In this paper, we study the role of mesh quality on the accuracy of linear finite element approximation. We derive a more detailed error estimate, which shows explicitly how the shape and size of elements, and symmetry structure of mesh effect on the error of numerical approximation. Two computable parameters Ge and Gv are given to depict the cell geometry property and symmetry structure of the mesh. In compare with the standard a priori error estimates, which only yield information on the asymptotic error behaviour in a global sense, our proposed error estimate considers the effect of local element geometry properties, and is thus more accurate. Under certain conditions, the traditional error estimates and supercovergence results can be derived from the proposed error estimate. Moreover, the estimators Ge and Gv are computable and thus can be used for predicting the variation of errors. Numerical tests are presented to illustrate the performance of the proposed parameters Ge and Gv .
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