dune-functions  2.8.0
About: dune-functions is a mmodule thatprovides an abstraction layer for global finite element functions. Its two main concepts are functions implemented as callable objects, and bases of finite element spaces.
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dune-functions Documentation

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The Dune-Function module

Scope of the module

The dune-functions module provides an abstraction layer for global finite element functions. Its two main concepts are functions implemented as callable objects, and bases of finite element spaces.


dune-functions provides an interface to "functions" in the mathematical sense, in particular to finite element functions defined on a grid, but going far beyond that.

The interface revolves around the concept of a "callable". It encompasses any type of C++ object that can be evaluated with operator(), like free functions, function objects, and even C++11 lambdas. Dynamic polymorphism is realized using type erasure and the std::function class, which does not sacrifice efficiency in purely static code.

dune-functions extends the "callable" concept into several directions. First, it allows for differentiable functions. Such functions can hand out their derivative as new function objects. Second, for functions defined piecewisely on a finite element grid, the concept of local function is introduced. Local functions can be bound to grid elements. All further evaluations of a function bound to an element are in local coordinates of that element. This approach allows to avoid overhead when there are many evaluations on a single element.

Function space bases

The second part of dune-functions provides a well-defined interface to bases of finite element function spaces. For this interface, a finite element basis is a set of functions with a prescribed ordering, and a way to index them. The core functionality has three parts:

  1. For a given grid element, obtain the restrictions of all basis functions to this element, except for those functions where the restriction is zero. In other words: get the shape functions for the element.
  2. Get a local numbering for these shape functions. This is needed to index the element stiffness matrix.
  3. Get a global numbering for the shape functions. This is needed to index the global stiffness matrix.

While local numbers are always integers, global numbers can be multi-indices, if appropriate.

A central feature is that finite element bases for vector-valued and mixed spaced can be constructed by tensor multiplication of simpler bases. The resulting expressions can be interpreted as tree structures. For example, the tree for the three-dimensional Taylor-Hood basis is shown above. This tree structure is directly exposed in the dune-functions interface. An easy mechanism allows to construct new spaces.


Class documentation

The module contains a class documentation which can be build using doxygen. After the module has been build, you can build the documentation using make doc Additionally the pre-build doxygen documentation for the master and release branches is also hosted on the documentation section of the dune-website.


There are two documents describing the concepts and usage of dune functions. The interface of function is described in the article

C. Engwer, C. Gräser, S. Müthing, and O. Sander.
The interface for functions in the dune-functions module.
Archive of Numerical Software, 5(1):95--109, 2017.

This is freely available via the website of the journal and as arXiv:1512.06136 preprint. The interface of the function space bases is described in the article

C. Engwer, C. Gräser, S. Müthing, and O. Sander.
Function space bases in the dune-functions module.
Preprint, arxiv:1806.09545, 2018.

This is freely available as arXiv:1806.09545 preprint. Both are also contained in the module. Like the class documentation this is build on make doc.


Several example applications demonstrate how to use the module. These example applications are contained in the examples/ directory and build when building the module. The stokes-taylorhood example is described in detail in the manual (see above).

Using dune-functions and licensing

The module is licensed by different variants of the GPL licence. Please have a look at the COPYING file for more information and a list of all contributors. When using dune-functions please make sure to cite the publications on the functions interface and the bases interface listed above.

Building dune-functions


Dune-functions depends on the dune core modules and the dune-typetree module. All of them are available using git:

The versioning of dune-functions follows the scheme used in the core modules. I.e. version x.y of dune-functions will depend on version x.y of the core modules and dune-typetree. Analogously, the master branch will depend on the master branch of these modules.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise for a specific version, dune-functions supports/requires the same build tools (compilers, cmake) as the corresponding version of the core modules.

Building the module

Dune-functions integrates into the cmake-based dune build system. Hence it can be build (like any other module) using the dunecontrol script provided by the core modules. For details on how to use this build system and how to specify build options have a look at the documentation in the dune-common module.