Gómez Lera, Sagrario and Alarcón Álvarez, Enrique
"Boundary Element Methods in Mechanics".
Computational methods in mechanics, 3
North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp. 107-189.
In this chapter, we are going to describe the main features as well as the basic steps of the Boundary Element Method (BEM) as applied to elastostatic problems and to compare them with other numerical procedures. As we shall show, it is easy to appreciate the adventages of the BEM, but it is also advisable to refrain from a possible unrestrained enthusiasm, as there are also limitations to its usefulness in certain types of problems. The number of these problems, nevertheless, is sufficient to justify the interest and activity that the new procedure has aroused among researchers all over the world. Briefly speaking, the most frequently used version of the BEM as applied to elastostatics works with the fundamental solution, i.e. the singular solution of the governing equations, as an influence function and tries to satisfy the boundary conditions of the problem with the aid of a discretization scheme which consists exclusively of boundary elements. As in other numerical methods, the BEM was developed thanks to the computational possibilities offered by modern computers on totally "classical" basis. That is, the theoretical grounds are based on linear elasticity theory, incorporated long ago into the curricula of most engineering schools. Its delay in gaining popularity is probably due to the enormous momentum with which Finite Element Method (FEM) penetrated the professional and academic media. Nevertheless, the fact that these methods were developed before the BEM has been beneficial because de BEM successfully uses those results and techniques studied in past decades. Some authors even consider the BEM as a particular case of the FEM while others view both methods as special cases of the general weighted residual technique. The first paper usually cited in connection with the BEM as applied to elastostatics is that of Rizzo, even though the works of Jaswon et al., Massonet and Oliveira were published at about the same time, the reason probably being the attractiveness of the "direct" approach over the "indirect" one. The work of Tizzo and the subssequent work of Cruse initiated a fruitful period with applicatons of the direct BEM to problems of elastostacs, elastodynamics, fracture, etc. The next key contribution was that of Lachat and Watson incorporating all the FEM discretization philosophy in what is sometimes called the "second BEM generation". This has no doubt, led directly to the current developments. Among the various researchers who worked on elastostatics by employing the direct BEM, one can additionallly mention Rizzo and Shippy, Cruse et al., Lachat and Watson, Alarcón et al., Brebbia el al, Howell and Doyle, Kuhn and Möhrmann and Patterson and Sheikh, and among those who used the indirect BEM, one can additionally mention Benjumea and Sikarskie, Butterfield, Banerjee et al., Niwa et al., and Altiero and Gavazza. An interesting version of the indirct method, called the Displacement Discontinuity Method (DDM) has been developed by Crounh. A comprehensive study on various special aspects of the elastostatic BEM has been done by Heisse, while review-type articles on the subject have been reported by Watson and Hartmann. At the present time, the method is well established and is being used for the solution of variety of problems in engineering mechanics. Numerous introductory and advanced books have been published as well as research-orientated ones. In this sense, it is worth noting the series of conferences promoted by Brebbia since 1978, wich have provoked a continuous research effort all over the world in relation to the BEM. In the following sections, we shall concentrate on developing the direct BEM as applied to elastostatics.