**Abstract:** | The response of an ideal elastic half‐space to a line‐concentrated impulsive vector shear force applied momentarily is obtained by an analytical–numerical computational method based on the theory of characteristics in conjunction with kinematical relations derived across surfaces of strong discontinuities. The shear force is concentrated along an infinite line, drawn on the surface of the half‐space, while being normal to that line as well as to the axis of symmetry of the half‐space. An exact loading model is introduced and built into the computational method for this shear force. With this model, a compatibility exists among the prescribed applied force, the geometric decay of the shear stress component at the precursor shear wave, and the boundary conditions of the half‐space; in this sense, the source configuration is exact. For the transient boundary‐value problem described above, a wave characteristics formulation is presented, where its differential equations are extended to allow for strong discontinuities which occur in the material motion of the half‐space. A numerical integration of these extended differential equations is then carried out in a three‐dimensional spatiotemporal wavegrid formed by the Cartesian bicharacteristic curves of the wave characteristics formulation. This work is devoted to the construction of the computational method and to the concepts involved therein, whereas the interpretation of the resultant transient deformation of the half‐space is presented in a subsequent paper. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. |