Faculty Profiles

David Benson

Professor Emeritus, SE

Computational mechanics and computer methods for solving problems in mechanical engineering.

Professor Benson's general area of research is the development of algorithms for nonlinear finite element analysis on super-computers. Applications include the detailed modeling of an automobile crashing into a wall. His current research includes the modeling of ductile void growth in metals at the microscopic level, the development of algorithms for Eulerian finite element programs, and the analysis of the shock compaction of superconductors. Automobile companies worldwide routinely use Benson's research on contact methods to simulate crashes and improve automotive safety. Additional applications of his research include simulating the effects of terrorist bombs on board aircraft, how explosives detonate on the microscopic level, the synthesis and processing of novel materials, and the ballistic impact of synthetic multifunctional materials that mimic the unique microstructures found in nature (e.g. spider webs, conch shells, etc). One recent, unique application of his research concerned the design by JPL of a Mars lander that would return a sample of Mars to Earth. NASA requires that the sample container be perfectly sealed to avoid contaminating Earth and the sample. JPL proposed sealing the container with explosive welding, a technique that was investigated experimentally by his colleagues and simulated with his research software.

Capsule Bio:

David Benson came to UCSD in 1987 after spending time as a research engineer at the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. His professional distinctions include: Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineering, Member of the ASME Committee for Computing in Applied Mechanics, and Member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the International Journal for Plasticity.


  • Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, 1983, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • M.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1980, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1978, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


  • Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • Fellow, U. S. Association of Computational Mechanics

Selected Publications:

  • Benson, D. J., "A New Two-Dimensional Flux-Limited Shock Viscosity for Impact Calculations," Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, Vol. 93, 1991, pp. 39-95.
  • Benson, D. J., "Momentum Advection on a Staggered Mesh," Journal of Computational Physics, Vol. 100, No. 1, May 1992, pp. 143-162.
  • Benson, D. J., "Computational Methods in Lagrangian and Eulerian Hydrocodes," Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, Vol. 99, 1992, pp. 235-394.
  • Benson, D. J., "An Analysis of Void Distribution Effects on the Dynamic Growth and Coalescence of Voids in Ductile Metals," Journal of Mechanics and Physics of Solids,Vol. 41, No. 8, 1993, pp. 1285-1308.
  • Benson, D. J., "An Analysis by Direct Numerical Simulation of the Effects of Particle Morphology on the Shock Compaction of Copper Powder," Modelling and Simulations in Materials Science and Engineering, 1994, Vol. 2, pp.535-550.
  • Benson, D. J., "Dynamic Compaction of Copper Powder: Computation and Experiment," Applied Physics Letters, July 25, 1994, Vol. 65, No. 4, pp. 418-420.
  • Benson, D. J., “Stable Time Step Estimation for Multi-material Eulerian Hydrocodes,” Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, Vol. 167, 1998, 191-205.
  • Conley, P., Benson, D. J., “An Estimate Of The Linear Strain Rate Dependence Of Octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine,” Journal of Applied Physics,  Vol. 86, No. 12, pp. 6717-6728, 1999.
  • Benson DJ. Fu HH. Meyers MA. On the effect of grain size on yield stress: extension into nanocrystalline domain. Materials Science & Engineering A-Structural Materials Properties Microstructure & Processing. 319(Special Issue SI):854-861, 2001.
  • Benson, D. J., “Volume of Fluid Interface Reconstruction Methods for Multi-material Problems,” Applied Mechanics Reviews, Vol. 55, No. 2, 151-165, 2002.
  • Vitali, E. and D. J. Benson, “An Extended Finite Element Formulation For Contact In Multi-Material Arbitrary Lagrangian-Eulerian Calculations,” International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, V67, 1420-1444, (2006).
  • M.A. Meyers, A. Mishra and D.J. Benson “Mechanical properties of nanocrystalline materials,” Progress in Materials Science, Volume 51, Issue 4 , May 2006, Pages 427-556.
  • Kolling, S., P. A. DuBois, D. J. Benson, and W. W. Feng, “A Tabulated Formulation of Hyperelasticity with Rate Effects and Damage,” Computational Mechanics, Vol. 40,  No. 5, pp. 885-899 (2007).
  • Carney, Kelly S., David J. Benson, Paul DuBois, and Ryan Lee. “A Phenomenological High Strain Rate Model with Failure for Ice,” International Journal of Solids and Structures, Vol. 43 (25-26), pp. 7820-7839, April 15, 2006.
  • M.A. Meyers, A. Mishra, and D.J. Benson, “Mechanical properties of nanocrystalline materials,” Progress in Materials Science, v 51, n 4, May 2006, pp. 427-556.
  • Vitali, E., Benson, D.J., “Contact with Friction in Multi-Material Arbitrary Lagrangian-Eulerian Formulations Using X-FEM,” International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, Vol. 76, No. 6, pp. 893-921 (2008).
  • Meyers, M.A.,  Traiviratana, S.,  Lubarda, V.A.,  Benson, D.J., Bringa, E.M., “The Role of Dislocations in the Growth of Nanosized Voids in Ductile Failure of Metals,” JOMVol. 61, No. 2, pp. 35-41 (2009).
  • Benson, D. J., Bazilevs, Y., Hsu, M. C., and Hughes, T. J. R., “Isogeometric Shell Analysis: The Reissner-Mindlin Shell”, Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, DOI information: 10.1016/j.cma.2009.05.011, v 199 n 5-8 p 276-289 (2010).
  • Benson, D. J., Bazilevs, Y., Hsu, M. C., and Hughes, T. J. R., “Isogeometric Shell Analysis: The Reissner-Mindlin Shell”, Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, DOI information: 10.1016/j.cma.2009.05.011, v 199 n 5-8 p 276-289 (2010).
  • De Luycker, E., Benson, D. J., Belytschko, T., Bazilevs, Y., and Hsu, M-C, “X-FEM In Isogeometric Analysis For Linear Fracture Mechanics,” International Journal For Numerical Methods In Engineering, V 87,  N 6, 541-565,  DOI: 10.1002/Nme.3121, (2011).
  • Vitali, Efrem ,Wei, Chung-Ting, Benson, David J., Meyers, Marc A. “Effects Of Geometry And Intermetallic Bonding On The Mechanical Response, Spalling And Fragmentation Of Ni-Al Laminates,” Acta Materialia, V 59, N 15, P 5869-5880, (2011).
  • Vitali, Efrem, Benson, David J.  “Modeling Localized Failure With Arbitrary Lagrangian Eulerian Methods,” Computational Mechanics, V 49, N 2, 197-212, (2012)

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Institute Affiliations:

California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology