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Session 1

1.1 Introduction
Computer programs for plastic analysis of framed structures have
been in existence for some time. Some programs, such as those developed
earlier by, among others, Wang,1 Jennings and Majid,2 and
Davies,3 and later by Chen and Sohal,4 perform plastic analysis for
frames of considerable size. However, most of these computer programs
were written as specialist programs specifically for linear or
nonlinear plastic analysis. Unlike linear elastic analysis computer
programs, which are commonly available commercially, computer
programs for plastic analysis are not as accessible. Indeed, very few,
if any, are being used for daily routine design in engineering offices.
This may be because of the perception by many engineers that the
plastic design method is used only for certain types of usually simple
structures, such as beams and portal frames. This perception discourages
commercial software developers from developing computer
programs for plastic analysis because of their limited applications.
Contrary to the traditional thinking that plastic analysis is performed
either by simple manual methods for simple structures or by
sophisticated computer programs written for more general applications,
this book intends to introduce general plastic analysis methods,
which take advantage of the availability of modern computational
tools, such as linear elastic analysis programs and spreadsheet applications.
These computational tools are in routine use in most engineering
design offices nowadays. The powerful number-crunching
capability of these tools enables plastic analysis and design to be performed
for structures of virtually any size.
The amount of computation required for structural analysis is
largely dependent on the degree of statical indeterminacy of the structure. For
determinate structures, use of equilibrium conditions
alone will enable the reactions and internal forces to be determined.
For indeterminate structures, internal forces are calculated by considering
both equilibrium and compatibility conditions, through which
some methods of structural analysis suitable for computer applications
have been developed. The use of these methods for analyzing
indeterminate structures is usually not simple, and computers are
often used for carrying out these analyses. Most structures in practice
are statically indeterminate.
Structural analysis, whether linear or nonlinear, is mostly based
on matrix formulations to handle the enormous amount of numerical
data and computations. Matrix formulations are suitable for computer
implementation and can be applied to two major methods of structural
analysis: the flexibility (or force) method and the stiffness (or displacement)
The flexibility method is used to solve equilibrium and compatibility
equations in which the reactions and member forces are
formulated as unknown variables. In this method, the degree of statical
indeterminacy needs to be determined first and a number of
unknown forces are chosen and released so that the remaining structure,
called the primary structure, becomes determinate. The primary
structure under the externally applied loads is analyzed and

its displacement is calculated. A unit value for each of the chosen

released forces, called redundant forces, is then applied to the primary
structure (without the externally applied loads) so that, from
the force-displacement relationship, displacements of the structure
are calculated. The structure with each of the redundant forces is
called the redundant structure. The compatibility conditions based
on the deformation between the primary structure and the redundant
structures are used to set up a matrix equation from which the
redundant forces can be solved.