(Finite Element Analysis) A mathematical technique for analyzing stress, which breaks down a physical structure into substructures called "finite elements." The finite elements and their interrelationships are converted into equation form and solved mathematically. Graphics-based FEA software can display the model on screen as it is being built and, after analysis, display the object's reactions under load conditions. Models created in popular CAD packages can often be accepted by FEA software. See automatic design optimization.