We depart from a three-dimensional statement of the problem of small bending of elastic plates, for a survey of approximate two-dimensional theories, beginning with Kirchhoff’s fourth-order formulation. After discussing various variational statements of the three-dimensional problem, we describe the development of two-dimensional sixth-order theories by Bolle´, Hencky, Mindlin, and Reissner which take account of the effect of transverse shear deformation. Additionally, we report on an early analysis by Le´vy, on a direct two-dimensional formulation of sixth-order theory, on constitutive coupling of bending and stretching of laminated plates, on higher than sixth-order theories, and on an asymptotic analysis of sixth-order theory which leads to a fourth-order interior solution contribution with first-order transverse shear deformation effects included, as well as to a sequentially determined second-order edge zone solution contribution.

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