This example shows how to solve the Poisson's equation, –Δ*u* = *f* using
the PDE app. This problem requires configuring a 2-D geometry with
Dirichlet and Neumann boundary conditions.

To start the PDE app, type the command `pdetool`

at
the MATLAB^{®} prompt. The PDE app looks similar to the following
figure, with exception of the grid. Turn on the grid by selecting **Grid** from
the **Options** menu. Also, enable the "snap-to-grid"
feature by selecting **Snap** from the **Options** menu.
The "snap-to-grid" feature simplifies aligning the solid
objects.

The first step is to draw the geometry on which you want to
solve the PDE. The PDE app provides four basic types of *solid
objects*: polygons, rectangles, circles, and ellipses. The
objects are used to create a *Constructive Solid Geometry
model* (CSG model). Each solid object is assigned a unique
label, and by the use of set algebra, the resulting geometry can be
made up of a combination of unions, intersections, and set differences.
By default, the resulting CSG model is the union of all solid objects.

To select a solid object, either click the button with an icon
depicting the solid object that you want to use, or select the object
by using the **Draw** pull-down menu. In this
case, rectangle/square objects are selected. To draw a rectangle or
a square starting at a corner, click the rectangle button without
a + sign in the middle. The button with the + sign is used when you
want to draw starting at the center. Then, put the cursor at the desired
corner, and click-and-drag using the *left* mouse
button to create a rectangle with the desired side lengths. (Use the
right mouse button to create a square.) Click and drag from (–1,.2)
to (1,–.2). Notice how the "snap-to-grid" feature
forces the rectangle to line up with the grid. When you release the
mouse, the CSG model is updated and redrawn. At this stage, all you
have is a rectangle. It is assigned the label R1. If you want to move
or resize the rectangle, you can easily do so. Click-and-drag an object
to move it, and double-click an object to open a dialog box, where
you can enter exact location coordinates. From the dialog box, you
can also alter the label. If you are not satisfied and want to restart,
you can delete the rectangle by clicking the **Delete** key
or by selecting **Clear** from the **Edit** menu.

Next, draw a circle by clicking the button with the ellipse
icon with the + sign, and then click-and-drag in a similar way, starting
near the point (–.5,0) with radius .4, using the *right* mouse
button, starting at the circle center.

The resulting CSG model is the union of the rectangle R1 and
the circle C1, described by set algebra as R1+C1. The area where the
two objects overlap is clearly visible as it is drawn using a darker
shade of gray. The object that you just drew—the circle—has
a black border, indicating that it is selected. A selected object
can be moved, resized, copied, and deleted. You can select more than
one object by **Shift**+clicking the objects that you
want to select. Also, a** Select All** option
is available from the **Edit** menu.

Finally, add two more objects, a rectangle R2 from (.5,–.6)
to (1,1), and a circle C2 centered at (.5,.2) with radius .2. The
desired CSG model is formed by subtracting the circle C2 from the
union of the other three objects. You do this by editing the set formula
that by default is the union of all objects: C1+R1+R2+C2. You can
type any other valid set formula into **Set formula** edit
field. Click in the edit field and use the keyboard to change the
set formula to

(R1+C1+R2)-C2

If you want, you can save this CSG model as a file. Use the **Save
As** option from the **File** menu,
and enter a filename of your choice. It is good practice to continue
to save your model at regular intervals using **Save**.
All the additional steps in the process of modeling and solving your
PDE are then saved to the same file. This concludes the drawing part.

You can now define the boundary conditions for the outer boundaries.
Enter the boundary mode by clicking the ∂Ω icon or by
selecting **Boundary Mode** from the **Boundary** menu.
You can now remove subdomain borders and define the boundary conditions.

The gray edge segments are subdomain borders induced by the
intersections of the original solid objects. Borders that do not represent
borders between, e.g., areas with differing material properties, can
be removed. From the **Boundary** menu, select
the **Remove All Subdomain Borders** option.
All borders are then removed from the decomposed geometry.

The boundaries are indicated by colored lines with arrows. The
color reflects the type of boundary condition, and the arrow points
toward the end of the boundary segment. The direction information
is provided for the case when the boundary condition is parameterized
along the boundary. The boundary condition can also be a function
of *x* and *y,* or simply a constant.
By default, the boundary condition is of Dirichlet type: *u* =
0 on the boundary.

