Scientific Computing with DEAL.II

DIS_2014 is the home page for the class ISC5906 (graded) / ISC5907 (S/U), a graduate 3-credit directed independent study (DIS) course, offered in the summer semester, 12 May - 01 August 2014.

This course will focus on learning to understand and use the DEAL.II finite element program.

Our class will meet in room 499, at 1:00-2:15pm, Tuesday and Thursday, and view a selected number of lectures from Bangerth's class.

The Program

Information about DEAL.II is available at http://www.dealii.org/ .

You will need access to an executable version of the DEAL.II program.

You should try to install DEAL.II on your personal laptop or desktop computer. This will allow you to test out short runs of small programs. I had some trouble installing version 7.3 on my Mac laptop, and so I ended up installing version 7.2 there instead.

DEAL.II is installed on the classroom machines, which share the PAMD file system. You can use ssh to log into any of the machines class01 through class18. DEAL.II is available in the directory /usr/common/deal.II and can be used interactively.

DEAL.II is installed on the RCC HPC cluster soon. On a cluster, the program takes advantage of MPI to run in parallel. However, you will need an RCC account, and you will need to learn how to use a script to submit your job to the scheduler that administers program execution on the cluster.

The Tutorial

There is an extensive tutorial on DEAL.II available at http://www.dealii.org/8.1.0/doxygen/deal.II/Tutorial.html . The tutorial comprises modules labeled step-1 through step-51. Each module includes notes and a computer program. You read the notes, examine the program, run it, and then try to understand the relationship between the problem being solved and the computer commands that were given. It is recommended that a beginner read and run step-1 through step-5, after which it is possible to pick further topics of interest.

The Videos

In spring 2013, Professor Wolfgang Bangerth of Texas A&M University, presented a class on finite elements, scientific computing, and the DEAL.II program. Videotapes of this class are available at: http://www.math.tamu.edu/~bangerth/videos.html .

There are 43 hour-long lectures in the collection. We will start by viewing the first six lectures, and then decide where to go from there.


DEAL.II generates graphical output in formats readable by:

You probably should try to install at least one of the graphics programs gnuplot, ParaView, Visit or VtK on your machine.

All these graphics programs are available on the classroom machines. However, if you log into them remotely, you will need to use the "-X" or "-Y" switch on your ssh command in order to enable graphics that are generated on the classroom machine to be displayed on your personal machine.

On the SC departmental computers, gnuplot, ParaView, Visit and VtK might be available. If you don't see them, ask Xiaoguang Li.


Day by day schedule.


Choose your own assigments from the assignment list.


This is a 3-credit course. For both the graded and S/U sections of the class, students will complete several short assignments. For the graded section of the class, students must also complete a programming project using DEAL.II.

Suggested Textbook:

  1. Eric Becker, Graham Carey, John Oden,
    Finite Elements, An Introduction, Volume I,
    Prentice-Hall, 1981,
    ISBN: 0133170578,
    LC: TA347.F5.B4,
    (Available for purchase online for about $20)
The textbook is the first of a series of six, and you might find some of the later volumes of interest or use:
  1. I: Introduction
  2. II: A Second Course
  3. III: Computational Aspects
  4. IV: Mathematical Aspects
  5. V: Special Problems in Solid Mechanics
  6. VI: Fluid Mechanics

Files You May Need:

Last revised on 01 July 2014.