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Uncertainty Quantification and Validation of Finite Element Models of Bridge Structures



Finite element models are a key tool for the management and analysis of civil structures but little attention is generally paid to the Verification and Validation (V&V) of these models. The purpose of this paper is to apply a complete step-by-step V&V procedure to two bridge structures, a scale-model and an actual full-scale structure, in order to compare the methodological choices and results. Three dimensional finite element models were developed in order to predict the dynamic behavior of the target bridges. Experimental modal testing is performed in each bridge. Design-of-experiments (DoE) are established to analyze the effects of uncertainty in model parameters on the model simulation results in order to select the most uncertain and sensitive modeling parameters. These parameters are investigated through a Bayesian inference analysis aiming at obtaining the probability distributions of the parameters that reproduce the experimental variability. By analyzing the uncertainties in the model, interesting features of the real structure as well as the model can be achieved and the model gains in credibility.

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