The purpose of this book is to present a full spectrum of views on current approaches to modeling cell mechanics. In part, this diversity of opinions stems from the different backgrounds of those who have contributed to the field. The authors of this book come from the biophysics, bioengineering, and physical chemistry communities, and each joins the discussion with their own unique perspective on biological systems. Consequently, the approaches range from finite element methods as commonly used in continuum mechanics, to models of the cytoskeleton as a cross-linked polymer network, to models of glassy materials and gels. Studies reflect both the static, instantaneous nature of the structure as well as its dynamic nature due to polymerization and the full array of biological processes. It is unlikely that a single, unifying approach will evolve from this diversity, in part because of the complexity of the phenomena underlying the mechanical properties of the cell. It is our hope, however, that a better appreciation of the various perspectives will lead to a more highly coordinated approach to these essential problems, and might facilitate discussions among those with differing views.

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