sets is indicated through indentation in the
output from `info`

.
According to this output, the relevant parameter set is
named `'krylov_solver'`

, and the parameters are set like this:

```
prm = parameters['krylov_solver'] # short form
prm['absolute_tolerance'] = 1E-10
prm['relative_tolerance'] = 1E-6
prm['maximum_iterations'] = 1000
```

Stopping criteria for Krylov solvers usually involve the norm of the residual, which must be smaller than the absolute tolerance parameter and smaller than the relative tolerance parameter times the initial residual.

To see the number of actual iterations to reach the stopping criterion, we can insert

```
set_log_level(PROGRESS)
# or
set_log_level(DEBUG)
```

A message with the equation system size, solver type, and number of
iterations arises from specifying the argument `PROGRESS`

, while
`DEBUG`

results in more information, including CPU time spent in the
various parts of the matrix assembly and solve process.

The complete solution process with control of the solver parameters now contains the statements

```
prm = parameters['krylov_solver'] # short form
prm['absolute_tolerance'] = 1E-10
prm['relative_tolerance'] = 1E-6
prm['maximum_iterations'] = 1000
set_log_level(PROGRESS)
solve(a == L, u, bc,
solver_parameters={'linear_solver': 'cg',
'preconditioner': 'ilu'})
```

The demo program `d2_p2D.py`

in the `stationary/poisson`

directory
incorporates the above shown control of the linear solver and
precnditioner, but is otherwise similar to the previous `d1_p2D.py`

program.

We remark that default values for the global parameter database can be
defined in an XML file, see the example file `dolfin_parameters.xml`

in the directory `stationary/poisson`

. If such a file is found in
the directory where a FEniCS program is run, this file is read and
used to initialize the `parameters`

object. Otherwise, the file
`.config/fenics/dolfin_parameters.xml`

in the user’s home directory
is read, if it exists. The XML file can also be in gzip’ed form with
the extension `.xml.gz`

.

The `solve(a == L, u, bc)`

call is just a compact syntax alternative
to a slightly more comprehensive specification of the variational
equation and the solution of the associated linear system. This
alternative syntax is used in a lot of FEniCS applications and will
also be used later in this tutorial, so we show it already now:

```
u = Function(V)
problem = LinearVariationalProblem(a, L, u, bc)
solver = LinearVariationalSolver(problem)
solver.solve()
```

Many objects have an attribute `parameters`

corresponding to a
parameter set in the global `parameters`

database, but local to the
object. Here, `solver.parameters`

play that role. Setting the CG
method with ILU preconditiong as solution method and specifying
solver-specific parameters can be done like this:

```
solver.parameters['linear_solver'] = 'cg'
solver.parameters['preconditioner'] = 'ilu'
cg_prm = solver.parameters['krylov_solver'] # short form
cg_prm['absolute_tolerance'] = 1E-7
cg_prm['relative_tolerance'] = 1E-4
cg_prm['maximum_iterations'] = 1000
```

Calling `info(solver.parameters, True)`

lists all the available
parameter sets with default values for each parameter. Settings in
the global `parameters`

database are propagated to parameter sets in
individual objects, with the possibility of being overwritten as done
above.

The `d3_p2D.py`

program modifies the `d2_p2D.py`

file to
incorporate objects for the variational problem and solver.

We know that, in the particular boundary-value problem of the section Implementation (1), the computed solution \(u\) should equal the exact solution at the vertices of the cells. An important extension of our first program is therefore to examine the computed values of the solution, which is the focus of the present section.

A finite element function like \(u\) is expressed as a linear combination of basis functions \(\phi_j\), spanning the space \(V\):

(7)\[ \sum_{j=1}^N U_j \phi_j \thinspace .\]

By writing `solve(a == L, u, bc)`

in the program, a linear system
will be formed from \(a\) and \(L\), and this system is solved
for the \(U_1,\ldots,U_N\) values. The \(U_1,\ldots,U_N\)
values are known

as *degrees of freedom* of \(u\). For Lagrange elements (and many
other element types) \(U_k\) is simply the value of \(u\) at
the node with global number \(k\). (The nodes and cell vertices
coincide for linear Lagrange elements, while for higher-order elements
there may be additional nodes at the facets and in the interior of
cells.)

Having `u`

represented as a `Function`

object, we can either
evaluate `u(x)`

at any vertex `x`

in the mesh, or we can grab all
the values \(U_j\) directly by

```
u_nodal_values = u.vector()
```

The result is a DOLFIN `Vector`

object, which is basically an
encapsulation of the vector object used in the linear algebra package
that is used to solve the linear system arising from the variational
problem. Since we program in Python it is convenient to convert the
`Vector`

object to a standard `numpy`

array for further
processing:

```
u_array = u_nodal_values.array()
```

With `numpy`

arrays we can write “MATLAB-like” code to analyze the
data. Indexing is done with square brackets: `u_array[i]`

, where the
index `i`

always starts at `0`

.

- Mesh information can be gathered from the emp{mesh} object, e.g.,
`mesh.coordinates()`

returns the coordinates of the vertices as an \(M\times d\)`numpy`

array, \(M\) being the number of vertices in the mesh and \(d\) being the number of space dimensions,`mesh.num_cells()`

returns the number of cells (triangles) in the mesh,`mesh.num_vertices()`

returns the number of vertices in the mesh (with our choice of linear Lagrange elements this equals the number of nodes),

Writing `print mesh`

dumps a short, “pretty print” description of
the mesh (`print mesh`

actually displays the result of str(mesh)`,
which defines the pretty print):

```
<Mesh of topological dimension 2 (triangles) with
16 vertices and 18 cells, ordered>
```

All mesh objects are of type `Mesh`

so typing the command ```
pydoc
dolfin.Mesh
```

in a terminal window will give a list of methods (that
is, functions in a class) that can be called through any `Mesh`

object. In fact, `pydoc dolfin.X`

shows the documentation of any
DOLFIN name `X`

.

Writing out the solution on the screen can now be done by a simple loop:

```
coor = mesh.coordinates()
if mesh.num_vertices() == len(u_array):
for i in range(mesh.num_vertices()):
print 'u(%8g,%8g) = %g' % (coor[i][0], coor[i][1], u_array[i])
```

The beginning of the output looks like this:

```
u( 0, 0) = 1
u(0.166667, 0) = 1.02778
u(0.333333, 0) = 1.11111
u( 0.5, 0) = 1.25
u(0.666667, 0) = 1.44444
u(0.833333, 0) = 1.69444
u( 1, 0) = 2
```

For Lagrange elements of degree higher than one, the vertices do not correspond to all the nodal points and the if-test fails.

For verification purposes we want to compare the values of the
computed `u`

at the nodes (given by `u_array`

) with the exact
solution `u0`

evaluated at the nodes. The difference between the
computed and exact solution should be less than a small tolerance at
all the nodes. The `Expression`

object `u0`

can be evaluated at
any point `x`

by calling `u0(x)`

. Specifically, `u0(coor[i])`

returns the value of `u0`

at the vertex or node with global number
`i`

.

Alternatively, we can make a finite element field `u_e`

,
representing the exact solution, whose values at the nodes are given
by the `u0`

function. With mathematics, \(u_{\mbox{e}} =
\sum_{j=1}^N E_j\phi_j\), where \(E_j=u_0(x_j,y_j)\),
\((x_j,y_j)\) being the coordinates of node number \(j\).
This process is known as interpolation. FEniCS has a function for
performing the operation:

```
u_e = interpolate(u0, V)
```

The maximum error can now be computed as

```
u_e_array = u_e.vector().array()
print 'Max error:', numpy.abs(u_e_array - u_array).max()
```

The value of the error should be at the level of the machine precision (\(10^{-16}\)).

To demonstrate the use of point evaluations of `Function`

objects,
we write out the computed `u`

at the center point of the domain and
compare it with the exact solution:

```
center = (0.5, 0.5)
print 'numerical u at the center point:', u(center)
print 'exact u at the center point:', u0(center)
```

Trying a \(3\times 3\) mesh, the output from the previous snippet becomes

```
numerical u at the center point: [ 1.83333333]
exact u at the center point: [ 1.75]
```

The discrepancy is due to the fact that the center point is not a node
in this particular mesh, but a point in the interior of a cell, and
`u`

varies linearly over the cell while `u0`

is a quadratic
function.

We have seen how to extract the nodal values in a `numpy`

array. If
desired, we can adjust the nodal values too. Say we want to normalize
the solution such that \(\max_j U_j = 1\). Then we must divide all
\(U_j\) values by \(\max_j U_j\). The following snippet
performs the task:

```
max_u = u_array.max()
u_array /= max_u
u.vector()[:] = u_array
u.vector().set_local(u_array) # alternative
print u.vector().array()
```

That is, we manipulate `u_array`

as desired, and then we insert this
array into u‘s `Vector`

object. The `/=`

operator implies an
in-place modification of the object on the left-hand side: all
elements of the `u_array`

are divided by the value `max_u`

.
Alternatively, one could write `u_array = u_array/max_u`

, which
implies creating a new array on the right-hand side and assigning this
array to the name `u_array`

.

A call like `u.vector().array()`

returns a copy of the data in
`u.vector()`

. One must therefore never perform assignments like
`u.vector.array()[:] = ...`

, but instead extract the `numpy`

array
(i.e., a copy), manipulate it, and insert it back with ```
u.vector()[:]
= `` or ``u.set_local(...)
```

.

