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Analysis of slender beam structures in a three-dimensional space is widely applicable in mechanical and civil engineering. This paper presents a new procedure to determine the reference coordinate system of a beam element under large rotation and elastic deformation based on a newly introduced physical concept: the zero twist sectional condition, which means that a non-twisted section between two nodes always exists and this section can reasonably be regarded as a reference coordinate system todoi:10.4236/eng.2011.31001 fatcat:ldeagl6bjbd6jh2jk5vgjalpsa