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# Struct Multidisc Optim

DOI 10.1007/s00158-007-0186-3

INDUSTRIAL APPLICATION

## Theorem of optimal reinforcement for reinforced concrete

cross sections
E. Hernndez-Montes & L. M. Gil-Martn &
M. Pasadas-Fernndez & M. Aschheim

## Received: 18 September 2006 / Revised: 16 July 2007 / Accepted: 30 August 2007

# Springer-Verlag 2007

Abstract A theorem of optimal (minimum) sectional reinforcement for ultimate strength design is presented for
design assumptions common to many reinforced concrete
building codes. The theorem states that the minimum total
reinforcement area required for adequate resistance to axial
load and moment can be identified as the minimum
admissible solution among five discrete analysis cases.
Therefore, only five cases need be considered among the
infinite set of potential solutions. A proof of the theorem is

## E. Hernndez-Montes : L. M. Gil-Martn : M. Pasadas-Fernndez

Campus de Fuentenueva,
E. Hernndez-Montes
e-mail: emontes@ugr.es
L. M. Gil-Martn
e-mail: mlgil@ugr.es
M. Aschheim (*)
Civil Engineering Department, Santa Clara University,
500 El Camino Real,
Santa Clara, CA 95053, USA
e-mail: maschheim@scu.edu
E. Hernndez-Montes : L. M. Gil-Martn
Department of Structural Mechanics, University of Granada,
Campus de Fuentenueva,
Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Granada,
Campus de Fuentenueva,

made by means of a comprehensive numerical demonstration. The numerical demonstration considers a large range
of parameter values, which encompass those most often
used in structural engineering practice. The design of a
reinforced concrete cross section is presented to illustrate
the practical application of the theorem.
Keywords Reinforced concrete . Beams . Columns .
Optimal reinforcement . Concrete structures
Notation
Ac
cross-sectional area of concrete section
As
area of bottom reinforcement
0
As
area of top reinforcement
N
axial force applied at the center of gravity of the
gross section
M
bending moment applied at the center of gravity of
the gross section
b
width of cross section
d
depth to centroid of bottom reinforcement from top
fiber of cross section
d
depth to top reinforcement from top fiber of cross
section
fc
specified compressive strength of concrete
fy
specified yield strength of reinforcement
h
overall depth of cross-section
x
depth to neutral axis from top fiber of cross section
x*
depth to neutral axis corresponding to a compressive strain of 0.003 at top fiber and a tensile strain
of 0.01 at bottom reinforcement
xb
depth to neutral axis corresponding to a tensile
strain of y at bottom reinforcement
0
xb
depth to neutral axis corresponding to a tensile
strain of y at top reinforcement
xbb
depth to neutral axis given by (9)

Hernndez-Montes et al.

xc
0

xc1
0

xc2

x0
y
x

c
c,

## depth to neutral axis corresponding to a compressive strain of y at bottom reinforcement

depth of neutral axis corresponding to a compressive strain of y at top reinforcement and a tensile
strain of 0.01 at the bottom reinforcement
depth of neutral axis corresponding to a compressive strain of y at top reinforcement and a
compressive strain of 0.003 at top fiber.
depth of neutral axis at the minimum of total
reinforcement
vertical coordinate measures from the center of
gravity of the gross section
discrete increments in the depth of the neutral fiber
strain
strain of the concrete
maximum compressive strain of the concrete

max

s
0
"s
u
y
s
0
ss

## strain at bottom reinforcement

strain at top reinforcement
maximum allowable tension strain of the steel
yield strain of the reinforcement
stress of bottom reinforcement
stress of top reinforcement

1 Introduction
The approaches commonly used for the design of reinforced concrete sections subjected to combinations of axial
load and moment applied about a principal axis of the cross
section were established many years ago. However, a new
design approach was presented recently by HernndezMontes et al. (2004, 2005), which portrays the infinite
number of solutions for top and bottom reinforcement that
provide the required ultimate strength for sections subjected
to combined axial load and moment. Solutions obtained
with this new approach allow the characteristics of optimal
(or minimum) reinforcement solutions to be identified. The
characteristics of these optimal solutions have led to the
development of the theorem of optimal section reinforcement (TOSR) presented herein.
The longstanding conventional approaches treat the
design of sectional reinforcement in one of two ways.
One approach utilizes the distinction between large and
small eccentricities based on an approach taken by Whitney
and Cohen (1956), as described in Nawys (2003) textbook.
The second approach uses NM interaction diagrams,
which have been widely used since their initial presentation
by Whitney and Cohen (1956). These diagrams provide
solutions for the reinforcement required to resist a specified
combination of axial load, N, and moment, M, under the
constraint that the reinforcement is arranged in a predetermined pattern. Typically, a symmetric pattern of reinforce-

