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The HP-MITC finite element method for the Reissner-Mindlin Plate Problem

Ainsworth, M. and Pinchedez, K. (2002) The HP-MITC finite element method for the Reissner-Mindlin Plate Problem. Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics, 148 (2). pp. 429-462. ISSN 0377-0427

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The popular MITC finite elements used for the approximation of the Reissner-Mindlin plate are extended to the case where elements of non-uniform degree p distribution are used on locally refined meshes. Such an extension is of particular interest to the hp-version and hp-adaptive finite element methods. A priori error bounds are provided showing that the method is locking-free. The analysis is based on new approximation theoretic results for non-uniform Brezzi-Douglas-Fortin-Marini spaces, and extends the results obtained in the case of uniform order approximation on globally quasi-uniform meshes presented by Stenberg and Suri (SIAM J. Numer. Anal. 34 (1997) 544). Numerical examples illustrating the theoretical results and comparing the performance with alternative standard Galerkin approaches are presented for two new benchmark problems with known analytic solution, including the case where the shear stress exhibits a boundary layer. The new method is observed to be locking-free and able to provide exponential rates of convergence even in the presence of boundary layers.