Many methods are available for the design of mat-foundations. The one that is very much in use is the finite difference method. This method is based on the assumption that the subgrade can be substituted by a bed of uniformly distributed coil springs with a spring constant ks which is called the coefficient of subgrade reaction. The finite difference method uses the fourth order differential equation
Eq. (14.14) may be solved by dividing the mat into suitable square grid elements, and writing difference equations for each of the grid points. By solving the simultaneous equations so obtained the deflections at all the grid points are obtained. The equations can be solved rapidly with an electronic computer. After the deflections are known, the bending moments are calculated using the relevant difference equations.
Interested readers may refer to Teng (1969) or Bowles (1996) for a detailed discussion of the method.
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