Coefficient of variation of shear strength of rc beams and size effect

Wen Luo, Jia Liang Le, Mohammad Rasoolinejad, Zdeně P. Bažant*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In shear failure, reinforced concrete (RC) beams always develop, in a stable manner, a finite length crack before the maximum load is reached. Thus, the crack tip location cannot sample a large volume of material with random strength because a small region in which the crack tip can lie is fixed by fracture mechanics. Consequently, the size effect on the mean strength cannot be statistical. It must be predominantly energetic or deterministic and, thus, must follow the Type-2 size effect law. What has not yet been clarified is the size effect on the coefficient of variation (CoV) of beam strength, which is important for anchoring the probability distribution of shear strength and choosing the safety factor. In this study, we run thousands of explicit finite element simulations using Abaqus-Explicit version 6.14 with microplane model M7, each with a random input of material strength and Young's modulus for each finite element in the structure. The CoV of beam strength is found to decrease with the structure size when geometrically similar beams are compared, although the CoV tends to a constant for large sizes. This size effect on the CoV is similar to that in ductile failure governed by a Gaussian distribution of strength and contrasts with that in brittle failures following the Weibull distribution, for which the CoV is size independent. To characterize the size dependence of the strength CoV, an analytical formula is developed based on the statistics of the sample quantiles of a series of random variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0001879
JournalJournal of Engineering Mechanics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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