The Finite Element Method

It would not be out of place to refer to his text on finite element analysis as simply ‘The Book’. Surely, in no other field is there a reference which has had greater supremacy among competing texts. This dominance was established immediately on publication of the version published in 1967, which was written with the assistance of Y. K. Cheung. This text, numbering 272 pages and was translated into Japanese and Russian.

The next version appeared four years later in 1971, was almost twice the length of the first version, and was translated into Japanese, Russian, Polish, French and German. Subsequent versions expanded in size and scope of topics addressed, culminating with the sixth edition (58) which is a three-volume set written collaboratively with R. L. Taylor, J. Z. Zhu and P. Nithiarasu, covering Basics and Fundamentals, Solid and Structural Mechanics and Fluid Dynamics. This work is best described in the words of his principal co-author Robert L. Taylor (20):

“In the late 1990s we undertook a major revision of the FEM book with much of the revision completed while we both visited CIMNE for two months each year. The fifth edition was greatly expanded and divided into three volumes. Work on the revisions was carried out either at CIMNE or at the apartment of Olek and Helen at Sitges. The writing was hindered somewhat due to the deterioration of Olek’s eyesight from macular degeneration. However, his ability to recall and formulate complex technical information from memory made the writing possible. Working together, we discussed sections for each volume, the modifications were formulated verbally, dictated to tape by Olek and later transcribed and edited to computer files for printing”.

In 1968, Olek co-founded, with R. H. Gallagher, the International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, which rapidly became the premier journal in the field of finite elements.