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This article summarizes the aspects of crack shape and irregularity that are relevant to fatigue and fracture of surface cracks. It discusses the nature of three-dimensional surface cracks and variables that influence crack shape. These variables include the grain size, residual stresses, texture, loading mode, environment, and crack coalescence. Measurement of crack shapes or aspect ratios during fatigue crack growth can be performed by a number of techniques. The article describes the estimation of the stress-intensity factor for arbitrarily-shaped cracks and failure prediction methods for arbitrarily-shaped flaws.

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