The Griffith theory for unstable crack length is modified to take into account the effect of residual (self-equilibrating) stresses. An expression relating the uniform stress, physical properties of the material, critical crack length, and the equilibrating strain energy is derived for a general stress distribution. This expression is used to develop a criterion for spontaneous cracking due to residual stresses alone. A specific numerical example for a parabolic residual-stress distribution in a glass plate is carried out in some detail.

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