All the code in this subsection can be found in the file `d4_p2D.py`

in the `stationary/poisson`

directory. We have commented out the
plotting statements in this version of the program, but if you want
plotting to happen, make sure that `interactive`

is called at the
very end of the program.

Perhaps you are not particularly amazed by viewing the simple surface of \(u\) in the test problem from the section Implementation (1). However, solving a real physical problem with a more interesting and amazing solution on the screen is only a matter of specifying a more exciting domain, boundary condition, and/or right-hand side \(f\).

One possible physical problem regards the deflection \(D(x,y)\) of an elastic circular membrane with radius \(R\), subject to a localized perpendicular pressure force, modeled as a Gaussian function. The appropriate PDE model is

\[-T\nabla^2 D = p(x,y)\quad\hbox{in }\Omega = \{ (x,y)\,|\, x^2+y^2\leq R\},\]

with

\[p(x,y) = {A\over 2\pi\sigma}\exp{\left(
- {1\over2}\left( {x-x_0\over\sigma}\right)^2
- {1\over2}\left( {y-y_0\over\sigma}\right)^2
\right)}\, .\]

Here, \(T\) is the tension in the membrane (constant), \(p\) is the external pressure load, \(A\) the amplitude of the pressure, \((x_0,y_0)\) the localization of the Gaussian pressure function, and \(\sigma\) the “width” of this function. The boundary of the membrane has no deflection, implying \(D=0\) as boundary condition.

For scaling and verification it is convenient to simplify the problem to find an analytical solution. In the limit \(\sigma\rightarrow\infty\), \(p\rightarrow A/(2\pi\sigma)\), which allows us to integrate an axi–symmetric version of the equation in the radial coordinate \(r\in [0,R]\) and obtain \(D(r)=(r^2-R^2)A/(8\pi\sigma T)\). This result gives a rough estimate of the characteristic size of the deflection: \(|D(0)|=AR^2/(8\pi\sigma T)\), which can be used to scale the deflecton. With \(R\) as characteristic length scale, we can derive the equivalent dimensionless problem on the unit circle,

(8)\[ -\nabla^2 w = f,\]

with \(w=0\) on the boundary and with

(9)\[ f(x,y) = 4\exp{\left(
- \frac{1}{2}\left( \frac{Rx-x_0}{\sigma}\right)^2
- \frac{1}{2}\left( \frac{Ry-y_0}{\sigma}\right)^2
\right)}.\]

end{equation} For notational convenience we have dropped introducing new symbols for the scaled coordinates in (9). Now \(D\) is related to \(w\) through \(D = AR^2w/(8\pi\sigma T)\).

Let us list the modifications of the `d1_p2D.py`

program that are
needed to solve this membrane problem:

- Initialize \(T\), \(A\), \(R\), \(x_0\), \(y_0\), and \(\sigma\),
- create a mesh over the unit circle,
- make an expression object for the scaled pressure function \(f\),
- define the
`a`

and`L`

formulas in the variational problem for \(w\) and compute the solution,- plot the mesh, \(w\), and \(f\),
- write out the maximum real deflection \(D\).

Some suitable values of \(T\), \(A\), \(R\), \(x_0\), \(y_0\), and \(\sigma\) are

```
T = 10.0 # tension
A = 1.0 # pressure amplitude
R = 0.3 # radius of domain
theta = 0.2
x0 = 0.6*R*cos(theta)
y0 = 0.6*R*sin(theta)
sigma = 0.025
```

A mesh over the unit circle can be created by

```
mesh = UnitCircle(n)
```

where `n`

is the typical number of elements in the radial direction.

The function \(f\) is represented by an `Expression`

object. There are many physical parameters in the formula for
\(f\) that enter the expression string and these parameters must
have their values set by keyword arguments:

```
f = Expression('4*exp(-0.5*(pow((R*x[0] - x0)/sigma, 2)) '
' - 0.5*(pow((R*x[1] - y0)/sigma, 2)))',
R=R, x0=x0, y0=y0, sigma=sigma)
```

The coordinates in `Expression`

objects *must* be a vector with
indices 0, 1, and 2, and with the name `x`

. Otherwise we are free to
introduce names of parameters as long as these are given default
values by keyword arguments. All the parameters initialized by keyword
arguments can at any time have their values modified. For example, we
may set

```
f.sigma = 50
f.x0 = 0.3
```

It would be of interest to visualize \(f\) along with \(w\) so
that we can examine the pressure force and its response. We must then
transform the formula (`Expression`

) to a finite element function
(`Function`

). The most natural approach is to construct a finite
element function whose degrees of freedom (values at the nodes in this
case) are calculated from \(f\). That is, we interpolate \(f\)
(see the section Examining the Discrete Solution):

```
f = interpolate(f, V)
```

Calling `plot(f)`

will produce a plot of \(f\). Note that the
assignment to `f`

destroys the previous `Expression`

object `f`

,
so if it is of interest to still have access to this object, another
name must be used for the `Function`

object returned by
`interpolate`

.

We need some evidence that the program works, and to this end we may use the analytical solution listed above for the case \(\sigma\rightarrow\infty\). In scaled coordinates the solution reads

\[w_{\rm}(x,y) = 1-x^2-y^2 .\]

Practical values for an infinite \(\sigma\) may be 50 or larger, and in such cases the program will report the maximum deviation between the computed \(w\) and the (approximate) exact \(w_{\rm e}\).

Note that the variational formulation remains the same as in the
program from the section Implementation (1), except that
\(u\) is replaced by \(w\) and \(u_0=0\). The final
program is found in the file `membrane1.py`

, located in the
`stationary/poisson`

directory, and also listed below. We have
inserted capabilities for iterative solution methods and hence large
meshes (the section Controlling the Solution Process), used objects for
the variational problem and solver (the section
Linear Variational Problem and Solver Objects), and made numerical comparison of
the numerical and (approximate) analytical solution (the section
Examining the Discrete Solution).

```
"""
FEniCS program for the deflection w(x,y) of a membrane:
-Laplace(w) = p = Gaussian function, in a unit circle,
with w = 0 on the boundary.
"""
from dolfin import *
import numpy
# Set pressure function:
T = 10.0 # tension
A = 1.0 # pressure amplitude
R = 0.3 # radius of domain
theta = 0.2
x0 = 0.6*R*cos(theta)
y0 = 0.6*R*sin(theta)
sigma = 0.025
sigma = 50 # large value for verification
n = 40 # approx no of elements in radial direction
mesh = UnitCircle(n)
V = FunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', 1)
# Define boundary condition w=0
def boundary(x, on_boundary):
return on_boundary
bc = DirichletBC(V, Constant(0.0), boundary)
# Define variational problem
w = TrialFunction(V)
v = TestFunction(V)
a = inner(nabla_grad(w), nabla_grad(v))*dx
f = Expression('4*exp(-0.5*(pow((R*x[0] - x0)/sigma, 2)) '
' -0.5*(pow((R*x[1] - y0)/sigma, 2)))',
R=R, x0=x0, y0=y0, sigma=sigma)
L = f*v*dx
# Compute solution
w = Function(V)
problem = LinearVariationalProblem(a, L, w, bc)
solver = LinearVariationalSolver(problem)
solver.parameters['linear_solver'] = 'cg'
solver.parameters['preconditioner'] = 'ilu'
solver.solve()
# Plot scaled solution, mesh and pressure
plot(mesh, title='Mesh over scaled domain')
plot(w, title='Scaled deflection')
f = interpolate(f, V)
plot(f, title='Scaled pressure')
# Find maximum real deflection
max_w = w.vector().array().max()
max_D = A*max_w/(8*pi*sigma*T)
print 'Maximum real deflection is', max_D
# Verification for "flat" pressure (large sigma)
if sigma >= 50:
w_e = Expression("1 - x[0]*x[0] - x[1]*x[1]")
w_e = interpolate(w_e, V)
dev = numpy.abs(w_e.vector().array() - w.vector().array()).max()
print 'sigma=%g: max deviation=%e' % (sigma, dev)
# Should be at the end
interactive()
```

Choosing a small width \(\sigma\) (say 0.01) and a location \((x_0,y_0)\) toward the circular boundary (say \((0.6R\cos\theta, 0.6R\sin\theta)\) for any \(\theta\in [0,2\pi]\)), may produce an exciting visual comparison of \(w\) and \(f\) that demonstrates the very smoothed elastic response to a peak force (or mathematically, the smoothing properties of the inverse of the Laplace operator). One needs to experiment with the mesh resolution to get a smooth visual representation of~$f$. You are strongly encouraged to play around with the plots and different mesh resolutions.

