Alfred M. Freudenthal, 71, an internationally noted engineer and educator, died Tuesday at his home in Chevy Chase.

He was professor emeritus of civil and materials engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at George Washington University, a position he had held since May, 1976.

Dr. Freudenthal had served as chairman of the department of civil, mechannical and environmental engineering and as director of the Institute for the Study of Fatigue, Fracture, and Structural Reliability.

He had established the institute at Columbia University in 1962, and transferred it to George Washington when he joined the faculty here as a full professor in 1969.

Recognized as the "father" of structural reliability, he was honored last year by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which established the Alfred M. Freudenthal Medal for outstanding contributions to structural safety and reliability. Earlier, he had received the society's Norman and von Karman medals.

Born in Poland, Dr. Freudenthal held civil engineering degrees from Technische Hochschule in Prague, Czechooslovakia, and Charles University there.

In 1935, he immigrated to Palestine and was chief structural engineer and then resident engineer of a new port in Tel Aviv from 1936 to 1946. He also was professor of bridge engineering at the Hebrew Institute of Technology in Haifa.

Dr. Freudenthal came to this country in 1947. He taught at the University of Illinois and then was professor of civil engineering at Columbia University from 1949 to 1969.

He had lectured in Europe, Japan and Australia and was visiting professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1970 and 1971. He also was a visiting professor at the University of Hamburg and the Technical University of Munich.

In 1970, Dr. Freudenthal was chosen as engineering scholar by Virginia Polytechnic Institute in its "World's Greatest Minds, Visiting Scholar Program."

His many other honors included the National Capital Award for Engineers from the D.C. Council of Engineering and Architectural Societies.

Dr. Freudenthal wrote three books and more than 140 articles in his field.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, of the home, and a son, Peter Simon, of New York City.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the Alfred M. Freudenthal Memorial Fund at George Washington University or the American Cancer Society.