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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

3 - Structural Dynamics


O students, study mathematics, and do not build without foundations.…

–Leonardo da Vinci

The purpose of this chapter is to convey to students a small introductory portion of the theory of structural dynamics. Much of the theory to which the students will be exposed in this treatment was developed by mathematicians during the time between Newton and Rayleigh. The grasp of this mathematical foundation is therefore a goal that is worthwhile in its own right. Moreover, as implied by the da Vinci quotation, a proper use of this foundation enables the advance of technology.

Structural dynamics is a broad subject, encompassing determination of natural frequencies and mode shapes (i.e., the so-called free-vibration problem), response due to initial conditions, forced response in the time domain, and frequency response. In the following discussion, we deal with all except the last category. For response problems, if the loading is at least in part of aerodynamic origin, then the response is said to be aeroelastic. In general, the aerodynamic loading then will depend on the structural deformation, and the deformation will depend on the aerodynamic loading. Linear aeroelastic problems are considered in subsequent chapters, and linear structured dynamics problems are considered in the present chapter. Other important phenomena, such as limit-cycle oscillations of lifting surfaces, must be treated with sophisticated nonlinear-analysis methodology; however, they are beyond the scope of this text.

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