As we go along with examples it is fun to play around with `plot`

commands and visualize what is computed. This section explains some
useful visualization features.

The `plot(u)`

command launches a FEniCS component called Viper,
which applies the VTK package to visualize finite element functions.
Viper is not a full-fledged, easy-to-use front-end to VTK (like
Mayavi2, ParaView or, VisIt), but rather a thin layer on top of VTK’s
Python interface, allowing us to quickly visualize a DOLFIN function
or mesh, or data in plain Numerical Python arrays, within a Python
program. Viper is ideal for debugging, teaching, and initial
scientific investigations. The visualization can be interactive, or
you can steer and automate it through program statements. More
advanced and professional visualizations are usually better done with
advanced tools like Mayavi2, ParaView, or VisIt.

We have made a program `membrane1v.py`

for the membrane deflection
problem in the section Solving a Real Physical Problem and added various
demonstrations of Viper capabilities. You are encouraged to play
around with `membrane1v.py`

and modify the code as you read about
various features.

The `plot`

function can take additional arguments, such as a title
of the plot, or a specification of a wireframe plot (elevated mesh)
instead of a colored surface plot:

```
plot(mesh, title='Finite element mesh')
plot(w, wireframe=True, title='solution')
```

The three mouse buttons can be used to rotate, translate, and zoom the
surface. Pressing `h`

in the plot window makes a printout of
several key bindings that are available in such windows. For example,
pressing `m`

in the mesh plot window dumps the plot of the mesh to
an Encapsulated PostScript (`.eps`

) file, while pressing `i`

saves
the plot in PNG format. All plotfile names are automatically
generated as `simulationX.eps`

, where `X`

is a counter `0000`

,
`0001`

, `0002`

, etc., being increased every time a new plot file
in that format is generated (the extension of PNG files is `.png`

instead of `.eps`

). Pressing `o`

adds a red outline of a bounding
box around the domain.

One can alternatively control the visualization from the program code
directly. This is done through a `Viper`

object returned from the
`plot`

command. Let us grab this object and use it to
1) tilt the camera \(-65\) degrees in the latitude direction, 2)
add \(x\) and \(y\) axes, 3) change the default name of the
plot files,
4) change the color scale, and 5) write the plot
to a PNG and an EPS file. Here is the code:

```
viz_w = plot(w,
wireframe=False,
title='Scaled membrane deflection',
rescale=False,
axes=True, # include axes
basename='deflection', # default plotfile name
)
viz_w.elevate(-65) # tilt camera -65 degrees (latitude dir)
viz_w.set_min_max(0, 0.5*max_w) # color scale
viz_w.update(w) # bring settings above into action
viz_w.write_png('deflection.png')
viz_w.write_ps('deflection', format='eps')
```

The `format`

argument in the latter line can also take the values
`'ps'`

for a standard PostScript file and `'pdf'`

for a PDF file.
Note the necessity of the `viz_w.update(w)`

call – without it we
will not see the effects of tilting the camera and changing the color
scale. Figure Plot of the deflection of a membrane shows the resulting scalar
surface.

In Poisson and many other problems the gradient of the solution is of interest. The computation is in principle simple: since \(u = \sum_{j=1}^N U_j \phi_j\), we have that

\[\nabla u = \sum_{j=1}^N U_j \nabla \phi_j\thinspace .\]

Given the solution variable `u`

in the program, its gradient is
obtained by `grad(u)`

or `nabla_grad(u)`

. However, the gradient
of a piecewise continuous finite element scalar field is a
discontinuous vector field since the \(\phi_j\) has discontinuous
derivatives at the boundaries of the cells. For example, using
Lagrange elements of degree 1, \(u\) is linear over each cell, and
the numerical \(\nabla u\) becomes a piecewise constant vector
field. On the contrary, the exact gradient is continuous. For
visualization and data analysis purposes we often want the computed
gradient to be a continuous vector field. Typically, we want each
component of \(\nabla u\) to be represented in the same way as
\(u\) itself. To this end, we can project the components of
\(\nabla u\) onto the same function space as we used for
\(u\). This means that we solve \(w = \nabla u\)
approximately by a finite element method, using the same elements for
the components of \(w\) as we used for \(u\). This process is
known as *projection*.

Looking at the component \(\partial u/\partial x\) of the gradient, we project the (discrete) derivative \(\sum_jU_j{\partial \phi_j/\partial x}\) onto a function space with basis \(\phi_1,\phi_2,\ldots\) such that the derivative in this space is expressed by the standard sum \(\sum_j\bar U_j \phi_j\), for suitable (new) coefficients \(\bar U_j\).

The variational problem for \(w\) reads: find \(w\in V^{(\mbox{g})}\) such that

\[a(w, v) = L(v)\quad\forall v\in \hat{V^{(\mbox{g})}},\]

where

\[\begin{split}a(w, v) &= \int_\Omega w\cdot v \, \mathrm{d}x,\\
L(v) &= \int_\Omega \nabla u\cdot v \, \mathrm{d}x\thinspace .\end{split}\]

The function spaces \(V^{(\mbox{g})}\) and \(\hat{V^{(\mbox{g})}}\) (with the superscript g denoting “gradient”) are vector versions of the function space for \(u\), with boundary conditions removed (if \(V\) is the space we used for \(u\), with no restrictions on boundary values, \(V^{(\mbox{g})} = \hat{V^{(\mbox{g})}} = [V]^d\), where \(d\) is the number of space dimensions). For example, if we used piecewise linear functions on the mesh to approximate \(u\), the variational problem for \(w\) corresponds to approximating each component field of \(w\) by piecewise linear functions.

The variational problem for the vector field \(w\), called
`grad_u`

in the code, is easy to solve in FEniCS:

```
V_g = VectorFunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', 1)
w = TrialFunction(V_g)
v = TestFunction(V_g)
a = inner(w, v)*dx
L = inner(grad(u), v)*dx
grad_u = Function(V_g)
solve(a == L, grad_u)
plot(grad_u, title='grad(u)')
```

The boundary condition argument to `solve`

is dropped since there
are no essential boundary conditions in this problem. The new thing
is basically that we work with a `VectorFunctionSpace`

, since the
unknown is now a vector field, instead of the `FunctionSpace`

object
for scalar fields. Figure Example of visualizing the vector field by arrows
at the nodes shows
example of how Viper can visualize such a vector field.

The scalar component fields of the gradient can be extracted as separate fields and, e.g., visualized:

```
grad_u_x, grad_u_y = grad_u.split(deepcopy=True) # extract components
plot(grad_u_x, title='x-component of grad(u)')
plot(grad_u_y, title='y-component of grad(u)')
```

The `deepcopy=True`

argument signifies a *deep copy*, which is a
general term in computer science implying that a copy of the data is
returned. (The opposite, `deepcopy=False`

, means a *shallow copy*,
where the returned objects are just pointers to the original data.)

The `grad_u_x`

and `grad_u_y`

variables behave as `Function`

objects. In particular, we can extract the underlying arrays of nodal
values by

```
grad_u_x_array = grad_u_x.vector().array()
grad_u_y_array = grad_u_y.vector().array()
```

The degrees of freedom of the `grad_u`

vector field can also be
reached by

```
grad_u_array = grad_u.vector().array()
```

but this is a flat `numpy`

array where the degrees of freedom for
the \(x\) component of the gradient is stored in the first part,
then the degrees of freedom of the \(y\) component, and so on.

The program `d5_p2D.py`

extends the code `d5_p2D.py`

from the
section Examining the Discrete Solution with computations and
visualizations of the gradient. Examining the arrays
`grad_u_x_array`

and `grad_u_y_array`

, or looking at the plots of
`grad_u_x`

and `grad_u_y`

, quickly reveals that the computed
`grad_u`

field does not equal the exact gradient \((2x, 4y)\) in
this particular test problem where \(u=1+x^2+2y^2\). There are
inaccuracies at the boundaries, arising from the approximation problem
for \(w\). Increasing the mesh resolution shows, however, that the
components of the gradient vary linearly as \(2x\) and \(4y\)
in the interior of the mesh (i.e., as soon as we are one element away
from the boundary). See the section Quick Visualization with VTK for
illustrations of this phenomenon.

