Published in Archives of Computational Methods in Engineering, Online First, 2021
Several methods to derive accurate Timoshenko beam finite elements are presented and compared. Two application problems are examined: linear elastostatics and linearized prebuckling (LPB) stability analysis. Accurate elements can be derived for both problems using a well known technique that long preceeds the Finite Element Method: using homogeneous solutions of the governing equations as shape functions. An interesting question is: can accurate elements be derived with simpler assumptions? In particular, can linear-linear interpolation of displacements and rotations with one-point integration reproduce those elements? The answers are: no if standard variational tools based on classical functionals are used, but yes if modified functionals are introduced. The connection of modified functionals to newer methods, in particular templates, modified differential equations and Finite Increment Calculus (FIC) are examined. The results brings closure to a 50-year conumdrum centered on this particular finite element model. In addition, the discovery of modified functionals provides motivation for extending these methods to full geometrically nonlinear analysis while still using inexpensive numerical integration.