Summary: This review is devoted to some inverse problems arising in the context of linear elasticity, namely the identification of distributions of elastic moduli, model parameters or buried objects such as cracks. These inverse problems are considered mainly for three-dimensional elastic media under equilibrium or dynamical conditions, and also for thin elastic plates. The main goal is to overview some recent results, in an effort to bridge the gap between studies of a mathematical nature and problems defined from engineering practice. Accordingly, emphasis is given to formulations and solution techniques which are well suited to general-purpose numerical methods for solving elasticity problems on complex configurations, in particular the finite element method and the boundary element method.
In addition, the virtual work principle is shown to be instrumental for establishing computationally efficient formulae for parameter or geometrical sensitivity, based on the adjoint solution method. Sensitivity formulae are presented for various situations, especially in connection with contact mechanics, cavity and crack shape perturbations, thus enriching the already extensive known repertoire of such results. Finally, the concept of topological derivative and its implementation for the identification of cavities or inclusions are expounded.