Many engineers are familiar with the finite element method, which involves the analysis of the forces and displacements in a network of discrete elements that are designed to represent the mechanical and geometrical properties of the structure being studied. The last decade has seen the emergence of an alternative method; a method that represents a structure not by discrete elements within the material but by elements on the boundary of the material. The acceptance and ultimate popularity of this latter boundary element method depends to a large extent upon the lucidity of texts that seek to explain the method and also upon the availability of computer programs that apply the method. This book, in my opinion, makes an important contribution in both areas.
The authors, who are Professors in the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering at the University of Minnesota, are well known in the fields of mining engineering and rock mechanics for their papers on the application of boundary element methods in the analysis of stresses and displacements around under-ground excavations. In particular, Professor Crouch has been responsible, perhaps more than anyone else, for the development and application of the displacement discontinuity method.
The first chapter provides a non-mathematical introduction to the boundary element method and gives an explanation of some of the terms used. Chapter 2, which is a review of linear elasticity, contains material that can be found in many standard texts on the theory of elasticity. The inclusion of this material here does serve to