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Fundamental Properties of Structural Systems
In this section, we discuss two important and related properties of
structural systems: stability and statical determinacy. We will focus
on external stability and indeterminacy, which is determined
primarily by the type of external restraint provided to the structure.
Stability
The checks of safety and serviceability that we must perform are based on the assumption
that the structures we design (and the structural models we create to analyze them) are
stable.
Intuitively, we recognize an unstable structure as one that will undergo large
deformations under the slightest load, without the creation of restraining forces. This is
illustrated by the simple example shown below:
This structure is unstable due to the way it is supported. Given that we assume the roller
supports provide no horizontal restraint at all, the slightest horizontal force will be
sufficient to make the beam roll horizontally. The magnitude of this displacement cannot
be calculated. No restraining forces in the horizontal direction are created, nor can any be
created.
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In such cases, it makes no sense to perform calculations of strength and serviceability
because the unstable structure is clearly unfit for its purpose.
The structure shown in the figure above is twodimensional. It follows that the equations
of equilibrium are:
1. F
x
= 0
2. F
y
= 0
3. M = 0
We observe, however, that there are only two unknown forces, the reactions R
L
and R
R
.
We therefore have too many equations of equilibrium for the unknown forces available. In
mathematical terms, we say that the system is underconstrained.
As is noted in the figure, the addition of a horizontal restraint creates an unknown
reaction at one of the supports, which creates an unknown reaction in the horizontal
direction. This restores stability to the system.
It is generally not sufficient to count up unknown reactions and compare them to the
number of equations of equilibrium. As shown in the figure above, the addition of another
roller support increases the number of unknown reactions but does not create a stable
system. It can thus be stated that:
1. Systems with fewer reactions than equations of equilibrium are always unstable
2. Systems with number of reactions greater than or equal to the number of equations of
equilibrium are not necessarily stable. Such cases must always be investigated by the
designer by visualizing the displacement of the structure under the action of forces and
moments in all possible directions.
Other Issues Related to Stability
The stability issues discussed in the preceding section are referred to as the external
stability of structures, since they relate to the number of external reactions relative to the
number of equations of equilibrium. Structures that satisfy the conditions described
above can have subsystems that are unstable, such as the structure shown in the figure
below:
This particular issue, referred to as internal stability, will be dealt with in greater detail in
the section on trusses.
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Statical Determinacy and Indeterminacy
Basic Principles
We can extend our comparison of the number of reactions to the number of equations of
equilibrium to structures with larger number of reactions. Unless otherwise stated, the
remainder of this discussion refers only to stable structures. For the example considered
previously, we can create stability by adding horizontal restraint at one end. For this
structure, there are three equations of equilibrium and three unknowns. We can thus
solve for the unknown reactions for any given load condition, and thus solve for unknown
sectional forces for any given free body cut from the structure. This type of structure, for
which the number of equations of equilibrium is exactly equal to the number of unknown
reactions, is called statically determinate, since we can determine all unknown forces in
the structure from the laws of statics alone.
If we add an additional restraint to the structure, such as rotational fixity as shown, we
now have four unknown reactions. The number of equations of equilibrium obviously
remains unchanged at three. Structures such as this one, for which the number of
unknown reactions exceeds the number of equations of equilibrium, are called statically
indeterminate structures.
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To solve for the unknown reactions, we need to increase the number of mathematical
conditions to equal the number of unknowns. We do this by considering the
characteristics of deformation of the structure under load. This topic will be dealt with in
detail in the second half of the course. For now, it is sufficient to be able to distinguish
between determinate and indeterminate structures. This is important because:
1. The choice of method of analysis is generally determined by whether or not a given
structure is statically determinate or indeterminate. The computational effort required for
determinate structures is generally manageable. The computational effort required for
indeterminate structures, however, can be significant.
2. Determinate structures respond to imposed deformations differently from
indeterminate structures. This distinction is a significant issue for structural designers.
We will discuss this issue in more detail in the section on actions on structures.
We refer to the degree of statical indeterminacy as the difference between the number of
unknowns and equations. From a less mathematical point of view, we can regard the
degree of statical indeterminacy as the number of restraints we would need to add to the
structure to make it statically determinate. The two definitions are equivalent.
Structures with Internal Hinges
For structures with internal hinges, we need to extend our definition of statical
determinacy. We will explore this issue by means of the example shown below:
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This twodimensional structure has an internal hinge in the righthand span, which
provides no bending restraint but can transmit shear and axial force. We have three
equations of equilibrium and four unknown reactions. Based on this consideration alone,
it would appear that the structure was statically indeterminate.
If we separate the structure at the hinge into two free bodies, however, we observe that the
righthand free body has exactly three unknown forces: the reaction at the support, the
unknown shear force at the hinge, and the unknown horizontal force at the hinge. We can
therefore solve for these three forces from the equilibrium conditions of the free body.
Once the forces at the hinge are known, we can apply them as known quantities to the
lefthand free body. This leaves the original three support reactions as unknowns. The
system can therefore be solved from equilibrium conditions.
We can therefore observe that the presence of the hinge reduces the degree of statical
indeterminacy. Whereas a twospan structure without the hinge would have a degree of
indeterminacy of 1, the hinge reduces the degree of indeterminacy to zero, i.e., it makes
the structure statically determinate.
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This observation can be generalized to the following statement: the degree of statical
indeterminacy of a given structure is equal to the number of unknown support reactions
minus the number of restraints removed by internal hinges, minus the number of
equations of equilibrium.
Quality
There is no hard rule regarding whether or not determinate systems are better than
indeterminate systems, or vice versa. It is up to each individual designer to decide what
type of system to use to satisfy the project requirements.
Other Issues Related to Determinacy
As with the previous discussion on stability, the discussion of determinacy presented
above relates primarily to the conditions of external equilibrium and restraint of a given
structure. It is possible for a given structure to be externally statically determinate (all
reactions can be calculated from the equations of equilibrium alone) but internally
statically indeterminate (equilibrium conditions are not sufficient for the calculation of
internal forces). We will examine these issues in greater detail in the section on trusses.
The Designer's Approach
Although the mathematical definitions of stability and indeterminacy are useful, it is
worthwhile for structural engineers to develop a sense of these two important properties
of structural systems.
In the case of stability, it is generally useful and practical to visualize how the structure
will deflect under all possible directions and points of application of load (not just the
loads that have been given).
To evaluate the degree of statical indeterminacy, it can be helpful to release restraints in
the structure by adding internal hinges or by releasing restraint at supports, working
progressively towards a known statically determinate arrangement. The number of
released restraints is the degree of indeterminacy. We are generally free in our choice of
which restraints to release.
In some statically indeterminate systems, however, it is possible to create an unstable
structure by releasing fewer restraints than the degree of statical indeterminacy plus one.
This can happen, for example, in structures where there is only one reaction providing
restraint in a given direction and several reactions providing restraint in the other two.
For example, consider the twospan continuous beam shown below. The degree of
indeterminacy of the structure is one. We would therefore expect that by removing two
restraints, we will make the structure unstable. This would be the case, for example, if R
2
and R
3
were removed. By removing the restraint in the xdirection H, however, the
structure becomes unstable by removing only one restraint.
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If we wish to determine the degree of indeterminacy of a given structure by progressively
removing restraints, therefore, we must never completely remove restraint in one of the
three possible force directions (F
x
, F
y
, or M) when there are still several independent
restraints in the other two directions.
We sometimes encounter indeterminate structures for which reactions and sectional
forces can be solved using equilibrium conditions alone, for a specific subset of load
arrangements. An example of such a structure is shown in the following figure. It is clear
that the load P must travel from one end of the member to the other, creating only axial
force in the member, and an equal and opposite reaction at the left end of the beam.
This simple example may appear trivial, but it illustrates a principle that will prove to be
of value when we come to the analysis of arches.
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Examples
Additional examples of stability and indeterminacy are given in the figure below:
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Actions on Structures
We refer collectively to loads and imposed deformations as actions
on structures. We distinguish between the two types of action
because they produce a fundamentally different response in
statically determinate structures.
Loads
Loads are defined as forces (or moments) acting on a given structure. Structural analysis
must generally consider loads originating from a variety of causes, including:
1. Dead load. This load is caused by the weight of the structure itself as well as all
fixed nonstructural objects that the structure carries. Dead load of nonstructural
items is sometimes referred to as superimposed dead load. In a bridge, for
example, superimposed dead load would include the weight of railings and asphalt
paving. Designers calculate dead load of a given structure based on dimensions of
structural members and unit weights of standard building materials, normally
specified in design standards. Dead loads are applied at the centroid of structural
components.
2. Live load. This load is caused by the use of a given structure. For buildings, live
load includes the weight of occupants as well as any movable items of machinery.
For bridges, live load consists of the weight of heavy trucks using the bridge. Live
load values are generally specified in design standards. Designers must arrange live
load on structural models to produce the most severe effect.
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3. Wind load. Structures must be capable of resisting the effects of wind. Wind loads
are defined in design standards, usually for a specific geographical location.
Mathematically, we model loads as force or moment vectors applied to a given structure.
Nontrivial loads always produce nontrivial reactions in a given structure, regardless of of
the degree of statical indeterminacy. In all cases, reactions are statically equal and
opposite to the applied loads.
Imposed Deformations
Imposed deformations may induce stress in structures, but they are not modeled as forces
of moments applied to structures. The most common types of imposed deformations
include:
1. Strains due to change in temperature. As the temperature of structural members
increases, their volume increases. Design values of temperature change are
generally specified in design standards.
2. Strains due to creep and shrinkage in concrete. Concrete structures deform
progressively over time due to the unique characteristics of the material itself. The
most important two mechanisms in this regard are creep and shrinkage.
3. Settlement of supports. Over time, foundations on soil can displace downward due
to timedependent changes in the properties of the soil supporting the foundations.
Supports that settle will generally drag the structure along with them.
Because there is no applied force or moment vector associated with imposed
deformations, these actions induce forces and reactions only when these deformations are
restrained. They produce the following response in structures depending on the degree of
indeterminacy:
1. In statically determinate structures, imposed deformations induce no sectional
forces or reactions. Because the structure is minimally restrained, it can deform
freely in a stressfree condition.
2. In statically indeterminate structures, imposed deformations may induce sectional
forces and reactions. Because there is no external force or moment vector
associated with the imposed deformation, the reactions must be statically
equivalent to zero.
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Example
The following example illustrates the differences between imposed deformations in
determinate and indeterminate systems:
Forces in the statically indeterminate system due to the support settlement are functions
of EI, the stiffness of the beam. This implies that these forces will decrease with
decreasing EI. This makes sense, since reducing the stiffness of the beam effectively
decreases the degree to which the system can restrain the imposed deformations. In the
limiting case of EI = 0, no forces will be produced.
This demonstrates another important difference between loads and imposed
deformations. For a beam of uniform stiffness EI, the forces and reactions due to load will
be independent of EI.
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Principles of Graphic Statics
Graphic statics is a method of calculating structural response from a
pictorial representation of the forces acting on a given structure.
The method is based on the principle that forces can be modeled as
vectors, which follow welldefined mathematical laws that can be
expressed in graphical terms. In this section, we present basic
principles of graphical analysis that will be used in subsequent
sections to obtain solutions for cables, arches, beams, and trusses.
The Significance of Graphic Statics
Graphic statics is a method for calculating the response of structures to actions. The
method consists of drawing, to scale, an accurate representation of the loads acting on a
given structure and the forces within the structure. If the drawing is correct, the
magnitude and direction of specific forces can be obtained directly from simple
measurement of the magnitude and direction of the corresponding line segments in the
drawing.
Graphic statics is based on the principle that forces can be represented as vectors, which
are mathematical quantities having both magnitude and direction. The mathematical laws
governing the addition of vectors can be expressed in graphical terms. It is thus possible
not only to add vectors algebraically, but also to add them graphically by applying the
parallelogram rule. The parallelogram rule states that the sum of two coincident vectors is
equal (in magnitude and in direction) to the diagonal of the parallelogram formed by the
two vectors we wish to add. The equivalence of algebraic and graphical addition of vectors
is illustrated in the following example:
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We have added two vectors using two methods: algebraic and graphical. The graphical
procedure is done completely by drawing and measuring with precision: first we draw to
scale the two vectors to be added, we draw the remaining two sides of the parallelogram,
and then the diagonal. We then measure the length of the diagonal, which is equivalent to
the length of the vector sum of the two original vectors.
The implements used to add the vectors graphically were: a sharp pencil, a scale, and two
drafting triangles. A calculator was not used in the graphical calculation. As shown in the
example, the accuracy of the graphical addition of vectors is good. The relative error in the
graphical calculation is less than 1 percent, which is generally acceptable in most
structural engineering calculations.
Since forces are mathematically equivalent to vectors, it follows that graphic methods for
the manipulation of vectors are also valid for the manipulation of forces. This is the
mathematical basis of graphic statics.
Graphical methods of structural analysis have been used since the nineteenth century.
The following figure, for example, which illustrates the graphical analysis of a lattice arch,
was taken from the 1906 textbook by Ritter (1906). (Ritter was Professor of Civil
Engineering at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, often referred
to by its German acronym ETH. The ETH has a strong tradition of education in structural
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engineering, and its alumni figure among the most illustrious structural designers the
world has known.)
We can see that the figure presents a carefully drawn diagram of the structure as well as
diagrams representing forces (the German word Krfte (forces) is used in the diagram).
The lines in the diagram correspond to the magnitude and direction of the forces in the
structure due to the load case shown. For the member linking points 7 and 8 in the
diagram of the structure (topmost diagram), for example, we see a corresponding line
segment 78 in the force diagram (second diagram from the top). The magnitude and
direction of this line segment corresponds to the magnitude and direction of the force in
Member 78 due to the given load case.
With the introduction of digital computers and software for the numerical analysis of
structures, the use of graphical methods of analysis gradually declined in engineering
practice. This does not imply, however, that graphic statics is defective or inferior to
automated, computerbased methods. In fact, graphic statics has many important
advantages over other methods of analysis, the most important which are the following:
Graphical analysis is fast. The calculation is complete as soon as the structural model and
the force diagram corresponding to the given load case have been drawn, especially for
arches and cables.
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Graphical analysis is accurate. A carefully drawn and measured drawing, suitably sized,
yields accuracy that is acceptable for most structural engineering applications.
Graphical analysis is easy to interpret and to check. Graphical analysis generally favours
calculating the entire response of a given structure rather than the calculation of a single
response quantity. Because the entire analysis is contained on one drawing, relations
between forces throughout the structure can be readily observed. This greatly increases
the ease of understanding the results of the analysis. Because the response of the structure
as a whole is made visible on one drawing, it is also much easier to detect values that do
not make sense than in a numerical calculation in which only one specific quantity is
calculated.
Graphical analysis helps to close the gap between analysis and design. The force diagrams
obtained from graphic analysis can lead directly to important new ways of arranging
structural components to achieve more efficient structural behaviour and aesthetically
significant visual forms. This will demonstrated in the section on arches.
Finally, graphic statics is an important teaching tool. By representing forces as lines on
paper, we are forced to think of them as physical objects with real magnitude and
direction, not just as numerical abstractions. This perspective will help you to get a more
intuitive feel for how the forces are actually flowing in a structure, which is an important
skill for engineers to develop.
References
Ritter, W. 1906. Anwendungen der Graphischen Statik. Vierter Teil. Der Bogen.
(Applications of Graphic Statics. Part Four. The Arch.) Zurich: Verlag von Albert
Raustein.
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Principles of Graphic Statics
Graphic statics is a method of calculating structural response from a
pictorial representation of the forces acting on a given structure.
The method is based on the principle that forces can be modeled as
vectors, which follow welldefined mathematical laws that can be
expressed in graphical terms. In this section, we present basic
principles of graphical analysis that will be used in subsequent
sections to obtain solutions for cables, arches, beams, and trusses.
Definitions and Conventions
Location Plan and Force Plan
We will draw forces as vectors in two separate but related representations: the location
plan and the force plan.
As its name implies, the location plan shows the true location of all forces, i.e., their true
lines of action. The force plan is an alternative representation of these same force vectors,
in which the magnitude and direction remain unchanged but the vectors have been
arranged head to tail.
It is important that the vectors always be arranged head to tail in the force plan.
Arranging vectors head to head or tail to tail will result in incorrect results.
In the force plan, the vectors no longer act at their true location. The force plan is a
convenient representation of forces because, as we shall see, it allows vectors to be added
and brought into equilibrium by closing the polygon formed by arranging the vectors head
to tail.
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Notation
We will use a notation convention for notation that makes possible a direct
correspondence between the location plan and the force plan.
In the location plan, the areas bounded by the lines of action of the forces under
consideration are given upper case letters A, B, C, etc. In the force plan, the endpoints of
the curve created by the force vectors laid out end to end are given lower case letters a, b,
c, etc. Forces in the location plan are referred to by a pair of upper case letters AB, BC, CD,
etc., according to the two areas separated by a given force. In the force plan, forces are
referred to by a pair of lower case letters ab, bc, cd, etc., according to the endpoints of the
curve created by the force vectors.
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Basic Principles
Addition of Two Coincident Forces
In the location plan, we add two force vectors using the parallelogram rule, as shown
previously for purely abstract vectors. This is illustrated in Part (a) of the figure below. In
the force plan, we first arrange the vectors head to tail (the order is not important). We
observe that the triangle formed by the free ends of the vectors (tail of the first vector and
head of the second vector) is congruent to one half of the parallelogram in the location
plan. In the force plan, therefore, the resultant of the two vectors is thus obtained by
connecting the two free points of the vectors, from free tail to free head.