Projecting some function onto some space is a very common operation in
finite element programs. The manual steps in this process have
therefore been collected in a utility function `project(q, W)`

,
which returns the projection of some `Function`

or `Expression`

object named `q`

onto the `FunctionSpace`

or
`VectorFunctionSpace`

named `W`

. Specifically, the previous code
for projecting each component of `grad(u)`

onto the same space that
we use for `u`

, can now be done by a one-line call

```
grad_u = project(grad(u), VectorFunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', 1))
```

The applications of projection are many, including turning discontinuous gradient fields into continuous ones, comparing higher- and lower-order function approximations, and transforming a higher-order finite element solution down to a piecewise linear field, which is required by many visualization packages.

Suppose we have a variable coefficient \(p(x,y)\) in the Laplace operator, as in the boundary-value problem

(10)\[\begin{split} - \nabla\cdot \left\lbrack
p(x,y)\nabla u(x,y)\right\rbrack &= f(x,y) \quad \mbox{in } \Omega,
\\
u(x,y) &= u_0(x,y) \quad \mbox{on}\ \partial\Omega\thinspace .\end{split}\]

We shall quickly demonstrate that this simple extension of our model problem only requires an equally simple extension of the FEniCS program.

Let us continue to use our favorite solution \(u(x,y)=1+x^2+2y^2\) and then prescribe \(p(x,y)=x+y\). It follows that \(u_0(x,y) = 1 + x^2 + 2y^2\) and \(f(x,y)=-8x-10y\).

What are the modifications we need to do in the `d4_p2D.py`

program
from the section Examining the Discrete Solution?

`f`

must be an`Expression`

since it is no longer a constant,- a new
`Expression`

p must be defined for the variable coefficient,- the variational problem is slightly changed.

First we address the modified variational problem. Multiplying the PDE by a test function \(v\) and integrating by parts now results in

\[\int_\Omega p\nabla u\cdot\nabla v \, \mathrm{d}x -
\int_{\partial\Omega} p{\partial u\over
\partial n}v \, \mathrm{d}s = \int_\Omega fv \, \mathrm{d}x\thinspace .\]

The function spaces for \(u\) and \(v\) are the same as in the section Variational Formulation, implying that the boundary integral vanishes since \(v=0\) on \(\partial\Omega\) where we have Dirichlet conditions. The weak form \(a(u,v)=L(v)\) then has

\[\begin{split}a(u,v) &= \int_\Omega p\nabla u\cdot\nabla v \, \mathrm{d}x,\\
L(v) &= \int_\Omega fv \, \mathrm{d}x\thinspace .\end{split}\]

In the code from the section Implementation (1) we must replace

```
a = inner(nabla_grad(u), nabla_grad(v))*dx
```

by

```
a = p*inner(nabla_grad(u), nabla_grad(v))*dx
```

The definitions of `p`

and `f`

read

```
p = Expression('x[0] + x[1]')
f = Expression('-8*x[0] - 10*x[1]')
```

No additional modifications are necessary. The complete code can be
found in in the file `vcp2D.py`

(variable-coefficient Poisson
problem in 2D). You can run it and confirm that it recovers the exact
\(u\) at the nodes.

The flux \(-p\nabla u\) may be of particular interest in variable-coefficient Poisson problems as it often has an interesting physical significance. As explained in the section Computing Derivatives, we normally want the piecewise discontinuous flux or gradient to be approximated by a continuous vector field, using the same elements as used for the numerical solution \(u\). The approximation now consists of solving \(w = -p\nabla u\) by a finite element method: find \(w\in V^{(\mbox{g})}\) such that

\[a(w, v) = L(v)\quad\forall v\in \hat{V^{(\mbox{g})}},\]

where

\[\begin{split}a(w, v) &= \int_\Omega w\cdot v \, \mathrm{d}x,\\
L(v) &= \int_\Omega (-p \nabla u)\cdot v \, \mathrm{d}x\thinspace .\end{split}\]

This problem is identical to the one in the section Computing Derivatives, except that \(p\) enters the integral in \(L\).

The relevant Python statements for computing the flux field take the form

```
V_g = VectorFunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', 1)
w = TrialFunction(V_g)
v = TestFunction(V_g)
a = inner(w, v)*dx
L = inner(-p*grad(u), v)*dx
flux = Function(V_g)
solve(a == L, flux)
```

The following call to `project`

is equivalent to the above
statements:

```
flux = project(-p*grad(u),
VectorFunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', 1))
```

Plotting the flux vector field is naturally as easy as plotting the gradient (see the section Computing Derivatives):

```
plot(flux, title='flux field')
flux_x, flux_y = flux.split(deepcopy=True) # extract components
plot(flux_x, title='x-component of flux (-p*grad(u))')
plot(flux_y, title='y-component of flux (-p*grad(u))')
```

For data analysis of the nodal values of the flux field we can grab
the underlying `numpy`

arrays:

```
flux_x_array = flux_x.vector().array()
flux_y_array = flux_y.vector().array()
```

The program `vcp2D.py`

contains in addition some plots, including a
curve plot comparing `flux_x`

and the exact counterpart along the
line \(y=1/2\). The associated programming details related to
this visualization are explained in the section Visualization of Structured Mesh Data.

After the solution \(u\) of a PDE is computed, we occasionally want to compute functionals of \(u\), for example,

(11)\[ {1\over2}||\nabla u||^2 \equiv {1\over2}\int_\Omega \nabla u\cdot \nabla u \, \mathrm{d}x,\]

which often reflects some energy quantity. Another frequently occurring functional is the error

(12)\[ ||u_{\mbox{e}}-u|| = \left(\int_\Omega (u_{\mbox{e}}-u)^2 \, \mathrm{d}x\right)^{1/2},\]

where \(u_{\rm e}\) is the exact solution. The error is of particular interest when studying convergence properties. Sometimes the interest concerns the flux out of a part \(\Gamma\) of the boundary \(\partial\Omega\),

(13)\[ F = -\int_\Gamma p\nabla u\cdot\pmb{n} \, \mathrm{d}s,\]

where \(\pmb{n}\) is an outward unit normal at \(\Gamma\) and \(p\) is a coefficient (see the problem in the section A Variable-Coefficient Poisson Problem for a specific example). All these functionals are easy to compute with FEniCS, and this section describes how it can be done.

*Energy Functional.* The integrand of the energy functional
\({1\over2}\int_\Omega \nabla u\cdot \nabla u \, \mathrm{d}x\) is
described in the UFL language in the same manner as we describe weak
forms:

```
energy = 0.5*inner(grad(u), grad(u))*dx
E = assemble(energy)
```

The `assemble`

call performs the integration. It is possible to
restrict the integration to subdomains, or parts of the boundary, by
using a mesh function to mark the subdomains as explained in the
section Multiple Neumann, Robin, and Dirichlet Condition. The program `membrane2.py`

carries out the computation of the elastic energy

\[{1\over2}||T\nabla D||^2 = {1\over2}\left({AR\over 8\pi\sigma}\right)^2
||\nabla w||^2\]

in the membrane problem from the section Solving a Real Physical Problem.

*Convergence Estimation.* To illustrate error computations and
convergence of finite element solutions, we modify the `d5_p2D.py`

program from the section Computing Derivatives and specify a more
complicated solution,

\[u(x,y) = \sin(\omega\pi x)\sin(\omega\pi y)\]

on the unit square. This choice implies \(f(x,y)=2\omega^2\pi^2 u(x,y)\). With \(\omega\) restricted to an integer it follows that \(u_0=0\).

We need to define the appropriate boundary conditions, the exact solution, and the \(f\) function in the code:

```
def boundary(x, on_boundary):
return on_boundary
bc = DirichletBC(V, Constant(0.0), boundary)
omega = 1.0
u_e = Expression('sin(omega*pi*x[0])*sin(omega*pi*x[1])',
omega=omega)
f = 2*pi**2*omega**2*u_e
```

The computation of \(\left(\int_\Omega (u_e-u)^2 \, \mathrm{d}x\right)^{1/2}\) can be done by

```
error = (u - u_e)**2*dx
E = sqrt(assemble(error))
```

Here, `u_e`

will be interpolated onto the function space `V`

. This
implies that the exact solution used in the integral will vary
linearly over the cells, and not as a sine function, if `V`

corresponds to linear Lagrange elements. This situation may yield a
smaller error `u - u_e`

than what is actually true.

