RAPID analysis of variable stiffness beams and plates: Legendre polynomial triple-product formulation

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Numerical integration techniques are commonly employed to formulate the system matrices encountered in the analysis of variable stiffness beams and plates using a Ritz based approach. Computing these integrals accurately is often computationally costly. Herein, a novel alternative is presented, the Recursive Analytical Polynomial Integral Definition (RAPID) formulation. The RAPID formulation offers a significant improvement in the speed of analysis, achieved by reducing the number of numerical integrations that are performed by an order of magnitude. A common Legendre Polynomial (LP) basis is employed for both trial functions and stiffness/load variations leading to a common form for the integrals encountered. The LP basis possesses algebraic recursion relations that allow these integrals to be reformulated as triple-products with known analytical solutions, defined compactly using the Wigner (3j) coefficient. The satisfaction of boundary conditions, calculation of derivatives, and transformation to other bases is achieved through combinations of matrix multiplication, with each matrix representing a unique boundary condition or physical effect, therefore permitting application of the RAPID approach to a variety of problems. Indicative performance studies demonstrate the advantage of the RAPID formulation when compared to direct analysis using MATLAB’s “integral” and “integral2”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-100
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering
Issue number1
Early online date3 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2017

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Composites Institute ACCIS


  • Structures
  • Composites
  • Integration


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