Equilibrium of Two Coincident Forces
The preceding graphical constructions can be expanded to the calculation of the force
required to bring two given forces into equilibrium. This is shown in Part (b) of the figure
below. Calling the two original forces F
1
and F
2
, and their resultant F
R
, we observe that the
sum F
1
+ F
2
 F
R
equals zero. In the force plan, this is equivalent to closing the triangle by
connecting the head of the second vector to the tail of the first, such that the path around
the triangle is either completely clockwise or completely counterclockwise. The
corresponding set of forces in equilibrium is also drawn in the location plan.
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Three or More Coincident Forces
We can extend the previous two graphical constructions to a set of three or more
coincident forces. As shown in the following figure, the resultant of three or more vectors
in the location plan is obtained from two successive applications of the parallelogram rule.
In the force plan, we first lay the given forces end to end. We then proceed to close the
triangle of a pair of the given forces, in this case ab and bc. The closing segment is the
resultant of these two forces, and is called R
1
. We then close the triangle formed by R
1
and
cd. The closing segment is the resultant of R
1
and cd, and is thus the resultant of the three
given forces. We observe that the result could have been obtained directly simply by
closing the polygon formed in the force plan. This observation has general validity. For a
given set of forces arranged end to end in the force plan, their resultant is given by the
segment that closes the polygon.
As discussed for the case of two forces, the force required to bring a given set of three or
more forces into equilibrium is simply the negative of the resultant of these forces. This is
obtained graphically in the force plan by closing the polygon with a vector directed such
that all vectors move around the polygon in the same rotation direction, either all
clockwise or all counterclockwise.
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The difference between the two types of problem discussed thus far is emphasized:
When the task is to calculate the resultant of two or more vectors, the solution is obtained
by closing the polygon drawn in the force plan with a vector extending from the tail of the
first vector to the head of the last vector.
When the task is to calculate the force required to bring a set of two or more vectors into
equilibrium, the solution is obtained by closing the polygon drawn in the force plan with a
vector extending from the head of the last vector to the tail of the first vector.
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Principles of Graphic Statics
Graphic statics is a method of calculating structural response from a
pictorial representation of the forces acting on a given structure.
The method is based on the principle that forces can be modeled as
vectors, which follow welldefined mathematical laws that can be
expressed in graphical terms. In this section, we present basic
principles of graphical analysis that will be used in subsequent
sections to obtain solutions for cables, arches, beams, and trusses.
Basic Principles (continued)
NonCoincident Forces
We often have to deal with noncoincident forces. This set of forces includes not only
parallel forces (which are truly noncoincident), but also forces with a point of
intersection at an inconvenient location (such as off the analyst's page). We illustrate the
procedure for a pair of parallel forces in the figure below. The task is to calculate the
magnitude, direction, and resultant of this pair of forces.
In the location plan, we introduce two auxiliary forces that can be freely chosen but which
must be equal in magnitude, opposite in direction, and located on the same line of action.
We call these forces H and H. Because these two forces add to zero, introducing them
into the solution has no effect on the equilibrium of the system.
We add H to AB and H to BC. This yields resultant forces R
1
and R
2
, the sum of which is
the sum of the original forces AB and BC.
Alternatively, in the force plan, we draw forces ab and bc head to tail. We know from our
the discussions above that vector ac gives the magnitude and direction of the resultant of
ab and bc (it closes the "polygon" composed of segments ab and bc). We now lack only the
location of this force. To determine this, we select a point O, called the pole. The location
of O can be freely chosen. We then draw segments linking O with a, b, and c.
Based on our observations of systems of coincident forces, we know that ab is the sum of
aO and Ob, and bc is the sum of bO and Oc. Returning to the location plan, we can resolve
the given forces AB and BC into components with directions given by aO, Ob, bO, and Oc.
We select any point on the line of action of AB as a starting point, and draw the two
components parallel to aO and Ob as shown. We intersect the line parallel to Ob with the
line of action of BC, and resolve BC into components at this location. The intersection of
the components parallel to aO and Oc (the yellow and pink lines in the figure), gives a
point on the line of action of the resultant of AB and BC.
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Example
The figure shows an example of a graphic calculation of the resultant of four
noncoincident forces.
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Uniform Loads
Most of the methods of graphic statics work with concentrated loads. For models of real
structures that are loaded with uniform loads, it is acceptable to transform the uniform
load into a statically equivalent set of concentrated loads.
For example, a uniform load of 10 kN/m applied over 50 m could be modeled as ten
concentrated loads of 50 kN at 5 m spacing.
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Analysis of Cable Systems
Cables are perfectly flexible structural members. They establish
equilibrium with a given arrangement of load by assuming a shape
that allows the load to be carried by the cable in a state of pure axial
tension.
Cables are perfectly flexible structural members that carry load in pure tension. Cables
establish a state of equilibrium with a given loading by assuming a shape that allows load
to be carried with the cable in tension. In this important sense, cables do not have a
predefined geometry, as do beam and truss structures. Their geometry is determined by
the arrangement of loads they carry.
Examples of Applications of Cables
Although cables are used in many types of structure, we are perhaps most familiar with
their use as the primary structural members of longspan bridges and roofs.
A familiar example of the use of cables in bridge construction is the suspension bridge.
The picture below, which shows the Golden Gate Bridge during construction, illustrates
the two primary types of cable used in this type of structure. Vertical suspender cables
carry load upward the truss that supports the roadway to the main cables. The main
cables, which are draped over the entire length of the bridge, carry vertical loads from the
suspender cables to the towers and the anchorages at the ends of the bridge. The main
cables illustrate how axial tension in a cable can effectively resist loads applied in a
direction other than that of the axis of the cable.
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The use of cables in buildings can create a bold visual effect, as shown in the figure below,
a picture of the main terminal at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.
C., U. S. A. In this structure, the cables span between inclined reinforced concrete towers.
The surface formed by the draped cables defines the plane of the roof. The roof itself is
composed of precast concrete panels attached to the cables. The structural function of
these cables is actually similar to that of the main cables of suspension bridges.
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Stability and Determinacy of Cables
Before we develop procedures for calculating forces in cables due to load, it is important
to review issues related to stability and statical indeterminacy.
Degree of Statical Indeterminacy
We will examine the issue of statical indeterminacy with the help of the simple cable
shown in the figure below. At first glance, it would appear that the cable is statically
indeterminate. The number of reactions (four) exceeds the number of equations of
equilibrium (three). As shown in the figure, however, we can solve for all of the reactions
and forces in the cable using the methods of statics. We would appear to have a paradox.
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To resolve the paradox, we need to find another constraint. One additional constraint plus
three equations of equilibrium will give us the four conditions we need to solve for the
four unknown reactions.
The additional constraint is geometrical. A review of the calculations above shows:
1. The value of R
R
can be obtained from moment equilibrium, taking moments about the
left support.
2. The value of R
L
can be obtained from vertical force equilibrium and the value of R
R
.
3. The equation of horizontal equilibrium can be used to express H
R
as a function of H
L
.
(For the loading shown in the figure above, H
R
is equal to H
L
.)
So we need to solve for H
L
. If we call the vertical distance from the left support to the
point of application of the leftmost load "a", then breaking apart the left support as a free
body and solving for horizontal equilibrium yields H
L
= R
L
x
1
/a, where x
1
in this case
equals 20 m. In this case, we know the value of a (it is 15 m), which leads directly to a
complete solution of the unknown reactions.
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It is actually not necessary to know the value of a, the vertical ordinate of the point of
application of the leftmost load, but merely to know the value of the vertical ordinate of
the cable at any one point along its length. This proposition is demonstrated in the
following figure. If we cut the structure at a distance x from the lefthand support and
treat the structure to the left of the cut as a free body, then we obtain an expression for y,
the vertical ordinate of the cable at any given point, that is the product of f(x), a function
of known parameters (magnitude and location of loads), and the unknown parameter a.
If a is unknown but the vertical ordinate of the cable is known at any other point (say y(x
0
)
= b for some value of x
0
), then we can solve for a using the last equation given on the
righthand side of the figure above: a = b/f(x
0
).
It follows, therefore, that knowing the vertical ordinate at one point along the length of
the cable provides us with the fourth constraint that is needed to solve for the four
unknown equations. The cable is therefore statically determinate.
When no vertical ordinate is specified, the structure is underconstrained and can only be
solved if we know one of the reactions in advance. This can happen, for example in a case
where we are actually jacking a known force into a cable at one end. In such a case, the
length of the cable would be adjusted to provide a vertical profile in equilibrium with the
loads and the jacking force. From the three equations of equilibrium remaining, we could
solve for the vertical ordinate of the cable at a given point.
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When more than one vertical ordinate is specified, the structure is overconstrained and,
generally speaking, a state of equilibrium cannot be established.
Stability
Are cables stable? Consider the simple cable shown in the figure below. It is apparent that
a loose cable is not stable. It can be rearranged into any number of shapes with minimal
load. Once load is applied, however, the cable gains an important measure of stability, in
the sense that the load required to displace the cable away from its original loaded shape
is nontrivial.
Stability of cables thus depends not only on structural arrangement, but also on load. This
proposition is illustrated in the figures below. The first figure shows a structure composed
of pinjointed truss members arranged according to the profile of the cable shown in the
second figure. The structure is not loaded. It is apparent that the structure is unstable, as
is demonstrated by the unstable arrangement of members shown. The structure can
assume this arrangement without any work being performed.
When we consider a geometrically identical arrangement, this time a loaded cable, we see
that to assume the displaced shape assumed in the previous figure, the loads P
1
through P
3
are displaced, which means that work has to be performed to displace the cable as
assumed. The loaded cable is thus stable.
The relation between load and stability of cables is important. It is no coincidence that
cables are most often used for structures for which dead load (loads of fixed magnitude,
direction, and location) dominates over live loads (i.e., loads of variable magnitude,
direction, and location). Suspension bridges are one example of this type of structure. As
shown in the figure below, cables are not well suited for structures that are subject to
significant reversals in load. The purple and the green curves are two valid states of
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equilibrium, for a load P applied in two opposite directions. The change in cable geometry
that is required to establish equilibrium with these two forces is major, and would
generally not be acceptable in most structural applications.
Cables with Concentrated Loads
We will now develop a simple graphic method for calculating cable forces and support
reactions. It is based on the methods developed previously for the resolution of two or
more noncoincident forces.
We will develop the method by means of four examples.
Example 1
Consider the cable shown in the figure below. We must solve for reactions and cable
forces, given the geometry, loads, and restraints shown.
We start by drawing the polar diagram of forces in the force plan. Location of the pole O
can be freely chosen. In this case, the diagram is very simple because there is only one
applied load. This diagram represents one possible state of equilibrium at the point of
application of the 20 kN load.
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We then transfer the forces aO and Ob back to the location plan. We select the point of
intersection of the line of action of the applied load and force aO (called Point S in the
figure below) such that the line of action of aO passes through the lefthand support
(Point M). The intersection of force Ob with the line of action of the vertical reaction R
R
will, in general, not be at the support. The second component of reaction at the supports
must be on the line passing through M and N, to maintain moment equilibrium. This
diagram represents one possible state of equilibrium of the system, but it is not consistent
with the support conditions. It is, however, an important step towards a solution.
We augment the force diagram in the force plan to show the state of equilibrium at the
two supports (not the actual supports, but the shifted supports as shown in the previous
figure). We do this by drawing in line segment WO parallel to MN in the location plan.
Triangle aOW thus represents the state of equilibrium at Point M and triangle WOb
represents the state of equilibrium at Point N. It thus follows that the vertical leg of each
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of these two triangles is the vertical reaction at these two points. The magnitude of these
reactions can be scaled from the force diagram.
We now correct the force diagram to restore the righthand support to its correct position.
We do this simply by shifting the pole O downward to new pole O', such that segment WO'
is parallel to segment MP (line joining the real supports) in the location plan. Points a, W,
and b in the force plan do not move. Note that since we maintain the closure of the
triangles, the structure remains in equilibrium.
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We now redraw the forces in the location plan, parallel to the new set of forces in the force
plan. The diagram should close properly. We observe that the sag of the cable,
approximately 36 metres, is larger than the required sag, which is 20 m. We thus need to
make one more correction to the forces. We compute the ratio of actual sag to required
sag, which equals 1.8.
We return to the force plan and scale its horizontal axis by 1.8. This moves the pole to the
right, to point O''. This modified force diagram represents the correct solution to the
forces in the structure. We can scale all reactions and cable forces off the force diagram.
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It is instructive to check the results of the graphical calculation with the results of an
algebraic analysis. The check shows agreement to within a relative error of 1 percent,
which is excellent for structural engineering.
Analysis of Cable Systems
Cables are perfectly flexible structural members. They establish
equilibrium with a given arrangement of load by assuming a shape
that allows the load to be carried by the cable in a state of pure axial
tension.
Cables with Concentrated Loads (continued)
Example 2: Several Vertical Loads
In the second example, we will consider the case of a cable loaded at several locations
along its length. We will draw the diagrams in a way that is closer to the way they would
be used in an actual calculation, i.e., by superimposing several diagrams on top of each
other.
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Example 3: Supports at Unequal Elevations
The calculation is similar to the case of a cable with supports at equal elevation, except
that we will arrange our support reactions to be vertical and along the line of action of the
cable, and not vertical and horizontal as was done previously. Although this simplifies the
graphical calculation, it must be remembered that the reaction along the line of the cable
has a vertical component, which must be considered when calculating final reactions.
The line segment WO' is not horizontal, but rather is drawn parallel to the line joining the
two support points. This ensures that the nonvertical component of reaction is also on
the line joining the two supports. Once the solution has been completed, we can select
another point W", such that W"O" is horizontal. The length of W"O" gives the true
horizontal reaction at the supports. aW" and W"b give the true vertical reactions.
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Example 4: Inclined Loads
Inclined load will usually create unequal horizontal support reactions.
In moving from the force plan to the location plan, we must be careful always to move
forces along their line of action, which is not necessarily vertical. This includes not only
the inclined loads but also the reaction at the righthand end. To create the cable profile in
the location plan corresponding to the assumed pole O in the force plan, we intersect a
line parallel with cO with a line drawn through the righthand support. This line is not
vertical, but rather is parallel to the line ac in the force plan, which is the assumed
inclination of the reaction component.
The final reactions given by the force plan are horizonal (WO") and inclined (aW and Wc).
We can change this to a set of horizontal and vertical reactions at the supports by
resolving these vectors graphically. At the left support, the vectors are aW' and W'O". At
the right support, the vectors are W"c and W"O".
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4. Cable with Uniform Load
As stated in our initial discussion of the principles of graphic statics, uniform loads can
always be treated as a group of several equally spaced concentrated loads of equal
magnitude and direction. Uniform loads occur sufficiently often, however, to merit a
specific discussion.
One of the best known instances of uniform load on cables is the case of dead load on
suspension bridges. Most of the dead load on suspension bridges comes from the girder or
truss that supports the actual roadway.
For cables carrying a given uniform load, we wish to answer the following questions:
1. What are the reactions at the supports?
2. What is the shape of the cable?
3. What are the forces in the cable?
We will answer these questions for the cable shown below. The load, w, is uniform along
the projected length of the cable. Because supports are at the same elevation and loading
is symmetrical, it follows that slope of the cable at midspan is zero.
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Equilibrium of the entire cable requires that R
L
= R
R
= wL/2, and H
L
= H
R
= H. We now
consider equilibrium of a free body cut at midspan of the cable, shown in the figure below.
For a given value of sag f, we can solve for the horizontal reaction, H, which equals
wL
2
/(8f). Reactions at the supports are thus wL/2 (vertical) and wL
2
/(8f) (horizontal).
Next we cut a free body at a given location along the projected length of the cable, x, as
shown below. We can solve for the vertical ordinate of the cable, y, as a function of x from
the conditions of equilibrium and the known value of H.
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This calculation yields several important observations:
1. The cable has a parabolic shape.
2. The horizontal component of force in the cable, H(x), is constant over the length of
the cable and is equal to wL
2
/(8f).
3. Tension in the cable at any point can be calculated using the Theorem of
Pythagoras, from the constant horizontal component H and the vertical component
V(x) = wL/2  wx.
Unequal Support Elevations
We will investigate the same issues for cables with unequal support elevations, loaded
uniformly along their projected length. Most of the expressions we have defined for the
cable with supports at equal elevations are still valid, provided we define sag and vertical
ordinates of the cable with respect to the chord linking the two supports.
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We observe that, provided we define sag f and vertical ordinate y with respect to the chord
between supports, the expressions for H and y derived previously for the cable with
supports at equal elevations are valid. Different expressions are required, however, for the
vertical reactions.
Analysis of Arches
The primary issues related to the analysis of arches are: (1) selection
of the shape of the arch to allow the dead load to be carried in pure
axial compression, and (2) calculation of bending moments in the
arch due to other load cases.
Examples of Applications of Arches
Arches are structural systems that carry the dominant permanent load case in pure axial
compression and all other load cases in a combination of axial compression and bending.
They are highly efficient and visually powerful structural systems. They have been used
extensively for bridges since Roman times. An important example of Roman use of the
arch is the Pont du Gard in Nmes, France, shown in the figure below.
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Stone masonry, the material used by the Romans, remained the preferred material for the
construction of arches up to the twentieth century. One of the most daring achievements
in masonry arch design is the Landwasser Viadukt, built in Switzerland near the turn of
the twentieth century. This bridge is remarkable for a masonry arch, not only because of
the height of it piers (65 m) but also because it is curved in plan (radius 100 m) and it
carries heavy railway live load.
In the twentieth century, reinforced concrete, prestressed concrete, and steel have been
used to construct arch bridges. Examples of bridges built of each of these materials are the
Salginatobel Bridge (reinforced concrete),
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the Bridge over the Rhine at Reichenau (Switzerland) by Christian Menn (prestressed concrete),
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and the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia, U. S. A. (steel).
Arches are used in buildings not only as twodimensional elements (similar to their use in
bridges) but also as domes, where they take on a true threedimensional character.
