The optical method of caustics was used for the evaluation of stress fields induced by arbitrarily distributed loadings applied along straight boundaries governed by singular elastic stress functions. Various particular loading distributions, such as uniform, trapezoidal, triangular, parabolic, and others were studied to show the potentialities of the method. A thorough study of the caustics, due to illuminating a specimen near the distributed loading region by a light beam, was undertaken. The caustics formed at the ends of the distributed loading were used to evaluate its end-values. This is of particular interest in contact problems, where the determination of the loading distribution along the contacting surface constitutes the main part of the problem.

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