More accurate representation of the exact solution is easily achieved by interpolating the formula onto a space defined by higher-order elements, say of third degree:

```
Ve = FunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', degree=3)
u_e_Ve = interpolate(u_e, Ve)
error = (u - u_e_Ve)**2*dx
E = sqrt(assemble(error))
```

To achieve complete mathematical control of which function space the
computations are carried out in, we can explicitly interpolate `u`

to the same space:

```
u_Ve = interpolate(u, Ve)
error = (u_Ve - u_e_Ve)**2*dx
```

The square in the expression for `error`

will be expanded and lead
to a lot of terms that almost cancel when the error is small, with the
potential of introducing significant round-off errors. The function
`errornorm`

is available for avoiding this effect by first
interpolating `u`

and `u_e`

to a space with higher-order elements,
then subtracting the degrees of freedom, and then performing the
integration of the error field. The usage is simple:

```
E = errornorm(u_e, u, normtype='L2', degree=3)
```

It is illustrative to look at the short implementation of
`errornorm`

:

```
def errornorm(u_e, u, Ve):
u_Ve = interpolate(u, Ve)
u_e_Ve = interpolate(u_e, Ve)
e_Ve = Function(Ve)
# Subtract degrees of freedom for the error field
e_Ve.vector()[:] = u_e_Ve.vector().array() - \
u_Ve.vector().array()
error = e_Ve**2*dx
return sqrt(assemble(error))
```

The `errornorm`

procedure turns out to be identical to computing the
expression `(u_e - u)**2*dx`

directly in the present test case.

Sometimes it is of interest to compute the error of the gradient
field: \(||\nabla (u-u_{\mbox{e}})||\) (often referred to as the
\(H^1\) seminorm of the error). Given the error field `e_Ve`

above, we simply write

```
H1seminorm = sqrt(assemble(inner(grad(e_Ve), grad(e_Ve))*dx))
```

Finally, we remove all `plot`

calls and printouts of \(u\)
values in the original program, and collect the computations in a
function:

```
def compute(nx, ny, degree):
mesh = UnitSquare(nx, ny)
V = FunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', degree=degree)
...
Ve = FunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', degree=5)
E = errornorm(u_e, u, Ve)
return E
```

Calling `compute`

for finer and finer meshes enables us to study the
convergence rate. Define the element size \(h=1/n\), where
\(n\) is the number of divisions in \(x\) and \(y\)
direction (`nx=ny`

in the code). We perform experiments with
\(h_0>h_1>h_2\cdots\) and compute the corresponding errors
\(E_0, E_1, E_3\) and so forth. Assuming \(E_i=Ch_i^r\) for
unknown constants \(C\) and \(r\), we can compare two
consecutive experiments, \(E_i=Ch_i^r\) and
\(E_{i-1}=Ch_{i-1}^r\), and solve for \(r\):

\[r = {\ln(E_i/E_{i-1})\over\ln (h_i/h_{i-1})}\thinspace .\]

The \(r\) values should approach the expected convergence rate
`degree+1`

as \(i\) increases.

The procedure above can easily be turned into Python code:

```
import sys
degree = int(sys.argv[1]) # read degree as 1st command-line arg
h = [] # element sizes
E = [] # errors
for nx in [4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 264]:
h.append(1.0/nx)
E.append(compute(nx, nx, degree))
# Convergence rates
from math import log as ln # (log is a dolfin name too - and logg :-)
for i in range(1, len(E)):
r = ln(E[i]/E[i-1])/ln(h[i]/h[i-1])
print 'h=%10.2E r=.2f' (h[i], r)
```

The resulting program has the name `d6_p2D.py`

and computes error
norms in various ways. Running this program for elements of first
degree and \(\omega=1\) yields the output

```
h=1.25E-01 E=3.25E-02 r=1.83
h=6.25E-02 E=8.37E-03 r=1.96
h=3.12E-02 E=2.11E-03 r=1.99
h=1.56E-02 E=5.29E-04 r=2.00
h=7.81E-03 E=1.32E-04 r=2.00
h=3.79E-03 E=3.11E-05 r=2.00
```

That is, we approach the expected second-order convergence of linear Lagrange elements as the meshes become sufficiently fine.

Running the program for second-degree elements results in the expected value \(r=3\),

```
h=1.25E-01 E=5.66E-04 r=3.09
h=6.25E-02 E=6.93E-05 r=3.03
h=3.12E-02 E=8.62E-06 r=3.01
h=1.56E-02 E=1.08E-06 r=3.00
h=7.81E-03 E=1.34E-07 r=3.00
h=3.79E-03 E=1.53E-08 r=3.00
```

However, using `(u - u_e)**2`

for the error computation, which
implies interpolating `u_e`

onto the same space as `u`

, results in
\(r=4\) (!). This is an example where it is important to
interpolate `u_e`

to a higher-order space (polynomials of degree 3
are sufficient here) to avoid computing a too optimistic convergence
rate.

Running the program for third-degree elements results in the expected value \(r=4\):

```
h= 1.25E-01 r=4.09
h= 6.25E-02 r=4.03
h= 3.12E-02 r=4.01
h= 1.56E-02 r=4.00
h= 7.81E-03 r=4.00
```

Checking convergence rates is the next best method for verifying PDE codes (the best being exact recovery of a solution as in the section Examining the Discrete Solution and many other places in this tutorial).

*Flux Functionals.* To compute flux integrals like \(\int_\Gamma
p\nabla u\cdot\pmb{n} \, \mathrm{d}s\) we need to define the
\(\pmb{n}\) vector, referred to as *facet normal* in FEniCS. If
\(\Gamma\) is the complete boundary we can perform the flux
computation by

```
n = FacetNormal(mesh)
flux = -p*dot(nabla_grad(u), n)*ds
total_flux = assemble(flux)
```

Although `nabla_grad(u)`

and `grad(u)`

are interchangeable in the
above expression when `u`

is a scalar function, we have chosen to
write `nabla_grad(u)`

because this is the right expression if we
generalize the underlying equation to a vector Laplace/Poisson
PDE. With `grad(u)`

we must in that case write `dot(n, grad(u))`

.

It is possible to restrict the integration to a part of the boundary
using a mesh function to mark the relevant part, as explained in the
section Multiple Neumann, Robin, and Dirichlet Condition. Assuming that the part
corresponds to subdomain number `i`

, the relevant form for the flux
is `-p*inner(grad(u), n)*ds(i)`

.

When finite element computations are done on a structured rectangular
mesh, maybe with uniform partitioning, VTK-based tools for completely
unstructured 2D/3D meshes are not required. Instead we can use
visualization and data analysis tools for *structured data*. Such
data typically appear in finite difference simulations and image
analysis. Analysis and visualization of structured data are faster
and easier than doing the same with data on unstructured meshes, and
the collection of tools to choose among is much larger. We shall
demonstrate the potential of such tools and how they allow for
tailored and flexible visualization and data analysis.

A necessary first step is to transform our `mesh`

object to an
object representing a rectangle with equally-shaped *rectangular*
cells. The Python package `scitools`

(code.google.com/p/scitools) has this type of structure, called a
`UniformBoxGrid`

. The second step is to transform the
one-dimensional array of nodal values to a two-dimensional array
holding the values at the corners of the cells in the structured
grid. In such grids, we want to access a value by its \(i\) and
\(j\) indices, \(i\) counting cells in the \(x\)
direction, and \(j\) counting cells in the \(y\) direction.
This transformation is in principle straightforward, yet it frequently
leads to obscure indexing errors. The `BoxField`

object in
`scitools`

takes conveniently care of the details of the
transformation. With a `BoxField`

defined on a `UniformBoxGrid`

it is very easy to call up more standard plotting packages to
visualize the solution along lines in the domain or as 2D contours or
lifted surfaces.

Let us go back to the `vcp2D.py`

code from the section
A Variable-Coefficient Poisson Problem and map `u`

onto a `BoxField`

object:

```
import scitools.BoxField
u2 = u if u.ufl_element().degree() == 1 else \
interpolate(u, FunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', 1))
u_box = scitools.BoxField.dolfin_function2BoxField(
u2, mesh, (nx,ny), uniform_mesh=True)
```

The function `dolfin_function2BoxField`

can only work with finite
element fields with *linear* (degree 1) elements, so for higher-degree
elements we here simply interpolate the solution onto a mesh with
linear elements. We could also interpolate/project onto a finer mesh
in the higher-degree case. Such transformations to linear finite
element fields are very often needed when calling up plotting packages
or data analysis tools. The `u.ufl_element()`

method returns an
object holding the element type, and this object has a method
`degree()`

for returning the element degree as an integer. The
parameters `nx`

and `ny`

are the number of divisions in each space
direction that were used when calling `UnitSquare`

to make the
`mesh`

object. The result `u_box`

is a `BoxField`

object that
supports “finite difference” indexing and an underlying grid suitable
for `numpy`

operations on 2D data. Also 1D and 3D meshes (with
linear elements) can be turned into `BoxField`

objects.