Examples of domes include the church at Colonia Guell near Barcelona by Antonio Gaudi,
a masonry dome,
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and the reinforced concrete domes of the Swiss engineer Heinz Isler.
Arches and Cables
Similarities
"As hangs a flexible cable, so, inverted, stand the touching pieces of an arch". Robert
Hooke (16351703).
We will take Hooke's observation as our starting point for a discussion of arches. Hooke
recognized that there is a fundamental equivalence between the state of equilibrium of a
cable in pure tension and the equilibrium of an arch in pure compression. We can express
this equivalence in graphical terms as shown in the following figure. We have a cable with
loads P
1
through P
6.
The profile of the cable has been chosen such that it equilibrates the
given loads.
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We then draw an arch with same span, same loads, and inverse profile of the cable, i.e., if
the profile of the cable is y(x), then the profile of the arch, called y'(x), satisfies the
relation y(x) = y'(x) for all x.
It is a straightforward process to demonstrate that if the cable is in equilibrium, then so is
the corresponding arch. We can consider, for example, equilibrium at a given point of
application of load, say A for the cable, by drawing the forces acting at this point in the
force plan. We do the same for the arch. Since angles
1
and
2
are equal (due to the
correspondence between the geometries of cable and arch), it follows that the magnitudes
of the corresponding forces are equal: T
3
= C
3
and T
4
= C
4
. We can establish identical
relations between corresponding forces at all other points of the arch. It follows therefore
that the tensile forces in a cable are equal to the compressive forces in an arch for equal
loads and equal geometries.
Differences
There are, however, important differences between cables and arches. Cables, being
perfectly flexible members, cannot resist compression. Arches must therefore be
sufficiently stiff to allow them to carry compressive forces without buckling.
Cables deform as required to maintain equilibrium under varying load conditions. When
load is increased at a given location, for example by adding load P
2
as shown in the
figure below, the sag of the cable simply increases as required. The green curve represents
the new state of equilibrium.
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This mechanism for maintaining equilibrium has two problems for arches. First, the
deformations required to maintain equilibrium are often large. Given that arches are stiff
members, the deformations required are likely to violate project requirements with regard
to safety or serviceability. The second difficulty is illustrated in the figure above. Whereas
the cable in tension responds to additional load by sagging more, the arch in compression
would actually have to rise up to meet the load, changing its geometry into the green
curve. This type of structural response is generally not possible with the structural
materials and systems currently in use.
Arches are therefore designed to function as follows:
1. Arches carry the dominant permanent load case (usually full dead load) in pure axial
compression. This is accomplished by a suitable selection of the shape of the arch.
2. In general, arches carry additional loads (such as live load) in bending.
From the perspective of structural analysis, we therefore have two primary issues to
address:
1. Selection of the shape of the arch to carry the dominant permanent load case in pure
axial compression. This shape will be called the pressure line.
2. Calculation of bending moments in the arch due to additional load cases.
Definitions
The following terms are used to refer to components of arches:
Springing lines: The points at which the arch touches its foundation (the use of "line" here
is misleading, but we will use it because it is the common term)
Rise: The vertical distance from the midpoint of the chord joining the springing lines to
the axis of the arch
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Span: The length of the horizontal projection of the chord joining the springing lines
Crown: The point on the arch at midspan.
The Pressure Line
As stated previously, our first task in the analysis of an arch is to determine the pressure
line. This is an example of a task at the intersection of analysis and design, since the actual
shape of the arch does not exist at the outset.
We will generally be given the following information:
1. Span length
2. Rise
3. A definition (magnitude and location of loads) of the dominant permanent load case,
usually full dead load.
(In the preliminary stages of design, the characteristics of the structure will not normally
be completely defined. To define dead load for the calculation of the pressure line,
designers will normally make initial assumptions of the crosssections of structural
members and produce an initial estimate of dead load. It is necessary to verify the
accuracy of this assumption at a subsequent stage in the design process.)
Given this information, we need to determine the shape of the arch that allows the load to
be carried in pure axial compression. We can proceed graphically, in a similar fashion to
the method developed for the analysis of cables. This procedure is demonstrated in the
example given in the following figure:
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Proceeding as defined for cables, we first draw the loads head to tail in the force plan. It is
convenient to select the pole O to the left of the loads. This will yield vectors that are
suitable for an arch shape rather than a cable. We then draw the rays Oa through Og in
the location plan and close the diagram. These are the green curves in the diagram above.
We then draw ray OW, which is parallel to the closing line in the location plan. We select a
new pole O' such that O'W is parallel to the chord of the arch. We draw new rays O'a
through O'g in the force plan and then transfer them to the location plan. We then make
our final adjustment to the pole to give the arch the required rise f.
The final diagram in the location plan (drawn in purple above) gives the pressure line of
the arch. An arch constructed to follow this profile will carry loads P
1
through P
6
in pure
axial compression. The ordinates of the profile can be scaled directly from the location
plan.
Reactions and compressive forces in the arch can be scaled off the final diagram in the
force plan, exactly as was done for cables.
We can observe from the above diagram above that arches are not always curved. Angle
breaks in the pressure line are possible when the arch carries concentrated loads.
It is also possible to proceed algebraically in a manner similar to that developed for cables
subjected to uniform load. We define the ordinates of the pressure line, y(x), as the
vertical distance from the chord joining the springing lines to the pressure line. (If the
load is known to be uniform, then the expressions developed for H and y(x) for cables
subjected to uniform load can be applied directly to arches.) For nonuniform loads, the
principles can still be applied. We first solve for the vertical reactions R
L
and R
R
from the
conditions of equilibrium of the entire structure. If there is no horizontal applied load,
then H
L
= H
R
= H. We then cut a free body at midspan and solve for H. With the reactions
now known, we can solve for any value of the vertical profile of the arch, y(x), for any
value of x. This is accomplished by cutting a free body at x and imposing the conditions of
equilibrium as functions of the unknown ordinate y(x).
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Provided a given arch is stable, the pressure line can be determined without consideration
of the degree of restraint provided at the supports or the arrangement of internal hinges.
The pressure line, by definition, carries its defining load case in pure axial compression.
Because there is no bending, the degree of bending restraint, which corresponds to the
presence or absence of hinges), is of no relevance to the behaviour of the structure for the
load case that defines the pressure line. The figure below shows two arches with identical
profile. The upper arch has pinned supports; the lower has fully fixed supports. Assuming
the arches have been laid out according to the pressure line of the same arrangement of
load, there will be no tendency for either structure to bend under the action of that
particular load case. The presence or absence of rotational restraint at the springing lines
thus has no effect on the calculation of the pressure line.
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This situation is similar to the situation observed for a much simpler system during the
general discussion of statical indeterminacy in structures.
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Analysis of Arches
The primary issues related to the analysis of arches are: (1) selection
of the shape of the arch to allow the dead load to be carried in pure
axial compression, and (2) calculation of bending moments in the
arch due to other load cases.
Analysis for Bending
Degree of Statical Indeterminacy
Although the pressure line can be determined without reference to the degree of statical
indeterminacy of the arch, the degree of indeterminacy must be considered when the arch
is subjected to loads that do not correspond to the pressure line. As stated previously,
loads that do not correspond to the pressure line induce bending in the arch. Calculation
of bending moments in a given arch require consideration of the characteristics of
bending restraint in the system.
We will leave the discussion of statically indeterminate arches for a subsequent section.
For now, we will concentrate on the threehinged arch, which is statically determinate.
The ThreeHinged Arch
As the name implies, the threehinged arch has three hinges, which provide zero
rotational restraint. They are generally located at midspan and at or near the springing
lines. Maillart's Salginatobel Bridge is a classic example of a threehinged arch.
We will present both a graphical and an analytical method for calculating the bending
moments in a threehinged arch. Unless otherwise stated, it is assumed that the arch
geometry has already been correctly defined to match the pressure line of the dominant
permanent load case.
Definition of Sectional Forces
The following figure gives definitions relating a compressive force in space, which is the
conventional representation of the state of equilibrium of an arch under a given loading as
determined by a graphical analysis, and sectional forces in the arch itself. The figure
shows that the force in space, C, is resolved into components parallel and perpendicular to
the axis of the arch, called N (axial force) and V (shear). These forces are then displaced to
the axis of the arch. The resulting moment M is the axial force N times the perpendicular
distance from force C to the axis of the arch.
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The sectional force representation is the format generally most useful for checks of safety
and serviceability of the arch member itself.
When the solution is obtained graphically, the preceding construction is difficult to
perform accurately, since it requires a line perpendicular to the axis of the arch to be
drawn. Since it is generally easier to draw vertical lines, we can develop a formulation of
sectional forces that allows us to determine M with far greater accuracy when graphical
methods of analysis are used.
We begin by drawing a vertical line from the axis of the arch at the section in question. We
can slide the resultant compressive force C to the point of intersection of the line of action
of the force and the vertical without changing the state of equilibrium. We then resolve C
into horizontal and vertical components, V* and H.
We can slide force V* along its line of action down to the arch. When we displace H down
to the axis of the arch, we must add a moment, equal to H times a, the vertical distance
from the line of action of C to the axis of the arch. This moment, M, is identical to the
moment computed previously.
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This procedure is a more reliable means of computing bending moments in arches using
graphical methods. When we use the method, however, we must remember that V* is not
the true shear force and H is not the true axial force acting on the arch, since these forces
are not truly perpendicular and parallel to the axis of the arch. To obtain the true shear V
and axial force N, we must resolve C as shown in the first figure above.
Graphical Solution
We will develop the method of graphical solution by examining three examples.
Example 1. One Load
There is only one possible state of equilibrium for the unloaded half of the arch isolated as
a free body: two equal and opposite forces, N, acting on a line of action defined by the
chord joining the two hinges. This defines the direction of the reaction at the righthand
support.
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The solution is obtained directly by drawing the line of action of the lefthand reaction,
which must pass through the point of intersection of the applied load P and the right
hand reaction, the line of action of which has already been found.
We obtain the magnitude of the reactions from the triangle of forces drawn in the force
plan. The triangle can be drawn since we know the magnitude and direction of the applied
load, as well as the direction of both reactions.
Bending moments in the arch can then be determined using the relations defined in the
previous subsection.
Example 2. Several Loads on One Side of the Central Hinge
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The solution can proceed according to the steps defined for a single load, provided we first
determine the magnitude, direction, and location of the resultant of all the loads.
Although the complete solution can be obtained using one diagram in the location plan,
two diagrams have been used for clarity.
We first determine the location of the resultant of all the loads using methods developed
previously. We then obtain the direction of the reactions following the procedure
described under Example 1. We transfer these vectors to the force plan, which gives us a
new pole O'. We draw rays from O' to the endpoints of the original load vectors a through
d. These rays are then transferred back to the location plan. The resulting diagram in the
location plan gives us the location of the resultant compressive force in the arch. The
length of the segments issuing from O' in the force plan represent the magnitude of the
resultant compressive force along the arch.
Bending moments in the arch are then determined using the relations defined in the
previous subsection, based the magnitude of the resultant compressive force in the arch
(obtained from the force plan) and the distance of the resultant to the axis of the arch.
Example 3. Loads on Both Sides of the Central Hinge
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The method involves drawing a solution for loads applied to the left side of the hinge as
presented in Example 2, drawing a separate solution for loads applied to the right side of
the hinge as presented in Example 2, and combining the two solutions.
We begin by finding the resultant P
L
of loads P
1
and P
2
(left half of span), and the
resultant P
R
of loads P
3
and P
4
(right half of span). For convenience, we draw loads P
1
through P
4
head to tail in one force plan diagram, but we select two separate poles O
L
and
O
R
, since we are calculating two separate resultant forces.
We then determine the slope of the reactions at the supports for two separate cases. The
first case is due to load P
L
; the second case is due to load P
R
. The methods of Example 1
are used. We transfer the vectors corresponding to the reactions to the force plan. This
yields two new poles, O'
L
and O'
R
.
We observe that the two components of reaction at the lefthand support are given by O'
L
a
and O'
R
c in the force plan. The two components of reaction at the righthand support are
given by O'
L
c and O'
R
e. We add O'
L
a and O'
R
c in the force plan to obtain the total reaction
at the lefthand support, and add O'
L
c and O'
R
e to obtain the total reaction at the right
hand support. We accomplish this by translating vectors O'
R
c and O'
L
c as shown in the
force plan. This gives us a new pole for the entire system, O''.
From O'', we draw rays to points a through e. This defines the magnitude and direction of
the reactions and compressive forces in the arch for the total load case. We transfer these
rays to the location plan to show the path of the resultant compressive force required for
equilibrium.
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A simple and important check of the graphical calculation is to ensure that the resultant
compressive force in the arch intersects the axis of the arch at the three hinges.
Analytical Solution
The response of threehinged arches to load can also be calculated analytically by a variety
of methods. The method presented here makes use of a "primary system", obtained by
removing the internal hinge and releasing the horizontal restraint at the righthand
support. The primary system is also statically determinate.
We calculate the response of the primary system for two separate load cases. In the first
case, the primary system is loaded with the given external loads, in this case P. Bending
moment at midspan due to this load case is calculated. This moment will be nonzero in
the primary system, since we have removed the middle hinge.
In the second case, we load the primary system with a horizontal load H at the righthand
support, which is free to displace in the direction of the load. We express the bending
moment at midspan as a function of H.
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We can replicate the original system by adding the moment diagrams due to the two load
cases in the primary system with a suitable choice of H. The value of H required is the
value that gives a total midspan moment of zero. This is the condition that is required of
the threehinged arch.
Having solved for H, we can establish the total reactions in the original system, and solve
for moments and shears in the original system using the expressions given in the figure
below.
Example Calculation
The task is to calculate bending moments in the threehinged arch at the point of
application of the 100 kN load. Span is 80 m, rise is 16 m. Geometry of the arch is shown
in the figure below:
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The calculation is done using two separate methods. In the upper half of the figure, a
graphical method is used. The lines of action of the forces in the arch are drawn following
the methods presented previously in Example 1. The forces are then drawn in the force
plan and the horizontal component of force in the arch is determined. Moment at the
point of application of load is then determined by scaling the vertical distance between the
arch and the line of action of force in the arch (in this case 8 metres), and multiplying this
dimension by the horizontal component of force in the arch. The answer is 620 kNm.
In the lower half of the figure, an analytical method is used. The bending moments in the
primary system, in which the central hinge has been fixed and the righthand horizontal
reaction has been released, are first calculated for the given load P. These moments are
called M
0
in the figure above. Moment at midspan for this case is 1250 kNm. We then
calculate moments due to the horizontal reaction H, which has been taken away in the
primary system and which we have to restore. These moments are called M
1
in the figure
above. At midspan, M
1
is equal to 16H. Imposing the condition that M
tot
(= M
0
+ M
1
)
must equal zero at midspan, we find that H = 78.1 kN. (Note that this value is very close to
the value of H obtained graphically, 77.5 kN.) Finally, we calculate the total moment at the
point of application of the load P. We know that M
0
at this location is 1720 kNm. Moment
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M
1
at this location is obtained from the expression M
1
= Hy, where the value of y is read
from the arch ordinates given. The total moment at this location is thus 1720  1090 = 630
kNm.
The relative error of the graphical method is 1.6 percent of the analytically computed
result. This is another example of the accuracy of graphical methods when diagrams are
drawn with care.
Variations
Two important variations on the arches presented thus far are worthy of brief mention.
Tied Arches
Instead of resisting the horizontal component of reaction with a foundation, it is possible
to resist this force by means of a tie extending from one support to the other. An example
of a tied arch bridge, the Fort Duquesne Bridge in Pittsburgh, U. S. A., is shown in the
following figure.
Tied arches are used when it is not possible to resist the horizontal component of reaction
by means of a foundation. They are often considered when the arch members are laid out
above the structure it supports.
The fundamental differences and similarities relating classical arches and tied arches are
illustrated in the figure below.
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Assuming the tie is rigid (i.e., assuming it provides horizontal restraint similar to that of a
foundation), we can analyze tied arches using the methods presented in this section.
Frames
The principles described for threehinged arches are also valid for threehinged structures
that do not look like arches, i.e., threehinged frames. The following figure illustrates the
application of the procedures developed in Example 1 to a threehinged frame.
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Analysis of Statically Determinate
Beams
This section presents graphical and analytical methods for
calculating sectional forces (bending moment, shear, and axial
force) in beams. Special procedures are presented for several
common cases, including indirect loading of beams and loading
trains.
The Use of Beams in Structural Engineering
Beams are probably the most common structural elements currently used in construction.
Their versatility is a consequence of their structural behaviour. Beams are first and
foremost structural members that resist bending. As a result, the geometry of beams can
be determined without regard to the actual arrangement of loads they must carry. This
distinguishes them from cables, which must adjust their profile to establish equilibrium,
and arches, which are given a shape that allows them to carry the dominant permanent
load case in pure compression.
Because the capacity of beams to carry loads is largely independent of their geometry,
beams are generally favoured for the following important applications:
1. Structures for which functional considerations determine the arrangement of structural
elements. It is generally much easier to adapt beams to suit the function of a given
structure than to adapt arches or cables. This is particularly true for buildings and
industrial structures. For example, beams can be easily arranged in a rectangular three
dimensional grid as required by conventional building construction. This allows effective
use of the enclosed space. The geometrical requirements of arches and cables, in
comparison, are often in conflict with requirements for the use of interior space.
