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The fruit of a long maturing process, freefem, in its last avatar, FreeFEM , is a high level integrated development environment (IDE) for numerically solving partial differential equations (PDE) in dimension 1,2 3 and surface and line 3D. It is the ideal tool for teaching the finite element method but it is also perfect for research to quickly test new ideas or multi-physics and complex applications.

FreeFEM has an advanced automatic mesh generator, capable of a posteriori mesh adaptation; it has a general purpose elliptic solver interfaced with fast algorithms, such as the multi-frontal method UMFPACK, SuperLU, MUMPS. Hyperbolic and parabolic problems are solved by iterative algorithms prescribed by the user with the high level language of FreeFEM. It has several triangular finite elements, including discontinuous elements. Everything is there in FreeFEM to prepare research quality reports with online color display, zooming and other features as well as postscript printouts.

This manual is meant for students at a Masters level, for researchers at any level, and for engineers (including financial engineering) with some understanding of variational methods for partial differential equations.

Introduction

A partial differential equation is a relation between a function of several variables and its (partial) derivatives. Many problems in physics, engineering, mathematics and even banking are modeled by one or several partial differential equations.

FreeFEM is a software to solve these equations numerically. As its name implies, it is a free software (see the copyrights for full detail) based on the Finite Element Method; it is not a package, it is an integrated product with its own high level programming language. This software runs on all UNIX OS (with g++ 3.3 or later, and OpenGL), on Window XP, Vista and 7, 8, 10 and on MacOS 10 intel.

Moreover FreeFEM is highly adaptive. Many phenomena involve several coupled systems. Fluid-structure interactions, Lorentz forces for aluminum casting and ocean-atmosphere problems are three such systems. These require different finite element approximations and polynomial degrees, possibly on different meshes. Some algorithms like the Schwarz’ domain decomposition method also requires data interpolation on multiple meshes within one program. FreeFEM can handle these difficulties, i.e. arbitrary finite element spaces on arbitrary unstructured and adapted bi-dimensional meshes.

The characteristics of FreeFEM are:

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