Development of one, two and three-dimensional finite element groundwater models within a generalized object-oriented framework

A Desitter*, PD Bates, MG Anderson, JM Hervouet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The past 20 years have seen a proliferation of numerical models in response to a need From governments, industry and researchers for tools that can simulate or predict environmental processes. Although this has led to significant scientific advances, in constructing such models code developers duplicate many basic tasks and functions. Ultimately therefore, the spread of progress is artificially restricted and the central focus of scientific activity may be misplaced. In this paper we examine the potential use of object-oriented programming techniques to overcome this problem and facilitate easy code reuse and maintenance in the face of rapid advances in numerical analysis research. In particular, we discuss the extent to which object oriented programming styles have an affinity for numerical environmental problems that traditional procedural programming styles do not share. We illustrate this through the development of one, two and three-dimensional finite element models for unsaturated groundwater flow using an object oriented environment developed originally for the solution of the Shallow Water equations. The complexity and quality of the solution that could be developed in a relatively limited period is demonstrated through comparison to three analytical test cases described in the literature. Copyright (C) 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2245-2259
Number of pages15
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2000


  • object-oriented programming
  • Richards equation
  • finite elements

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