In this paper the mechanical behaviour of finite random heterogeneous bodies is considered. The analysis of non-local interactions between heterogeneities in microscopically heterogeneous materials is necessary when the spatial variation of the load or the dimensions of the body, relative to the scale of the microstructure, cannot be ignored. Microstructures can be periodic but generically they are random. In the first case, an exact calculation can be performed but in the second case recourse has to be made either to simulation or to some scheme of approximation. One such scheme is based on a stochastic variational principle. The novelty of the present work is that a stochastic variational principle is projected directly onto a finite-element basis so that all subsequent analysis is performed within a finite-element framework. The proposed formulation provides expressions for the local stress and strain fields in any realization of the medium, from which expressions for statistically-averaged quantities can be derived. Then an approximation of Hashin–Shtrikman type is developed, which generates a FE-based numerical procedure able to take account of interactions between random inclusions and boundary layer effects in finite composite structures. Finally, two examples are presented, namely a cylinder with square cross-section subjected to mixed boundary conditions of different types on different faces and a rectangular body containing a centre crack. The results show that in the vicinity of the boundary or close to the crack tip, the strain and the stress in the matrix and in the inclusions differ considerably from those obtained by the formal application of conventional homogenization.
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