This book provides an overview of direct methods such as limit and shakedown analysis, which are intended to do away with the need for cumbersome step-by-step calculations and determine the loading limits of mechanical structures under monotone, cyclic or variable loading with unknown loading history. The respective contributions demonstrate how tremendous advances in numerical methods, especially in optimization, have contributed to the success of direct methods and their practical applicability to engineering problems in structural mechanics, pavement and general soil mechanics, as well as the design of composite materials. The content reflects the outcomes of the workshop “Direct Methods: Methodological Progress and Engineering Applications,” which was offered as a mini-symposium of PCM-CMM 2019, held in Cracow, Poland in September 2019.