The buckling of a beam or a plate which is subject to obstacles is typical for the variational inequalities that are considered here. Birfurcation is known to occur from the first eigenvalue of the linearized problem. For a discretization the bifurcation point and the bifurcating branches may be obtained by solving a constrained optimization problem. An algorithm is proposed and its convergence is proved. The buckling of a clamped beam subject to point obstacles is considered in the continuous case and some numerical results for this problem are presented.
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