## ment is used. However, experience with beam design

suggests that an asymmetric pattern of reinforcement would
be more economical for small axial loads for cases in which
the applied moment (or eccentricity) acts in one direction
only.
The family of solutions for combinations of top and
bottom reinforcement required to confer adequate strength
to a cross section constitutes an infinite set of solutions that
includes the symmetric reinforcement solution obtained
using conventional NM interaction diagrams. The family
of solutions is displayed graphically on a Reinforcement
Sizing Diagram (RSD) as described by Hernndez-Montes
et al. (2005). Using an RSD, an engineer can rapidly select
the reinforcement to be used in reinforced and prestressed
concrete sections subjected to a combination of bending
moment and axial load. Reinforcement may be selected to
achieve whatever may be dictated by the design objectives,
such as minimizing cost, facilitating construction, or
providing a structure that has a very simple and uniform
pattern of reinforcement.
RSDs were used in a recent investigation by Aschheim
et al. (2007) to characterize the optimal (minimum)
reinforcement solutions for a cross section over the twodimensional space of design axial load and moment. This
study identified domains in NM space for which the
optimal solution for nominal strength is characterized by
0
either constraints on reinforcement area (As =0, As 0, or
0
As As 0) or constraints on the strains at the reinforcement locations (s =y, s equal to or slightly greater than
0
y, or "s "y ) for stresses and strains taken as positive
in compression), where As =the cross-sectional area of
0
bottom reinforcement, As =the cross-sectional area of top
reinforcement, s =the tensile strain in the bottom rein0
forcement, "s =the compressive strain in the top reinforcement, and y =the yield strain of the reinforcement. The
optimal domains approach uses the characteristics of the
optimal solution to solve directly for the minimum reinforcement required for a given combination of axial load
and moment.
The present paper puts forth a TOSR and demonstrates
its validity by argument and computationally using numerical results obtained for a large range of parameter values
representative of those commonly encountered in practice
(Table 1).

## 2 Assumptions used in flexural analysis

and strength design
The design problem for combined flexure and axial load
involves the simultaneous consideration of equilibrium,
compatibility, and the constitutive relations of the steel and
concrete materials at the section level.

## TOSR for reinforced concrete cross sections

Table 1 Range of variables studied for rectangular cross sections
Variable

Range

## Concrete strength resistance (fc)

Height (h)
Width (b)
Yield strength (fy)
Yield strain (y)
Distance from extreme
compression fiber to centroid
of compression reinforcement (d)
Mechanical cover condition
Modulus of elasticity of
reinforcement (Es)
Flexural moment

Lower limit

Upper limit

25 (MPa)
200 (mm)
200 (mm)
275 (MPa)
275/200,000
hd

55 (MPa)
2,000 (mm)
2,000 (mm)
500 (MPa)
500/200,000

200,000 (MPa)
0.2bhfc
0

bhfc
0.25bh2fc

## Equilibrium equations must be satisfied at the section

level (e.g., Fig. 1) for the governing combination of
bending moment, M, and axial force, N:
0

## N N Ac c dAc A0s s dAs As s dAs

0
0
M M Ac c ydAc A0s s ydAs As s ydAs

## where M is computed relative to the location that N is

applied, with y being the distance of each differential area
0
(dAc, dAs, dAs , or dAp) from the location of the point about
which the stress resultants act, as illustrated in Fig. 1.
Stresses and axial forces in (1) are positive in compression
and negative in tension. Without loss of generality, the axial
load, N, and moment, M, that equilibrate the internal stress
resultants are presumed to act about the center of gravity of
the gross section (see Fig. 1). The moment, M, is considered positive if it produces tensile strain on the bottom
fiber. For consistency, in the case that the applied loads
cause compression over the depth of the section, the
moment is considered positive if the compressive strain at
the bottom fiber is smaller than the compressive strain at
the top fiber.

## Fig. 1 Strains and stresses

diagrams at cross section level

## The compatibility conditions make use of Bernoullis

hypothesis that plane sections remain plane after deformation and assume no slip of reinforcement at the critical
section. The Bernoulli hypothesis allows the distribution of
strain over the cross section to be defined by just two
variables. The strain at the center of gravity (cg) of the
gross section and the curvature () of the cross section may
be used to define the strain diagram, as illustrated in Fig. 1.
For strength design, the reinforcement usually is modeled to have elasto-plastic behavior, and the concrete
compression block usually is represented using a rectangular, trapezoidal, or parabolic stress distribution. ACI-318
(2005) allows the use of a rectangular stress block having
depth equal to the product of a coefficient, 1, and the
depth of the neutral axis, where 1 varies between 0.85 and
0.65 as a function of the specified compressive strength of
the concrete. Eurocode 2 (2002) specifies that the stress
block has a constant compressive stress of fcd having a
depth equal to the x, where x=the depth of the neutral axis
and fcd =the design strength of the concrete, for concrete
whose resistance is between 25 and 55 MPa. The factor
defines the effective height of the compression zone, and
the factor defines the effective strength. The design
strength of the concrete is given as a function of the
specified characteristic strength, fck, where fcd =cc fck/c.
The term cc accounts for long term effects on strength and
the rate at which the load is applied. The term c is the
partial safety factor for concrete, taken as 1.5. For the range
contemplated in Table 1, we have chosen =0.8 and =1.0
and cc =0.85, as these represent fairly typical values.
Perhaps the greatest difference in code provisions for
ultimate strength determination is the treatment of cross
section strains. The maximum usable strain at the extreme
compression fiber is 0.003 in ACI 318 (2005), and there is
no limit on the strain in the tensile reinforcement. Consequently, the neutral axis depth is a positive number. In
Eurocode 2 (2002), the maximum usable strain in the extreme compression fiber ranges between 0.002 and 0.0035,
and the tensile reinforcement strain cannot exceed 0.01.
The Eurocode 2 (2002) approach invokes the concept of
strain domains, wherein the strain diagram pivots about
certain points located on the boundaries between adjacent

