The foundations of the theory of the finite element method as it applies to linear elasticity are investigated. A particular boundary-value problem in plane stress is considered and the variational principle for the finite element method is shown to be equivalent to it. Mean and uniform convergence of the finite element solution to that of the boundary-value problem is demonstrated with careful consideration given to the stress singularities. A counterexample is presented in which a set of functions, admissible to the variational principle, is shown not to converge.

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