Introducing a thin cut from the surface of a part containing residual stresses produces a change in strain on the surface. When the strains are measured as a function of the depth of the cut, residual stresses near the surface can be estimated using the compliance method. In previous work, the unknown residual stress field was represented by a series of continuous polynomials. The present paper shows that for stress states with steep gradients, superior predictions are obtained by using “overlapping piecewise functions” to represent the stresses. The stability of the method under the influence of random errors and a zero shift is demonstrated by numerical simulation.

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