As

cg
Center of gravity
of the gross section

Neutral fiber

Ap

p
s

As
Strains due to external loads

## Stresses due to external loads

Hernndez-Montes et al.

## domains; consequently, the neutral axis depth may assume

positive or negative values. The Swiss Concrete Code SIA162 (1989) establishes the maximum compressive strain
c,max =0.003 and a tensile steel strain limit of s,max =0.005.
For the demonstration of the theorem, assumptions
intermediate between ACI 318 (2005) and Eurocode 2
(2002) were adopted. It is assumed that plane sections
remain plane, the maximum usable strain for concrete
in compression is given by c,max =0.003, and the maximum usable strain for steel in tension is given by s,max =
0.01. These assumptions are similar to those used in
the Swiss Concrete Code; the only difference is that the
tensile strain limit used for the demonstration is 0.01
and the Swiss Concrete Code uses 0.005. Walther and
Miehlbradt (1990) indicate that the choice of a tensile
strain limit of 0.005 or 0.01 has little effect on strength
design.
These strain limits are illustrated in Fig. 2, where three
domains are identified. In domains I and II, the extreme

## Fig. 2 Possible strain distributions in the ultimate limit state.

Stress distributions according to
rectangular block assumption
and equilibrium of applied N
and M with internal stress
resultants for x>0

## compression fiber is at a strain of 0.003; for domain I, the

bottom reinforcement is either in compression or is at a
tensile strain less than the yield strain, while in domain II,
the bottom reinforcement is yielding in tension. In domain
III, the bottom reinforcement is at a strain of 0.01, and the
top fiber is either in tension or at a compressive strain less
than 0.003. Thus, for domains I and II, the neutral axis
depth, x, assumes a positive value, and can approach + as
the strains approach 0.003 over the entire section. The
neutral axis depth may be positive or negative in domain
III, and approaches as the strains approach 0.01 (in
tension) over the entire section.

3 Design solutions
The algebraic form of the integrals of (1) allows the internal
stress resultants to be determined as the product of the
stresses and the corresponding areas. Using the above

## simplifying assumptions, the compressive force carried by

the concrete, Nc, can be expressed as
8
<

0
Nc x 0:85fc 0:8x b
:
0:85fc hb

if
if
if

0:8x  0
0  0:8x < h
0:8x > h

As  
2

## for a rectangular section of reinforced concrete with width b

and height h. Where the compressive stress block includes
the top reinforcement (0.8x>d), the stress assigned to the
rectangular concrete block should not be counted in
determining the force carried by the top reinforcement,
0
Ns . Similarly, if the compressive stress block extends below
the bottom reinforcement, the stress carried by the
rectangular stress block should not be counted in determining the force carried by the bottom reinforcement, Ns.
0
Therefore, Ns and Ns can be determined as:
0

Ns x s xAs x
Ns x s xAs x

## where As =the cross-sectional area of steel located at a

distance d from the top of the section and As =the crosssectional area of steel located at a distance d from the top of
the section, and


s x  0:85fc
0
s x

s x  0:85fc
s x
s x
0

s x

if
if

0:8x > d 0
otherwise
0:8x > d
otherwise

## sum of moments about the location of the bottom

reinforcement results in (7).



As 


M N h2 d 0 Nc xd 0 0:4x
s xdd 0

if

M N0:85fc bh h2 d 0
s xdd 0

s xdd 0

otherwise

M N d h2 Nc xd0:4x

0:8x < h

0:8x < h

if

M N0:85fc bhd h2
0
s

xdd 0

7
otherwise

## The solutions for reinforcement areas given by (6) and

(7) are functions of the neutral axis depth, x. Some values
0
of x result in negative values of As and As , and therefore
must be considered inadmissible. The admissible solutions
0
for As and As , obtained with (6) and (7), are plotted on a
RSD. Such a plot clearly indicates that the minimum total
reinforcement solution generally differs from the symmetric
reinforcement solution that typically is represented using
on RSDs can be found in Hernndez-Montes et al. (2005)
where an example of the design of a column from ACI
Publication SP-17 (1997) is used (see Fig. 3). ACI
Publication SP-17 presents only the symmetric reinforceh=406 mm (20 in)
0.75h

## The stress s s and s are positive in compression.

0
The internal stress resultants Nc, Ns , and Ns equilibrate
the applied load, N, and moment, M. For a given neutral
axis depth, material properties, and reinforcement areas As
0
and As , the internal stress resultants can be determined and
equations of equilibrium can be applied to the free body
diagram of Fig. 1 to determine the axial load and moment
resisted by the section. The equations of equilibrium for N
and M applied at the center of gravity of the gross section
are:

e=178 mm (7in)

