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Modern Statistical Models and Methods for Estimating Fatigue-Life and Fatigue-Strength Distributions from Experimental Data

by   William Q. Meeker, et al.

Engineers and scientists have been collecting and analyzing fatigue data since the 1800s to ensure the reliability of life-critical structures. Applications include (but are not limited to) bridges, building structures, aircraft and spacecraft components, ships, ground-based vehicles, and medical devices. Engineers need to estimate S-N relationships (Stress or Strain versus Number of cycles to failure), typically with a focus on estimating small quantiles of the fatigue-life distribution. Estimates from this kind of model are used as input to models (e.g., cumulative damage models) that predict failure-time distributions under varying stress patterns. Also, design engineers need to estimate lower-tail quantiles of the closely related fatigue-strength distribution. The history of applying incorrect statistical methods is nearly as long and such practices continue to the present. Examples include treating the applied stress (or strain) as the response and the number of cycles to failure as the explanatory variable in regression analyses (because of the need to estimate strength distributions) and ignoring or otherwise mishandling censored observations (known as runouts in the fatigue literature). The first part of the paper reviews the traditional modeling approach where a fatigue-life model is specified. We then show how this specification induces a corresponding fatigue-strength model. The second part of the paper presents a novel alternative modeling approach where a fatigue-strength model is specified and a corresponding fatigue-life model is induced. We explain and illustrate the important advantages of this new modeling approach.


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