Taylor-Hood and Apple Pi

by Nilima Nigam, Fall, 2014

h, p, d or g
combine of these any three,
FEM in a periodic table,
Conforming, commuting and mighty stable.

If the numbers don't converge
the method hears a sombre dirge
If instead they go too well
the method may be quite spectr-el.

The Circus at the IMA
adaptive work, refined play;
from those (and not!) at the meeting
to Doug, a special birthday greeting.

Above the Cut in Connecticut

by Lars Wahlbin, Fall, 2011

Every Point at Avery,
Is much above the Average.
I heard some people say:
"Could we switch with Dmitriy?"

Said the newborn Mariner,
To the happy, plenty crowd:
"Alas, I like my Elements,
Water, Wind and Rain and Clouds."

On a pleasant inland coast,
Even with less sun,
This Circus has been fun,
Warmed by our host.

Report on the Paris Finite Element Fair/Circus/Rodeo

by Lars Wahlbin, Spring 2011

While joint meetings of the Finite Element Circus/Rodeo were held at the University of Texas in Spring 2000
and at Louisiana State in Spring 2008, this meeting a the University of Chicago Center in Paris, June 3-4, 2011,
must count as a Fabulous First: The FE Fair, the Rodeo, and the Circus combined.
It was organized by Christine Bernardi (Paris), Vivette Girault (Texas A&M) and Ridgway Scott (Chicago).

About 35 people attended, and while we do not have a complete record, to the best of our investigations,
the Circus showed the flag with seven members: Andrew Barker (Louisiana State), Alan Demlow (Kentucky),
Todd Dupont (Chicago), Rick Falk (Rutgers), Peter Monk (Delaware), Victor Nistor (Penn State) and Ridg Scott (Chicago).

No recorded poem for this occasion has been found, so instead the special menu at the Le Train Bleu restaurant is given:

Foie gras de canard compote'e d'oignons rouges
Souris d'agneau confite jus au thym/Gratin dauphinois
Brie de Meaux
Mi cuit tout chocolat, chantilly cacao
Cafe', Pays d'Oc viognier, Me'doc chateau Plagnac.

Cirque du IMA

by Nilima Nigam, Fall 2010

The Circus came from far away
to party at the IMA;
All these people highly keen
to honour Falk, Pasciak and Wahlbin

The messages were loud and clear
for PDE we all hold dear
Even though the slides flew by
speedier than asking 'why'?

`Hybridize your DG so
the error and the work be low!'
`Exterior calculus shall save us all
Use a complex, big or small!'

`Keep your talks not too long!'
Constraints from organizers, fairly strong
[This panick'd scribe they brow-beat
to craft this verse, (a minor feat).]

No matter what our FEM may be
h-conforming or h-p
we all do (in faulty meter)
thank Johnny, Jay, and Peter.

The message from the assembled `crew'
(and yes, there were some sailors few)
Dear Rick, Lars and Joe
Happy birthday, and many more!


by L. Wahlbin, Spring 2010

In the fair town of Providence,
At a University named Brown,
There is plenty much of evidence,
They will never win the Ivy basketball crown.

On the other hand, on the evidence,
The Brown Circus wins, hands down,
One can say with much confidence,
That glorious DG crown of renown.


by L. Wahlbin, Fall 2009

Stand in one little spot,
Shake your bending moments hot,
That's when you got something,
Yeah, you got a lot.

It is elements a-shaking,
Shaking hot as they can be,
Yeah, some elements a-baking,
Down in Knoxville Tennessee.


by L. Wahlbin, Spring 2009

This Circus in Delaware,
May have made you aware,
To use care and avoid the snare,
To fall for deficiences bare,
Beware, be fair, and then dare!


by L. Wahlbin, Fall 2008

To model gradients extreme,
With confidence most supreme,
Study element methodology.
Compare with the topology,
Of Troy; and then dream or scream.

Fun and Games at LSU

by L. Wahlbin, Spring 2008

A Circus and a Rodeo bring,
Elements that glow like bling,
Add a roaming tiger, too,
And you will have a Zoo,
Lots of horseplay in the ring.

The Best Circus Talk Ever

by R. Falk, Fall 2007

The talks were flying by
At the Circus at Cornell.
Where one stopped and the next one started
Was almost impossible to tell.

In my mind, the talks have merged to one.
And I am sure you will agree
After hearing just the title.
It's the best in history.

L-infinity estimates and fast solvers
For methods nonconforming, mesh free, or DG
For the Darcy-Stokes-Monge-Ampere equation
With a corner singularity.

A Split Personality

by L. Wahlbin, Spring 2007

There was a young man named Galerkin,
In numerical methods researchin'.
On even days smooth and continuous.
On odd days rough, discontinuous.
A divide in Galerkin was lurkin'.

What Do You Mean I Only Have Two More Minutes?

by R. Falk, Fall 2006

Thirty-six talks at the Penn State Circus.
It's great we've achieved such renown.
But my talk was just getting started,
When I was told it was time to sit down.

All my best results left unsaid.
I was really quite perturbed.
Perhaps if we held the next circus in Antarctica,
I would get all the time I deserve.

The Place To Be

by L. Wahlbin, Spring 2006

UMBC, the place to be,
For finite elementers, he or she,
Knowing what's now,
Growing know-how,
Glowing news of elements in MD.

Elegance, Fun, and Precision

by L. Wahlbin, Fall 2005

On the mathematics of two of the founding fathers of the Circus on the occasion of their 75th birthdays.

Jim and Bruce, they got the juice,
They know how to cruise,
In waters Mathematical.

They are in their element,
They do their Theorems cement,
With Proofs pure and economical.

Among ensnaring, snaky integrals,
And choppy, sharp differentials,
They navigate with ease.

Yes, it's all breezy, it's all so easy,
When THEY pull the barge,
Those two Mathematicians at large.

Yes, they can do whatever they please,
They can follow their whim,
They know how to swim, do Bruce and Jim.


by L. Wahlbin, Spring 2005

Gauss and Seidel had a flair,
For solving their systems with care.
The importance of getting it right,
So the numbers will shed true light;
Of this were Gauss and Seidel aware.

How The Hottub Was Invented

by L. Wahlbin, Fall 2004

A lovely number born in Greece, ever ready to tease,
PI a maiden of Hellas, toyed with a Syracuse fellow:
"I like being irrational, transcendental and random,
You are so very rational, but can you catch a phantom?"

Ardent Archimedes, in turn set his clever Hunter's snare:
"For a phantom and enigma, a mirage and chimera,
You do cut solid figures, spheres, paraboloids, what not,
They make me hot to trot to untie that Hymen's knot,
Ninety-six elements I hope we merrily shall share,
3 10/71 < PI < 3 1/7,
I'm longing to embrace you in our Seventh Heaven."

Lovely PI was pleased to be so gently squeezed:
"I'll add my elementary and very merry share,
Both Earth and crisp October Air,
But mostly I'll your mind inspire,
In Water and with Fire."

Circus at U. of Pittsburgh

by L. Wahlbin, Spring 2004

Finite Elementers all felt the urge,
To converge at U. of Pittsburgh.

Their spirits surged, indeed they splurged,
Their thoughts meshed and truly merged.

From clownish pitt-falls all purged,
Finite elements emerged, boldly verged.

A Hyperbolic Camping Trip

by L. Wahlbin, Fall 2003

Courant, Friedrichs and Lewy
they pitched their tent at night.
They had been drinking heavy,
they couldn't get it ... straight.

They stumbled in the dark,
they couldn't find the light.
They all had lost their spark,
they didn't look too bright.

But then they all sat down
to really start to think.
"We really are all clowns,
we really truly stink."

But they were charismatic,
and in a very blink,
with thinking charact'ristic,
they found the missing link.

"I think we aimed too high
it got to be unstable.
Let's lower our sights,
and start when we are able."

Soon the blinking stars,
their light-rays straight, unbent,
shone down on our three Stars
in their cozy circus tent.

The night was soon all gone,
the sun came up to glance:
Sweet dreams inside their cone,
had Dick and Kurt and Hans.

Our Leader Returns

by R. Falk, Spring 2003

If you missed it,
It's a pity.
We had quite a circus
In the Motor City.

Zhang and Zhang picked the date
And hosted us at Wayne State.
Ivo was there, it was nice to see.
We listened intently to his philosophy.

Validation and verification
Were his themes.
Without them, we have only
Worthless schemes.

Welcome to the Club (or, The First Circus at Wayne State)

by L. Wahlbin, Spring 2003

On the fair campus of Wayne State,
We were given verification,
That finite elements are, simply, great,
In helping us in validation.

The terminology may be confusing,
Maybe we mean validation
of the methods we try to be using
in modeling verification ?

What we can all validate,
What struck us all uppermost,
What we can all verify:
The Zhang Brothers are super hosts !

If William Blake And Dr. Seuss Had Been At The Penn State Circus...

by L. Wahlbin, Fall 2002

Mathematicians came; like lambs looking tame,
Not-any lions in sight?

Their theorems true; did though shine through,
As tygers burning bright.

What immortal hand or eye,
Dared frame their fearful symmetry?

Sweet delight of endless strain,
In the furnace of the brain,
Glor'ous mor'ns of sweet delight,
When your thoughts shine bright and right,
Endless nights of strain and pain,
When your brain goes down the drain.

