Title:

The analysis of symmetric structures using group representation theory

Group Representation Theory is the mathematical language best suited to describing the symmetry properties of a structure, and a structural analysis can utilises Group Representation Theory to provide the most efficient and systematic method of exploiting the full symmetry properties of any symmetric structure. Group Representation Theory methods currently exist for the Stiffness Niethod of structural analysis, where the stiffness matrix of a structure is blockdiagonalised into a number of independent submatrices, each of which relates applied loads and displacements with a particular type of symmetry. This dissertation extends the application of Group Representation Theory to the equilibrium and compatibility matrices which are commonly used in the Force Method of structural analysis. Group Representation Theory is used to find symmetryadapted coordinate systems for both the external vector space which is suitable for representing the loads applied to a structure, and the internal vector space wh",tk issuitable for representing the internal forces. Using these symmetryadapted coordinate systems the equilibrium matrix is blockdiagonalised into a number of independent submatrix blocks, thus decomposing the analysis into a number of subproblems which require less computational effort. Each independent equilibrium submatrix block relates applied loads and internal forces with particular symmetry properties, and hence any states of selfstress or inextensional mechanisms in one of these equilibrium submatrix blocks will necessarily have ~rresponding symmetry properties. Thus, a symmetry analysis provides valuable insight into the behaviour of symmetric structures by helping to identify and classif:)'. any states of selfstress .or inextensional mechanisms present in a structure. In certain cases it is also possible for a symmetry analysis to identify when a structure contains a :ijnite rather than infinitesimal mechanism. To do this a symmetry analysis must b~ carried out using the symmetry properties of the inextensional mechanism of interest. If the analysis shows that any states of selfstress which exist in the structure have "lesser" symmetry properties, then the states of selfstress exist independently from the mechanism and cannot prevent its finite motion.
