39th International Conference on Boundary Elements and Other Mesh Reduction Methods

pcr320 - 22 September 2016
Siena, Italy


200x250 BEMMRM16The 39th Boundary Elements and other Mesh Reduction Methods (BEM/MRM 39) conference took place in the Certosa di Pontignano of the University of Siena, organised by Professor Alex Cheng of the University of Mississippi, USA and Professor Carlos A Brebbia of the Wessex Institute, UK.

The meeting was sponsored by the International Journals of Computational Methods and Experimental Measurements and of Engineering Analysis and Boundary Elements.

Since the first of these meetings was held in 1978, the conferences have reported the major developments in the field. The valuable collection of papers is now available in Open Access format starting from the 1993 meeting. They are archived in the Wessex Institute’s library ( where they are easily accessible to the international scientific community. Papers are listed in different databases, particularly in Google Scholar.

The objective of the BEM/MRM conference is to present and discuss further developments of the technique that reduce or eliminate the type of mesh required by first generation methods such as finite elements and finite differences.

Although mostly in evolution, boundary elements is nowadays a well-established technique which presents considerable advantages over other techniques in case of extensive links in finite dimensions, growing and moving boundaries and many others.

BEM has become a select computational tool for the accurate solution of many engineering and scientific problems.

The meeting took place in La Certosa di Pontignano Conference Centre belonging to the University of Siena. The centre offers meeting rooms and accommodation facilities, in addition to catering services. It provides the right atmosphere for delegates to discuss problems of common interest and develop strong links.

The Centre, a former Benedictine Monastery, has three beautiful cloisters surrounded by cells and apartments. In the middle of the Main Cloister is a 13th century stone well and also leads to the entrance to the Church with frescoes from the 1500s and an organ, on which the conference recital was given.

On the opposite side of the Main Cloister a beautiful Italian-style garden is lovingly taken care of.

The Centre is one of the few still remaining Cistercian monasteries which preserve the original layout and all the main buildings in their original architecture, in spite of the damage suffered by the buildings during the wars between Siena and Florence, when the latter burnt down all the buildings in the middle of the 16th century. One hundred years later German and Spanish militia sacked the monastery. The monks rebuilt the Certosa on both occasions.

It was at the end of the 18th century when the order left the Certosa for good, transferring it to another order. This only lasted for a short time as the rule of Napoleon suppressed all convents and the buildings, with the exception of the Church, was sold to local families.

It was through the work of Professor Mario Bracci that a Company was created in 1939 to operate La Certosa which became a place of refuge for victims of political persecution. Finally, in 1959 the complex was purchased by the University of Siena.

Located in the middle of Tuscany countryside and with many frescos and architectural motives of the Renaissance period, the Certosa offers a unique event for the exchange of views amongst researchers. The Chianti countryside surrounding the buildings with its vines and olive trees provides the right landscape, with the inspiring view of Siena in the background.

Opening of the Conference

The Conference was opened by Professor Carlos A Brebbia who referred to the importance of the conference programme for Wessex Institute, whose objective of WIT is the dissemination of engineering and scientific knowledge.

Carlos also mentioned the tools developed at his Institute using Boundary Elements and their application in industry. This is essential for the Institute which depends in great part on Research and Development work for industry.

Carlos described some of the successful applications of BEM in industries as novel as aerospace, offshore, construction and mechanical engineering, and many others.

The Institute has also launched, with WIT Press, a number of scientific journals dealing with interdisciplinary issues. It is an objective of WIT to increase the communication between different areas of knowledge. WIT recognises that it is necessary to look beyond the engineering quantitative aspects in order to find solutions to the many problems affecting our society. A series of conferences in its annual programme are also interdisciplinary.

Carlos ended his remarks by thanking the delegates for their participation in the conference and wishing all delegates a very successful meeting. He is particularly indebted to the members of the International Scientific Advisory Committee who helped to review abstracts and papers.

Invited Presentations

There were a series of invited lectures to enhance the conference:

