Archive for Rational Mechanics and Analysis

, Volume 231, Issue 3, pp 1487–1530 | Cite as

Nonlinear Modulational Instability of Dispersive PDE Models

  • Jiayin Jin
  • Shasha Liao
  • Zhiwu LinEmail author


We prove nonlinear modulational instability for both periodic and localized perturbations of periodic traveling waves for several dispersive PDEs, including the KDV type equations (for example the Whitham equation, the generalized KDV equation, the Benjamin–Ono equation), the nonlinear Schrödinger equation and the BBM equation. First, the semigroup estimates required for the nonlinear proof are obtained by using the Hamiltonian structures of the linearized PDEs. Second, for the KDV type equations the loss of derivative in the nonlinear terms is overcome in two complementary cases: (1) for smooth nonlinear terms and general dispersive operators, we construct higher order approximation solutions and then use energy type estimates; (2) for nonlinear terms of low regularity, with some additional assumptions on the dispersive operator, we use a bootstrap argument to overcome the loss of a derivative.


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Zhiwu Lin is supported in part by NSF Grants DMS-1411803 and DMS-1715201. Shasha Liao is partially supported by the China Scholarship Council No. 20150620040.

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Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest for the research in this paper.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MathematicsGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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