The following paper contains a purely analytical discussion of the problem of the deformation of an isotropic elastic plate under given forces. The problem is an unusually interesting one. It was the first to be attacked (by Lamé and Clapeyron in 1828) after the establishment of the general equations by Navier. The solution of the problem of normal traction given by these authors, when reduced to its simplest form, involves double integrals of simple harmonic functions of the coordinates. The integrals are of complicated form, and practically impossible to interpret, a fact which, without doubt, has had much to do with the neglect of the problem in later times, and the almost complete absence of attempts to establish the approximate theory on the basis of an exact solution. An even more serious defect of Lamé and Clapeyron's solution is that the integrals, as they stand, do not converge. A flaw of this sort has often been treated lightly by physical writers, the non-convergence of an integral being regarded as due to the inclusion of an infinite but unimportant constant. In the present case, however, the infinite terms are not constant, but functions of the coordinates, and the modifications necessary to secure convergence, so far from being unimportant, lead directly to the most significant terms of the solution.
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