## Steel area (mm2)

10000
Total area (As + As)

As

8000

N Nc x Ns x N s x





0
Nc x h2  0:4x Ns x h2  d 0  Ns x d  h2 if 0:8x  h




M
0
otherwise
Ns x h2  d 0  Ns x d  h2

6000
4000
As

2000

## Alternatively, the equations of equilibrium can be solved

0
to determine the steel areas As and As required to provide
the section with sufficient capacity to resist the applied
loads N and M. In particular, the sum of moments about the
location of the top reinforcement results in (6), while the

225

250

275

300

325

350

375

400

## Fig. 3 Example RSD

Hernndez-Montes et al.

## ment solution, but the RSD indicates that a significant

savings in cost can be obtained when optimal (minimum
total) reinforcement solutions are used in place of traditional symmetric reinforcement solutions.
Although it is possible to obtain zero reinforcement
solutions from (6) and (7), code-required minimum reinforcement requirements also must be considered in design.
The theorem addresses only equilibrium considerations.

## 4 Theorem of optimal section reinforcement

 0
Theorem The top (As) and bottom As reinforcement
required to provide a rectangular concrete section with
adequate ultimate strength1 for a combination of axial load
and moment applied about a principal axis of the cross
section has the following characteristics:
0

## (1) An infinite number of solutions for As and As exists.

0
(2) The minimum total reinforcement area As As
0
occurs for one of the following cases: As =0, As 0,
0
As As 0, s equal to or slightly greater than y,
0
0
=s ="s =c,max =0.003, and =s ="s 0:01.
Corollary The minimum reinforcement area for a specific
combination of axial load and moment may be determined
by:
0

## (1) Evaluating the cases: As =0, As 0, s =y, =s ="s =

0
c,max =0.003, and =s ="s 0:01.
(2) Selecting the minimum of the admissible solutions,
where an admissible solution is one in which the value
0
of x0 is real and the areas As and As are each nonnegative, subject to the following:
0

## a. If As =0 produces a negative value for As and As

0 produces a negative value for As, then the
minimum reinforcement solution is given by
0
As As 0.
b. If s =y produces an admissible solution and
As(xb)<As (xb), the minimum (x0) will be located at
xb <x0 <xbb.

5 Proof
A formal analytical proof requires the treatment of (6) and
(7) in a piecewise fashion over more than seven domains of
x. As an alternative to this lengthy approach, a numerical
proof is provided in the following. The validity of the
1

## theorem is established numerically for common material

strengths and section dimensions, as specified in Table 1.
The range of parameters considered encompasses most
practical cases that arise in civil engineering practice.
Formal constraints expressing the limits of applicability of
the theorem have not been encountered yet, and parameter
values beyond those considered in Table 1 may be
contemplated.
The proof is formulated in terms of the section
variables defined in Fig. 2. Here, solutions for the rein0
forcement areas As and As are determined as a function of
the depth of the neutral axis, x. Solutions given by (6)
0
and (7) may, for some x, require negative values of As or As ;
such solutions are physically inadmissible and thus are
excluded.
To summarize in mathematical terms:
x 2 1; 1
0
0
As As x; As As x reinforcement areas for x
The optimal reinforcement solution is given for x=x0,


0
Minx As x As x As x0 As x0
0
and As x0  0 and As x0  0
Conjecture For the simplifying assumptions given previously (and illustrated in Fig. 2), the solution x0 is charac0
terized by As =0 and/or As 0, s equal to or slightly greater
0
0
than y, =s ="s =c,max =0.003, and =s = "s 0:01.
Conditions associated with the simplifying assumptions,
the geometry of the section, and the elasto-plastic nature
of the constitutive relationship for the reinforcement
0
cause the areas As and As to be defined as piecewise
functions of x. To define these functions, the parameters xb,
0
0
0
x*, xc, xb , xc1 and xc2 are defined, as given in the Appendix
and in Figs. 8 and 9.
For all possible combinations of values of the parameters
0
of Table 1, solutions for As and As were determined for
x 2 1; 1, and the optimal (i.e., minimum total area)
0
solution parameters x0, As(x0), and As (x0) were retained.
The optimal reinforcement solutions were determined
numerically for all combinations of N and M defined by
0.2bhfc Nbhfc and 0M0.25bh2fc, with each range
being subdivided into 80 steps. The numerical solutions
were determined by considering discrete values of x in
increments of 1 mm.
To focus attention on significant aspects of the numerical
results, only the subset of cases in which h=700 mm, 200
b2,000 mm, 25fc to 55, fy =400 MPa, and hd = d=
70 mm are considered in detail. Numerical solutions are
plotted for this subset of cases in Fig. 4a,b. As(x0) is
0
plotted as a function of x0/d in Fig. 4a, and As (x0) is plotted
in Fig. 4b. To clarify, (6) and (7) are evaluated in the range

