A theory is developed for the probability density functions of contact forces for cohesionless, frictional granular materials in quasi-static equilibrium. This theory is based on a maximum information entropy principle, with an expression for information entropy that is appropriate for granular materials. Entropy is maximized under the constraints of a prescribed stress and that the normal component of the contact force is compressive and that the tangential component of the contact force is limited by Coulomb friction. The theory results in a dependence of the probability density function for the tangential contact forces on the friction coefficient. The theoretical predictions are compared with results from discrete element simulations on isotropic, two-dimensional assemblies under hydrostatic stress. Good qualitative agreement is found for means and standard deviations of contact forces and the shape of the probability density functions, while the quantitative agreement is fairly good. Discrepancies between theory and simulations, such as the difference in shape of the probability density function for the normal force and the observed dependence on elastic properties of the exponential decay rate of tangential forces, are attributed to the fact that the method does not take into account any kinematics, which are essential in relation to elastic effects.
- Maximum entropy method
- Granular materials
- Force probability density function