The nature of stress, strain and buckling beams

Strength of Materials and Structures - Structures
November 24, 2000

Strength of Materials and Structures is a much-expanded version of the third edition published in 1993, while Structures by M. S. Williams and J. D. Todd is a "completely new" book, based on the original text of 1974. They cover undergraduate engineering courses in stress analysis.

The topics covered by both books are largely similar. They include simple 2-D stress and strain analysis, stress and deflection analysis of beams, torsional stress in shafts, elastic buckling of struts and lateral torsional buckling of beams, elastic analysis of trusses and rigid-jointed frames by manual methods and by displacement-based Matrix method, plastic collapse of plane frames, structural dynamics and finally a brief introduction to finite element method.

The first book still retains topics now generally taught in design courses and perhaps out of place in a book of this kind. Examples are sections on joints and connections in steel structures, design of reinforced concrete design using "elastic theory". In an effort to update certain topics and make the book encyclopedic, additional material has been tacked on (eg bending stresses in thin-walled cylinders, fibre composites) without any effort to ensure continuity in the order in which concepts are presented. Many concepts are introduced but not used immediately, leaving the reader puzzled as to the utility of the concept. An indication of topics to omit at first reading and also a thorough pruning would have been useful. Sections on finite element method and structural vibrations are too brief to be of value, and it is a serious omission to discuss plastic collapse analysis of frameworks without any mention of limit theorems of plasticity. Apart from these criticisms, the book is well produced with plenty of examples in it.

The second book is "deliberately broad", and hence topics are not necessarily dealt with in detail. For the student, this is a serious drawback. Topics such as finite element method and structural vibrations are discussed at greater length than in the first book. The book is particularly well produced, and there are references for the student to pursue for further details. This approach is suitable at a senior level, but for the ordinary student, this book is best used in conjunction with another book, such as the first one.


Prabhakara Bhatt is senior lecturer in civil engineering, University of Glasgow.

Strength of Materials and Structures: Fourth Edition

Author - John Case, A.H. Chilver and Carl T.F. Ross
ISBN - 0 340 71920 6
Publisher - Butterworth-Heinemann
Price - £21.99
Pages - 706

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