The general theory of elastic stability invented by Koiter (1945, "On the Stability of Elastic Equilibrium," Ph.D. thesis, Delft, Holland) motivated the development of a series of asymptotic approaches to deal with the initial postbuckling behavior of structures. These approaches, which played a pivotal role in the precomputer age, are somewhat overshadowed by the progress of computational environment. Recently, the importance of the asymptotic approaches has been revived through the extension of their theoretical background and the combination with the framework of finite element method and with group-theoretic bifurcation theory in nonlinear mathematics. The approaches serve as an efficient and insightful strategy to tackle probabilistic scatter of critical loads. We review, through the perspective of theoretical engineers, the historical development and recent revival of the asymptotic approaches for buckling of imperfection-sensitive structures and materials.
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