A method is outlined for determining the critical load for variable-section columns in the inelastic range, that is, when the column is so short that buckling takes place after the stress at any section has exceeded the proportional limit of the material. The method is based on the Engesser-Considère theory and makes use of difference equations to solve the problem. The procedure is illustrated by a numerical example. The results of calculations for three different types of pin-ended columns are given.

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