Math in FEA – do you really need it?

I never hid with my beliefs about math in FEA. But I figured I will ask around, just to make sure I’m not missing something : )

So today you get a chance to learn more about the subject! And it won’t be only about my opinion on the matter but also what Tony Abbey thinks about it!

I think it’s a great watch, especially if you are considering (or already struggling with) learning math concepts behind FEA!

Nice links

  • Free FEA Courses:

Free FEA essentials course!

Free nonlinear FEA course!

Main Takeaways

  • “FEA world” should be divided into two parts when considering this problem: you are either an FEA mechanic or an FEA driver
  • If you intend to code your own solver (aka “the FEA mechanic”) then, by all means, you need to know all of the math. If you succeed let me know, so I will envy you your skill set a bit ; )
  • If you want to design stuff with FEA (aka “the FEA driver”) you don’t really need all the maths – you just need the basic understanding of how things work. Far more important in this case is the “engineering judgment” and skills related to outcome estimation. Those are usually difficult from the engineering standpoint, but no complex math is usually involved.
  • Both Tony and I believe that you can be good at practical FEA design without knowing how most of the algorithms work : )
  • Oh, and BTW… as far as I managed to check the “typical” breaking distance at 50mph is around 5 London buses (including “thinking distance”). You can read more here, but the typical length of the London bus must be verified separately (it’s around 10m as Google suggests).

Want to learn FEA the practical way?

This is great – check my FEA course, trust me it’s fun!


  1. Ivar KJELBERG November 28, 2018 at 9:35 am - Reply

    For me the minimum you need to know about Math with FEA is how to verify your global invariants, and validate your model already against conservation laws. This means you need the Physics knowledge to understand and identify your invariants, and then how, with your FEA tool, to check out these.

    Now the modern FEA tools, like my preferred one, allows me to do direct tensor calculations (almost simply) and I must say, with the detailed physics equations presented per model node I have come back to ODE understanding and easy reading, something I had left aside for 20 years. So the advanced math are far easier with adapted tools.
    Therefore, if you are doing multiphysics, you need at least to understand the different physics (as an engineer) and you need to identify the invariants and check at least those.
    Thereafter testing, testing and testing to compare and calibrate your model, else you will end up presenting nice color graphs but without any value.
    Nice videos, PLS continue 🙂

    • Łukasz Skotny November 28, 2018 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      Hey Ivar!

      Thanks for dropping in 🙂

      Wow… I would never even search for a feature in my soft (Femap mostly) that allows me to do direct tensor calculations 🙂

      Anyway, I’m really happy that you like the video!
      All the best

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