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Sven Olof Asplund

Biographical Information

Name: Sven Olof Asplund
Born on 16 June 1902
Deceased on 8 July 1984 in , Västra Götalands län, Sweden, Europe
Place(s) of activity:

Short Biography of Sven Olof Asplund

Following his examinations as a structural engineer at Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology, Asplund worked in the USA from 1925 to 1931. It was there that he was able to play an active part in the upswing in the market for large bridges in the USA at the Melan Arch Bridge Construction Co. and the American Bridge Co.; he also spent time with Robinson & Steinman in New York designing and calculating suspension bridges. After returning to Sweden, he set up a contracting company in Örebro specialising in temporary and permanent suspension bridges with small and medium spans for hydroelectric power stations. In 1943 Asplund completed his dissertation On the Deflection Theory of Suspension Bridges in which he applied the Green function Π(ε) to this non-linear problem. He generalised this elegant approach later for other loadbearing structures, making use of matrix formulation [Asplund, 1958]. From 1949 until his retirement in 1967, Asplund worked as professor of bridge-building at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg; in 1950 he was appointed to the vacant chair of theory of structures following the death of Sven Hultin. In his period as professor of bridge-building and structural mechanics it is his scientific work on the matrix formulation of structural mechanics, with a view to its programming on the computer, that is especially noteworthy. By the second half of the 1940s, he had already formulated a method for analysing pile groups with the help of matrices, which he later generalised [Asplund, 1956]. Asplund had already been working with a mainframe computer at home even before a computer was installed at his university at the end of the 1950s. It is therefore no surprise that he was very active in introducing computers for scientific calculations in general and structural mechanics calculations in particular at Chalmers as well. He was able to draw on his experiences as a visiting professor at universities in California, Florida and Pennsylvania. In 1966 Asplund crowned his scientific life's work with the monograph Structural Mechanics: classical and matrix methods [Asplund, 1966]. One year later, the suspension bridge designed by Asplund over the River Göta in Gothenburg, with a central span of 417.60 m, was opened. The roof structure to the Gothenburg Ullevi Stadium and the Stockholm TV tower (Kaknästornet, opened in 1967) can also be counted among Asplund's ingenious creations. Asplund can be regarded as the founding father of computer-assisted structural mechanics in Sweden, which also gained international acclaim. A number of his doctoral students became successful professors in structural mechanics and related fields in Sweden and abroad, e. g. Alf Samuelsson (1930 – 2005) [Wiberg et al., 2006]. Asplund was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, the Swedish Academy for Engineering and an active member of the International Association for Bridge & Structural Engineering (IABSE).

Main contributions to structural analysis

  • On the Deflection Theory of suspension Bridges [1945];
  • Generalized Elastic Theory for Pile Groups [1956];
  • Column-Beams and suspension bridges analyzed by ‘Green's matrix' [1958];
  • An unified Analysis of indeterminate structures [1961];
  • Practical Calculation of suspension bridges [1963];
  • Structural Mechanics: classical and matrix methods [1965]

Source: Kurrer, Karl-Eugen The History of the Theory of Structures, Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn Verlag für Architektur und technische Wissenschaften GmbH, Berlin (Deutschland), ISBN 3-433-01838-3, 2008; p. 775

Structures and Projects

Participation in the following structures & large-scale projects:

structural engineer



  1. Asplund, Sven Olof (1954): Matrix-analysis of successive moment-distribution. In: IABSE Publications, v. 14 ( 1954).


  2. Asplund, Sven Olof (1948): Influence functions for the angular deviation correction in suspension bridges. Presented at: Troisième Congrès de l'AIPC = Dritter Kongress der IVBH = Third Congress of IABSE, Liège, 13-18 Septembre 1948.


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