Connections Between Finite Difference and Finite Element Approximations

07/14/2021 ∙ by Cristina Bacuta, et al. ∙ 0

We present useful connections between the finite difference and the finite element methods for a model boundary value problem. We start from the observation that, in the finite element context, the interpolant of the solution in one dimension coincides with the finite element approximation of the solution. This result can be viewed as an extension of the Green function formula for the solution at the continuous level. We write the finite difference and the finite element systems such that the two corresponding linear systems have the same stiffness matrices and compare the right hand side load vectors for the two methods. Using evaluation of the Green function, a formula for the inverse of the stiffness matrix is extended to the case of non-uniformly distributed mesh points. We provide an error analysis based on the connection between the two methods, and estimate the energy norm of the difference of the two solutions. Interesting extensions to the 2D case are provided.

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