The history of the elastica is examined through the works of various contributors, including those of Jacob and Daniel Bernoulli, since its first appearance in a 1690 contest on finding the profile of a hanging flexible cord. Emphasis will be given to Leonhard Euler’s variational approach to the elastica, laid out in his landmark 1744 book on variational techniques. Euler’s variational approach based on the concept of differential value is highlighted, including the derivation of the general equation for the elastica from the differential value of the first kind, from which nine shapes adopted by a flexed lamina under different end conditions are obtained. To show the potential of Euler’s variational method, the development of the unequal curvature of elastic bands based on the differential value of the second kind is also examined. We also revisited some of Euler’s examples of application, including the derivation of the Euler-Bernoulli equation for the bending of a beam from the Euler-Poisson equation, the pillar critical load before buckling, and the vibration of elastic laminas, including the derivation of the equations for the mode shapes and the corresponding natural frequencies. Finally, the pervasiveness of Euler’s elastica solution found in various studies over the years as given on recent reviews by third parties is highlighted, which also includes its major role in the development of the theory of elliptic functions.

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