As one of the methods of structural analysis, the direct stiffness method, also known as the matrix stiffness method, is particularly suited for computer-automated analysis of complex structures including the statically indeterminate type. It is a matrix method that makes use of the members' stiffness relations for computing member forces and displacements in structures. The direct stiffness method is the most common implementation of the finite element method (FEM). In applying the method, the system must be modeled as a set of simpler, idealized elements interconnected at the nodes. The material stiffness properties of these elements are then, through matrix mathematics, compiled into a single matrix equation which governs the behavior of the entire idealized structure. The structure’s unknown displacements and forces can then be determined by solving this equation. The direct stiffness method forms the basis for most commercial and free source finite element software.


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