Glorious infinity,
Is sun rise to eternity,
Infinities of elegance,
Grace dancing Finite Elephants.

A Pleasant Affair

by L. Wahlbin, Spring 2002

A Circus at Maryland
Is a pleasant affair.
You walk to the Math Home
And climb up the stairs.

Mathematics will greet you;
It's all in the air.
Old and New Friends will meet you.
Yes, it's that atmosphere.

If I were an M.D.
Healing Body and Soul:
A Circus at MD
Prescribed, makes you whole.

A Circus at Maryland
Is indeed a Most Pleasant Affair.

A Wolfpack Song

by R. Falk and R.B. Kellogg, Fall 2001

Heeding the words of GWB,
Continuing on our path,
A reduced but still energetic group
We presented our latest math.

Maxwell, powder, fluid flow,
The applications swirled,
Then engineer Mareno gave
A glimpse of the real world.

Discontinuous elements
Appeared at the circus again,
History is cyclical
And good ideas remain.

Ode to Gore Hall

by L. Walhbin, Spring 2001

The Rotunda gives the Big Top idea,
The Lecture Room is Top Notch, we agree,
What Perfect a Venue,
for a Circus Adventure;
for algorithms for DE in DE.

Election 2000

by B. Kellogg, Fall 2000

A numerical analyst named Bubba
Had considerable stability trouble.
For some help he was sent
To the circus he went
At a campus named after George W.

To explain he was offered the floor
His ideas were splattered with gore.
With his scheme inconsistent
His errors were persistent
At the end he was thrown out the door.

Finite Elements Forever

by R. Falk, Spring 2000

When the Rodeo joins the Circus,
It's an event you shouldn't miss.
It's a time to learn of new results
And a chance to reminisce.

The Circus founders knew it
And were there, just as long ago
To see Finite Elements still going strong.
Was there ever a doubt that would be so?

Next Thousand Years

by L. Wahlbin, Fall 1999

The Millennium closes,
And so will this Circus;
Are Foundations done Right for the next thousand years?

Is reasoning Bright,
Are arguments Tight,
Will they Live in the next thousand years?

When Work sheds Light,
And is Bright and is Right,
It SHINES, through the next thousand years.

Bringing Back the Good Old Days

by R. Falk, Spring 1999

We got the order of speakers at the first circus
By drawing numbers from a hat.
In recent times we've gone high tech
Using a random number generator to do that.

Some complained, so Doug's computer
Now makes the sounds of days gone by.
If he can make it look like Mary Wheeler
We old-timers may start to cry.

Author's notes: 1. In the early circuses, Mary Wheeler was chosen to draw the numbers.
2. This poem provides an updated ending to the
poem of Fall 1996.

Rocky Mountain Circus High

by R. Falk, Spring 1998

It was the first circus ever in Denver
And Leo put on quite a show.
His web site had all the info
And the signs told you where to go.

He got the sun to shine on the Rockies
And the snacks were the best and most.
If Leo would only reimburse my airfare,
I'd make him permanent circus host.

The Fair Maiden of Ithaca

by M. Suri, Fall 1997

In the land of magic and mythica,
Laid I mine eyes on the maiden of Ithaca.
I followed her to where she did dwell
In the shimmering kingdom they call Cornell.

A posteriori estimates at her feet did I lay,
Logarithms for her love I did slay.
Domains I decomposed, to amuse here
Secrets of superconvergence did I peruse her.

I hoped to win her over this way,
But my heart sank when she did say:
"Finite elements do nothing for me
I care not a whit for hp...

"If my hand 'tis your wish to secure,
Try not to be such a bore.
There's one big mistake you're making, pal...
This lady's a finite difference kinda gal!"

The Circus comes to Cornell

by D. French, Fall 1997

The time to discuss finite elements once again came around;
The circus was in Ithaca where fall colors could be found.
Alas, many of the usual performers did not appear
But we still gave our talks and they were all perfectly clear.

The lectures were excellent as we all would attest.
Lars vigorously chased that nasty logarithm pest,
John Osborn explained how badly our method could perform,
And from Jinchao Xu a new multigrid algorithm was born.

But the conference was quieter without Ivo to run the show:
No clapping or yelling to keep us all in tow.
His questioning and badgering were all part of the game
And he would not let us forget the L-shaped domain.

The Cornell circus will soon come to an end;
We have now shown where all our approximate solutions will tend.
So back to our homes we must now go
To refine more meshes before the next circus show.

That is a Heck of a Mesh Generator You Have There

by R. Falk, Spring 1997

The circus in the Big Apple,
I knew it was meant to be,
When Olof showed his unstructured mesh
And it was a map of NYC.