## TOSR for reinforced concrete cross sections

Fig. 4 a Values of As(xo/d)
determined for optimal
solutions. b Values of determined for optimal solutions



0
of 2xb ; 2xc for fixed values of N and M. Discrete
values of x are considered in increments
of 1 mm, and the

0
minimum value of the total area As As is retained and
0
plotted as a function of x0 [As(x0), and As (x0)]. Thus, each

## point in Fig. 4a,b is the retained (optimal) solution for a

fixed value of N and M. Inspection of these plots reveals
0
that there are regions where either As or As are equal to
0
zero, regions where both As and As appear to be nonzero,

Hernndez-Montes et al.
Table
2 Limits for the piecewise functions used to define As(x) and
0
As x
Variable
0

xb
x*0
xc1
0
xc2
xb
xc

Value of the
variable (mm)

normalized by d

70
145
210
163
378
1,890

0.11
0.23
0.33
0.26
0.60
3.00

## and values of x0/d for which either many or no optimal

0
0
0
solutions occur. The values of xb, x*, xc, xb , xc1 and xc2 are
identified on Fig. 4a,b and in Table 2.
Inspection of Fig. 4a,b reveals several singularities and
zones as follows. These are discussed sequentially in order
of increasing x0/d, with respect to Fig. 4a,b:
0

## a) x0/d=0.11, which corresponds to x0 xb , (i.e., "s

"y for Grade 400 reinforcement). For this case, both
0
As and As assume positive values. It is interesting to
observe that for given values of N and M, any x smaller
0
0
0
0 0 
than xb results in As(x)=As xb and As x As xb .
Thus, if an optimal solution is found for x0/d<0.11,
0
the result obtained is equal to that obtained for x0 =xb
0
(given equivalently by "s "y ). The same result also
0
can be obtained for =s ="s 0:01.
b) x0/d=1/9, which corresponds exactly to x0 =d', Here,
there is zero strain in the top reinforcement. As the top
reinforcement carries no force at x0/d=1/9, the mini0
mum top reinforcement is given by As 0.
0
0
c) As (x0)=0 in the zone xb <x0 <xb, This zone, which
includes the singularity at x0 =d', is shown in white in
the bar at the bottom of Fig. 4a,b. Note that the discrete
steps used in the computation of x0 result in very small
0
0
values of As , but in the limit, as x approaches zero, As
approaches zero.
d) x0/d=0.6, which corresponds exactly to x0 =xb for
Grade 400 reinforcement [see (12) in Appendix]. For
0
x0 =xb =0.6d, both As and As are positive.
e) Figure 4a illustrates a region where values of As are
limited to relatively small, positive numbers, where x0/
d is just slightly greater than 0.6. This corresponds to
0
xb <x0 <xbb, for Grade 400 reinforcement. Both As and As
are positive in this region, which is shown hatched on
the bar at the bottom of Fig. 4a,b. An explanation for
this phenomenon is provided later in the paper.
f) x0/d=1, which corresponds to zero strain in the bottom
reinforcement. Because the bottom reinforcement carries no force, one may use As =0. However, the discrete
steps used in the computation of x0 result in very small,
nonzero, strains (and values of As) in the computed

## results. In the limit, as x approaches zero, As approaches zero.

g) As(x0)=0 in the zone xbb <x0 <xc, This zone is shown in
gray in the bar at the bottom of each figure. However,
the discrete steps used in the computation of x0 result in
very small, nonzero strains (and values of As) in the
computed results.
h) x0/d=3, which corresponds exactly to x0 =xc for Grade
400 reinforcement (see (13) in Appendix for xc, for
s =y). Figures 4a,b demonstrate that for this value of
x0/d, the optimal solution gives positive values of both
0
As and As . In fact, for any given N and M, any x greater
0
0
than xc results in As(x)=As(xc) and As (x)=As (xc). Thus,
if an optimal solution is found for x0/d>3, the result
obtained is equal to that obtained for x0 =xc, which
corresponds to s =y. For the grades of reinforcement
considered, the same result is also obtained for =s =
0
"s =c,max =0.003.
A trivial case exists where the axial load N provides the
section with sufficient capacity to resist the applied
moment, M, without requiring reinforcement to carry
tension or compression. For this case, the solution for As =
0
0
0 results in As < 0, while the solution for As 0 results in
As <0, indicating that no reinforcement is necessary.
The singularities or zones described in b, e, and f are
addressed in greater detail in the following sections.
5.1 Singularities at the reinforcement position
To better characterize the singularities that appear at x0/d=1
and x0/d=1/9, optimal solutions were obtained using a
smaller numerical increment in x. Figure 5a shows As(x0)
determined using increments, x, equal to 1 mm (as before), and Fig. 5b shows the more precise values of As(x0),
determined for x=0.1 mm, for x0/d1. One may observe
that the computed values of As are smaller in Fig. 5b. This
illustrates that greater precision in the calculation results in
reduced total steel areas and, moreover, that the singularity
at x0/d=1 is not an artifact of the computational approach.
As stated earlier, because the strain at this location is zero,
the force carried by the reinforcement at this location is
zero, and thus, the minimum reinforcement area is given by
As =0 in the case that x0/d=1.
Similar results were found for x0/d=1/9. This case, which is
equivalent to x0 =d for Grade 400 reinforcement, is parallel to
the previous one and does not require further consideration.
5.2 Characterization of optimal solutions
in the range xb <x0 <xbb
One may observe in Fig. 4a that values of As somewhat
greater than zero appear to the right of the singularity at

