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Fluid mechanics can be divided into fluid statics, the study of fluids at rest, and fluid dynamics, the study of fluids in motion. It is a branch of continuum mechanics, a subject which models matter without using the information that it is made out of atoms.
The study of fluid mechanics goes back at least to the days of ancient Greece, when Archimedes made a beginning on fluid statics. However, fluid mechanics, especially fluid dynamics, is an active field of research with many unsolved or partly solved problems. Fluid mechanics can be mathematically complex. Sometimes it can best be solved by numerical analysis, typically using computers. A modern discipline, called Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), is devoted to this approach to solving fluid mechanics problems.
Relationship to continuum mechanics
Fluid mechanics is a subdiscipline of continuum mechanics, as illustrated in the following table.
|Continuum mechanics: the study of the physics of continuous materials.||Solid mechanics: the study of the physics of continuous materials with a defined rest shape.||Elasticity: which describes materials that return to their rest shape after an applied stress.|
|Plasticity: which describes materials that permanently deform after a large enough applied stress.||Rheology: the study of materials with both solid and fluid characteristics|
|Fluid mechanics: the study of the physics of continuous materials which take the shape of their container.||Non-Newtonian fluids|
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