The subject of bending of plates and indeed its extension to shells was one of the first
to which the finite element method was applied in the early 1960s. At that time the
various difficulties that were to be encountered were not fully appreciated and for
this reason the topic remains one in which research is active to the present day.
Although the subject is of direct interest only to applied mechanicians and structural
engineers there is much that has more general applicability, and many of the
procedures which we shall introduce can be directly translated to other fields of

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