The difficult challenge of simulating diffuse and complex fracture patterns in tough structural composites is at last beginning to yield to conceptual and computational advances in fracture modeling. Contributing successes include the refinement of cohesive models of fracture and the formulation of hybrid stress-strain and traction-displacement models that combine continuum (spatially averaged) and discrete damage representations in a single calculation. Emerging hierarchical formulations add the potential of tracing the damage mechanisms down through all scales to the atomic. As the models near the fidelity required for their use as virtual experiments, opportunities arise for reducing the number of costly tests needed to certify safety and extending the design space to include material configurations that are too complex to certify by purely empirical methods.
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