The initial parameter method, in the form proposed by V. Z. Vlasov, is presented and extended to the case of symmetric bending of cylindrical shells. It is shown that the method can be used efficiently for the solution of shells with and without intermediate supports. The loads applied to the shell can be arbitrarily distributed and discontinuous in the axial direction of the shell. The problem formulation has the distinct advantage that the complete solution contains at most two unknown “initial parameters.” These unknown parameters are determined from the boundary conditions. For shells on many supports the solution contains additional unknowns which can be determined from the support conditions. In any case, the solution consists of solving only two sets of algebraic equations. Tables of influence coefficients and loading functions for some common load cases are given in the paper. Some examples are worked out to illustrate the application of the method of initial parameters.

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