Ivo's Lament

by R. Falk, Fall 1996

We used to determine the order of speakers
By drawing numbers from a hat.
Now we use a laptop computer
And random numbers to do that.

Someday, we may only have a virtual circus,
Connecting by computer and phone.
I knew when I let those new guys run the circus
They would not leave well enough alone.


by R. Falk, Spring 1996

We came to South Carolina
To a circus hosted by Sue.
She made sure the azaleas were in bloom
And got Hootie and the Blowfish to be there too.

The talks proceeded at a leisurely pace,
An unheard of thirty minutes was each speaker's due.
It seems that all is well in the finite element world
Except for Ivo, who was home with the flu.

Is That The Whole Thing, or, You Should Have Paid Me By The Word.

by R. Falk, Spring 1993

OK, Ivo, so it's a little terse.
Be grateful you are getting any verse.

Author's note: This poem was written under extreme pressure from our peerless leader.

There Must Be a Reason

by R. Falk, Fall 1991

Dedicated to R. Bruce Kellogg on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday.

Why the name "Finite Element Circus,"
I was asked some time ago.
Bruce Kellogg had just finished speaking
And my questioner was anxious to know.

Well, of course it's not really a circus, I said.
There are no lions, trapeze, or tents,
And I can't recall a time in which Bruce
Actually mentioned finite elements.

Hey, R. Bruce, can you help me out on this one?
Or have we all been really dense.
To have used for over twenty years,
A name that makes no sense.

The Way It Was -- I Think

by R. Falk, Spring 1990

One of the first circuses I remember
Took place here at Cornell.
Since many of you weren't around back then,
There are some things that I should tell.

Al spoke in his own time slot
And prepared his talk ahead.
And Ivo didn't stop the speakers
Until everything was said.

After Jim talked about the analysis
Of the method of least squares,
We all went to dinner at MacDonalds.
Hey -- back then we didn't have L'Auberge.

Well, maybe my memory is a little fuzzy,
And it didn't happen quite that way.
Still, we must have done something right,
'Cause the Circus is going strong today.

What Was That Second One, Again?

by R. Falk, Fall 1989

He asks me to name the great circuses.
I say Ringling Brothers in number one with me.
Number two was the Finite Element Circus
Held in eight-nine at UMBC.

What made that second circus so great?
I never heard of it, he intones.
Well, how could I explain that to a guy
Who doesn't know lions from Lions.

Your Time is Up

by R. Falk, Spring 1989

In the early years of the Circus,
The number of talks were few.
There was no inf-sup to guide us
and the h version was all we knew.

Since then we've made much progress,
But the basic principle is as before.
No matter how great you think your results are,
You get twenty minutes and no more.

Happy Valley -- Here I Come

by R. Falk, Fall 1988

When Happy Valley beckoned,
I was anxious to get started.
I knew the trip would take four hours
No matter from where I started.

To get to the Penn State Circus,
I'd drive through a raging inferno.
It's not that I care about finite elements.
I just want a glimpse of Joe Paterno.

The Reactionary

by R. Falk, Spring 1988

In the good old days of finite elements
You knew just where you stood.
The elements used all conformed
And behaved just as they should.

But now the integrations are reduced
And the methods all mixed and hybrid.
If this kind of nonsense doesn't stop.
I'll use finite differences instead.

Local Flavor

by R. Falk, Fall 1985

When the Circus comes to Brookhaven,
All its members feel secure.
No mathematical spies can get by the guards.
Of that you can be sure.

There is one slight problem, though,
And it concerns the breakfast cereal.
That unusual taste you raved about
Was honey coated nuclear material.

Consult the Experts

by R. Falk, Fall 1984

You say you need a fast solver,
Because your algorithm is much too slow.
You say you need to move your meshes,
But don't know which way to go.

You say you have a singularity,
But don't understand pollution.
And that the physical quantity of interest
Looks nothing like your computed solution.

If these are some of your troubles, friend,
There's no need for you to despair.
Just come down to the Finite Element Circus
And consult the experts there.

The Maryland Circus

by R. Falk, Spring 1981

When the Circus comes to Maryland,
Its always a special treat.
We lunched at what Oui magazine calls
"a place that can't be beat."

Before dinner Ivo hosted a great party
With unlimited alcoholic consumption.
But the highlight was my fortune cookie.
It said: you will need an inverse assumption.

A Fellow Named Storm

by R. Falk, Spring 1979

There once was a fellow named Storm,
Who used meshes not quasi-uniform.
With considerable urging, he got approximations converging,
But only in some negative norm.

A Fellow Named Dare

by R. Falk, Fall 1978

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(h^2).

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