Reusable software tools for the solution of partial differential equations using parallel adaptive finite element methods have been developed. We describe the design and implementation of the object-oriented parallel mesh structures within the Rensselaer Partition Model (RPM). This hierarchical model is used to distribute finite element meshes and associated data on a parallel computer. It represents heterogeneous processor and network speeds, and may be used to represent processes in any parallel computing environment, including an SMP, a distributed-memory computer, a network of workstations, or some combination of these. The information about different processor speeds, memory sizes, and the corresponding interconnection network can be useful in a dynamic load balancing algorithm which seeks to achieve a good balance with minimal interprocessor communication penalties when a slow interconnection network is involved. An example of a partitioning scheme which takes advantage of this information is given.

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