  • “A novel fast-multipole implementation of boundary element methods: computational features and performance assessments”, by Ney Dumont, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • “Is ill-conditioning associated with Cꝏ basis functions a disaster?” by Edward Kansa, Convergent Solutions, USA.
  • “Parallelisation techniques for the dual reciprocity and time-dependent Boundary Element Method algorithms”, by Kelvin Donne, Swansea Metropolitan University, Wales.
  • “Convergence studies for an adaptive meshless least-squares collocation method”, by Leevan Ling, Hong Kong Baptist University, China.
  • “On solvability of the BVP formulated in terms of displacement orientation on the interface between dissimilar elastic materials”, by Alexander Galybin, The Schmidt Institute of Physics of the Earth, Russia.
  • “Deterministic-stochastic boundary element modelling of the brain and eye exposed to high frequency radiation”, by Dragan Poljak, University of Split, Croatia.
  • “Acoustic fluid-structure interaction of ships by coupled fast BE-FE approaches”, by Lothar Gaul, University of Stuttgart, Germany.
  • “Green’s functions for dissimilar or homogeneous materials containing interfacial crack, under axisymmetric singular loading sources”, by Dimitrios Pavlou, University of Stavanger, Norway.
  • “On implementation of the boundary, integral equation method”, by Jianming Zhang, Hunan University, China.
  • “A coupled localized RBF meshless/DRBEM formulation for accurate modelling of incompressible fluid flows”, by Eduardo Divo, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, USA.
  • “BEM and FEM analysis of the fluid-structure interaction in tanks with baffles”, by Elena Strelnikova, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Ukraine.
  • “An RBF interpolation blending scheme for effective shock-capturing”, by Alain Kassab, University of Central Florida, USA.
  • “Implementation of the Rosseland and the radiation models in the system of Navier-Stokes equations with the boundary element method”, by Leopold Skerget, University of Maribor, Slovenia.
  • “Stochastic post-processing of the deterministic boundary element modelling of the transient electric field from GPR dipole antenna propagating through lower half-space”, by Silvestar Sesnic, University of Split, Croatia.
  • “Solution of the transient thermal diffusion equation using the time dependent boundary element method”, by Arnaud Marotin, Swansea Metropolitan University, Wales.
  • “Solution of energy transport equation with variable material properties by BEM”, by Jure Ravnik, University of Maribor, Slovenia.
  • “Simulations of coupling effects in vibration of FGM plates by mesh-free methods”, by Vladimir Sladek, Slovak Academy of Science, Slovakia.

George Green Medal

The Conference programme included a special seminar dedicated to the award of the George Green Medal, as well as the presentation of two keynote addresses and several special papers.

The George Green Medal was established by the University of Mississippi at Oxford, Mississippi, USA and the Wessex Institute and is now supported by Elsevier. It is in honour of the man who single-handedly set up the basis for the modern Boundary Element Method, amongst other achievements.

George Green (1793-1841) was a self-taught genius who mysteriously delivered one of the most influential mathematics and physics works of all time. He educated himself in mathematics and self-published the work “An Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to the Theories of Electricity and Magnetism”. In his very first article he derived the Green’s first, second and third identities, forged the concept of Green’s function, and solved the problem of electrical potential created by a single charge placed inside a spherical metal shell. The idea of Green’s function forever changed the landscape of science, as many physics and mathematics problems have been solved using this technique. As Green died early, and his work was discovered only posthumously, it remains a mystery today how Green could produce such a masterpiece without the guidance of a great teacher or school and, in fact, without a formal education. Only recently, due to the advent of powerful computers, has it been possible to take full advantage of Green’s pioneering developments.

The Medal is awarded to those scientists who have carried out original work with practical applications in the field of Boundary Elements and other Mesh Reduction Methods, continuing in this manner to further develop the pioneering ideas of George Green. They are also persons of the highest integrity who, by sharing their knowledge, have helped to establish research groups all around the world. The selection process is conducted by a panel of internationally recognised scientists. The Medal is given once a year and presented during the conference.

Carlos then proceeded to introduce the recipient of the Medal in 2016 who was Professor Alex Cheng. Alex obtained his PhD from Cornell University and is currently Dean of Engineering at the University of Mississippi. His research interests cover boundary element methods, mesh collection method, porous mechanics, nanomechanics, graduate modelling and saltwater intrusion.

He has authored five books and edited four speciality books and many conference proceedings. He has published nearly 200 articles in learned Journals. Alex served as President of Engineering Mechanics Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Vice President of the Academic Affairs of the American Institute of Hydrology. He is Editor-in Chief of the International Journal of Engineering Analysis with Boundary Elements and Associate Editor of the Journal of Transport in Porous Media.

He has been the recipient of the prestigious Maurice A Biot Medal and the Walter L Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, both of ASCE. Alex twice received a Basic Research Award from the National Committee of Rock Mechanics, and the Eminent Scientist Award of the Wessex Institute. He is a Fellow and member of the Board of Directors of the same Institute.

Keynote Addresses

After the Medal was presented, Professor Alex Cheng gave his keynote address “From BEM, Green’s Function, to meshless method – Personal reminiscence”.

The address was well received by the audience as it helped to explain in a clear manner the changes that have taken place in Boundary Element and other Mesh Reduction Methods since BEM was launched towards the end of the 1970’s.

His keynote presentation was followed by another by Professor Santiago Hernandez, on “International space stations: A successful history of mobile and deployable structures”.

