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By Iain Alasdair MacLeod

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Regarding the problems of computational tractability and predictability of the structural response, it is of interest that different kinds of structures are susceptible to different mechanisms and types of collapse (see Chapter 2). The latter, in turn, involve varying degrees of computational effort. The amenability to computational treatment in general, and to a probabilistic approach in particular, seems greatest for structures where local failure is unlikely to result in major impact incidents, for instance structures that are susceptible to zipper-type collapse but not to pancake-type collapse.

This ratio decreases — and thus the structure becomes more susceptible to a pancake-type collapse — with an increase in slenderness. Because slenderness facilitates failure from overturning and instability, it is a property that also favours domino-type and instability-type collapses. In these cases, it is the slenderness of individual structures or elements, not that of the overall structure, that is of main concern. 7 Structuredness A further collapse-promoting structural feature appearing in some of the types of collapse discussed is the structuredness (as opposed to compactness) of a structure.

Based thereupon, and after stipulating an allowable probability of failure, the design values for actions and resistances are computed using probabilistic methods. Design using these values promises a uniform level of safety. Such an approach is based on a mathematically sophisticated and sound foundation and is, as it seems, correct. It is reflected in the design codes by partial safety factors and a series of load combination schemes. The application of the accompanying code rules is often cumbersome due to the multitude of load combinations to be considered.

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