A generic finite element framework on parallel tree-based adaptive meshes

Santiago Badia, Alberto F. Martín, Eric Neiva, Francesc Verdugo

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1 Citation (Scopus)


In this work we formally derive and prove the correctness of the algorithms and data structures in a parallel, distributed-memory, generic finite element framework that supports h-adaptivity on computational domains represented as forest-of-trees. The framework is grounded on a rich representation of the adaptive mesh suitable for generic finite elements that is built on top of a low-level, light-weight forest-of-trees data structure handled by a specialized, highly parallel adaptive meshing engine, for which we have identified the requirements it must fulfill to be coupled into our framework. Atop this two-layered mesh representation, we build the rest of the data structures required for the numerical integration and assembly of the discrete system of linear equations. We consider algorithms that are suitable for both subassembled and fully assembled distributed data layouts of linear system matrices. The proposed framework has been implemented within the FEMPAR scientific software library, using p4est as a practical forest-of-octrees demonstrator. A strong scaling study of this implementation when applied to Poisson and Maxwell problems reveals remarkable scalability up to 32.2K CPU cores and 482.2M degrees of freedom. Besides, a comparative performance study of FEMPAR and the state-of-the-art deal.II finite element software shows at least comparative performance, and at most a factor of 2-3 improvement in the h-adaptive approximation of a Poisson problem with first- and second-order Lagrangian finite elements, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)C436-C468
Number of pages33
JournalSIAM Journal on Scientific Computing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2020


  • Adaptive mesh refinement
  • Finite elements
  • Forest of trees
  • Parallel algorithms
  • Partial differential equations
  • Scientific software

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