Analytical approximations in modeling contacting rough surfaces Academic Article uri icon


  • A critical examination of the analytical solution presented in the classic paper of Greenwood and Williamson (1966), (GW) on the statistical modeling of nominally flat contacting rough surfaces is undertaken in this study. It is found that using the GW simple exponential distribution to approximate the usually Gaussian height distribution of the asperities is inadequate for most practical cases. Some other exponential type approximations are suggested, which approximate the Gaussian distribution more accurately, and still enable closed form solutions for the real area of contact, the contact load, and the number of contacting asperities. The best-modified exponential approximation is then used in the case of elastic-plastic contacts of Chang et al. (1987) (CEB model), to obtain closed-form solutions, which favorably compare with the numerical results using the Gaussian distribution.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Polycarpou, A. A., & Etsion, I.

citation count

  • 85

complete list of authors

  • Polycarpou, AA||Etsion, I

publication date

  • April 1999