The linear elastic analysis of cracked bodies is a Twentieth Century development, with the first
papers appearing in 1907, but it was not until the introduction of the stress intensity factor concept in 1957 that
widespread application to practical engineering problems became possible. Linear elastic fracture mechanics
(LEFM) developed rapidly in the 1960s, with application to brittle fracture and fatigue crack growth. The first
application of finite elements to the calculation of stress intensity factors for two dimensional cases was in 1969.
Finite element analysis had a significant influence on the development of LEFM. Corner point singularities were
investigated in the late 1970s. It was soon found that the existence of corner point effects made interpretation
of calculated stress intensity factors difficult and their validity questionable. In 1998 it was shown that the
assumption that crack growth is in mode I leads to geometric constraints on permissible fatigue crack paths.
Current open questions are. The need for a new field parameter, probably a singularity, to describe the stresses
at surfaces. How best to allow for the influence of corner point singularities in three dimensional numerical
predictions of fatigue crack paths. Adequate description of fatigue crack path stability.
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