The objective of this study is to identify the most closely related variable to the distribution of fatigue life in unnotched and three kinds of notched 2024-T4 aluminum alloy specimens. Carefully designed fatigue tests under a constant temperature and humidity condition provided fatigue life distributions over a wide range of stress amplitude. This study used about 1000 specimens. On the basis of the test results, the dependence of the scatter in fatigue life on notch configuration, the period to crack initiation, the level of stress amplitude, the median fatigue life, and the slope of the median S-N curve is investigated, and the relationship between the distributional form of fatigue life and the shape of the median S-N curve is discussed. It is concluded that the slope and shape of the median S-N curve in the vicinity of the test stress level are closely related to the scatter and distributional form of fatigue life respectively. This is common to the unnotched and three kinds of notched specimens. A variability hypothesis to correlate the median S-N curve with fatigue life distributions is examined.

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