2. Beams are an efficient way of carrying loads of variable position. Beams can be
dimensioned to provide adequate strength and stiffness to resist live loads when their
exact location cannot be determined. This type of loading is particularly important for
bridges, which much carry heavy trucks or trains from one end of the span to the other. As
stated previously, cables can carry loads of variable position, but they must generally
undergo a significant change in shape to do so. Arches can carry loads of variable position,
but they must develop bending moments to do so, essentially behaving as beams for this
class of loading. Beams, on the other hand, can easily be made sufficiently strong and stiff
along their full length to resist bending and shear due to moving loads. In fact, this
characteristic of beams is often used to improve the capacity of arch and cable systems to
resist moving live loads. By using beams in conjunction with arches or cables, we can
ensure that dead load is carried efficiently by the arch or cable, and live load is resisted
primarily by the beam. An example of such a system is the Bridge over the Landquart at
Klosters, Switzerland, a deckstiffened concrete arch by Robert Maillart:
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The arch is relatively thin. Although it is adequate to carry all dead loads, it has
insufficient bending capacity to resist live load on its own, which in this case is a railway
loading. By giving the deck girder sufficient strength and stiffness, these loads can be
carried by the beam, producing negligible bending stresses in the arch.
3. Beams are well adapted to prefabrication. Because the geometry of beams is not
determined by the arrangement of loading, beams can be standardized to allow efficient
mass production. The use of prefabricated structural members often results in lower
construction costs. Rolled and/or welded steel sections (wide flange members and
structural tubes) and precast concrete beams and girders are two examples of the use of
prefabricated beams in construction.
As a result of these advantages, beams have a vast range of application in construction.
The following figures show a few applications of beams as structural members in bridge
construction.
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Curved concrete box girder constructed from precast segments assembled by post
tensioning: left side completed, right side in construction.
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Precast concrete Igirders
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Welded steel plate girders
Preliminary Considerations
We will first restrict our attention to straight beams loaded in a vertical plane containing
the longitudinal axis of the beam. The general loading condition is shown in the diagram
in the upper left corner of the following figure:
The general loading condition includes inclined loads, shown here as Q
1
, Q
2
, and Q
3
.
These loads can be resolved into horizontal and vertical components. It is convenient to
perform separate analyses for the vertical loads and the horizontal loads. The results of
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these two analyses can then be combined to give the response of the beam to the original
loading Q
1
, Q
2
, and Q
3
.
Response of Beams to Vertical Load
We will first develop methods of calculating the response of beams to vertical load,
followed in a separate section by a consideration of horizontal loads on beams.
Equations of Equilibrium
The response of beams to a given load can be expressed mathematically in terms of
equations of equilibrium of a differential element at any given location in the beam. The
derivation of these equations is straightforward and is shown in the figure below:
These equations are valid for all beams loaded perpendicular to their axis, regardless of
the degree of statical indeterminacy. Although the differential equation M'' = q(x) (where
prime denotes derivative with respect to x) can be solved numerically or analytically for a
given set of boundary conditions, this is generally not the approach favoured by design
engineers. In the following subsections, we will develop suitable methods for calculating
M and V for a given loading q(x).
The equations do allow us, however, to derive some general insights regarding the
behaviour of beams. For a section of beam that is unloaded (such as would occur between
the loading points of a beam loaded with a one or more concentrated loads, we have V'(x)
= 0 for this interval. Integrating this equation yields the solution that V(x) is constant over
this interval, and that M(x) is a linear function of x.
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Similarly, if q(x) is equal to a constant C over a given interval within the beam, then
integrating equations (1) and (2) yields that V(x) must be a linear function of x and M(x)
must be a quadratic function of x, i.e., a parabola, over this interval.
Graphical Methods
The analytical methods for calculating bending moments and shear forces in beams were
covered in previous courses. In this subsection we will develop graphical methods for
performing the same task.
In all cases, the beams are loaded with concentrated loads. These methods can also be
used for beams with distributed loads by replacing the distributed load with a statically
equivalent series of concentrated loads.
Simple Beam
The task is to calculate bending moments and shear forces in the beam shown in the
figure below. We begin by drawing the given loads in the force plan and calculating the
resultant load R. We do this by defining a pole O and drawing rays from the endpoints of
the load vectors to O. We then transpose these lines into the location plan. The
intersection of lines parallel to aO and Od in the location plan gives one point on the line
of action of the resultant load R.
We then close the diagram in the location plan and transpose the closing line to the force
plan, which gives us point W. We know that the resultant load, vector ad, can be resolved
into the sum of vectors aO and Od. In turn, it can be seen from the force plan that aO is
the sum of aW and WO, and Od is the sum of OW and Wd.
Replacing resultant load R with vectors aW, WO, Od, and OW in the force plan, we find
that the vectors parallel to WO and OW cancel out. We are left with a vertical vector aW at
the left support and a vertical vector Wd at the right support. It follows that the
magnitude of the left reaction is given by the length of aW and the magnitude of the right
reaction is given by the magnitude of Wd.
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We now proceed to drawing the shear diagram. We consider a free body extending from
the left support to a point at a distance x
0
from the left support. We know that V(x
0
) is R
L
plus the sum of all loads applied between the support and x
0
. In the force plan, this is
expressed graphically as a line of length Wa minus ab, i.e., the reaction minus the applied
loads in question. We can therefore draw the shear diagram directly from the force
diagram by taking as a datum a horizontal line at the level of W. The diagram is obtained
by simply drawing horizontal lines from the endpoints of the load vectors and stepping
down at the line of action of the adjacent load.
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Equilibrium of the same free body gives us a graphical means of calculating bending
moments. The upper of the two free bodies is not in equilibrium. It is used to calculate the
resultant of reaction R
L
and load Q
1
. We know that this resultant is equal and opposite to
the shear force at the section, V(x
0
). We also know that V(x
0
) corresponds to vector bW in
the force plan. We can resolve bW into components bO and OW in the force plan. By
translating bO and OW into the location plan, we can determine the location of the
resultant of R
L
and Q
1
. We simply extend the corresponding lines in the location plan to
their point of intersection, which in this case is point T. The resultant of R
L
and Q
1
is thus
a horizontal distance r from the crosssection at x
0
. To establish equilibrium with the
resultant, we add an equal and opposite force (i.e., the shear force V(x
0
)), and move it to
the crosssection. We maintain equilibrium by adding a moment equal to V(x
0
) times r.
Bending moment at section x
0
is thus equal to V(x
0
)r. We can transform this into a more
useful expression observing that triangles TUS in the location plan and ObW in the force
plan are similar. It thus follows that y(x
0
)/r = V(x
0
)/H, where y(x
0
) is the vertical ordinate
of the cable diagram, i.e., the distance from the closing line to the cable diagram, and H is
the horizontal component of force from the force plan. Rearranging, we obtain M(x
0
) =
y(x
0
)H.
This discussion proves that the bending moment diagram of a simple beam is
geometrically similar in shape to a cable subjected to the same arrangement of load.
The cable diagram has been left skewed, i.e., the rightmost point has not been displaced
upwards to make the closing line level. This has been done to save time. Although this is a
valid transformation of the diagram and would make the cable diagram look more like the
moment diagrams we are used to, it is not necessary since we compute bending moments
from the vertical offset y from the closing line to the cable curve, which will not be
changed by such a transformation.
Indirect Loading
Graphical methods can be used to develop effective solutions to specialized problems in
the analysis of beams. Three of these will be examined, beginning with a system in which
load is carried indirectly to the supports. Such systems often consist of relatively short
longitudinal beams, often called stringers, which span between transverse members,
referred to as floorbeams. These in turn carry load to the main girders, which are
supported on piers or other foundations.
The figure below shows a graphical analysis of this system. The upper portion of the figure
shows a plan (view from above) of the system, showing the two girders running
horizontally on the outer edges, five floorbeams running vertically, and short stringers
spanning between the floorbeams. It is assumed that all stringers are simply supported at
the floorbeams.
A load Q of 60 kN is applied to one of the stringers as shown.
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We first calculate the bending moments, shear, and reactions produced by the load in the
stringer. We consider the stringer as a simply supported beam on rigid supports. This is a
valid assumption for the calculation of forces and reactions.
We begin by drawing the load vector ab in the force plan, selecting a pole O, drawing
vectors aO and Ob, and transposing these lines to the location plan. These lines intersect
the lines of action of the supports at points R and S. We then draw the closing line RS and
transpose it to the force plan, where it becomes WO.
The shear diagram in the stringer can now be drawn following the methods described for
simply supported beams. We obtain the maximum bending moment M
max
as the product
of y
max
, the maximum ordinate between the closing line and the cable diagram, and the
horizontal component of force H.
We now turn to the calculation of moments, shears, and reactions in the main girder. The
stringer reactions are taken by the floorbeams, which distribute these forces to the
girders. (The calculations shown here are for the total effects of the load in both girders.
To obtain the actual forces in a given girder, the results shown would have to be
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multiplied by the ratio of the corresponding floorbeam reaction to total reaction. For the
example shown here, assuming the stringers are spaced at 5 metre intervals, the given
load would be distributed 83 percent to the lower girder in the plan and 17 percent to the
upper girder.)
We begin by observing that the girder, considered as a free body, is loaded by the
reactions from the stringers. Using the same force plan, we therefore can consider the
load vectors to be aW and Wb. Transposing rays aO, WO, and bO to the location plan, we
can draw a new closing line TU extending from one girder support to the other. This line
is transposed onto the force plan as W'O. The reactions at the ends of the girder are thus
aW' and W'b. This allows us to draw the shear diagram, taking a horizonal line extending
from W' as the datum. The bending moments are obtained in a similar manner to that
used for the stringer, i.e., M(x) = y(x)H.
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Analysis of Statically Determinate
Beams
This section presents graphical and analytical methods for
calculating sectional forces (bending moment, shear, and axial
force) in beams. Special procedures are presented for several
common cases, including indirect loading of beams and loading
trains.
Response of Beams to Vertical Load (continued)
Graphical Methods (continued)
Overhanging Ends
Until now, we have dealt only with situations that produce positive moments. To study the
application of graphical methods to beams that resist positive and negative moment, we
will consider a beam with overhanging ends.
The techniques we have developed thus far are also valid for this situation. The clarity of
the results is improved, however, by an additional manipulation of the diagrams, as will
be demonstrated in the figure below.
We begin by drawing the structure to scale and drawing the loads in the force plan. We
select a pole O and draw rays aO, bO, cO, and dO (green lines). We then transpose these
lines to the location plan. We draw the closing line RS joining the intersection of line I and
the line of action of the left reaction, and line IV and the line of action of the right
reaction. We transpose the closing line to the force plan as ray WO.
We wish to draw a force diagram that will allow us to determine yordinates based on a
common datum line. We will use line RS as this datum, and extend it to cover the entire
structure. The 15 kN load at the tip of the right cantilever is currently resolved into vectors
cO and dO in the force plan (along lines III and IV in the location plan). We now resolve
this load into a different pair of vectors, one directed along RS and the other along the line
joining points P and T in the location plan. Line PT is transposed as cO'' in the force plan.
The triangle cdO'' represents the new state of equilibrium. We make a similar
transformation at the lefthand end of the structure, resulting in the state of equilibrium
depicted by abO' in the force plan.
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It is now possible to determine yordinates at all locations along the beam from a common
datum line. We compute bending moments as usual, i.e., M(x) = y(x)H. The resulting
bending moment diagram is drawn at the bottom of the figure on a horizontal axis. The
theoretical values of peak moments are 40 kNm, 30 kNm, and 60 kNm respectively.
Also shown in the diagram is the diagram of a cable with loads and vertical support
reactions applied. As expected, it has the same shape as the bending moment diagram of
the beam.
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Gerber Systems
Gerber systems are multiplespan girders with internal hinges arranged to make the
structure statically determinate. Examples of Gerber systems are shown in the following
figure.
(Although Gerber systems were one popular in bridge construction, they are usually not
recommended because of problems with durability due to the presence of a large number
of expansion joints. They have, however, been used as a temporary structural system to
facilitate construction, with a subsequent locking of the hinges and elimination of the
expansion joint after the primary structural members have been erected.)
The analytical solution of these systems is straightforward, provided one begins with a
portion of a beam bounded by two hinges and with no supports between these two hinges.
This portion of the beam can be separated as a free body and solved using the equations of
equilibrium. In the following figure, solution proceeds from the upper free body
downward. The asterisks represent quantities that are unknown at the time the given free
body is analyzed.
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Alternatively, the graphical techniques developed in the previous example can be used.
The use of these techniques will be illustrated for the threespan Gerber system shown in
the following figure. The solution is based on the principle that the line of force (i.e., the
cable profile) must pass through the hinges. This is the graphic representation of the static
condition of zero moment at the hinges.
We begin with the leftmost span. We resolve load Q
1
into components aO
1
and O
1
b in the
force plan. These components are then transferred to the location plan. To satisfy the
condition of zero moment at the internal hinge, we draw the closing line RS to pass
through the hinge at point S. The yordinate of the force diagram in the location plan,
measured from the datum line RS, is thus zero at the hinge. We extend RS over the entire
length of the structure. This will be our datum for moments at all locations.
We now proceed to the force diagram in the rightmost span. We select a pole O
3
and draw
rays dO
3
and O
3
e. These lines are transposed onto the location plan, making sure to pass
the line parallel to dO
3
through the internal hinge. The closing line, TU, does not coincide
with the desired datum RS, so we shift pole O
3
to O'
3
. The resulting force diagram shares a
common datum with the diagram in the leftmost span, and satisfies the statical conditions
of zero moment at the hinge and at the end support.
The final step is to draw the force diagram for the middle span. The graphical condition
we must satisfy is that, in the location plan, the diagram must pass through points H and
G. We select pole O
2
, draw rays bO
2
, cO
2
, and dO
2
in the force plan, and transfer these
rays to the location plan. The closing line, HI is not coincident with HG, so we must select
a different pole O'
2
. We do so such that W
2
O'
2
is parallel to HG. (In addition, it is
convenient for all poles to lie on a common vertical line. In this way, the horizontal
component of the rays in the force plan is constant over the entire structure.) Redrawing
the rays in the force plan to O'
2
and transferring them to the location plan yields a line of
force that satisfies the statical conditions of the problem.
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The final bending moment diagram is H times the vertical distance between the line of
force (green line) and the datum line (line RF). The diagram has been redrawn at the
bottom of the figure.
Vertical reactions are obtained using reasoning similar to that used on previous problems.
at support 2, the reaction is the vertical component of the sum of O
1
b and bO'
2
.
Load Trains
The live load models used for bridge design generally consist of a set of load vectors at a
specified spacing, representing the loads applied to the structure by the wheels of a heavy
truck or train. The following figure, taken from the Canadian Highway Bridge Design
Code, illustrates one such load model. The arrangement of axle loads and spacings
specified in the figure can be applied at any location on the structure. These load models
are referred to collectively as load trains.
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It is the designer's responsibility to ensure that the loads are applied to produce
maximum effect. In this subsection, we will develop a procedure to accomplish this.
The first task is the following: For a given load train and a given location on the structure,
say a distance x
0
from the left support, what is the position of the load train that will
produce maximum bending moment at x
0
?
We will develop a procedure for this task using the example shown in the following figure.
In this case x
0
will be taken as 16 m. We define parameters x'
i
as the distance from the
right support to load i, and z
i
as the distance from x
0
to load i. Loads Q
1
through Q
5
can be
placed anywhere on the bridge, but the spacing between the loads remains constant.
Because the loading consists of concentrated loads, the bending moment diagram will be
piecewise linear. It therefore follows that the maximum bending moment at x
0
will occur
when one of the loads is positioned at x
0
. We will assume for now that positioning the
train so that Q
3
is above x
0
produces the maximum moment at x
0
. The following figure
gives a derivation of a method for validating this assumption.
The following numerical example illustrates the use of the inequality derived in the figure
above:
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The second task of interest is to determine, for a given load in the train Q
i
, the location in
the span x
0
such that, when the train is arranged with Q
i
over x
0
, the bending moment at
x
0
is maximized. The method is derived in the figure below.
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Moment M(x
0
) is maximized when load Q
i
and the resultant of all loads, R, are
equidistant from midspan.
Horizontal Load
The analysis of beams for horizontal load is generally straightforward. Eccentricity of
loads and support reactions must be considered, as shown in the figure below. It is
generally a good first step to take all the loads and move them to the centroid of the
section, adding moments corresponding to the displacement of the loads.
The moments thus calculated can then be added to the moments due to vertical load
calculated using the methods presented previously.
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Analysis of Statically Determinate
Trusses
This section presents methods for assessing the stability and degree
of statical indeterminacy of plane trusses, as well as graphical and
analytical methods for calculating forces in truss members.
Basic Principles
Trusses are structural systems composed of straight solid bars connected to each other at
their ends only. Although truss members can be connected to each other in many different
ways, truss connections are modeled as pinned connections, i.e., connections that cannot
resist bending moments. This assumption is valid even for apparently stiff gusset plate
connections since the axial stiffness of the truss members is generally sufficiently large to
ensure that the bending restraint provided by gussets and other types of right connections
is negligible. The points at which truss members are connected to one another are called
joints.
Trusses are generally designed to be loaded at the joints only. This condition, in addition
to the assumption of perfectly pinned connections, implies that truss members work in
pure tension or compression only.
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Examples of Applications
Trusses have been used since the earliest days of postindustrial revolution engineering.
Examples of historical trusses include the Quebec Bridge, which still holds the record for
the longestspanning cantilever truss bridge in the world. (A cantilever truss is
distinguished from other types of trusses by the need for a downward reaction at the end
supports.)
Trusses are also incorporated into arch bridges and cablesupported bridges. An example
of the former application is the Bridge over the New River Gorge in West Virginia. In this
bridge, the arch is actually a truss curved according to the shape of the pressure line. The
use of a truss as opposed to a solid member saves weight and provides considerable
stiffness to resist bending due to live load.
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The Brooklyn Bridge is an example of a cablesupported bridge that includes a truss as a
major structural component. In this case, the truss stiffens the suspension bridge under
the action of live load.
Although we normally think of steel as the material of choice for trusses, they have been
built in wood and even in concrete. In modern bridge construction, we see more and more
trusses built of concrete and steel acting together. The Sherbrooke Pedestrian Bridge is a
notable example of this type of structural system.
