Analytical study of the accuracy of discrete element simulations

K.J. Hanley, C. O'Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The numerical errors was used to verify the correctness of key results. The truncation errors, which are larger than the round‐off errors by orders of magnitude, have a superlinear relationship with both the simulation time‐step and the interparticle collision speed. This remains the case regardless of the simulation details including the chosen contact model, particle size distribution, particle density or stiffness. Hence, the total errors can usually be reduced by choosing a smaller time‐step. Increasing the polydispersity in a simulation by including smaller particles necessitates choosing a smaller time‐step to maintain simulation stability and reduces the truncation errors in most cases. The truncation errors are increased by the dissipation of energy by frictional sliding or by the inclusion of damping in the system. The number of contacts affects the accuracy, and one can deduce that because 2D simulations contain fewer interparticle contacts than the equivalent 3D simulations, they therefore have lower accrued simulation errors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-51
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering
Issue number1
Early online date5 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2017


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