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Proceedings of PACAM XIV

14th Pan-American Congress of Applied Mechanics March 24-28, 2014, Santiago, Chile


Christian Alfredo Acevedo Herrera, Carlos Ramón Plazaola,

Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá

Adán Vega,

Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá

Abstract. In this work the formulation of a hybrid boundary element method for solving two dimensional boundary value problems is developed. It is hybrid in the sense that to solve the problem the boundary is discretized as it is done when the Boundary Element Method is used giving as a result a polygonal boundary and then an analytical approach using complex variable theory is used to solve for the unknowns. To formulate the method the solution of a general two dimensional boundary value problem is considered. The boundary of the problem domain is discretized by dividing it into a finite number of straight segments. This results in a polygon with an irregular shape. At this point the polygon is mapped once or through several mappings using the Schwarz-Christoffel Transformation (SCT) into a domain with a simpler shape where an analytical solution can be sought. Once the solution is obtained the inverse transformation mappings are applied and the solution to the problem in the original domain is determined. A discretized curved boundary may also be used if the suitable conformal transformation is established. This approach is used to solve heat transfer, electrostatic and inviscid flow problems to show the applicability of the method.

Keywords: Mapping, boundary, discretize, polygon


On many engineering problems, we have the inconvenient of complex geometries, where the results based on the combination of elementary functions is either not useful or impossible. For that reason, we use numerical methods for solving them. In the following article, we propose a method for solving the problem of harmonic functions (i.e. Laplace’s equation) for any geometry enclosed in any polygonal shaped boundary. We arrived to the solution by a combination of the Schwarz- Christoffel transformation, with the Boundary Element Method for the Half Plane. For all the computations for the method proposed, the software we used was Matlab ® , along with the SC toolbox made by Tobin Driscoll in 2002, for which some minor modifications for data extractions was needed, in order to work with the other codes generated in Matlab ® . Finally, some problems implying data filtering where taken into consideration, for a problem of extreme information noise was found due to the modifications done in to Driscoll code. A mathematical morphology focus was needed in order to attempt to solve this problem.


From almost 100 years, the Schwarz-Christoffel transformation has proven to be a way to enclose fairly simple geometries. From (Nehari, 1952), we found the formula for mapping the Upper Half Plane on a simple connected polygonal domain as:



∫ ∏(




are complex constants,

polygon, respectively.



are the external angle and the pre-vertex of the

The central work line of this job is about transforming numerically the interior points of a polygon in a complex plane ‘w’, which is a simply connected curve, into the points on the Upper Half Plane on the

Proceedings of PACAM XIV

14th Pan-American Congress of Applied Mechanics March 24-28, 2014, Santiago, Chile

), which is a function of a two

dimensional problem, on the Upper Half Plane for that polygon, we treat the Poisson Kernel, as shown in (Wunsh, 1999):

‘z’ plane. There, we solve boundary value problem for the function









As a solution in which we transform the two dimensional Laplace’s differential equation, into a one dimensional integral equation, where f(t) is, in this case, the boundary condition for the Dirichlet problem in a section of the Upper Half Plane.

A lot of the Boundary Element Method, as shown in seen in (Banerjee, 1981), were seen during the

mentioned below:









1. The dimensions of the boundary element method are reduced, which can be seen from working the two dimensional Laplace’s equation, into the one dimensional integral.

2. The differential equations are transformed into integral ones, by means of the Cauchy- Riemann integral, as shown in (Wunsh, 1999) and applying (Spiegel, 1991) method for solving indefinite integrals.

3. The applicability has a really wide range, including polygons with infinite vertices, something that needs to be numerical approximated in the finite elements approach.

4. The interior is modelled as a continuum completely defined by the integral Eq. (2).

5. The method holds for as long as the problem is homogeneous. In case of non-homogeneous domains, the consideration of separating the domain using finite elements method should be considered. But the main focus of an alternative for finite element method should always be kept in mind.

In this method we developed an algorithm which works for any polygonal shape, and solves the Dirichlet problem for the Upper Half Plane, which work in the next way:

1. We discretize the shape’s boundary into a polygon, whichever form it haves, and put in every edge of the polygon is proper boundary condition.

2. We find the Schwarz-Christoffel mapping of this polygon to the Upper Half Plane. For this, we developed a modification of the SC toolbox developed by Tobin Driscoll in 2002, from which we can absorb the data of the mapping into two matrices in Matlab ® : one for the polygon’s plane, the ‘w’ plane, and one for the Upper Half Plane, which is ‘z’. Also, we needed the pre- vertices for the polygon mapping.

