A new computational tool, edge localized instabilities in tokamaks equilibria (ELITE), has been developed to help our understanding of short wavelength instabilities close to the edge of tokamak plasmas. Such instabilities may be responsible for the edge localized modes observed in high confinement H-mode regimes, which are a serious concern for next step tokamaks because of the high transient power loads which they can impose on divertor target plates. ELITE uses physical insight gained from analytic studies of peeling and ballooning modes to provide an efficient way of calculating the edge ideal magnetohydrodynamic stability properties of tokamaks. This paper describes the theoretical formalism which forms the basis for the code.

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