Stability
In our previous discussion of stability, we stated the following principles:
1. Systems with fewer reactions than equations of equilibrium are always unstable
2. Systems with number of reactions greater than or equal to the number of equations of
equilibrium are not necessarily stable. Such cases must always be investigated by the
designer by visualizing the displacement of the structure under the action of forces and
moments in all possible directions.
The second principle holds particularly true for trusses, in which unstable arrangements
of members such as the one shown in the figure below are possible, even though the
number of reactions is equal to the the number of equations of equilibrium:
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In general, the best way to check for stability of trusses is by careful inspection. As you
gain familiarity with different types of truss arrangements, you will become more adept at
assessing stability in this way.
A general analytical procedure for assessing stability does exist, but it is generally suitable
only for use with a computer. At each joint of the truss, we can formulate two equations of
equilibrium (F
x
= 0 and F
y
= 0) by cutting the joint away from the rest of the structure
as a free body. We can assemble the entire set of equations for each joint of the structure
into a matrix. The determinant of this matrix will be zero for unstable structures.
Determinacy
Stable trusses are statically determinate when the following equation is satisfied:
M + R = 2 J
where M is the number of members in the truss, R is the number of reactions, and J is the
number of joints. This can be proven by the following reasoning:
The unknowns are the member forces and the reactions. The number of unknowns is thus
M + R, which is the righthand side of the equation. The number of equations is equal to
two times the number of joints, since there are two equations at each joint (F
x
= 0 and
F
y
= 0) when we separate a given joint from the rest of the structure as a free body.
Generally speaking, trusses with "X" panels will be statically indeterminate. This can be
understood by removing one of the diagonals of the X. It is generally the case that the
truss will remain stable when the member is removed.
Calculation of Forces in Trusses Using Analytical
Methods
We will briefly review the methods developed in previous courses for the analytical
methods of calculating forces in determinate trusses.
Method of Sections
This method consists of cutting the truss in two pieces, treating one of the pieces as a free
body, and calculating the forces required to bring the free body into equilibrium.
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The method is illustrated in the following figure:
We begin by calculating the reactions at the supports of the truss. We then cut the truss
into two pieces, through the members for which we wish to calculate forces. We draw in
vectors representing the unknown forces at the section. We then solve for the unknown
forces using the three equations of equilibrium.
This method works for cuts that produce no more than three unknown forces. Sections
with more than three unknown forces exceed the number of available equations of
equilibrium.
Method of Joints
A more general method is the method of joints, which is based on isolating each joint as a
free body and solving the two equations of equilibrium (F
x
= 0 and F
y
= 0). (The
equation of moment equilibrium is not necessary because all forces pass through a
common point at truss joints.) The method is illustrated in the following figure:
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We begin by calculating the support reactions. We then isolate a joint that has no more
than two unknown forces, isolate it as a free body, and solve for the unknown forces using
the equations F
x
= 0 and F
y
= 0. We move from joint to joint in this way, being careful
only to work with joints that have two unknown forces.
When we write forces onto the truss diagram, we can use the letters "C" and "T" for
compression and tension, respectively. Another convention is to use positive numbers for
tension and negative numbers for compression. Using either convention, though, we must
be sure to consider forces correctly in the equations of equilibrium, for which upward
forces and forces to the right are positive, regardless of the way they are notated on the
truss diagram. It is conceivable, for example, for a tensile force (positive in the diagram)
to be directed downward at a joint (negative in the equation of equilibrium).
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Calculation of Forces in Trusses Using Graphical
Methods
The method of joints can easily be implemented graphically, using the principle that
forces in equilibrium acting at a common point form a closed polygon when drawn in the
force plan. In the graphical method, we likewise proceed from joint to joint, solving the
equations of equilibrium graphically. An example of this method is given in the following
figure:
We begin by calculating the support reactions graphically using the methods developed
for beams. We then start at a joint with two unknown forces and draw the force diagram
representing equilibrium of the joint in the force plan. The geometrical constraints of the
truss and the known forces at the joint will lead directly to a graphical solution.
In drawing the force diagrams, we must always go around a given joint in the same
direction for all joints. In this case, a counterclockwise direction was chosen. We treat
external loads as member forces in this regard. For example, at joint L2, we first draw the
force in L1L2, then the 60 kN load, then the force in L2L3, then L2U2, and finally close
the figure with L2U1.
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The direction of forces is always taken relative to the joint in question. For example at L2,
we already know that L1L2 is a tensile force, i.e. a force pulling away from L2. We
therefore draw it in the force plan as a force moving from right to left, i.e., away from L2.
In a similar manner, the 60 kN load drawn downward. We require a force moving from
left to right for L2L3 to close the polygon. This is equivalent to pulling away from L2, so
force L2L3 is also tensile.
To reduce the possibility of error, it is generally possible to draw contiguous polygons of
equilibrium in the force plan. An example of how L0 and U1 could be drawn together is
shown in the figure above. Using this method means that it is not necessary to redraw the
force in L0U1.
Variations
Loads Between Joints
Although we generally assume that trusses are loaded at their joints only, there do exist
cases in which truss members are loaded between two joints. In such cases, we can
calculate stresses as shown in the figure below:
We first isolate loaded member AB as a free body (in this case a simply supported beam)
and calculate moments, stresses, and reactions in the members. We then apply the
reactions as loads to the truss as a whole, and calculate the axial force in member AB. We
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can then combine stresses due to axial force in the overall response of the truss to stresses
due to bending in the member computed previously.
Redundant Bracing
One common case of statically indeterminate trusses that can be analyzed using the
methods presented in this section is the case of redundant X bracing. The concepts are
illustrated in the figure below:
The original system is a tower with two Xbraced panels. The structure is two times
statically indeterminate.
We can design members AE, DB, DG, and EF to be sufficiently slender so that two of them
will buckle when lateral load P exceeds a certain threshold value. Once buckling occurs,
say in members AE and DG, the structure remains stable since members DB and FE
maintain their integrity in tension. After buckling, we can consider that AE and DG no
longer carry load. This implies that we can idealize the behaviour of the system under
lateral load as the system shown in the rightmost diagram in the figure above, which is
stable and statically determinate.
This type of design is not used for structures in which fatigue is an important
consideration.
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Fatigue
Fatigue is the progressive damage in structural members caused by
the accumulated effect of repeated cycles of stress. Fatigue can cause
members to fail at loads significantly lower than computed ultimate
capacity. Designers ensure that structures have sufficient resistance
against failure by fatigue by limiting the stress range due to live load
to values defined in design standards.
A Simple Example
Structural members such as bridge girders, crane rails, and machine parts, all of which
undergo a large number of variations in stress due to live load, have been known to fail at
loads significantly less than the ultimate capacity calculated on the basis of the section
properties of the member and material yield strength. What generally happens is
illustrated schematically in the following figure:
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We will focus on member AB of the steel truss. By separating AB from the rest of the
structure as a free body, we can see that AB is subjected to pure axial tension. The area of
the crosssection of AB is A
s
.
We assume that we have performed an analysis of the structure for dead and live load and
have determined that tension in AB due to dead load is P
D
and maximum tension in AB
due to live load is P
L
. We say the member is safe when the design load P
f
is less than the
capacity of the member, A
s
F
y
, where F
y
is the yield stress of the steel used in member AB.
Design load Pf is equal to
D
P
D
+
L
P
L
, where
D
and
L
are factors of safety. They ensure
that the capacity of the structure is adequate to resist not only the most likely combination
of loads (P
D
+ P
L
), but also load combination corresponding to a less likely but possible
overload.
We plot the stress in member AB as a function of time. Stresses corresponding to capacity
(F
y
) and design load (
f
) are drawn in as constant values. The blue curve is the actual
stress in AB, which is equal to dead load stress (
D
) when live load is not present on the
bridge and is equal to (
D
+
L
) when live load is present. The failure depicted occurs at a
stress that is significantly less than the stress corresponding to the design load of the
member.
This graph therefore represents a mode of failure that is not adequately prevented by
merely proportioning the crosssection to provide a capacity greater than the design load.
The Phenomenon
What caused this behaviour? The answer lies in the microscopic structure of metals. (In
fact, of all the materials normally used in construction, it is steel that is by far the most
prone to fatigue.)
Although we generally consider steel and other metals to be homogeneous materials, their
crystal structure actually contains discontinuities called microcracks. Investigations into
the behaviour of steel and other metals at the tip of microcracks shows that stresses at
these locations are generally very high. The effect of repeated cycles of stress on
microcracks has been described by Kulak and Grondin (2002):
"Fatigue is the initiation and propagation of microscopic cracks into macro cracks by the
repeated application of stresses. A discontinuity in the crystal structure of a metal or an
initial crack will grow a small amount each time a load is applied to the part. Growth
occurs at the crack front, which is initially sharp. Even at relatively low loads, meaning
stresses less than the yield strength of the material, there will be a high concentration of
stress at the sharp front, and plastic deformation (slip on atomic planes) takes place at the
crack front. Continued slip results in a blunted crack tip, and the crack grows a minute
amount during this process. Upon unloading, not necessarily to zero, the crack top again
becomes sharp. The process, termed fatigue crack growth, is repeated during each load
cycle."
Fatigue is thus the growth of microcracks into a cracks of dimensions sufficient to impair
the effectiveness of a given crosssection to resist load. In the example from the figure
above, the cyclic stresses due to live load caused the growth of a crack that eventually
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reduced the crosssection of member AB from A
s
to A*
s
. The tensile resistance of the
reduced section was thus reduced to A*
s
F
y
. Once A*
s
dropped to a value such that A*
s
F
y
was less than tensile demand, P
D
+ P
L
, the member failed.
The quotation by Kulak and Grondin given above makes two important points regarding
the nature of fatigue:
1. Fatigue is a process of progressive damage in steel that requires both a discontinuity in
the crystal structure (a microcrack) and repeated cycles of loading. Without the
discontinuity, the material will be able to undergo repeated cycles of loading without
change in its microscopic structure. Without the repeated cycles of loading, a given
discontinuity cannot grow.
2. Microcracks do not significantly impair the capacity of structures to resist steadily
increasing (i.e. noncyclic) stresses. As stated in the above quotation, plastic deformation
at the tip of the crack blunts the crack, preventing further growth of the crack provided
load is not reduced and cycled up again. For this reason, it is perfectly acceptable to
calculate the capacity of steel tension members to resist overload on the basis of the gross
area of the crosssection A
s
without direct consideration of microcracking.
Design Approach
Structural designers do not generally deal with fatigue from a metallurgical point of view,
i.e., designers do not calculate the response and grown of microcracks to a given cyclic
regime of stress. Rather, we use empirical relations that have been determined relating
the severity of microcracks in a given structural component to the expected cyclic stresses
that the component will undergo during its service life. Modern design standards
formulate these relations in terms of the following parameters:
1. The number of live load stress cycles that a given structural member is expected to
undergo during its service life.
2. The stress range (
L,max

L,min
) in the component due to live load.
3. The type of details used in the structural component under consideration.
Parameter (3), the type of detail, represents the severity of microcracks in the component
in question. For most commonly used structural details, design standards assign a
"fatigue category" depending on the presence of holes, welds, discontinuities in geometry,
abrupt changes in the direction of stress, and other factors that are known to lead to stress
concentrations. The following two figures illustrate how CSA Standard S16.1 Limit States
Design of Steel Structures, the Canadian design standard for steel buildings, defines
fatigue categories for common types of detail:
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The standard describes a detail in words ("General condition" and "Situation") and
assigns to it a Detail category (letters A, B, E, etc.). The standard also refers to Figure K2
giving illustrative examples of particular details. This figure assists designers in assigning
the correct category to a specific detail. A portion of Figure K2 has been reproduced
below.
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Parameters (1) and (2) define the expected cyclic stress regime for the component in
question. Parameter (2) defines the magnitude of the live load stress range. This value is
calculated for live load models defined in design standards using a suitable method of
structural analysis. Parameter (1) defines the number of times the stresses are expected to
fluctuate through this range during the service life of the structure.
For a given detail category and a given number of cycles of stress, design standards define
an acceptable stress range that must not be exceeded. The following curves depict the
relation between detail category, number of cycles of stress, and acceptable stress range:
For a given detail category, the acceptable stress range is the greater of the heavy solid
line and the horizontal dashed line. The acceptable stress range for detail category A, for
example, decreases from approximately 450 MPa at 10
5
cycles down to 165 MPa at 2 10
6
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cycles. For a number of cycles greater than 2 10
6
, the acceptable stress range remains
constant at 165 MPa. This reflects an important characteristic of our current fatigue
models, namely, that if stress range remains below a threshold value, the structural
component in question can withstand an infinite number of stress cycles.
Numerical values of this cutoff stress (corresponding to the dashed horizontal line) are
given in the following table, under the heading "Constant amplitude threshold stress
range":
It is often easier to use the following algebraic expression to calculate the acceptable stress
range rather than the graph:
where F
sr
is acceptable stress range, is the "Fatigue life constant" from Table 4(a) above
for the category of detail under consideration, N is the number of cycles of stress, and F
srt
is the constant amplitude threshold stress range, also given in Table 4(a).
Using this graph, we can determine the maximum acceptable stress range for a given
situation. If we know, for example, that we are dealing with a "category B" detail, and the
number of stress cycles is one million, then the acceptable stress range is 158 MPa.
We compare this value to the actual live load stress range for the appropriate live load
model specified in the applicable design standard. The actual stress range is defined as
L,max

L,min
, where
L,min
may be zero. If
L,min
is negative (i.e., a compressive stress), we
compute the difference algebraically. The actual stress range defined by
L,max
= 100 MPa
and
L,min
= 25 MPa, therefore, would be 125 MPa. It is emphasized that calculation of
the actual stress range involves live load only. Dead load stresses are not considered in
this calculation.
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Design Procedure
As designers, we must ensure that our structures are safe under all reasonably foreseeable
conditions. For structures such as bridges, crane rails, towers, and others that must resist
variable loads that are significant and frequent, we must add a check of fatigue in addition
to our usual checks for safety. The following approach is used:
1. Preliminary selection of structural system. Select an initial structural arrangement and
member properties.
2. Analysis. For a given structural component, calculate stress due to dead load,
D
, and
stress due to live load,
L
.
3. Check of safety (strength). Calculate the design stress
f
=
D
D
+
L
L
, using factors
D
and
L
from the applicable design standard. Ensure that
f
is less than or equal to F
y
. This
ensures that the structure will have sufficient capacity to resist an accidental overload.
4. Check of fatigue. Ensure that the actual live load stress range is less than the acceptable
live load stress range as defined in the design standard. This ensures that the structure
will have sufficient capacity to resist a large number of cycles of a commonly occurring
live load.
(The approach given above has been simplified somewhat for clarity. You will learn about
necessary refinements to this procedure in courses relating to design in specific materials
in Third Year. The essence of the approach described here is, however, accurate.)
This approach reflects the usual reality of design loadings, namely, that loads that cause
fatigue (i.e., the loads that occur most frequently) are not the largest overloads. Two
separate checks are therefore required.
Variable Stress Ranges
The preceding discussion assumed that there was only one live load stress range to
consider in checking fatigue. Although this assumption is often adequate for design, there
are cases in which we can clearly identify two important live load models acting on the
structure, each with its own stress range and expected number of cycles. We can deal with
this situation with an expression called the PalmgrenMiner rule, which is defined by the
following equation:
where N
i
is the acceptable number of cycles for stress range i and n
i
is the actual number
of cycles for stress range i.
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The following example illustrates the use of the PalmgrenMiner rule:
References
Kulak, G. L. and G. Y. Grondin. 2002. Limit States Design in Structural Steel. 7th ed.
Toronto: Canadian Institute of Steel Construction.
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The Method of Virtual Work
The principle of virtual work states that a system of external and internal
forces is in equilibrium if and only if the virtual work done by the forces as
they undergo a given virtual displacement is zero. This principle is applied
primarily to the calculation of deflections in structural systems.
Contents
1. The Significance of the Method of Virtual Work
2. Virtual Work
3. Internal Forces, Displacements, and Work
4. The Principle of Virtual Work
5. Application of the Principle of Virtual Work to Rigid Systems
6. Application of the Principle of Virtual Work to Flexible Systems
7. Integration Tables
8. Examples of Calculation of Deflections in Flexible Structures
The Significance of the Method of Virtual Work
The remainder of this course will be devoted to the calculation of the response of statically
indeterminate structures to loads and imposed deformations. Statically indeterminate
structures are those for which the conditions of equilibrium alone are insufficient to allow
reactions and/or internal forces to be calculated.
There exist several effective methods of calculating the response of statically
indeterminate structures. One of the most important of these, called the force method or
flexibility method, is based on defining a number of additional conditions that, combined
with the equilibrium conditions, will be sufficient to allow the response of a given
structure to be calculated. These additional conditions are based on the compatibility of
deformations. The following example describes the conceptual steps involved in the force
method:
The portal frame shown in the upper lefthand corner is statically indeterminate to the
first degree, since there are four unknown forces (horizontal and vertical reactions at A,
and horizontal and vertical reactions at D) and three equations of equilibrium. The
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structure is loaded with a vertical load at midspan of the horizontal beam. Calculation of
the response of this structure proceeds according to the following steps:
1. Release a sufficient number of restraints in the structure to produce a statically
determinate system. In this case we release the horizontal reaction at D. The statically
determinate system thus produced is called the primary system. This system is the second
of the diagrams in the upper half of the figure.
2. Apply the given loads to the primary system and calculate the conjugate displacement
in the direction of the forces that were released to create the primary system. In this case,
the displacement is a horizontal deflection at D. This displacement corresponds to the
horizontal reaction at D that was released. We call this displacement
0
.
3. Apply a load to the primary system in the direction of the force that was released to
create the primary system and calculate the displacement of the structure that is
conjugate to this force. In the figure, this force is called H. It corresponds to the horizontal
reaction that was released. The displacement to be calculated is called
1
.