3. Then we solve the multi-valued Dirichlet problem, using the Poisson’s Kernel for the Upper Half Plane, obtaining the function value for each point of the Upper Half Plane.

4. Using the matrices obtained before, we place every value on its proper position inside the polygon, to get the result for the problem.

5. Because of the way in which the SC toolbox from Driscoll maps the Upper Half Plane, a filtering data phase needs to be implemented, in order to get the data more ordered in this part. After this, the data is ready to be post-processed.

Regarding the data filter, an additional script in Matlab ® was developed, which worked using a mathematical morphology, with an structure element of a circle was used to swap the interior of the polygon to use a Gauss filtering to arrange the data according to some standard deviation conditions, previously set.

The shape of the circle is still not yet maybe the best choice for the structure element, but for the time being no other choice has been found to be easily manipulated on the filtering problem. Finally, the circle ratio have not been set to accommodate to the shape, in order to fit on tips and cracks on the shapes, which makes difficult the shaping of even more complex polygons.

Proceedings of PACAM XIV

14th Pan-American Congress of Applied Mechanics March 24-28, 2014, Santiago, Chile

In Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 we can see the modeling of two relatively complex mapped with different Dirichlet Boundary conditions.

complex mapped with different Dirichlet Boundary conditions. Figure 1: hexagon with various Dirichlet Boundary conditions

Figure 1: hexagon with various Dirichlet Boundary conditions

Figure 1: hexagon with various Dirichlet Boundary conditions Figure 2: dialogue balloon with two different Dirichlet

Figure 2: dialogue balloon with two different Dirichlet Boundary conditions mapped.

For some relative simple Dirichlet boundary condition problem, we got successful results concerning analytical problems which values inside the polygon are known with anticipation.

which values inside the polygon are known with anticipation. Figure 3: boundary value problem solved with

Figure 3: boundary value problem solved with our Matlab ® algorithm, with four Dirichlet Boundary Conditions of temperature set on a plate, being the upper one at 150ºC and the others in 50ºC.

Proceedings of PACAM XIV

14th Pan-American Congress of Applied Mechanics March 24-28, 2014, Santiago, Chile

of Applied Mechanics March 24-28, 2014, Santiago, Chile Figure 4: Boundary Value problem solved with four

Figure 4: Boundary Value problem solved with four Dirichlet conditions of electrostatic potential. The upper one is at 20 V, the one at right in 5V and all others in 0V.

As an example, in Fig. 1, we see a plate with Boundary Values for the Dirichlet condition determined as constant temperatures. The upper part of the plate is at 150 ºC, and all others are at 50ºC. In Fig. 2, we simulated a similar condition for plate, in which we have electrostatic potential conditions set of 20 V in the upper edge, 5 V in the right corner, and 0 V on the other corners.

For simulating more diverse problems, Neumann conditions for the Upper Half Plane along with Green functions, as shown in (E. CONSTANTIN, 2010), will be taken into consideration for the present job to solve inhomogeneous problems with other boundary conditions.

For future works, even domains which are not polygons, but piece-wise smooth curves, as described by (Andersson, 2006), or multiple connected domains, as shown in (T.K. DELILLO, 2002) and (CROWDY, 2005) might be implemented.


Andersson, A. (2006). A modified SchwarzChristoffel mapping for regions with piecewise smooth boundaries. ScienceDirect, 15. Banerjee, P. K. (1981). The Boundary Element Methods in Engineering (2 ed.). Maidennhead, Berkshire, Inglaterra: McGraw-Hill Collage. CROWDY, D. (23 de Junio de 2005). The SchwarzChristoffel mapping to bounded multiply connected polygonal domains. Proceedings of Royal Society. E. CONSTANTIN, N. H. (2010). Green Function of the Laplacian for the Neumann Problem in Rn. LIBERTAS MATHEMATICA, 30, 4-6. Nehari, Z. (1952). Conformal Mapping. Toronto, Ontario, Canadá: Dover. Spiegel, M. R. (1991). Variable Compleja. (C. J. Rodríguez Buitrago, Trad.) Méjico: McGraw-Hill. T.K. DELILLO, A. E. (1 de Octubre de 2002). SCHWARZ-CHRISTOFFEL MAPPING OF MULTIPLY CONNECTED DOMAINS. University of North Carolina, 1-25. Wunsh, A. D. (1999). Variable Compleja con Aplicaciones. (S. d. Régules, Trad.) Naucalpan, Juárez, Méjico: Addison Wesley Longman de México, S.A.


The authors are the only responsible for the printed material included in this paper.