In the introduction we compared the boundary element method (BEM) with its main “competitor” the finite element method (FEM). Although in the specific example the impression was given that a BEM analysis would be superior to the FEM this was not meant to imply that this is always the case. In a famous paper written more than two decades ago1, O.C. Zienkiewicz pointed out that benefits could be gained by combining the two methods of analysis, thereby gaining the “best of both worlds”. This was at a time when BEM protagonists claimed that the BE could do everything better and there was almost no collaboration between the two groups. Zienkiewicz, in his inimitable style, chose the title “Marriage a la mode” which shows a double meaning: marriage a la mode means a marriage of convenience, not love, but also there is a double meaning with the word mode (displacement mode =shape function).
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