There has always been some confusion about the separate roles of fracture mechanics and failure criteria for homogeneous and isotropic materials. To clarify this situation the historical development of fracture mechanics is briefly reviewed so that it can be seen side by side with the failure theory for the homogeneous materials discussed in the book. To further amplify the differences and the unique capabilities of both disciplines, two typical problems are posed and examined—one for fracture mechanics and one for failure criteria. The fracture-mechanics problem involves the critical size for an edge crack in a structural member. The failure-criteria problem is that of deducing the location of the local failure for a rigid spherical inclusion embedded in an infinite elastic medium under far-field load. The complementary capabilities and individual advantages of the two fields are placed in proper perspective.
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