4. Calculate the total deflection of the structure in the direction of the released force:
tot
=
0
+
1
.
5. Calculate the value of H that makes
tot
= 0. The condition
tot
= 0 is called a
compatibility condition. By imposing this condition, we effectively restore the original
geometrical constraints of the structure, by ensuring that there is no displacement in the
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direction of the forces that were originally released. This effectively restores the structure
to its original statically determinate condition, but with knowledge of the unknown
reaction H. We have thus eliminated one of the four unknown forces, leaving three forces
that can be solved with the three equations of equilibrium.
We see from this procedure that the calculation of deflections is of critical significance to
the calculation of the response of statically indeterminate structures using the force
method. For obvious reasons, the calculation of deflections is also of significance in and of
itself, for structures of any given degree of statical indeterminacy. For example, design
standards often define limits on deflections due to specified load cases. Designers must
calculate deflections of the structure for these load cases and ensure that they are less
than the specified limiting values.
The most important method used in the calculation of deflections is the method of virtual
work, which will be defined and described in the remainder of this section.
Virtual Work
To understand the concept of virtual work, we must first define some important terms.
Work is a physical quantity defined as the product of a force and a displacement conjugate
to that force.
Real work is defined as the product of a real force and the conjugate displacement
produced by that same force.
A real force is a force that corresponds to a state of equilibrium due to actions that
correspond to the design requirements of a given structure. For example, real forces
include the loads, reactions, and internal forces (moments, shear forces, and axial forces)
due to conditions such as dead load, live load, wind load, etc. Real forces are the forces
that a given structure will actually experience during its service life, or forces that
represent a limit state (such as ultimate limit state) that must be checked to ensure safety
and serviceability.
A real displacement of a given structure is a displacement that corresponds to the
response of the structure to real forces. For example, a beam subjected to dead load will
deflect downward. The deflection at a given point along the span is a real displacement
because it corresponds to a state of equilibrium defined by real forces.
The following figure illustrates the concept of real work. In Example (a), a real horizontal
load Q
0
is applied to the tip of a cantilever column. The state of equilibrium
corresponding to this force consists of the applied load Q
0
, and reactions H and M. Load
Q
0
causes the column to deflect. The displacement that is conjugate to Q
0
is the horizontal
deflection at the tip, . Because is the deflection caused by real load Q
0
, it is a real
displacement. The real work done by Q
0
is thus Q
0
.
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In Example (b), a cantilever with horizontal restraint at the tip is loaded with real moment
M
0
applied at the tip. The reactions required for equilibrium are horizontal forces at the
tip and the base, and moment M
1
at the base. Load M
0
induces the displacements shown
in the lower righthand portion of the figure. The tip of the structure rotates through
angles . Because this displacement is conjugate to the M
0
, we conclude that the real work
done by M
0
is M
0
. We note that the reaction H at the tip of the structure performs no
work, because there is not displacement of the structure conjugate to H. Force H is
horizontal and applied at the tip of the structure, and the structure has zero horizontal
displacement at this location.
Any force that is not real is called a virtual force. Virtual forces do not correspond to states
of equilibrium related to the actions that will be experienced by a given structure or that
must otherwise be checked to ensure safety and serviceability. For example, the simply
supported bridge shown in the figure below, it is physically impossible to apply a
concentrated moment at one end of the span as shown. The forces corresponding to this
load case are therefore not real forces, but virtual forces.
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A virtual displacement of a given structure can be any displacement of the structure.
Virtual displacements include the displaced shape of structures due to real or virtual
loads, as well as displacements caused by the release of internal or external constraints.
The three displaced shapes of the beam shown in the figure below all represent valid
virtual displacements.
Virtual work is defined as the product of a given force and a given conjugate displacement,
regardless of whether force or displacement are real or virtual. In fact, provided force and
displacement are conjugate, they can be otherwise completely independent of each other.
Real work is a subset of virtual work, corresponding to the case in which the force is real
and the conjugate displacement was produced by the real force in question.
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Internal Forces, Displacements, and Work
The definition of virtual work is general, in the sense that it is valid not only for the
displacement of external forces such as loads and reactions, but also for the displacement
of internal forces such as bending moments, shear forces, and axial forces. Internal work,
i.e., the work performed by internal forces as they undergo a displacement, is given a
negative sign when it corresponds to the storage of internal strain energy. The significance
of this sign convention will become clear when we consider the principle of virtual work.
In order to calculate the work performed by internal forces, it is necessary to have a clear
understanding of the displacements that are conjugate to these forces. Conjugate internal
displacements are defined for axial force, shear, and bending moment in the figure below:
1. Axial Force
Axial force N is applied to a differential element of length dx in the leftmost diagram of
the figure above. The internal displacement corresponding to this force is the elongation
of the element, which is equal to dx, where is axial strain.
The internal work performed by axial force N in differential element dx is given by the
following expression:
dW
i
= N dx
2. Shear Force
Shear force V is applied to a differential element of length dx in the middle diagram of the
figure above. The internal conjugate displacement is the vertical displacement of the force
on the right side of the differential element, which is equal to dx, where is shear strain.
The internal work performed by shear force V in differential element dx is thus given by
the following expression:
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dW
i
= V dx
3. Bending Moment
Bending moment M is applied to a differential element of length dx in the rightmost
diagram of the figure above. The internal conjugate displacement is the angle of rotation
of one side of the element relative to the other. This is equal to the change in slope of the
element, which is given by the expression (d/dx) dx, where is slope. But change of
slope d/dx is equivalent to curvature , so we can express the internal conjugate
displacement as dx.
The internal work performed by moment M in differential element dx is thus given by the
following expression:
dW
i
= M dx
The Principle of Virtual Work
The principle of virtual work was defined previously in the context of influence lines. It is
repeated here for emphasis:
A system of forces acting on a given structure is in equilibrium if and only if the virtual
work performed by these forces is zero for any compatible virtual state of deformation of
the structure.
Virtual work is understood to mean the sum of internal work (i.e. work performed by
internal forces) W
i
and external work (i.e. work performed by loads and reactions) W
e
.
In this statement of the principle of virtual work, we consider the term system of forces to
include external loads, support reactions, and all internal forces (bending moments, shear
forces, and axial forces) required for equilibrium.
Virtual displacements are said to be compatible when the external displaced shape of the
structure (displacements and rotations) can be determined uniquely from the internal
deformations of the structure (strains and curvatures).
The principle of virtual work is valid regardless of the relation (or lack thereof) between
the system of forces and the state of deformation. In particular, the system of forces and
the state of deformation can be completely independent of each other.
We express the principle of virtual work mathematically as follows:
For a given structure, let Q
j
be a set of loads, R
j
be a set of support reactions, and N(x),
V(x), and M(x) be internal forces. Assume all of these forces form a system of forces in
equilibrium.
Define a compatible state of deformation of the structure such that displacements
j
are
conjugate to loads Q
j
, displacements r
j
are conjugate to the reactions R
j
, and (x), (x), and
(x) are axial strain, shear strain, and curvature.
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We express external work as follows:
W
e
= Q
j
j
+ R
j
r
j
Internal work is expressed as follows:
W
i
= N(x) (x)dx V(x) (x)dx M(x) (x)dx
The principle of virtual work can this be expressed as follows:
W
e
+ W
i
= 0
Substituting in the expressions derived above for W
e
and W
i
, we obtain the following
expression:
Q
j
j
+ R
j
r
j
= N(x) (x)dx + V(x) (x)dx + M(x) (x)dx
Application of the Principle of Virtual Work to
Rigid Systems
The principle of virtual work can be applied to rigid systems. Because these systems by
definition do not deform, no internal work is performed. For rigid systems, therefore, the
principle of virtual work is used primarily to calculate sectional forces.
One of the important applications of the principle of virtual work to rigid systems is in the
creation of influence lines. We will not discuss rigid systems further in the current section.
Application of the Principle of Virtual Work to
Flexible Systems
The primary application of the principle of virtual work to flexible systems is in the
calculation of displacements. This application of the principle is often referred to as the
momentarea method.
Outline of Method
Assume that we must calculate the displacement of a given structure at location x
0
in the
structure. This displacement will be called (x
0
). This displacement can be a rectilinear
deflection or a rotation.
The method of virtual work is based on the definition of the following states:
1. A real state of deformation corresponding to a given action of interest. For example, the
real state of deformation could be the external and internal displacements of the structure
due to dead load, or due to a uniform drop in temperature. Quantities associated with the
real state of deformation will be written in green bold type.
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2. A virtual state of equilibrium corresponding to a unit load conjugate to (x
0
), called
Q(x
0
). The state of equilibrium consists of the unit load Q(x
0
), support reactions, and
internal forces. Quantities associated with the virtual state of equilibrium will be written
in regular weight type.
We first rewrite the mathematical statement of the principle of virtual work derived
previously:
Q
j
j
+ R
j
r
j
= N(x) (x)dx + V(x) (x)dx + M(x) (x)dx
All displacement quantities correspond to the real state of deformation; all force
quantities correspond to the virtual state of equilibrium. In particular, quantities (x)dx,
(x)dx, and (x)dx are the strains corresponding to the given action under
consideration, and quantities N(x), V(x), and M(x) are the sectional forces due to the unit
load conjugate to the deflection to be calculated.
Because we are dealing with a real state of deformation, the displacements of the
supports, r
j
, will all be zero. Because there is only one load, and this load is equal to one,
and the conjugate displacement to this load is (x), we can transform the equation into
the following one:
(x
0
) = N(x) (x)dx + V(x) (x)dx + M(x) (x)dx
The deflection of the structure at point x
0
can thus be calculated by evaluating the
integrals given on the righthand side of the equation.
Application of Method
The two primary applications of the method of virtual work are: (1) deflections of trusses,
and (2) deflections of beams and frames.
Deflections of Trusses
In trusses, we do not consider bending or shear in members. The previous equation thus
simplifies to:
(x
0
) = N(x) (x)dx
Furthermore, since force and strain are constant in a given truss member, we can rewrite
the equation as:
(x
0
) = (N
j
j
L
j
)
where N
j
is axial force in member j due to a unit virtual load conjugate to (x
0
),
j
is strain in member j corresponding to the real state of deformation,
L
j
is the length of member j,
and the summation is over all members in the truss.
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Deflections of Beams and Frames
Generally speaking, it is acceptable to neglect axial and shear deformation in beams and
frames of conventional proportions. The additional accuracy gained from considering
axial and shear deformation is usually negligible, provided the depth of members is small
compared to span length. This is generally the case in most situations.
If these assumptions are valid, then the equation of virtual work previously defined can be
simplified by setting (x) and (x)dx to zero for all x. We therefore obtain the following
equation:
(x
0
) = M(x) (x)dx
where M(x) is bending moment due to a unit virtual load conjugate to (x
0
) and (x) is
curvature corresponding to the real state of deformation.
For linear elastic structures, we often make use of the expression (x) = M(x)/(EI),
where M(x) is bending moment due to the real actions (not the same as the virtual
moment M(x)!!!), E is modulus of elasticity, and I is moment of inertia.
For linear thermal gradient (temperature varies linearly through the depth of a given
member), curvature is given by the following formula:
= (T
top
 T
bot
)
T
/h
where is curvature,
T
top
and T
bot
are temperatures at the top and bottom of the member, respectively,
T
is the coefficient of thermal expansion, and
h is the depth of the member.
Integration Tables
The definite integrals that must be calculated in applications of the method of virtual
work generally need not be evaluated by hand from first principles. It is valid to use
integration tables, which have been developed for many of the cases commonly
encountered in structural analysis.
In the examples that will be presented in the remainder of this section, integration tables
will be used where appropriate.
When the functions that must be integrated cannot be found in the integration tables, a
numerical method such as Simpson's rule is recommended.
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Examples of Calculation of Deflection in Flexible
Structures
Example 1: Deflection of a cantilever column due to uniform
horizontal load
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Example 2: Rotation of a cantilever column due to uniform
horizontal load
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Example 3: Deflection of leg of statically determinate portal frame
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Example 4: Deflection of frame due to thermal gradient
Example 5: Deflection of truss due to load
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Example 6: Deflection of truss due to temperature
Truss is the same as shown in the previous example. (Real) temperature change is given
individually for each member in the table below.
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Example 7: Variable moment of inertia
When moment of inertia varies within a given member, it is generally not practical to use
integration tables. In such cases, it is usually preferable to use numerical integration. The
following example shows how to proceed.
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It is clear from the information given that there is a significant variation in moment of
inertia I from the free end to the fixed end of the cantilever. To calculate curvature, we
divide the real moment M(x) by EI, which in this case is not a constant, but a function of
x. The resulting quotient, M(x)/(EI(x)), does not correspond to any of the functions given
in the integration tables. We must therefore proceed numerically.
We first generate numerical values for M(x)/(EI(x)) at a number of stations that is large
enough to give acceptable accuracy. These values are equal to the real curvature due to the
given load.
We then apply a unit virtual load conjugate to the deflection to be calculated, i.e. a vertical
load at the tip of the cantilever. We the calculate the values of the virtual moment due to
this load at the stations under consideration.
The numerical values of M(x)/(EI(x)) are multiplied by the values for virtual moment.
These products are in turn multiplied by the integration coefficients defined by Simpson's
rule. The results are added and the sum is multiplied by the integration subinterval (in
this case 12.5 m) divided by 3.
This example illustrates how the virtual moment diagram can be regarded as a weighting
function. If we want to change the deflection at the tip of the cantilever by changing the
stiffness (EI(x)) of the system, we would do best to change the stiffness where it will have
the most effect. Since the virtual moment decreases from left to right, it follows that
changing the stiffness of the beam near the tip of the cantilever will have relatively little
effect on the tip deflection, since any change in M(x)/(EI(x)) will be dampened out by the
virtual moment.
For example, if we increase stiffness at Station 3 by 100 percent, we decrease tip
deflection by only five percent. In comparison, increasing stiffness at Station 1 by 100
percent decreases tip deflection by 29 percent. This confirms that deflections can be
controlled most effectively by changing stiffness at those locations in the structure where
the virtual moment is greatest.
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The Force Method
The force method is used to calculate the response of statically
indeterminate structures to loads and/or imposed deformations.
The method is based on transforming a given structure into a
statically determinate primary system and calculating the magnitude
of statically redundant forces required to restore the geometric
boundary conditions of the original structure.
Contents
1. Outline of Method
2. A Simple Example
3. Observations
4. Selection of the Primary System
5. Examples
1. Outline of Method
The force method (also called the flexibility method) is used to calculate reactions an
internal forces in statically indeterminate structures due to loads and imposed
deformations. The steps in the force method are as follows:
1. Determine the degree of statical indeterminacy of the structure. Use the parameter n to
denote the degree of indeterminacy.
2. Transform the structure into a statically determinate system by releasing a number of
statical constraints equal to the degree of statical indeterminacy, n. This is accomplished
by releasing external support conditions or by creating internal hinges. The system thus
formed is called the primary system. Number the released constraints from 1 to n.
3. For a given released constraint j, introduce an unknown redundant force X
j
corresponding to the type and direction of the released constraint.
4. Apply the given loading or imposed deformation to the primary system. Use the
method of virtual work to calculate displacements at each of the released constraints in
the primary system. These displacements are called
10
,
20
, ...,
n0
.
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5. For a given released constraint j, apply a unit load X
j
= 1 to the primary system. Use the
method of virtual work to calculate displacements at each of the released constraints in
the primary system. These displacements are called
1j
,
2j
, ...,
nj
.
6. Solve for redundant forces X
1
through X
n
by imposing the compatibility conditions of
the original structure. These conditions transform the primary system back to the original
structure by finding the combination of redundant forces that make displacement at each
of the released constraints equal to zero. The conditions are expressed mathematically as
follows:
10
+ X
1
11
+ X
2
12
+ ... + X
n
1n
= 0
20
+ X
1
21
+ X
2
22
+ ... + X
n
2n
= 0
30
+ X
1
31
+ X
2
32
+ ... + X
n
3n
= 0
...
n0
+ X
1
n1
+ X
2
n2
+ ... + X
n
nn
= 0
This is a system of n linear equations in n unknowns. The displacements are all known.
The unknown forces are X
j
.
(It can thus be seen that the name force method was given to this method because its
primary computational task is to calculate unknown forces, i.e., the redundant forces X
1
through X
n
.)
7. Calculate force S at a given location in the structure using the following combination:
S = S
0
+ X
1
S
1
+ X
2
S
2
+ ... + X
n
S
n
where quantities Xj have been calculated from the n by n system of equations given in
Step 6,
S
0
is the force due to the given load or imposed deformation in the primary system, and
S
j
is the force due to X
j
= 1 applied to the primary system.
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2. A Simple Example
The principles defined in the previous section are illustrated using the following simple
example:
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3. Observations
Based on the preceding example, the following observations can be made:
Choice of Primary System
There is an infinite number of valid primary systems. The following figure shows the
original statically indeterminate system, the primary system used in the previous
example, and three additional primary systems with redundant forces.
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Although there is no limit on the number of feasible primary systems, not all primary
systems are equal in terms of the computational effort they require. This issue is discussed
in further detail in Section 4 of these notes.
Treatment of M
1
and M
2
Moments M
1
(x) are the moments in the statically determinate primary system due to the
redundant force X
1
= 1 applied as a load to the primary system. For the calculation of the
displacements that must be evaluated for the force method, M
1
(x) must be considered as
real moments in certain cases and virtual moments in others.
For example, for the calculation of
10
, the displacement in the direction of X
1
due to the
given loads, moments M
1
(x) are considered to be virtual moments. The cause of the
displacement is the given loads, so moments due to the given loads M
0
(x) are considered
to be real for this calculation. Moments M
1
(x) are produced by the unit moment X
1
= 1
conjugate to the displacement to be calculated, so M
1
(x) is taken as virtual.