The ability to access a finite element field in the way one can access
a finite difference-type of field is handy in many occasions,
including visualization and data analysis. Here is an example of
writing out the coordinates and the field value at a grid point with
indices `i`

and `j`

(going from 0 to `nx`

and `ny`

,
respectively, from lower left to upper right corner):

```
X = 0; Y = 1; Z = 0 # convenient indices
i = nx; j = ny # upper right corner
print 'u(%g,%g)=%g' % (u_box.grid.coor[X][i],
u_box.grid.coor[Y][j],
u_box.values[i,j])
```

For instance, the \(x\) coordinates are reached by
`u_box.grid.coor[X]`

. The `grid`

attribute is an instance of
class `UniformBoxGrid`

.

Many plotting programs can be used to visualize the data in `u_box`

.
Matplotlib is now a very popular plotting program in the Python world
and could be used to make contour plots of `u_box`

. However, other
programs like Gnuplot, VTK, and MATLAB have better support for surface
plots at the time of this writing. Our choice in this tutorial is to
use the Python package `scitools.easyviz`

, which offers a uniform
MATLAB-like syntax as interface to various plotting packages such as
Gnuplot, Matplotlib, VTK, OpenDX, MATLAB, and others. With
`scitools.easyviz`

we write one set of statements, close to what one
would do in MATLAB or Octave, and then it is easy to switch between
different plotting programs, at a later stage, through a command-line
option, a line in a configuration file, or an import statement in the
program.
.. By default, `scitools.easyviz`

employs Gnuplot as plotting program,

A contour plot is made by the following `scitools.easyviz`

command:

```
import scitools.easyviz as ev
ev.contour(u_box.grid.coorv[X], u_box.grid.coorv[Y], u_box.values,
5, clabels='on')
evtitle('Contour plot of u')
ev.savefig('u_contours.eps')
# or more compact syntax:
ev.contour(u_box.grid.coorv[X], u_box.grid.coorv[Y], u_box.values,
5, clabels='on',
savefig='u_contours.eps', title='Contour plot of u')
```

The resulting plot can be viewed in Figure
Finite element function on a structured 2D grid: contour plot of
the solution. The `contour`

function needs arrays
with the \(x\) and \(y\) coordinates expanded to 2D arrays (in
the same way as demanded when making vectorized `numpy`

calculations
of arithmetic expressions over all grid points). The correctly
expanded arrays are stored in `grid.coorv`

. The above call to
`contour`

creates 5 equally spaced contour lines, and with
`clabels='on'`

the contour values can be seen in the plot.

Other functions for visualizing 2D scalar fields are `surf`

and
`mesh`

as known from MATLAB:

```
import scitools.easyviz as ev
ev.figure()
ev.surf(u_box.grid.coorv[X], u_box.grid.coorv[Y], u_box.values,
shading='interp', colorbar='on',
title='surf plot of u', savefig='u_surf.eps')
ev.figure()
ev.mesh(u_box.grid.coorv[X], u_box.grid.coorv[Y], u_box.values,
title='mesh plot of u', savefig='u_mesh.eps')
```

Figure Finite element function on a structured 2D grid: surface plot of
the solution and Finite element function on a structured 2D grid: lifted mesh plot
of the solution
exemplify the surfaces arising from the two plotting commands above.
You can type `pydoc scitools.easyviz`

in a terminal window to get a
full tutorial. Note that `scitools.easyviz`

offers function names
like `plot`

and `mesh`

, which clash with `plot`

from `dolfin`

and the `mesh`

variable in our programs. Therefore, we recommend the
`ev`

prefix.

A handy feature of `BoxField`

is the ability to give a start point
in the grid and a direction, and then extract the field and
corresponding coordinates along the nearest grid line. In 3D fields
one can also extract data in a plane. Say we want to plot \(u\)
along the line \(y=1/2\) in the grid. The grid points, `x`

, and
the \(u\) values along this line, `uval`

, are extracted by

```
start = (0, 0.5)
x, uval, y_fixed, snapped = u_box.gridline(start, direction=X)
```

The variable `snapped`

is true if the line had to be snapped onto a
gridline and in that case `y_fixed`

holds the snapped (altered)
\(y\) value. Plotting \(u\) versus the \(x\) coordinate
along this line, using `scitools.easyviz`

, is now a matter of

```
ev.figure() # new plot window
ev.plot(x, uval, 'r-') # 'r--: red solid line
ev.title('Solution')
ev.legend('finite element solution')
# or more compactly:
ev.plot(x, uval, 'r-', title='Solution',
legend='finite element solution')
```

A more exciting plot compares the projected numerical flux in \(x\) direction along the line \(y=1/2\) with the exact flux:

```
ev.figure()
flux2_x = flux_x if flux_x.ufl_element().degree() == 1 else \
interpolate(flux_x, FunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', 1))
flux_x_box = scitools.BoxField.dolfin_function2BoxField(
flux2_x, mesh, (nx,ny), uniform_mesh=True)
x, fluxval, y_fixed, snapped = \
flux_x_box.gridline(start, direction=X)
y = y_fixed
flux_x_exact = -(x + y)*2*x
ev.plot(x, fluxval, 'r-',
x, flux_x_exact, 'b-',
legend=('numerical (projected) flux', 'exact flux'),
title='Flux in x-direction (at y=%g)' % y_fixed,
savefig='flux.eps')
```

As seen from Figure Finite element function on a structured 2D grid: curve plot of the exact flux and the projected numerical flux, the numerical flux is accurate except in the boundary elements.

The visualization constructions shown above and used to generate the
figures are found in the program `vcp2D.py`

in the
`stationary/poisson`

directory.

It should be easy with the information above to transform a finite
element field over a uniform rectangular or box-shaped mesh to the
corresponding `BoxField`

object and perform MATLAB-style
visualizations of the whole field or the field over planes or along
lines through the domain. By the transformation to a regular grid we
have some more flexibility than what Viper offers. However, we remark
that comprehensive tools like VisIt, MayaVi2, or ParaView also have
the possibility for plotting fields along lines and extracting planes
in 3D geometries, though usually with less degree of control compared
to Gnuplot, MATLAB, and Matplotlib. For example, in investigations of
numerical accuracy or numerical artifacts one is often interested in
studying curve plots where only the nodal values sampled. This is
straightforward with a structured mesh data structure, but more
difficult in visualization packages utilizing unstructured grids, as
hitting exactly then nodes when sampling a function along a line
through the grid might be non-trivial.

Let us make a slight extension of our two-dimensional Poisson problem from the section The Poisson equation and add a Neumann boundary condition. The domain is still the unit square, but now we set the Dirichlet condition \(u=u_0\) at the left and right sides, \(x=0\) and \(x=1\), while the Neumann condition

\[-{\partial u\over\partial n}=g\]

is applied to the remaining sides \(y=0\) and \(y=1\). The
Neumann condition is also known as a *natural boundary condition* (in
contrast to an essential boundary condition).

