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The Spring 2004 Finite Element Circus will take place at the University of Pittsburgh. Details about the dates of the Circus and accomodations and events will appear on this page at a later date.
The Fall 2003 Finite Element Circus was held at Cornell University on November 7-8, 2003. Some details regarding this circus can be found on the Cornell Circus web page.
The Finite Element Circus is a regular conference devoted to the theory and applications of the finite element method, and related areas of numerical analysis and partial differential equations. The Finite Element Circus was conceived by Ivo Babuska, Bruce Kellogg, and Jim Bramble over beer and pizza at the Beltway Plaza shopping center in Hyattsville, Maryland in 1970, and the first circus was held at the University of Maryland, College Park late that year. In the early years meetings were held as often as four times a year, but soon a format was established of a one-and-one-half day meeting held every spring and fall at varying locations. Since 1977 the participants and talks have been recorded in "the big book," and the titles for circus talks since 1996 may be found online as well.
Many institutions have hosted the circus over the years: Cornell, Duke, Harvard, NYU, Penn State, Purdue, and Rutgers, the Universities of Chicago, Colorado at Denver, Delaware, Houston, Maryland, Maryland at Baltimore County, Michigan, North Carolina State, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, Brookhaven National Labs, and the Naval Academy. Ivo Babuska served as the ringmaster from the inception of the circus through 1995 when Douglas N. Arnold and Richard S. Falk took over. Since 2003, the circus is overseen by Falk and Lars Wahlbin.
There are a variety of traditions associated with the Circus. A pleasant one is the Circus Poem, which is written for each meeting. The first poem on record dates from the Fall 1978 circus.
There once was a fellow named Dare,
Who approximated PDEs with great care.
But the solutions were rough
And the problems were tough,
So he only got O(h²).
Some other poems are on these pages as well.
Speakers at Circus meetings are volunteers from the audience. The length of talks is set depending on the number of volunteers, so speakers have to prepare a talk that can be trimmed to various lengths (15 minutes is typical). The order is assigned randomly at the start of the meeting, so speakers must be present for the entire meeting and cannot request a specific time to talk. Please don't put the organizers in an awkward position by requesting that an exception be made (which won't be granted anyway). Potential participants are strongly encouraged to attend at least one meeting before volunteering to speak.
To be added to or removed from the Circus mailing list, or to update your entry, fill out this form.