The design of minimum-compliance bending-resistant structures with continuous cross-section parameters is a challenging task because of its inherent non-convexity. Our contribution develops a strategy that facilitates computing all guaranteed globally optimal solutions for frame and shell structures under multiple load cases and self-weight. To this purpose, we exploit the fact that the stiffness matrix is usually a polynomial function of design variables, allowing us to build an equivalent non-linear semidefinite programming formulation over a semi-algebraic feasible set. This formulation is subsequently solved using the Lasserre moment-sum-of-squares hierarchy, generating a sequence of outer convex approximations that monotonically converges from below to the optimum of the original problem. Globally optimal solutions can subsequently be extracted using the Curto-Fialkow flat extension theorem. Furthermore, we show that a simple correction to the solutions of the relaxed problems establishes a feasible upper bound, thereby deriving a simple sufficient condition of global $\varepsilon$-optimality. When the original problem possesses a unique minimum, we show that this solution is found with a zero optimality gap in the limit. These theoretical findings are illustrated on several examples of topology optimization of frames and shells, for which we observe that the hierarchy converges in a finite (rather small) number of steps.

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