## x0/d=xb/d=0.6. Figure 6a shows this region for the subset

of data represented in Fig. 4a for which b=200 and b=1,000.
One may further observe that the minimum values of As are
aligned based on the value of the parameter b. This result is
not an artifact of the step size x.
Where xb <x0 <xbb, the associated values of As depend on
the value of b as indicated in Fig. 6a. The correct solution
for this case can be found by considering
the minimum,
0 
which is given where dAs As dx 0 for two different
positions of the neutral fiber (at x and x+dx) under the

As

## constraint that the sections at these locations resist the same

values of N and M. This can be stated as:
8
< M x M x dx
N x N x dx
0
:d
dx As x As x 0

Equation (8) may be solved by considering the differential forms of the first two equations and using the third
0
equation to replace dAs x in the first two equations with
dAs(x). The first two equations can be used to eliminate
dAs, to obtain a single equation that may be solved for As.
Solving for As as a function of x results in:




bfc x 1; 020Es d 2 1; 836Es xd x 289; 000fc d 0  340; 000fy d 0  816Es x  231; 200fc x 272; 000fy x



## where the required area of bottom reinforcement in this

case is designated by As , and the minimum total reinforcement may occur anywhere in the range xb <x0 <xbb.
Equation (9) is plotted in Fig. 6b for the same parameter
values represented in the computed results of Fig. 6a.
Inspection of Fig. 6a reveals that optimal solutions at xb are
characterized by As >As (xb). Thus, to determine whether the
optimal solution occurs at x0 =xb or in the range xb <x0 <xbb,
it is sufficient to compare As(xb) with As (xb), where As(xb) is

## determined using (6). If As(xb)<As (xb), then the optimal

solution must be located to the right of xb (i.e., xb <x0 <xbb).
Also of interest is the fact that (9) indicates that As (xb) is a
property of the cross section and materials and is
independent of N and M.
The x intercept of (9) was determined by setting As =0
and solving for x. This intercept is designated xbb. The
value of xbb is given by

## 918Es d 144; 500fc d 0  170; 000fy d 0  0:5sqrt

816Es 231; 200fc  272; 000fy
q

 
2
2
0
0
where sqrt 4; 090d Es 816Es 231; 200fc  272; 000fy 1; 836Es d 289; 000fc d  340; 000fy d
xbb

## For any particular case where As(xb)<As (xb), the optimal

solution occurs for xb <x0 <xbb, and the area of bottom
reinforcement may be obtained using (6) or (9). The corresponding value of x0 may be determined by minimizing
the total area, obtained with (6) and (7). In this case, the
optimal solution corresponds to strain in the bottom
reinforcement given by s ="*,
y where "*
y is given as
"*y

0:003d  x0
x0

11

## 5.3 Design using the minimum of the admissible cases

Because the optimal (minimum) reinforcement solution
0
occurs for one of the following cases: As =0 and/or As 0,

10

## s equal to or slightly greater than y, =s ="s =c,max =

0
0.003, and =s ="s 0:01, the other cases must produce
0
non-optimal solutions for As and As . The non-optimal
solutions either (1) have total area greater than optimal or
(2) are inadmissible because one or both computed areas
are negative or imaginary solutions are obtained. Consequently, the optimal solution is producing the smallest total
area among the admissible solutions obtained for the possible cases. This may be seen by consideration of Fig. 4
and (6) and (7) and will be illustrated with an example.
Consider an example used in Aschheim et al. (2007),
using Grade 400 reinforcement, 25 MPa concrete, and a
concrete cover of 0.05 m, shown in Fig. 7. This section was
designed using RSDs for many combinations of N and M.
Values of N and M will be selected to illustrate the design

Hernndez-Montes et al.

As (mm 2)

As (mm2)

2000

20000
17500

1750

15000

1500

12500

1250

10000

b = 1000 mm

1000

7500

b = 200 mm

750

5000
2500

500

0.9

0.95

1.0

1.05

1.1

x/d

250

0.60

b
As

0.65

0.7

0.75

0.8
x/d

(mm2)

20000

As (mm 2)

2000

17500
15000

1750

12500

1500

10000
1250

7500
1000

5000
2500

750

x/d

0.9
0.95
1.00
1.05
1.1
Fig. 5 a Detail of the singularity at x=d, for x=1 mm. b Detail of
the singularity at x=d, for x=0.1 mm