For the calculation of
21
, however, moments M
1
(x) are considered to be real.
Displacement
21
is the displacement in the direction of X
2
due to a unit load applied in
the direction of X
1
. Since X
1
is the cause of the displacement to be calculated, moments
M
1
(x) are considered to be real moments. In this case, therefore, moments M
2
(x) are
considered to be virtual moments since they correspond to the unit load applied conjugate
to the displacement to be calculated, i.e., rotation in the direction of X
2
.
The preceding discussion, of course, applies equally to moments M
2
(x).
Symmetry of Flexibility Coefficients
For 1 i, j n, quantities
ij
are called flexibility coefficients. (This term is used because
the value of
ij
increases with increasing values of 1/(EI). Since EI is a measure of the
stiffness of a given member, 1/(EI) is a measure of its flexibility. Coefficients
ij
are thus a
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measure of the flexibility of a given member.) The matrix of flexibility coefficients
ij
is
called the flexibility matrix, where i and j vary from 1 to n.
Coefficient
ij
is defined as the displacement in the direction of X
i
due to a unit load in the
direction of X
j
. It can be expressed mathematically as:
ij
= M
i
(x) (M
j
(x)/(EI)) dx
where M
j
(x)/(EI) is the real curvature due to a unit load applied in the direction of X
j
and
M
i
(x) is the virtual moment due to a unit load applied in the direction of X
i
. This equation
can be rearranged as follows:
ij
= M
j
(x) (M
i
(x)/(EI)) dx
i.e.,
ij
is equivalent to the integral of the product of the curvature due to a unit load
applied in the direction of X
i
and the moment due to a unit load applied in the direction of
X
j
. This, however, is the definition of flexibility coefficient
ji
. It therefore follows that
ij
=
ji
for 1 i, j n.
In other words, the flexibility matrix is symmetrical about its main diagonal.
Solution
The solution of forces X
1
through X
n
requires inversion of the flexibility matrix. This can
be accomplished using any of the familiar methods of linear algebra.
It can be seen that, for n > 3, the computational effort becomes significant unless a
computer is used.
4. Selection of the Primary System
As stated previously, there is no limit to the number of different primary systems that can
be generated for a given structure. The choice of primary system, however, must ensure
that the primary system is stable. In addition, it is recommended that the primary system
be chosen to minimize computational effort and maximize computational accuracy.
Stability of Primary System
It is not sufficient merely to release the correct number of statical constraints in
generating a primary system. Care must be taken to ensure that the primary system is
stable. The following examples illustrate this proposition:
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Choice of Primary System to Reduce Computational Effort
The computational effort required in calculating the response of a given structure using
the force method can vary significantly depending on the choice of primary system. In this
regard, there are two issues to consider:
1. Select the primary system to permit the use of integration tables
2. Select the primary system to maximize the number of flexibility coefficients equal to
zero
These issues are illustrated in the following example:
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The structure under consideration is a fourspan continuous beam. The degree of
indeterminacy, n, is three. Two primary systems are illustrated. On the lefthand side of
the figure, the primary system is formed by releasing moment in the beam at the three
interior supports. On the righthand side of the figure, the primary system is formed by
releasing the vertical reaction at the three interior supports.
For each primary system, bending moments M
0
, M
1
, M
2
, and M
3
are drawn. The following
observations are made:
1. For the primary system on the lefthand side of the diagram, all integrations required
for calculating the coefficients can be performed using integration tables. This is not the
case for the system on the righthand side of the diagram, since function M
0
does not
correspond to a function in the tables. Coefficients
10
,
20
, and
30
must therefore be
calculated using numerical integration or other means.
2. For the primary system on the lefthand side of the diagram, several coefficients are
zero. On the righthand side, however, all coefficients are nonzero. The choice of primary
system on the left allowed the influence of a given redundant force X
j
to be restricted to a
relatively small portion of the structure (two spans in this particular case). For the
primary system on the righthand side, the influence of a given redundant force X
j
is felt
throughout the structure. The larger the number of zero coefficients, the easier the
solution.
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We can conclude that the primary system on the righthand side is preferable because it
reduces computational effort by allowing the use of integration tables and by limiting the
influence of the given redundant forces, thus increasing the number of zero coefficients .
5. Examples
Frame with vertical load
The task is to calculate bending moments in the frame given below due to the vertical load
shown. The example proceeds step by step according to the procedure given previously.
Steps 1, 2, and 3:
Step 4. One of the primary tasks in this step is to calculate moment diagrams in the
primary system M
0
(due to the given loads), M
1
(due to X
1
= 1), and M
2
(due to X
2
= 1).
Bending moment M
0
is shown below:
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M1:
M2:
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These moment diagrams are then used to calculate deflections
10
and
20
:
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Step 5. Calculate the coefficients of the flexibility matrix:
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Step 6. Set up the system of linear equations and solve it for X
1
and X
2
:
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Step 7. Draw the bending moments M for the original structure using the relation
M = M
0
+ X
1
M
1
+ X
2
M
2
Frame with settlement of a support
We will use the same structure as used for the previous example.
Steps 1, 2, and 3 are as outlined previously.
Step 4: Imposed deformations create no moments in statically determinate structures. A
support settlement is an imposed deformation, and the primary system is statically
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determinate. Moments M
0
are therefore zero. We calculate
10
and
20
from simple
geometrical considerations, as shown below.
Step 5. Because the primary system and redundant forces are identical to the ones
selected in the previous example, the flexibility coefficients will also be the same.
Step 6. We can also reuse the inverse flexibility matrix computed previously.
Step 7. The final moment M is equal to X
1
M
1
+ X
2
M
2
, since M
0
is zero.
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The Displacement Method
The displacement method is used to calculate the response of
statically indeterminate structures to loads and/or imposed
deformations. The method is based on calculating unknown
rotations at the joints of frames based on conditions of equilibrium
at the joints.
Contents
1. Introduction to the Displacement Method
2. Definitions and Sign Conventions
3. FixedEnd Moments
4. Stiffness Coefficients
5. Member End Moments
6. Equilibrium Conditions (Joint Translation not Considered)
7. Procedure (Joint Translation not Considered)
8. Examples (Joint Translation not Considered)
9. Joint Translation
10. Example (Joint Translation Considered)
1. Introduction to the Displacement Method
The force method, derived in a previous section, is a method for calculating the response
of statically indeterminate structures by which the unknowns are force quantities (the
redundant forces X
1
, X
2
, ..., X
n
) and the equations used to solve for the unknowns are
based on geometrical conditions (compatibility conditions at the location of each
redundant force).
It is possible to consider an analogous method for calculating the response of statically
indeterminate structures in which the unknowns are displacement quantities and the
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equations used to solve for the unknowns are based on statical conditions (equilibrium
conditions).
The displacement method, in the form that it will be presented here, is also referred to as
the slopedeflection method.
Outline of the Displacement Method
A more detailed stepbystep definition of the displacement method will be given later.
For now, however, it is helpful to outline the major elements of the method:
1. For a given structure and loading, consider the joints to be fully fixed against
translation and rotation.
2. Calculate the moments in each member of the structure due to the given loads,
assuming full fixity at the joints. These moments are called fixedend moments.
3. Calculate moments at the ends of each member due to unit displacements of the joints.
4. Express the total moment at each end of a given member as the sum of the fixedend
moments and the product of unknown joint displacements times the moments produced
by unit joint displacements, calculated in Step 3.
5. Generate an equation of moment equilibrium at each joint.
6. Solve the system of equations for the unknown joint displacements.
7. Calculate the member end moments using the expressions derived in Step 4 and the
values of joint displacements calculated in Step 6.
8. Calculate all remaining forces in the structure (shear forces and axial forces).
2. Definitions and Sign Conventions
One practical difference between the displacement method and the force method is that
strict adherence to a unique sign convention is required when using the displacement
method.
2.1 Numbering of Joints
The displacement method requires that all joints be numbered. Any numbering scheme
can be chosen. Internal hinges are not considered as joints and are not numbered.
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2.2 Member End Moments
We define member end moment M
ik
as the moment at joint i in the member ik. The first
subscript denotes the joint under consideration, the pair of subscripts denotes the
member under consideration. For example, M
23
would be the moment at the top of the
left column in the frame shown above, i.e., the moment at joint 2 in member 23. The
moments at the ends of member 23 are therefore called M
23
(at the top of the member)
and M
32
(at the bottom of the member).
The sign convention for member end moments M
ik
is counterclockwise positive when the
free body under consideration is a member. It follows from equilibrium considerations
that the sign convention for member end moments acting on a joint that has been
separated as a free body is clockwise positive.
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A moment externally applied as a load to joint i is called M
i
. Moment M
i
applied
externally to joint i as a load is counterclockwise positive. This type of moment often
occurs when the given structure contains a cantilever member. It is convenient to
calculate the cantilever moment, remove the cantilever, and apply the moment as an
external load at the joint opposite the free end of the cantilever, as shown in the following
figure:
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Although the cantilever moment is
2.3 Joint Rotations
Two types of rotation angles are considered. The angle of joint rotation,
i
, is the angle by
which joint i rotates relative to the undeformed structure, assuming that there is no
translational displacement of any of the joints in the structure. Joint rotation is defined as
counterclockwise positive. Positive joint rotations
i
and
k
are shown in the following
figure.
2.4 Member Rotations
The angle of member rotation,
ik
, is created by translational displacements of joints i and
k in member ik, assuming joint rotation is zero at both ends of the member. It is defined
as the angle at joint i between the line segment joining the displaced positions of joints i
and k and member ik in the undeformed structure. It follows that
ik
=
ki
. Member
rotation is defined as counterclockwise positive. Positive member rotations
ik
and
ki
are shown in the following figure.
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3. FixedEnd Moments
The displacement method takes as its starting point a structure in which all joints have
been fixed against translation and rotation. We define moment M
ik
0
as the moment
produced by the given loads acting on member ik, assuming joints i and k are fully fixed
against translation and rotation. Moment M
ik
0
is called a fixedend moment.
In most cases, it is practical to use the force method to calculate fixedend moments.
Solutions have been derived, however, for several frequently occurring cases, which are
given below (EI is constant along the given member in all cases):
Uniform load
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Concentrated load
Uniform Load (End Span with Pinned Support)
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Concentrated Load (End Span with Pinned Support)
Summary
The fixedend moments derived above are summarized in the following figure. The sign
convention is as defined in Section 2. Although the fixedend moments for these cases can
be derived from scratch using the force method, it is preferable to commit them to
memory.
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4. Stiffness Coefficients
Having developed expressions for end moments in members due to the given loads,
assuming fixedend conditions, we must now develop expressions for end moments due
to unit end rotations. These relations will then be used to develop a general expression for
total end moments, expressed as the sum of the fixedend moments and moments due to
rotations at the ends of the members.
The following cases will be considered:
1. Moments due to a unit joint rotation at one end of a beam, with opposite end fixed
2. Moments due to a unit joint rotation at one end of a beam, with opposite end pinned
3. Moments due to a unit joint rotation at one end of a beam with internal hinge, with
opposite end fixed
4. Moments due to a unit joint rotation at one end of a beam with internal hinge, with
opposite end pinned
5. Moments due to a unit member rotation, with both ends fixed against joint rotation
6. Moments due to a unit member rotation, with one end fixed and one end pinned for
joint rotation
These results will be derived using the force method. We will use the same primary system
used to calculate the expressions derived previously for fixedend moments. The system,
flexibility matrix, and inverse flexibility matrix are shown below. In all cases, we will
assume that EI is constant.
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We will use the following notation:
s
ik
: Quantity s refers to the moment at a given end of the member due to a unit rotation
applied at the same end of the member. Quantity s
ik
is thus the moment at end i of
member ik due to unit rotation applied at end i. Quantity s
ki
is the moment at end k of
member ik due to a unit rotation applied at end k.
t
ik
: Quantity t refers to the moment at a given end of the member due to a unit rotation
applied at the opposite end of the member. Quantity t
ik
is thus the moment at end i of
member ik due to a unit rotation applied at end k. Quantity t
ki
is the moment at end k of
member ik due to a unit rotation applied at end i.
4.1 Moments due to a unit joint rotation at one end of a beam, with
opposite end fixed
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4.2 Moments due to a unit joint rotation at one end of a beam, with
opposite end pinned
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4.3 Moments due to a unit joint rotation at one end of a beam with
internal hinge, with opposite end fixed
4.4 Moments due to a unit joint rotation at one end of a beam with
internal hinge, with opposite end pinned
It is clear from the figure above that the member provides no restraint to an imposed
rotation applied at end i. Moments s
ik
and t
ki
are thus both zero.
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4.5 Moments due to a unit member rotation, with both ends fixed
against joint rotation
In the figure above, the quantities s
ik
, t
ik
, s
ki
, and t
ki
refer to the stiffness coefficients
developed in Section 4.1.
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4.6 Moments due to a unit member rotation, with one end fixed and
one end pinned for joint rotation
In the figure above, s
ik
, t
ik
, s
ki
, and t
ki
refer to the stiffness coefficients developed in Section
4.2. Quantities t
ik
, s
ki
, and t
ki
are zero.
5. Member End Moments
We combine the expressions developed for fixedend moments and moments due to joint
and member rotation to give total member end moments. The general expressions are as
follows for member ik:
M
ik
= M
ik
0
+ s
ik
i
+ t
ik
k
(s
ik
+ t
ik
)
ik
, and
M
ki
= M
ki
0
+ t
ki
i
+ s
ki
k
(s
ki
+ t
ki
)
ki
Using the first equation as an example, the individual terms are defined as follows:
M
ik
0
is the fixedend moment at end i
s
ik
i
is the moment at end i due to a rotation of
i
applied at joint i
t
ik
k
is the moment at end i due to a rotation of
k
applied at joint k
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(s
ik
+ t
ik
)
ik
is the moment at end i due to a member rotation of
ik
The equation thus gives moment due to all possible causes: moment due to load assuming
fixed ends, plus moments due to all possible rotations of joints and member.
In the preceding expressions, fixedend moments and stiffness coefficients s and t must
correspond to the particular conditions at the joints of the member under consideration.
In general, member ends are considered to be fixed for all cases except cases of exterior
members with a pin or roller at the exterior support.
6. Equilibrium Conditions (Joint Translation not
Considered)
The preceding expressions for member end forces are general, in the sense that they
consider the effect of both joint rotation and member rotation. In developing the
remaining steps of the displacement method, we will first proceed under the assumption
that the joints do not displace horizontally or vertically, i.e., that joint translation can be
neglected. For structures in which axial deformation of members is small compared to
flexural deformation, this assumption is often valid.
For example, we can consider joint "j" between beam and column in the two structures
shown in the figure above. In both structures, vertical displacement joint "j" is prevented
by the column, which we have assumed not to deform axially. In the structure on the left,
the left end of the beam is pinned and hence cannot displace horizontally. This condition,
together with the axial assumed axial rigidity of the of the beam, ensures that joint "j"
does not displace horizontally. We say that the frame on the left is braced against sway.
For this frame,
ik
will be zero for all members ik, and we can thus simplify the
expressions for member end moments to the following equations:
M
ik
= M
ik
0
+ s
ik
i
+ t
ik
k
, and
M
ki
= M
ki
0
+ t
ki
i
+ s
ki
k
In the structure on the right in the figure above, the pin at the left end of the beam is
replaced by a roller. As shown by the displaced shape, joint "j" is now free to displace
horizontally. We say that this frame is unbraced against sway. It is clear from the figure
that the column can undergo a member rotation, and thus the full expressions for
member end moments, including
ik
, must be used.
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Assuming that the joints of the structure cannot translate, we can therefore formulate
equations of equilibrium at each joint at which an unknown joint rotation is present. For a
given joint "i", the equation of equilibrium is as follows:
M
i
M
ik
= 0
where moment M
i
is an external moment (considered as a load) applied at joint i and M
ik
are member end moments incident at joint i. Summation is over the index k. These
principles are illustrated in the following figure:
At Joint 2, moment M
2
is applied externally. In accordance with the sign convention
defined previously, it is shown as counterclockwise positive. The equation of equilibrium
at Joint 2 is thus:
M
2
(M
21
+ M
23
+ M
24
) = 0
External supports are defined as supports with only one incident member. Equilibrium
conditions are not considered at fixed external supports, since there is no joint rotation at
these locations. Equilibrium conditions are not considered at external supports with pins
or rollers, since there moment is zero at these locations.
7. Procedure (Joint Translation not Considered)
Assuming joints do not translate, the steps of the displacement method are as follows:
1. Number the joints
2. Identify unknown joint rotations
3. Compute member end moments for all members using the following expressions:
M
ik
= M
ik
0
+ s
ik
i
+ t
ik
k
and M
ki
= M
ki
0
+ t
ki
i
+ s
ki
k
4. Compute external moments applied at the joints, M
i
5. For each joint corresponding to an unknown joint rotation, formulate an equation of
equilibrium
6. Solve the equations of equilibrium for unknown joint rotations
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7. Calculate member end moments using the equations developed in Step 3 and the
solution obtained in Step 6
8. Calculate shear forces using conditions of equilibrium in a given member
9. Calculate axial forces using conditions of equilibrium at a given joint
8. Examples (Joint Translation not Considered)
Example 1
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Example 2
The following example illustrates the use of the displacement method for problems with
more than one unknown, as well as the treatment of cantilever members.
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9. Joint Translation
The method previously developed for structures braced against sway can be expanded to
cover the case of structures that are not braced against sway. In such structures, we must
consider both joint rotations and member rotations, .
We will first introduce a procedure that will allow us to determine the number of
independent member rotations that must be considered in a given structure. The
procedure, illustrated in the figure below, is as follows:
1. Insert a hinge at each joint in the structure
2. Introduce forces to restore stability to the system
The number of forces thus determined is the number of independent member rotations
that must be considered in the solution.
