Self teaching : book on variational formulation for FEM


I hope this si the right forum to ask my question ! I am looking for recommendations of books for self study of FEM, including an initiation to variational formulation… I more or less have to teach it to students but am not a specialist (to say the least and that’s a bit of a conundrum to me). I decided to teach using freefem but while I write my course I realize I really lack the basics. Most FEM books I found so far are for mechanics and they rarely introduce variational formulations with exercises and solutions so that you may train yourself before appearing in class… The freefem documentation, rather logically, assumes you’re already somewhat familiar and does not show these things with enough details and generality… Anyways, any suggestion would be welcome !

Have a nice day,


Hi Mrac,

I found this book very useful in this regard, written by the FEniCS community (a software with very similar functionality and usage of FreeFEM), which covers variational formulation from very basic concepts to more advanced topics:

Introduction to Numerical Methods for Variational Problems

Although this book is an open-source book written in doconce (GitHub repo here), a hard copy version of it has also been published by Springer (here). The book contains many examples and exercises, the answer of which can be found by a closer look at the source codes :wink:

I have converted the book to a set of Jupyter notebooks for easier reading and running of the codes (if required): An Easy Introduction to Finite Element Method and Variational Formulation, which contains some basic FreeFEM examples for each chapter as well.


Hi Motjaba,

Thank you so much for that reference !! It looks really promising !!

Have a great day,