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What are the Principle directions? Are they unit normals of three planes perpendicular to each of the principle stresses?

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes they are! Also, those planes you're referring to are called the "principal planes". $\endgroup$ – Chris Oct 1 '17 at 23:58
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I think that "Principle directions" can be used both in terms of stress (the direction of principal stresses) and in terms of inertia (the 3 direction where the inertia matrix is diagonal).

I mainly use "principal direction" in terms of inertia.

I think that you can ganeralize: principal directions are the unit vector where something 3D distribution (inertia, stresses...maybe other things) can be represented as a diagonal matrix.

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  • $\begingroup$ the question title does specify "of a stress tensor".. i was debating whether to post an answer with one word "yes" .. $\endgroup$ – agentp Sep 29 '17 at 15:03

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