The independent member rotations are defined by examination of the displacements of
the structure with hinges. In the upper structure in the figure above, for example,
rotations
31
and
42
are equal. It is thus necessary only to include one of the two as an
unknown. For example, if we consider
31
to be the independent unknown member
rotation, then we would express the end moments in member 24 as functions of
31
and
not of
42
.
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When inclined members are present, the relations linking member rotations can become
somewhat more complex, as illustrated in the example below. In this case, angle is a
linear function of , so there is only one independent member rotation.
Once the independent member rotations have been identified, it is necessary to express all
other member rotations as functions of the independent member rotations. Following
this, expressions for member end moments must be established for all members, using
the complete expressions developed previously and repeated here:
M
ik
= M
ik
0
+ s
ik
i
+ t
ik
k
(s
ik
+ t
ik
)
ik
, and
M
ki
= M
ki
0
+ t
ki
i
+ s
ki
k
(s
ki
+ t
ki
)
ki
In the above expressions, for member ik, if
ik
is not one of the independent member
rotations, then it must be replaced by a linear combination of independent rotations.
Equilibrium Conditions
Since the number of equilibrium conditions based on joint rotations is equal in number to
the number of unknown joint rotations, additional equilibrium conditions are required if
member rotations must be considered. We establish these conditions with the help of the
principle of virtual work.
We proceed as follows:
1. Introduce hinges at the ends of all members and draw in member end moments.
2. Displace the structure thus modified, with external load, according to a given
independent member rotation. (Because of the way the hinges were selected, the joints do
not translate. The work done by moments at the joints is thus zero.)
3. Calculate total virtual work performed by external loads and member end moments. In
accordance with the principle of virtual work, equate the total virtual work to zero. This
equation is an additional equilibrium condition.
These principles are illustrated in the following figure.
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We can now define the steps for calculations of structures that are not braced against
sway.
Procedure
1. Number the joints
2. Identify unknown joint rotations
2A. Identify independent member rotations and express all other member rotations as
functions of the independent rotations
3. Compute member end moments for all members using the following expressions:
M
ik
= M
ik
0
+ s
ik
i
+ t
ik
k
(s
ik
+ t
ik
)
ik
, and M
ki
= M
ki
0
+ t
ki
i
+ s
ki
k
(s
ki
+ t
ki
)
ki
4. Compute external moments applied at the joints, M
i
5. For each joint corresponding to an unknown joint rotation, formulate an equation of
equilibrium
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5A. For each independent member rotation, formulate an equation of equilibrium based
on the principle of virtual work.
6. Solve the equations of equilibrium for unknown joint rotations and member rotations
7. Calculate member end moments using the equations developed in Step 3 and the
solution obtained in Step 6
8. Calculate shear forces using conditions of equilibrium in a given member
9. Calculate axial forces using conditions of equilibrium at a given joint
10. Example (Joint Translation Considered)
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The Method of Moment Distribution
The method of moment distribution is an application of the
displacement method that uses a method of successive
approximations to solve for the unknown joint rotations, rather
than matrix methods.
Contents
1. Basic Concepts
2. Procedure (No Joint Translation)
3. Example (No Joint Translation)
4. Simplified Procedure (With Joint Translation)
5. FixedEnd Moments Due to Imposed Translation of Joints
6. General Procedure (With Joint Translation)
1. Basic Concepts
The method of moment distribution is a refinement of the displacement method
presented previously, by which member end moments are calculated based on a
procedure of successive approximations rather than the solution of a matrix equation.
The method was developed by Hardy Cross (1936) and was the primary method of
analyzing structures that respond primarily in bending until the availability of computer
software for structural analysis in the 1970s.
To define the procedure to be followed in calculating the response of structures using
moment distribution, it is first necessary to examine in greater detail the state of
equilibrium and deformation at the joints of a given structure.
We will first develop the method of moment distribution assuming the joints do not
translate.
Restraint of Joints and Unbalanced Moments
In the displacement method, we derived an expression for member end moments, which
is repeated here:
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M
ik
= M
ik
0
+ s
ik
i
+ t
ik
k
(s
ik
+ t
ik
)
ik
Since we have assumed the joints do not translate, it follows that the contribution of
member rotation,
(s
ik
+ t
ik
)
ik
, can be set to zero. We are therefore left with the following expression:
M
ik
= M
ik
0
+ s
ik
i
+ t
ik
k
If we make the further assumption that the joints do not rotate, then we can set
i
and
k
to zero. The member end moments can therefore be written as follows:
M
ik
= M
ik
0
What is left, therefore, are the fixedend moments.
We now investigate the state of equilibrium at joint i. We begin by adding the member
end moments M
ik
for all members incident at joint i. (The sign convention developed for
the displacement method, i.e., counterclockwise positive, must be followed.) The total
moment applied to the joint will thus be M
ik
0
, where the summation is over all
members incident at joint i. (The minus sign is used because moments applied to the
joints are equal and opposite to the member end moments.) In general, this sum will not
be equal to zero. To establish equilibrium at joint i, therefore, we have to add a moment
equal and opposite to M
ik
0
. We call this moment M
i
0
:
M
i
0
= M
ik
0
(Equation 1)
where the summation is over all members incident at joint i. We call M
i
0
the unbalanced
moment at joint i. It is the moment that we have to apply at joint i to maintain
equilibrium with the fixedend moments, and hence to prevent the joint from rotating.
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These concepts are illustrated in the following figure:
The structure shown is braced against sway, i.e., the joints cannot translate. We can
sketch the deflected shape of the structure for the given load, showing clearly that we will
get a rotation at joint 2. If we assume that joint 2 is restrained from rotating, however,
members 12 and 23 effectively have fixed ends at joint 2, which means that moments
M
21
and M
23
will be fixedend moments. The sum of the fixedend moments applied to
joint 2 is 112 kN m clockwise. To establish equilibrium, therefore, we must apply
moment M
2
0
at joint 2 equal and opposite to this moment, i.e. 112 kN m counter
clockwise.
Restoring Equilibrium at Joints
Since equilibrium must be maintained, we must somehow provide moment M
i
0
at joint i.
This moment cannot be applied externally, i.e., the joint cannot remain "artificially"
locked. We can, however, generate M
i
0
by allowing joint i to rotate.
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In the development of the displacement method, we developed relations between the
angle of rotation at the end of a given member and the moments at the ends of the
members. We will use these relations to determine a set of member end moments M
ik
that
produce equilibrium at joint i. When joint i is unlocked, it will rotate through angle
i
to
establish equilibrium. The relations between rotation and member end moment will then
be used to develop expressions for member end moments M
ik
as functions of the unknown
joint rotation
i
. The condition of equilibrium at joint i is used to eliminate the parameter
i
, which allows us to express M
ik
as a function of the known unbalanced moment M
i
0
alone. These expressions will be derived in the remainder of this subsection.
Starting from a system in which all joints have been "locked", i.e., in which rotation has
been restrained at all joints, and external load has been applied, we proceed to "unlock"
joint i. All other joints remain locked. After joint i has been unlocked, it rotates by angle
i
to restore equilibrium.
Member end moments M
ik
produced by rotation
i
can be expressed as follows:
M
ik
= s
ik
i
+ t
ik
k
No fixedend moment has been included since we are considering only the effect of
rotation
i
. Since all joints other than joint i remain unblocked,
k
must be zero. The
expression therefore simplifies to:
M
ik
= s
ik
i
(Equation 2)
So the total moment applied at joint i due to rotation
i
is equal and opposite to the sum of
the member end moments incident at the joint, i.e., M
ik
. Using Equation 2, this sum
can be expressed in terms of
i
and the member stiffness coefficients:
M
ik
= s
ik
i
=
i
s
ik
(Equation 3)
where the summation is over index k, i.e., over all members incident at joint i, and the
minus sign is used again because joint moments are equal and opposite to member end
moments.
Since the joint must be in equilibrium, the total moment at joint i due to rotation and due
to fixedend moments must be zero:
M
ik
M
ik
0
= 0, (Equation 4)
where the first term is moment at joint i due to rotation
i
and the second term is moment
at joint i due to fixedend moments. Substituting Equations 1 and 3 into Equation 4, we
obtain
i
s
ik
M
i
0
= 0
We can isolate
i
in the above equation, yielding
i
= (M
i
0
) / s
ik
(Equation 5)
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Substituting this expression for
i
into Equation 2 yields the following expression for
member end moment M
ik
:
M
ik
= M
i
0
(s
ik
/ s
ik
) (Equation 6)
We define the quantity s
ik
/ s
ik
to be the distribution factor, and give it the symbol
ik
.
Equation 6 gives member end moment due to rotation
i
. To obtain the total member end
moment, we must include the fixedend moment at the end of the member. Total member
end moment is thus given by the following expression:
M
ik
= M
ik
0
M
i
0
(s
ik
/ s
ik
)
These concepts are illustrated in the following figure:
CarryOver
In the preceding subsection, we dealt with member end moments at end "i" of member i
k, i.e., the end where rotation occurs. From our previous study of stiffness coefficients, we
know that, in member ik, rotation at joint i can produce moments at the opposite end,
i.e., at joint k. In the previous subsection, we developed expressions for member moments
M
ik
that did not require knowledge of
i
. We will now do the same for member end
moments M
ki
.
Assuming joint i has been unlocked, and all other joints remain locked, we are interested
in calculating moment M
ki
, i.e., the moment in member ik at the end opposite to joint i.
We begin with the general expression for this member end moment:
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M
ki
= M
ki
0
+ t
ki
i
+ s
ki
k
(s
ki
+ t
ki
)
ki
Since joint translation has been excluded, we can eliminate the terms involving member
rotation from the above equation. In addition, since we are dealing only with the effects
of rotation
i
, we can set the fixedend moment to zero. Finally, since
k
is zero (we have
assumed that joint k is still locked), the above equation can be simplified to the following
equation:
M
ki
= t
ki
i
We know, however, that M
ik
= s
ik
i
(Equation 2). Substituting for
i
, therefore, we
obtain:
M
ki
= M
ik
(t
ki
/ s
ik
)
Quantity t
ki
/ s
ik
is referred to as the carryover factor, and is called
ik
. We thus have an
expression for member end moments M
ki
as a function of known moments only.
In the example given above, the carryover factors would be as follows:
21
= t
12
/ s
21
= 0, since t
12
= 0 (there is a hinge at joint 1)
23
= t
32
/ s
23
= 0, since t
32
= 0 (there is a hinge at joint 3)
24
= t
42
/ s
24
= 0.5, since t
42
= 2EI/L and s
24
= 4EI/L
These observations can be generalized to the following statements for members with
constant EI:
The carryover factor to a fixed joint or a locked joint is 0.5.
The carryover factor to a joint where moment is zero (pin or roller at the end of a
member) is 0.
Outline of a Method
The preceding expressions have been developed for one simple situation, namely, a
loaded structure in which all joints have been artificially locked and a given joint (say joint
i) is then unlocked. The method allows moments M
ik
and M
ki
to be calculated for this
situation.
This is far from a complete solution. Once this procedure has been carried out, however,
we can lock joint i up again and repeat the procedure at another joint, say joint j. The
unbalanced moment at joint j is defined more generally as the total moment causing
disequilibrium at the joint. This may include fixedend moments M
jk
0
, but can also
include any additional moments that have been carried over from joint i in the previous
step. Because all joints are locked except joint j, the expressions developed above for
moments in members incident at joint i can be used for members incident at joint j.
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We therefore have the elements of an iterative method, in which we unlock a given joint,
distribute a moment that equilibrates the unbalanced moment, carry over to the opposite
ends of the members framing in that the joint, lock the joint up again, and then repeat
these steps at a different joint.
2. Procedure (No Joint Translation)
Based on the concepts developed above, we can now define the procedure for calculating
the response of structures that are braced against sway:
1. Number the joints
2. Establish that the structure is indeed braced against sway using the considerations
presented for the displacement method.
3. Calculate all distribution factors
ik
= s
ik
/ s
ik
4. Calculate all carryover factors
ik
= t
ki
/ s
ik
5. Calculate fixedend moments M
ik
0
.
6. At a given joint i, proceed as follows:
(a) Calculate the unbalanced moment M
i
0
= M
ik
0
(b) Distribute this moment to establish equilibrium at the joint: M
ik
= M
i
0
ik
(c) Carry M
ik
over to the opposite ends of the members framing into joint i: M
ki
= M
ik
ik
7. At another joint j, proceed as follows:
(a) Calculate the unbalanced moment M
j
0
. If this is the first time joint j has been
unlocked, the
unbalanced moment will be the sum of fixedend moments M
jk
0
. If this is the
second or greater
time that the joint has been unlocked, the unbalanced moment will be the sum of
moments M
jk
carried over from adjacent joints since the previous iteration.
(b) Distribute this moment to establish equilibrium at the joint: M
jk
= M
j
0
jk
(c) Carry M
jk
over to the opposite ends of the members framing into joint j: M
kj
= M
jk
jk
8. Repeat Step 6 for other joints until the desired degree of accuracy has been achieved.
9. Calculate shear forces, axial forces, and reactions.
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It is generally preferable to begin the process at the joint with the largest unbalanced
moment.
3. Example (No Joint Translation)
The following example illustrates the procedure derived above. Distribution factors are
shown in boxes attached to members at the corresponding joints. One horizontal line
denotes that the joint is in equilibrium. For a given iteration, therefore, the unbalanced
moment to consider is the sum of the moments written in after the most recent horizontal
line was drawn.
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Comments on the iteration are as follows:
Iteration 1, Joint 2: Unbalanced moment = 100 + 267 = 167 kN m
Iteration 2, Joint 3: Unbalanced moment = 267 23.9 = 290.0 kN m, where the
moment 23.9 was carried over from Joint 2.
Iteration 3, Joint 2: Unbalanced moment = 56.0 kN m. This moment was carried over
from Joint 3.
Iteration 4, Joint 3: Unbalanced moment = 8.0 kN m. This moment was carried over
from Joint 2.
Carryover from Joint 3 to Joint 2 after this iteration is 1.5 kN m. Say stop here.
Bending moment, shear, and axial force diagrams have not been drawn in this example. A
procedure similar to that used for the displacement method should be followed to draw
these diagrams.
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4. Simplified Procedure (With Joint Translation)
As with the displacement method, analysis of systems that are not braced against sway
using moment distribution requires special consideration. We will develop the major
aspects of this method using the simple example shown below.
We first identify the independent member rotations, following a procedure similar to that
developed for the displacement method. In this case, there is one independent member
rotation, corresponding to horizontal displacement of Joints 2 and 3. So sway must be
considered.
We will solve the problem in two parts. The given structure to analyze, (a), is expressed as
the sum of systems (b) and (c). System (b) is the structure with the given loads and an
additional load, F
10
, which prevents horizontal displacement of joints 2 and 3. System (c)
is the structure loaded with a force of magnitude F
11
, opposite in direction to the
corresponding force in System (b).
It is clear that (b) + (c) will be equal to (a) provided F
10
= F
11
. We can therefore solve
System (b), solve System (c), and combine the results of both analyses to give the correct
results for the original system (a).
System (b)
Because force F
10
effectively braces the structure against sway, we can calculate moments
in the structure using the method of moment distribution for structures with no joint
translation. The member end moments calculated in this way will be called M
ik,0
.
We then calculate unknown force F
10
using the equations of equilibrium or the principle
of virtual work (the latter method is usually more convenient).
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System (c)
We wish to use the method of moment distribution to calculate moments due to the load
F
11
applied in the direction opposite to the force required to restrain sway in System (b).
Provided F
11
= F
10
, the combination of Systems (b) and (c) will give the solution to the
original structure and loading. There is no direct way, however, to calculate the response
of a given structure to this type of load using moment distribution.
We can, however, calculate fixedend moments due to an imposed displacement in the
direction of this force. The calculation of these fixedend moments is described in Section
5 of this article. We therefore impose a displacement
1
in the direction of F
11
and calculate
the moments of the structure thus produced. The method of moment distribution for
structures with no joint translation can be used for this calculation. The method is valid in
this case since the joint displacements are known and fixed. Thus, even though the system
undergoes member rotations , all these rotations are known. The member rotations thus
do not increase the number of unknowns in the system.
Once the moments due to
1
have been calculated, we can calculate force F*
11
required for
equilibrium using equations of equilibrium or the principle of virtual work. The
magnitude of force F*
11
corresponds to the magnitude of the displacement
1
, which was
arbitrarily chosen. The required force F
11
can therefore be expressed as a constant c
1
times
F*
11
:
F
11
= c
1
F*
11
But we know that F
10
must equal F
11
. We can therefore solve for c
1
as follows:
c
1
= F
10
/F*
11
Moments in the original system can therefore be calculated using the following equation:
M
tot
= M
System (b)
+ c
1
M
System (c)
The method described here is valid for systems that have one independent member
rotation. For two or more independent joint rotations, it is necessary to calculate
moments for each independent displacement of the system and to solve a matrix equation
for c
1
, c
2
, etc. The required procedure is described in standard texts on structural analysis
such as the text by Gere (1963).
5. FixedEnd Moments Due to Imposed Translation
of Joints
Fixedend moments due to imposed translation of joints can be obtained directly from the
stiffness coefficients derived previously for member rotation. Instead of a unit angle of
member rotation = 1, we now have a member rotation equal to imposed translation
divided by span, /L.
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6. Example (With Joint Translation)
We will now solve the example presented previously. It is repeated in the figure below for
convenience:
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References
Cross, H. 1936. Analysis of Continuous Frames by Distributing FixedEnd Moments.
Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers 96 (Paper no. 1793).
Gere, J. M. 1963. Moment Distribution. New York: Van Nostrand.
END OF THEORY OF STRUCTURES NOTES
EXCLUSIELY COMPILED FOR OUR BELOVED STUDENTS