Dirichlet boundary conditions are indicated by red color. The
boundary conditions can also be of a generalized Neumann (blue) or
mixed (green) type. For scalar *u*, however, all
boundary conditions are either of Dirichlet or the generalized Neumann
type. You select the boundary conditions that you want to change by
clicking to select one boundary segment, by **Shift**+clicking
to select multiple segments, or by using the **Edit** menu
option **Select All** to select all boundary
segments. The selected boundary segments are indicated by black color.

For this problem, change the boundary condition for all the
circle arcs. Select them by using the mouse and **Shift**+click
those boundary segments.

Double-clicking anywhere on the selected boundary segments opens
the Boundary Condition dialog box. Here, you select the type of boundary
condition, and enter the boundary condition as a MATLAB expression.
Change the boundary condition along the selected boundaries to a Neumann
condition, ∂*u*/∂*n* = –5. This
means that the solution has a slope of –5 in the normal direction
for these boundary segments.

In the Boundary Condition dialog box, select the **Neumann** condition
type, and enter `-5`

in the edit box for the boundary
condition parameter `g`

. To define a pure Neumann
condition, leave the `q`

parameter at its default
value, `0`

. When you click the **OK** button,
notice how the selected boundary segments change to blue to indicate
Neumann boundary condition.

Next, specify the PDE itself through a dialog box that is accessed
by clicking the button with the **PDE** icon or
by selecting **PDE Specification** from the **PDE** menu.
In PDE mode, you can also access the PDE Specification dialog box
by double-clicking a subdomain. That way, different subdomains can
have different PDE coefficient values. This problem, however, consists
of only one subdomain.

In the dialog box, you can select the type of PDE (elliptic, parabolic, hyperbolic, or eigenmodes) and define the applicable coefficients depending on the PDE type. This problem consists of an elliptic PDE defined by the equation

$$-\nabla \cdot \left(c\nabla u\right)+au=f,$$

with *c* = 1.0, *a* = 0.0, and *f* = 10.0.

Finally, create the triangular mesh that Partial Differential Equation Toolbox™ software
uses in the Finite Element Method (FEM) to solve the PDE. The triangular
mesh is created and displayed when clicking the button with the
icon or by selecting
the **Mesh** menu option **Initialize
Mesh**. If you want a more accurate solution, the mesh
can be successively refined by clicking the button with the four triangle
icon (the **Refine** button) or by selecting the **Refine
Mesh** option from the **Mesh** menu.

Using the **Jiggle Mesh** option, the
mesh can be jiggled to improve the triangle quality. Parameters for
controlling the jiggling of the mesh, the refinement method, and other
mesh generation parameters can be found in a dialog box that is opened
by selecting **Parameters** from the **Mesh** menu.
You can undo any change to the mesh by selecting the **Mesh** menu
option **Undo Mesh Change**.

Initialize the mesh, then refine it once and finally jiggle it once.

We are now ready to solve the problem. Click the **=** button
or select **Solve PDE** from the **Solve** menu
to solve the PDE. The solution is then plotted. By default, the plot
uses interpolated coloring and a linear color map. A color bar is
also provided to map the different shades to the numerical values
of the solution. If you want, the solution can be exported as a vector
to the MATLAB main workspace.

There are many more plot modes available to help you visualize
the solution. Click the button with the 3-D solution icon or select **Parameters** from
the **Plot** menu to access the dialog box
for selection of the different plot options. Several plot styles are
available, and the solution can be plotted in the PDE app or in a
separate figure as a 3-D plot.

Now, select a plot where the color and the height both represent *u*.
Choose interpolated shading and use the continuous (interpolated)
height option. The default colormap is the `cool`

colormap;
a pop-up menu lets you select from a number of different colormaps.
Finally, click the **Plot** button to plot the
solution; click the **Close** button to save the
plot setup as the current default. The solution is plotted as a 3-D
plot in a separate figure window.

The following solution plot is the result. You can use the mouse to rotate the plot in 3-D. By clicking-and-dragging the axes, the angle from which the solution is viewed can be changed.

Was this topic helpful?