Let \(\Gamma_D\) and \(\Gamma_N\) denote the parts of \(\partial\Omega\) where the Dirichlet and Neumann conditions apply, respectively. The complete boundary-value problem can be written as

\[\begin{split}- \nabla^2 u &= f \mbox{ in } \Omega, \\
u &= u_0 \mbox{ on } \Gamma_D, \\
- {\partial u\over\partial n} &= g \mbox{ on } \Gamma_N \thinspace .\end{split}\]

Again we choose \(u=1+x^2 + 2y^2\) as the exact solution and adjust \(f\), \(g\), and \(u_0\) accordingly:

\[\begin{split}f &= -6,\\
g &= \left\lbrace\begin{array}{ll}
-4, & y=1\\
0, & y=0
\end{array}\right.\\
u_0 &= 1 + x^2 + 2y^2\thinspace .\end{split}\]

For ease of programming we may introduce a \(g\) function defined over the whole of \(\Omega\) such that \(g\) takes on the right values at \(y=0\) and \(y=1\). One possible extension is

\[g(x,y) = -4y\thinspace .\]

The first task is to derive the variational problem. This time we cannot omit the boundary term arising from the integration by parts, because \(v\) is only zero on \(\Gamma_D\). We have

\[ -\int_\Omega (\nabla^2 u)v \, \mathrm{d}x
= \int_\Omega\nabla u\cdot\nabla v \, \mathrm{d}x - \int_{\partial\Omega}{\partial u\over
\partial n}v \, \mathrm{d}s,\]

and since \(v=0\) on \(\Gamma_D\),

\[- \int_{\partial\Omega}{\partial u\over
\partial n}v \, \mathrm{d}s
=
- \int_{\Gamma_N}{\partial u\over
\partial n}v \, \mathrm{d}s
= \int_{\Gamma_N}gv \, \mathrm{d}s,\]

by applying the boundary condition on \(\Gamma_N\). The resulting weak form reads

(14)\[ \int_{\Omega} \nabla u \cdot \nabla v \, \mathrm{d}x +
\int_{\Gamma_N} gv \, \mathrm{d}s
= \int_{\Omega} fv \, \mathrm{d}x\thinspace .\]

Expressing this equation in the standard notation \(a(u,v)=L(v)\) is straightforward with

\[\begin{split}a(u, v) &= \int_{\Omega} \nabla u \cdot \nabla v \, \mathrm{d}x,
\\
L(v) &= \int_{\Omega} fv \, \mathrm{d}x -
\int_{\Gamma_N} gv \, \mathrm{d}s\thinspace .\end{split}\]

How does the Neumann condition impact the implementation? Starting
with any of the previous files `d*_p2D.py`

, say `d4_p2D.py`

, we
realize that the statements remain almost the same. Only two
adjustments are necessary:

- The function describing the boundary where Dirichlet conditions apply must be modified.
- The new boundary term must be added to the expression in
`L`

.

Step 1 can be coded as

```
def Dirichlet_boundary(x, on_boundary):
if on_boundary:
if x[0] == 0 or x[0] == 1:
return True
else:
return False
else:
return False
```

A more compact implementation reads

```
def Dirichlet_boundary(x, on_boundary):
return on_boundary and (x[0] == 0 or x[0] == 1)
```

As pointed out already in the section Implementation (1), testing for an exact match of real numbers is not good programming practice so we introduce a tolerance in the test:

```
def Dirichlet_boundary(x, on_boundary):
tol = 1E-14 # tolerance for coordinate comparisons
return on_boundary and \
(abs(x[0]) < tol or abs(x[0] - 1) < tol)
```

The second adjustment of our program concerns the definition of `L`

,
where we have to add a boundary integral and a definition of the
\(g\) function to be integrated:

```
g = Expression('-4*x[1]')
L = f*v*dx - g*v*ds
```

The `ds`

variable implies a boundary integral, while `dx`

implies
an integral over the domain \(\Omega\). No more modifications are
necessary.

The file `dn1_p2D.py`

in the `stationary/poisson`

directory
implements this problem. Running the program verifies the
implementation: \(u\) equals the exact solution at all the nodes,
regardless of how many elements we use.

The PDE problem from the previous section applies a function \(u_0(x,y)\) for setting Dirichlet conditions at two parts of the boundary. Having a single function to set multiple Dirichlet conditions is seldom possible. The more general case is to have \(m\) functions for setting Dirichlet conditions on \(m\) parts of the boundary. The purpose of this section is to explain how such multiple conditions are treated in FEniCS programs.

Let us return to the case from the section Combining Dirichlet and Neumann Conditions and define two separate functions for the two Dirichlet conditions:

\[\begin{split}- \nabla^2 u &= -6 \mbox{ in } \Omega, \\
u &= u_L \mbox{ on } \Gamma_0, \\
u &= u_R \mbox{ on } \Gamma_1, \\
- {\partial u\over\partial n} &= g \mbox{ on } \Gamma_N \thinspace .\end{split}\]

Here, \(\Gamma_0\) is the boundary \(x=0\), while
\(\Gamma_1\) corresponds to the boundary \(x=1\). We have
that \(u_L = 1 + 2y^2\), \(u_R = 2 + 2y^2\), and
\(g=-4y\). For the left boundary \(\Gamma_0\) we define the
usual triple of a function for the boundary value, a function for
defining the boundary of interest, and a `DirichletBC`

object:

```
u_L = Expression('1 + 2*x[1]*x[1]')
def left_boundary(x, on_boundary):
tol = 1E-14 # tolerance for coordinate comparisons
return on_boundary and abs(x[0]) < tol
Gamma_0 = DirichletBC(V, u_L, left_boundary)
```

For the boundary \(x=1\) we write a similar code snippet:

```
u_R = Expression('2 + 2*x[1]*x[1]')
def right_boundary(x, on_boundary):
tol = 1E-14 # tolerance for coordinate comparisons
return on_boundary and abs(x[0] - 1) < tol
Gamma_1 = DirichletBC(V, u_R, right_boundary)
```

The various essential conditions are then collected in a list and used in the solution process:

```
bcs = [Gamma_0, Gamma_1]
...
solve(a == L, u, bcs)
# or
problem = LinearVariationalProblem(a, L, u, bcs)
solver = LinearVariationalSolver(problem)
solver.solve()
```

In other problems, where the \(u\) values are constant at a part
of the boundary, we may use a simple `Constant`

object instead of an
`Expression`

object.

The file `dn2_p2D.py`

contains a complete program which demonstrates
the constructions above. An extended example with multiple Neumann
conditions would have been quite natural now, but this requires
marking various parts of the boundary using the mesh function concept
and is therefore left to the section Multiple Neumann, Robin, and Dirichlet Condition.

Given \(a(u,v)=L(v)\), the discrete solution \(u\) is computed by inserting \(u=\sum_{j=1}^N U_j \phi_j\) into \(a(u,v)\) and demanding \(a(u,v)=L(v)\) to be fulfilled for \(N\) test functions \(\hat\phi_1,\ldots,\hat\phi_N\). This implies

\[\sum_{j=1}^N a(\phi_j,\hat\phi_i) U_j = L(\hat\phi_i),\quad i=1,\ldots,N,\]

which is nothing but a linear system,

\[AU = b,\]

where the entries in \(A\) and \(b\) are given by

\[\begin{split}A_{ij} &= a(\phi_j, \hat{\phi}_i), \\
b_i &= L(\hat\phi_i)\thinspace .\end{split}\]

The examples so far have specified the left- and right-hand side of
the variational formulation and then asked FEniCS to assemble the
linear system and solve it. An alternative to is explicitly call
functions for assembling the coefficient matrix \(A\) and the
right-side vector \(b\), and then solve the linear system
\(AU=b\) with respect to the \(U\) vector. Instead of
`solve(a == L, u, b)`

we now write

```
A = assemble(a)
b = assemble(L)
bc.apply(A, b)
u = Function(V)
U = u.vector()
solve(A, U, b)
```

The variables `a`

and `L`

are as before. That is, `a`

refers to
the bilinear form involving a `TrialFunction`

object (say `u`

) and
a `TestFunction`

object (`v`

), and `L`

involves a
`TestFunction`

object (`v`

). From `a`

and `L`

, the
`assemble`

function can compute \(A\) and \(b\).

The matrix \(A\) and vector \(b\) are first assembled without
incorporating essential (Dirichlet) boundary conditions. Thereafter,
the call `bc.apply(A, b)`

performs the necessary modifications of
the linear system such that `u`

is guaranteed to equal the
prescribed boundary values. When we have multiple Dirichlet
conditions stored in a list `bcs`

, as explained in the section
Multiple Dirichlet Conditions, we must apply each condition in
`bcs`

to the system:

```
# bcs is a list of DirichletBC objects
for bc in bcs:
bc.apply(A, b)
```

There is an alternative function `assemble_system`

, which can
assemble the system and take boundary conditions into account in one
call:

```
A, b = assemble_system(a, L, bcs)
```

The `assemble_system`

function incorporates the boundary conditions
in the element matrices and vectors, prior to assembly. The
conditions are also incorporated in a symmetric way to preserve
eventual symmetry of the coefficient matrix.
.. That is, for each degree of freedom

With `bc.apply(A, b)`

the matrix `A`

is modified in an unsymmetric
way.
.. : The row is zero’ed out

Note that the solution `u`

is, as before, a `Function`

object.
The degrees of freedom, \(U=A^{-1}b\), are filled into u‘s
`Vector`

object (`u.vector()`

) by the `solve`

function.

