A truss gives a stable form capable of supporting considerable external load over a large span with the component parts stressed primarily in axial tension or compression. The individual pieces intersect at truss
joints, or panel points. The connected pieces forming the top and bottom of the truss are referred to respectively as the top and bottom chords. The sloping and vertical pieces connecting the chords are collectively referred to as the web of the truss.
In engineering, a truss is a structure that "consists of two-force members only, where the members are organized so that the assemblage as a whole behaves as a single object". A "two-force member" is a structural component where force is applied to only two points. Although this rigorous definition allows the members to have any shape connected in any stable configuration, trusses typically comprise five or more triangular units constructed with straight members whose ends are connected at joints referred to as nodes.