Nonlinear Dispersive Waves and Whitham’s Equations

  • Lokenath Debnath


Historically, the study of nonlinear dispersive waves started with the pioneering work of Stokes in (Trans. Camb. Philos. Soc. 8:197–229, 1847) on water waves. Stokes first proved the existence of periodic wavetrains which are possible in nonlinear dispersive wave systems. He also determined that the dispersion relation on the amplitude produces significant qualitative changes in the behavior of nonlinear waves. It also introduces many new phenomena in the theory of dispersive waves, not merely the correction of linear results. These fundamental ideas and the results of Stokes have provided a tremendous impact on the subject of nonlinear water waves, in particular, and on nonlinear dispersive wave phenomena, in general. Stokes’ profound investigations on water waves can be considered as the starting point for the modern theory of nonlinear dispersive waves. In fact, most of the fundamental concepts and results on nonlinear dispersive waves originated in the investigation of water waves. The study of nonlinear dispersive waves has proceeded at a very rapid pace with remarkable developments over the past three decades.


Dispersion Relation Solitary Wave Group Velocity Water Wave Dispersive Wave 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of Texas, Pan AmericanEdinburgUSA

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