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The isoparametric method used in finite element calculations is outlined and the implication of piecewise surface approximation by rational sur faces is discussed. The simplest non-trivial case is th a t of the Steiner surface. Examples of the occurrence of this surface are given and some of the properties of the surface discussed. A norm for approximation by a Steiner surface is given.doi:10.1098/rspa.1979.0157 fatcat:jctyqtftezbbdp3bz2dtbn5cxi