The session concluded after coffee with a series of lectures on optimum design of a variety of structural shapes and systems. It ended with a short presentation, also by Alex Cheng, on the topic of “A Bio-inspired graphene composite material”.

At the end of the session, Carlos presented Alex Cheng with an antique map of the State of Mississippi. The map dates from 1852, pre-dates the Civil War and was part of an old Atlas commissioned by the American Congress.

Social Occasions

There were numerous occasions for the delegates to meet informally and discuss topics of common interest. This happened during coffee and lunch breaks, as well as during the conference dinner.

One special short guided tour of Siena was arranged at the end of an afternoon session.

One special short guided tour of Siena was arranged at the end of the last day to help the delegates to get to know each other better.

The participants were shown around the sights of the city of Siena by a professional guide. They saw the spectacular Piazza del Campo, which fan-like shape fits the natural shape of the ground and is surrounded by renaissance buildings and numerous monuments. This provides the backdrop for the Corsa del Palio, fast horse race held twice a year, which dates back to the 15th century, and is a tradition representing the different neighbourhoods and very dear to the Sienese.

They also visited the Duomo (Cathedral) of Siena which dates back to the 12th century. Unique mosaic marble works cover the whole floor which is displayed during September.

The guide briefly described some highlights of the history of Siena and pointed out the current use of many of the heritage buildings during the tour.

Following the excursion the delegates proceeded to have the Conference Dinner in a well-known restaurant that prepares medieval banquets following old recipes. The restaurant itself is located in an old building dating from the 12th century. The excellent and unusual dishes were accompanied by a good selection of regional wines, including some of the red Chianti Vino Nobile for which Tuscany is renowned. Their qualities were described by a Sommelier who also explained the different procedures and types of grapes used in their making.

The evening was most pleasant and the delegates were able to enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed atmosphere.

Organ Recital

An organ recital took place during one evening. The event took place in the ancient Church, where there is a classical Italian-style organ of the 1700’s with an excellent and very clear sound.

The concert organist was Pier Paolo Strona who has played at other Wessex Institute occasions. Pier Paolo retired from FIAT Aerospace Research to dedicate himself fully to his passion for music, continuing to develop a larger repertoire in piano and organ music.

He graduated in engineering from the Polytechnic of Torino, as well as obtaining a Diploma in Music from the renowned Bologna Conservatory. He had the distinction, when at FIAT, of having been the first to apply the Boundary Element Method code developed by the Southampton group to the analysis of aerospace components. Since then he has contributed as a research engineer and later as a musician with Wessex Institute.

His material included pieces by Zipoli (1688-1726), a Jesuit composer that had lived in the famous Paraguayan mission just before the time of the expulsion of the order from South America. Interestingly enough the pieces played by Pier Paolo were only recently discovered in an archive in Asuncion! Other composers were Byrd (Pavana); Hasse (Fuga in re minore); Pasquini (Partite sopra la Aria della Folia da Espagna); Galuppi (Andante, Allegro, Largo); and Seger (Fuga “de tempore Natalis”).

His performance was greatly appreciated by the audience who were particularly pleased by seeing a scientist having become such an accomplished performer.

At the end of the concert, Carlos expressed the gratitude of the participants for his performance and distributed amongst them a CD of music by Pier Paolo. This was entitled “Music from the New Forest” and contained a selection of Pier Paolo’s repertoire for piano. It includes 22 pieces from composers ranging from Mozart and Bach to Joplin and Gurdjieff, an evidence of Pier Paolo’s variety of musical interest.

Carlos also mentioned that Pier Paolo is a most accomplished photographer and that in addition to books on musicology (ie such as on Goldman’s variations of Bach) he has authored several photography books.

Editorial Board Meeting and Close of the Conference

The Editorial Board Meeting of the International Journal of Engineering Analysis with Boundary Elements took place over dinner to discuss recent developments in how the publication is progressing. Of special interest was the continuous increase in the impact factors and the number of submissions. The papers in the Journal also attract a substantial number of citations.

Alex Cheng discussed these points and other matters concerning the reviewing process and the advances made with the speed of publication in the last few years.

There was general agreement that the Journal is progressing well and that the continuous support of the Editorial Board members contributes to increase the quality of the publication.

The members expressed their appreciation to the publishers Elsevier for the support of the dinner and the sponsorship of the George Medal.

The Conference was closed by Carlos who thanked the delegates as well as his Co-Chair, Professor Alex Cheng, and members of the ISAC for their co-operation. He reminded them that the next BEM conference will take place in the New Forest, home of the Wessex Institute, from 12-14 September 2017.

Associated Conferences

Contact and Surface 2017
Materials Characterisation 2017
CMEM 2017