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Engineering Sciences 240: Solid Mechanics

Zhigang Suo's picture

This page is for ES 240 taught in Fall 2013.  See also

Fall 2013, MWF 10-11 am, Maxwell-Dworkin Laboratory 319


  • An undergraduate course on the mechanics of solids (stres, strain, pulling a rod, bending a beam, twisting a shaft...)
  • Multi-variable calculus
  • Linear algebra (linear space, vector, quadratic form, linear operator, eigenvector)
  • Differential equations

Lecture notes 

Supplementary notes

Optional topics

Grade distribution

  • Homework (40%)
  • Final exam (60%)


  • This is the first graduate course on the mechanics of solids.
  • Keep your own notes.  I'll post my notes online. My notes are mainly written for me, and are not self-contained. As such, my notes may present a distorted view of the subject and of the course.  In particular, many figures are missing in my notes.

Followup courses in solid mechanics 


Konstantin Volokh's picture

Landau & Lifshitz' Theory of Elasticity is a very good fit to this course. The reading is tough but worth the effort.

Zhigang Suo's picture

I look at several of their books from time to time, and have enjoyed parts of their presentation. Perhaps all the Landau & Lifshitz's books have the same character: they are excellent if you are studying the subjects for the 2nd or nth time, but are hard going if you encounter the subjects for the first time.

This said, new students of mechanics should at least take a look at the volumes on elasticity, fluid mechanics, and analytical mechanics, and decide for yourself if they appeal to you.

Konstantin Volokh's picture


Sure you are right. I 'read' LL together with my students. Without my help it would be tough for them. LL books are written in a terse style but the organization and the choice of the material is outstanding (for my taste).


Zhigang Suo's picture

Kosta and ES 240 Students:

I looked at Landau & Lifshitz's text on elasticity again a few days ago, and was deeply impressed once again by their fine presentation of the subject. Students may also benefit from studying the solved probelms. Multiple copies of the book are available at Harvard Libraries.

Kosta: How do you use this book in your class? What is the reaction of your students to the book?

Konstantin Volokh's picture


 I just take a paragraph, say Large Deflections of Plates, and perform all transformations of formulas on the blackboard. Contrary to the original L&L text, however, I comment on every step making it clear for everybody.

When I read Landau's texts I realize that he was a genius. The only problem is that he assumed everybody to be at his level. This assumption is false and I am trying to link the Landau level to ours...

Truly yours,


jqu's picture


It is interesting to see the difference in curriculum.  At GT, we don't really have an entry level graduate course in mechanics per se.  If anything, our continuum mechanics (we use Malvern's book) may be considered the first course on solid mechanics.  Our curriculum is more focused.  We don't have survey type of courses that cover a bit of everything.  All we have are separate causes on elasticity (including both 2D and 3D), viscoelasticity (not offered often), vibration, waves, FEM, etc.  I guess it has to do with the history as well as the technological nature of our school.  We don't really have a mechanics major.  The school of engineering mechanics was dissolved before I joined GT in 1989.  Our students consider themselves as mechanical engineers.

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