Chevron Left
Back to The Finite Element Method for Problems in Physics

Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Finite Element Method for Problems in Physics by University of Michigan

510 ratings

About the Course

This course is an introduction to the finite element method as applicable to a range of problems in physics and engineering sciences. The treatment is mathematical, but only for the purpose of clarifying the formulation. The emphasis is on coding up the formulations in a modern, open-source environment that can be expanded to other applications, subsequently. The course includes about 45 hours of lectures covering the material I normally teach in an introductory graduate class at University of Michigan. The treatment is mathematical, which is natural for a topic whose roots lie deep in functional analysis and variational calculus. It is not formal, however, because the main goal of these lectures is to turn the viewer into a competent developer of finite element code. We do spend time in rudimentary functional analysis, and variational calculus, but this is only to highlight the mathematical basis for the methods, which in turn explains why they work so well. Much of the success of the Finite Element Method as a computational framework lies in the rigor of its mathematical foundation, and this needs to be appreciated, even if only in the elementary manner presented here. A background in PDEs and, more importantly, linear algebra, is assumed, although the viewer will find that we develop all the relevant ideas that are needed. The development itself focuses on the classical forms of partial differential equations (PDEs): elliptic, parabolic and hyperbolic. At each stage, however, we make numerous connections to the physical phenomena represented by the PDEs. For clarity we begin with elliptic PDEs in one dimension (linearized elasticity, steady state heat conduction and mass diffusion). We then move on to three dimensional elliptic PDEs in scalar unknowns (heat conduction and mass diffusion), before ending the treatment of elliptic PDEs with three dimensional problems in vector unknowns (linearized elasticity). Parabolic PDEs in three dimensions come next (unsteady heat conduction and mass diffusion), and the lectures end with hyperbolic PDEs in three dimensions (linear elastodynamics). Interspersed among the lectures are responses to questions that arose from a small group of graduate students and post-doctoral scholars who followed the lectures live. At suitable points in the lectures, we interrupt the mathematical development to lay out the code framework, which is entirely open source, and C++ based. Books: There are many books on finite element methods. This class does not have a required textbook. However, we do recommend the following books for more detailed and broader treatments than can be provided in any form of class: The Finite Element Method: Linear Static and Dynamic Finite Element Analysis, T.J.R. Hughes, Dover Publications, 2000. The Finite Element Method: Its Basis and Fundamentals, O.C. Zienkiewicz, R.L. Taylor and J.Z. Zhu, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005. A First Course in Finite Elements, J. Fish and T. Belytschko, Wiley, 2007. Resources: You can download the deal.ii library at The lectures include coding tutorials where we list other resources that you can use if you are unable to install deal.ii on your own computer. You will need cmake to run deal.ii. It is available at

Top reviews


Mar 12, 2017

It is very well structured and Dr Krishna Garikipati helps me understand the course in very simple manner. I would like to thank coursera community for making this course available.


Sep 4, 2020

Well worth the time if you wish to understand the mathematical origin of the FEM methods used in solving various physical situations such as heat/mass transfer and solid mechanics

Filter by:

1 - 25 of 96 Reviews for The Finite Element Method for Problems in Physics

By Benico v d W

Aug 1, 2017

By Xiong N

Mar 3, 2018

By Jonathan L

Apr 23, 2017

By Evgeniy K

Mar 11, 2021

By Lakshay S

May 17, 2020

By Wei Y

Jul 21, 2019

By Yuxiang W

Jun 21, 2018

By Muhammad H S

May 20, 2017

By Siva K s

Jul 5, 2017

By Jose G L G

Jun 12, 2017

By Bowei " W

Jan 9, 2019

By Dimiter P

Mar 6, 2017

By Chaitanya S

Jun 9, 2020

By Shubham s

Mar 13, 2017

By Ishaan K

Jul 21, 2019

By Shaik K B

Jan 17, 2017

By Abhishek T

Mar 26, 2019

By Patrick H

Dec 15, 2017

By Kiran A

Dec 23, 2017

By Harold M

May 12, 2018

By 李晨曦

Jun 6, 2017

By Солин В А

Apr 2, 2019

By Pratik M S

May 8, 2020

By Deepak K

Jul 1, 2020

By Ruhul F

Mar 29, 2017