Published in Engineering Computations Vol. 10 (4), pp. 307-321, 1993
The concepts of solution error and optimal mesh in adaptive finite element analysis are revisited. It is shown that the correct evaluation of the convergence rate of the error norms involved in the error measure and the optimal mesh criteria chosen are essential to avoid oscillations in the refinement process. Two mesh optimality criteria based on: (a) the equal distribution of global error, and (b) the specific error over the elements are studied and compared in detail through some examples of application.