The object `A`

is of type `Matrix`

, while `b`

and `u.vector()`

are of type `Vector`

. We may convert the matrix and vector data to
`numpy`

arrays by calling the `array()`

method as shown before. If
you wonder how essential boundary conditions are incorporated in the
linear system, you can print out `A`

and `b`

before and after the
`bc.apply(A, b)`

call:

```
A = assemble(a)
b = assemble(L)
if mesh.num_cells() < 16: # print for small meshes only
print A.array()
print b.array()
bc.apply(A, b)
if mesh.num_cells() < 16:
print A.array()
print b.array()
```

With access to the elements in `A`

through a `numpy`

array we can
easily perform computations on this matrix, such as computing the
eigenvalues (using the `eig`

function in `numpy.linalg`

). We can
alternatively dump `A.array()`

and `b.array()`

to file in MATLAB
format and invoke MATLAB or Octave to analyze the linear system.
Dumping the arrays to MATLAB format is done by

```
import scipy.io
scipy.io.savemat('Ab.mat', {'A': A.array(), 'b': b.array()})
```

Writing `load Ab.mat`

in MATLAB or Octave will then make the
variables `A`

and `b`

available for computations.

Matrix processing in Python or MATLAB/Octave is only feasible for
small PDE problems since the `numpy`

arrays or matrices in MATLAB
file format are dense matrices. DOLFIN also has an interface to the
eigensolver package SLEPc, which is a preferred tool for computing the
eigenvalues of large, sparse matrices of the type encountered in PDE
problems (see `demo/la/eigenvalue`

in the DOLFIN source code tree
for a demo).

A complete code where the linear system \(AU=b\) is explicitly
assembled and solved is found in the file `dn3_p2D.py`

in the
directory `stationary/poisson`

. This code solves the same problem as
in `dn2_p2D.py`

(the section Multiple Dirichlet Conditions).
For small linear systems, the program writes out `A`

and `b`

before and after incorporation of essential boundary conditions and
illustrates the difference between `assemble`

and
`assemble_system`

. The reader is encouraged to run the code for a
\(2\times 1\) mesh (`UnitSquare(2, 1)`

and study the output of
`A`

.

By default, `solve(A, U, b)`

applies sparse LU decomposition as
solver. Specification of an iterative solver and preconditioner is
done through two optional arguments:

```
solve(A, U, b, 'cg', 'ilu')
```

Appropriate names of solvers and preconditioners are found in the section Linear Solvers and Preconditioners.

To control tolerances in the stopping criterion and the maximum number
of iterations, one can explicitly form a `KrylovSolver`

object and
set items in its `parameters`

attribute (see also the section
Linear Variational Problem and Solver Objects):

```
solver = KrylovSolver('cg', 'ilu')
solver.parameters['absolute_tolerance'] = 1E-7
solver.parameters['relative_tolerance'] = 1E-4
solver.parameters['maximum_iterations'] = 1000
u = Function(V)
U = u.vector()
set_log_level(DEBUG)
solver.solve(A, U, b)
```

The program `dn4_p2D.py`

is a modification of `dn3_p2D.py`

illustrating this latter approach.

The choice of start vector for the iterations in a linear solver is
often important. With the `solver.solve(A, U, b)`

call the default
start vector is the zero vector. A start vector with random numbers in
the interval \([-100,100]\) can be computed as

```
n = u.vector().array().size
U = u.vector()
U[:] = numpy.random.uniform(-100, 100, n)
solver.parameters['nonzero_initial_guess'] = True
solver.solve(A, U, b)
```

Note that we must turn off the default behavior of setting the start
vector (“initial guess”) to zero. A random start vector is included
in the `dn4_p2D.py`

code.

Creating the linear system explicitly in a program can have some advantages in more advanced problem settings. For example, \(A\) may be constant throughout a time-dependent simulation, so we can avoid recalculating \(A\) at every time level and save a significant amount of simulation time. The sections Implementation (2) and Avoiding Assembly deal with this topic in detail.

FEniCS makes it is easy to write a unified simulation code that can
operate in 1D, 2D, and 3D. We will conveniently make use of this
feature in forthcoming examples. As an appetizer, go back to the
introductory program `d1_p2D.py`

in the `stationary/poisson`

directory and change the mesh construction from `UnitSquare(6, 4)`

to `UnitCube(6, 4, 5)`

. Now the domain is the unit cube partitioned
into \(6\times 4\times 5\) boxes, and each box is divided into six
tetrahedra-shaped finite elements for computations. Run the program
and observe that we can solve a 3D problem without any other
modifications (!). The visualization allows you to rotate the cube and
observe the function values as colors on the boundary.

The forthcoming material introduces some convenient technicalities such that the same program can run in 1D, 2D, or 3D without any modifications. Consider the simple model problem

\[u''(x) = 2\hbox{ in }[0,1],\quad u(0)=0,\ u(1)=1,\]

with exact solution \(u(x)=x^2\). Our aim is to formulate and solve this problem in a 2D and a 3D domain as well. We may generalize the domain \([0,1]\) to a rectangle or box of any size in the \(y\) and \(z\) directions and pose homogeneous Neumann conditions \(\partial u/\partial n = 0\) at all additional boundaries \(y=\mbox{const}\) and \(z=\mbox{const}\) to ensure that \(u\) only varies with \(x\). For example, let us choose a unit hypercube as domain: \(\Omega = [0,1]^d\), where \(d\) is the number of space dimensions. The generalized $d$-dimensional Poisson problem then reads

(15)\[\begin{split} \begin{array}{rcll}
\nabla^2 u &= 2 &\mbox{in } \Omega, \\
u &= 0 &\mbox{on } \Gamma_0,\\
u &= 1 &\mbox{on } \Gamma_1,\\
{\partial u\over\partial n} &= 0 &\mbox{on } \partial\Omega\backslash\left(
\Gamma_0\cup\Gamma_1\right),
\end{array}\end{split}\]

where \(\Gamma_0\) is the side of the hypercube where \(x=0\), and where \(\Gamma_1\) is the side where \(x=1\).

Implementing a PDE for any \(d\) is no more complicated than
solving a problem with a specific number of dimensions. The only
non-trivial part of the code is actually to define the mesh. We use
the command line for the user-input to the program. The first argument
can be the degree of the polynomial in the finite element basis
functions. Thereafter, we supply the cell divisions in the various
spatial directions. The number of command-line arguments will then
imply the number of space dimensions. For example, writing ```
3 10 3
4
```

on the command line means that we want to approximate \(u\) by
piecewise polynomials of degree 3, and that the domain is a
three-dimensional cube with \(10\times 3\times 4\) divisions in
the \(x\), \(y\), and \(z\) directions, respectively.
.. Each of the \(10\times 3\times 4 = 120\) boxes will

The Python code can be quite compact:

```
degree = int(sys.argv[1])
divisions = [int(arg) for arg in sys.argv[2:]]
d = len(divisions)
domain_type = [UnitInterval, UnitSquare, UnitCube]
mesh = domain_type[d-1](*divisions)
V = FunctionSpace(mesh, 'Lagrange', degree)
```

First note that although `sys.argv[2:]`

holds the divisions of the
mesh, all elements of the list `sys.argv[2:]`

are string objects, so
we need to explicitly convert each element to an integer. The
construction `domain_type[d-1]`

will pick the right name of the
object used to define the domain and generate the mesh. Moreover, the
argument `*divisions`

sends all the component of the list
`divisions`

as separate arguments. For example, in a 2D problem
where `divisions`

has two elements, the statement

```
mesh = domain_type[d-1](*divisions)
```

is equivalent to

```
mesh = UnitSquare(divisions[0], divisions[1])
```

The next part of the program is to set up the boundary conditions. Since the Neumann conditions have \(\partial u/\partial n=0\) we can omit the boundary integral from the weak form. We then only need to take care of Dirichlet conditions at two sides:

```
tol = 1E-14 # tolerance for coordinate comparisons
def Dirichlet_boundary0(x, on_boundary):
return on_boundary and abs(x[0]) < tol
def Dirichlet_boundary1(x, on_boundary):
return on_boundary and abs(x[0] - 1) < tol
bc0 = DirichletBC(V, Constant(0), Dirichlet_boundary0)
bc1 = DirichletBC(V, Constant(1), Dirichlet_boundary1)
bcs = [bc0, bc1]
```

Note that this code is independent of the number of space dimensions. So are the statements defining and solving the variational problem:

```
u = TrialFunction(V)
v = TestFunction(V)
f = Constant(-2)
a = inner(nabla_grad(u), nabla_grad(v))*dx
L = f*v*dx
u = Function(V)
solve(a == L, u, bcs)
```

The complete code is found in the file `paD.py`

(Poisson problem in
“anyD”).

If we want to parameterize the direction in which \(u\) varies,
say by the space direction number `e`

, we only need to replace
`x[0]`

in the code by `x[e]`

. The parameter `e`

could be given
as a second command-line argument. The reader is encouraged to
perform this modification.