Stress tensor

From Encyclopedia of Mathematics
Jump to: navigation, search

A tensor defining the distribution of internal stresses in a body under strain. The stress tensor is a symmetric tensor $\sigma_{ij}$ of rank 2. The component $\sigma_{ik}$ is the $i$-th component of the force acting on a unit surface perpendicular to the $x_k$-axis. Thus, acting on a unit area perpendicular to the $x$-axis, one has a normal stress $\sigma_{xx}$ (i.e. a force in the direction of the $x$-axis) and shearing stresses (i.e. forces in the directions of the $y$- and $z$-axes) $\sigma_{yx}$ and $\sigma_{zx}$. The stressed state defined by the components of the stress tensor can be resolved into two stressed states. The first is that characterized by the isotropic stress tensor:


with $p$ the hydrostatic pressure.

The second stressed state is characterized by the components of the deviatoric stress tensor:



[1] L.D. Landau, E.M. Lifshitz, "Elasticity theory" , Pergamon (1959) (Translated from Russian)


In general continuum theory, the stress tensor is not necessarily symmetric. The symmetry is lost when coupled stresses are present (polar materials).


[a1] C. Truesdell, W. Noll, "The non-linear field theories of mechanics" S. Flügge (ed.) , Handbuch der Physik , III/3 , Springer (1965) pp. 1–602
[a2] C. Truesdell, R. Toupin, "The classical field theories" S. Flügge (ed.) , Handbuch der Physik , III/1 , Springer (1960) pp. 226–793
[a3] I.S. [I.S. Sokolnikov] Sokolnikoff, "Mathematical theory of elasticity" , McGraw-Hill (1956) (Translated from Russian)
How to Cite This Entry:
Stress tensor. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by A.B. Ivanov (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article