500
250

0.60

0.65

0.7

0.75

0.8
x/d

## of the section using the TOSR. The selected values of N

and M are those for which the optimal solutions occur for
each of the possible cases. These values are presented in
normalized form in Table 3.
One may observe that in general, the minimum of the
admissible solutions corresponds to the optimal solution.
Two special cases are described as follows:
1) For the first case, no admissible solutions are found,
and in particular, the case As =0 produces a negative
0
0
value for As, and second, the case As 0 produces a
negative value for As. In this case, no reinforcement
is required for the section to resist the combined
axial load and moment, and the optimal solution is
0
As As 0.
2) For the last case of Table 3, three admissible solutions
were identified. Among these, x=xb appears to be the
optimal solution, but there is a possibility that the true
optimal solution is in the range xb <x0 <xbb. To address
this possibility, (9) is solved to obtain As (xb)=465 mm2.
Based on the discussion of Fig. 6a, because As(xb)=
51 mm2 <As (xb), we expect the optimal solution to be to
the right of xb (i.e., xb <x0 <xbb). In fact, the optimal
solution occurs for s ="y*. However, the solution

## Fig. 6 a Solutions of As in the vicinity of xb, for fc = 25 MPa, d = h

d = 70 mm, h = 700 mm and b = 200 and 1,000 mm. b Solution of As
given by (9)

## determined for s =y (or equivalently, x0 =xb) has a

total steel area (645 mm2) that is only 4.4% greater than
that determined for the optimal solution (618 mm2)
while being considerably easier to determine.
500 mm

A s
500 mm

As
50-mm to centroid of reinforcement
Fig. 7 Example cross section

## TOSR for reinforced concrete cross sections

Table 3 Reinforcement area
solutions obtained by
considering individual
cases (mm2)

## Admissible solutions are

shown in italics; the minimum
of the admissible solutions is
shown in bold typeface.
a
For this case none of the solutions are admissible and, in par0
ticular, As =0 requires As < 0
0
and As 0 requires A s < 0.
Thus, no reinforcement is required to support the axial force
and moment, corresponding to
0
the solution As As 0.
b
Imaginary solution

N
A g fc

M
Ag hfc

0.4

0.05

1.0

0.02

0.8
0.2
0.0
0.2
0.4

0.15
0.20
0.10
0.02
0.12

As
0
As
As
0
As
As
0
As
As
0
As
As
0
As
As
0
As
As
0
As

0a
0
825
1,650
0
2,817
3,176
595
1,885
0
1,953
1,172
196
422

## To illustrate the comparison of As (xb) and As(xb) for a case

in which x0 = xb, we consider the fourth case (N =0.2Agfc,
M= 0.20Aghfc) of Table 3. To determine if the minimum
might be in the range xb <x0 <xbb, (9) is used to determine
As (xb)= 465 mm2. Because As(xb) =3,176 mm2 >As (xb),
the optimal solution is at x0 = xb.

0

=0.003

As =0

s =y

As 0

=0.01

4744
2682
825
1,650
3,507
2,682
9,488
1,238
9,076
4,951
9,076
8,250
6,188
1,237

0
2,074

1,317
849
6,590
3,483
2,488
4,514
3,176
595
2,785
3,118
2,785
6,418
51
594

1761
0

2,148
4,102
7,422
8,203
3,320
9,180
2,344
5,469
1,953
1,953
1,953
1,172
781
5,469

b
b

0
2,817
b
b
b
b
b
b

0
672

b
b
b
b

5,980
0
1,885
0
b
b

880
0

## ultimate strength evaluation. More generally, RSD may be

used to identify optimal solutions for any cross-sectional
shape, for materials with different constitutive behaviors,
and for different assumptions regarding ultimate strength
evaluation.
Acknowledgments The authors wish to recognize the helpful
comments of two anonymous reviewers.

6 Conclusion
A TOSR was articulated based on clear patterns evident in
the minimum reinforcement solutions obtained in the
optimal design of reinforced concrete sections for combinations of axial load and bending moment. According to
the theorem, the minimum total reinforcement solution can
be determined by examining the following five cases: As =
0
0
0, As 0, s =y, =s ="s =c,max =0.003, and =s =
0
"s 0:01. Admissible solutions, which may exist for a
subset of these cases, are examined to determine the
minimum total reinforcement solution, as described in the
paper. As a result, minimum reinforcement solutions may
be obtained speedily, requiring far fewer analyses than are
required to determine optimal solutions using RSD (described recently by Hernndez-Montes et al. 2005).
The individual cases associated with the minimum
reinforcement patterns correspond one-to-one with the
optimal domains described by Aschheim et al. (2007).
Whereas the optimal domains are described in NM space
and require deductive logic to establish the governing
domain, the solution procedure contained within the TOSR
may be considered to be more direct and may be easier to
implement in numerical solution procedures.
The TOSR was established for a large range of material
properties and rectangular section geometries commonly
used in practice and a particular set of assumptions used for

Appendix
0

## For the computation of As and As using (6) and (7), it is

0
necessary to express the stresses s and s s as explicit
functions of the neutral axis depth, x. These expressions are
developed in the following based on whether the reinforcement is yielding in tension or compression.
Bottom reinforcement
Based on the geometry shown in Fig. 8, the depth of the
neutral axis for certain states can be defined. The balanced
condition is the state at which the bottom reinforcement is
at the yield point in tension, given by xb


0:003
xb
d
12
0:003  "y
where y assumes a negative value for tension strain. The
depth of the neutral axis when the bottom reinforcement is at
the yield point in compression is given by the same expression
due to the fact that s changes sign so that xc is given by

xc


0:003
d
0:003  "y

13

## where y assumes a positive value for compressive strain.

Hernndez-Montes et al.

