This is the first full exposition in print of a subject in whose development over the past fifteen years the author has been a prime participant. As an approach to the study of mechanical vibrations, statistical energy analysis (SEA) has found new applications and adherents with each passing year. The name SEA was coined to emphasize the essential feature of the approach: "Statistical" indicates that the dynamical systems under study are presumed to be drawn from statistical populations or ensembles in which the distribution of the parameters is known. "Energy" denotes the primary variable of interest. "Analysis" is used to underscore the fact that SEA is a general framework of methods rather than a particular technique.
Vibration is a ubiquitous problem for mechanical engineers, especially those concerned with the design of aircraft, spacecraft launch vehicles, ships, and similar structures composed of such elements as plates and beams. SEA provides the designer with a method for estimating the response characteristics of such structures to vibratory excitations, from which he can predict the potential for structural fatigue, component failure, and human discomfort caused by noise or excessive vibration levels. SEA is particularly appropriate in applications involving relatively large and lightweight structures, such as those designed for aerospace use. These statistical models are also helpful to mechanical designers who are charged with making environmental and vibratory response estimates at a stage in a project whese structural detail is not yet known. Moreover, SEA provides an approach to a number of vibration problems that cannot, from a practical viewpoint, be solved by classical methods.