A formulation for the elastic analysis of bending plates, using the finite element method, is presented. A theory of behaviour that considers both bending and shear modes, as well as deformation along the thickness of the plate, is introduced. A better estimate for the variables present in the three-dimensional problem is then obtained. The kinematic variables associated with bending and with shear are approximated independently. This allows for the recovery of classical first-order theories and eliminates locking phenomena. Inter-element continuity conditions are reformulated by generalizing the nature of the finite element models, thus leading to meshes wherein both compatible and equilibrated elements may co-exist. The theory of behaviour, the variables and the degree of the approximation can all be specified at the element level, with the latter having any number of straight or curved sides. Exact solutions are used in the computation of the are (or line) integrals associated with the formulation. The governing system is solved by the Gauss method, taking advantage of both symmetry and block sparsity. The values of each variable may be presented through a post-processing facility by means of graphic outputs or tablesAvailable from Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia, Servico de Informacao e Documentacao, Av. D. Carlos I, 126, 1200 Lisboa / FCT - Fundação para o Ciência e a TecnologiaSIGLEPTPortuga
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