B
x*

As
h

xb

A
As

-0.01

xc
-y

0 y 0.003

Fig. 8 Depth of the neutral axis for cases in which the bottom
reinforcement yields in tension or compression

## Fig. 9 Depth of the neutral axis

for cases in which the top
reinforcement yields in tension
or compression

## Therefore, the stress in the bottom reinforcement s(x) is

8
fy
if
x < xb
<
if
x
 x  xc
s x 0:003Es dx
14
b
x
:
fy
if
x > xc
For large values of x and typical configurations of reinforcement, that is, x1.25 h and xxc, the stresses acting on
the section are independent of x; therefore, the external N
and M required to equilibrate the internal stress resultants
are independent of x. For ordinary cover dimensions, the
limit xxc determines the fixed values of N and M, and this
limit governs for cover thicknesses such that


"y  0:0006
hd 
h
15
0:0024
which corresponds to h d 0.583 h for Grade 400
reinforcement and 0.792 h for Grade 500 reinforcement.
Thus, the fixed values of N and M can be found for xxc
using x=xc for virtually all practical cases of interest.
As shown in Fig. 2, the strain diagram used to establish
ultimate strength can be located in strain domains I, II, or

Compression yield

x'c2

x'c1

-0.01

-y 0 y 0.003
,
(a) x=x c1x*

-0.01

-y 0 y 0.003
,
(b)
x=x c2<x*

Tension yield

x'b

-0.01

- y 0 y 0.003
,
(c) x=x b<x*

-0.01

- y 0 y 0.003
(d)

x>x*

## III. Within domains I and II, the strain diagram simply

rotates about point B, thereby ensuring that the extreme
compression fiber is at a strain of 0.003. Within domain
III, the strain diagram pivots about point A, thereby ensuring the bottom reinforcement is at a tensile strain of
0.01. The neutral axis depth varies from + (represented
by a vertical line in domain I) to (a vertical line in
domain III). The neutral axis depth corresponding to the
border between domains II and III is given by x=x*, as
shown in Fig. 8. For the values of strain used to define
points A and B,
x*

3
d
13

16

Top reinforcement
Neutral axis depths corresponding to yielding of the top
reinforcement in concert with obtaining strains of 0.003 in
the extreme compression fiber or 0.01 in the bottom
reinforcement can be defined. Although four cases are
illustrated in Fig. 9, only cases (a) through (c) are of interest
for ordinary section geometries.
For top reinforcement yielding in compression, only the
two cases shown in Fig. 9 are possible. For case (a), the top
reinforcement is yielding in compression, and the extreme
compression fiber strain is equal to 0.003. For this case,
0
xc1 x*. Based on similar triangles, this case applies where


0:003  "y
3 0:003  "y
d0 
d
17
d
13
0:003
0:013
For case (a), the depth of the neutral axis corresponding
0
to yield of the top reinforcement in compression, xc1 , is
given by
0

xc1

0:003d 0
 x*
0:003  "y

18

## For Grade 60 (414 MPa) reinforcement, (17) corresponds to

d>0.0715d.
Case (b) is defined by yielding of the top reinforcement in
compression in concert with the bottom reinforcement having
a strain of 0.01. More generally, the top reinforcement
maybe responding elastically or maybe yielding in compression or in tension while the bottom reinforcement at strain of
0.01 (in tension). Any of these conditions may occur for
0:003  "y
d
0:013
Thus, for case (b),
d0 <

xc2 d 0

"y d  d 0
0:01 "y

19

20

Case (c) of Fig. 9 represents yielding of the top reinforcement in tension in concert with bottom reinforcement having

## a strain of 0.01. The neutral axis depth for top reinforce0

ment yielding in tension, xb , is given by
0

xb d 0

"y d  d 0
0:01 "y

21

## Case (d), which represents yielding of the top reinforcement

in tension while the extreme compression fiber strain is
equal to 0.003, is only possible for large values of d, beyond
the range contemplated in Table 1 for the cover dimensions
d and hd. Typically, only case (c) will be applicable for
top reinforcement yielding in tension. Thus, to describe the
stress behavior of the top reinforcement, it is necessary to
distinguish between cases (a) and (b), as follows.
For case (a), the stress carried by the top reinforcement is:
8
0
if 1 < x < xb
fy
>
>
>
0
0
<
x
0
0:01  Es ddx
if
xb  x  x*
s x

0
0
>
0:003  0:003 dx Es if x*  x  xc1
>
>
:
0
fy
if
x > xc1
22
For case (b), the stress carried by the top reinforcement is
8
0
fyd
if 1 < x < xb
<
0
0
0
0
x
if xb  x < xc2
s x 0:01  Es ddx
23
:
0
fy
if
x > xc2

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