Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

On the nonlinear Schrödinger equation with nonzero boundary conditions
by Fagerstrom, Emily, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2015, 100; 3714589
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis is concerned with the study of the nonlinear Schrödinger (NLS) equation, which is important both from a physical and a mathematical point of view. In physics, it is a universal model for the evolutions of weakly nonlinear dispersive wave trains. As such it appears in many physical contexts, such as optics, acoustics, plasmas, biology, etc. Mathematically, it is a completely integrable, infinite-dimensional Hamiltonian system, and possesses a surprisingly rich structure. This equation has been extensively studied in the last 50 years, but many important questions are still open. In particular, this thesis contains the following original contributions:

NLS with real spectral singularities. First, the focusing NLS equation is considered with decaying initial conditions. This situation has been studied extensively before, but the assumption is almost always made that the scattering coefficients have no real zeros, and thus the scattering data had no poles on the real axis. However, it is easy to produce example potentials with this behavior. For example, by modifying parameters in Satsuma-Yajima’s sech potential, or by choosing a “box” potential with a particular area, one can obtain corresponding scattering entries with real zeros. The inverse scattering transform can be implemented by formulating the modified Jost eigenfunctions and the scattering data as a Riemann Hilbert problem. But it can also be formulated by using integral kernels. Doing so produces the Gelf’and-Levitan-Marchenko (GLM) equations. Solving these integral equations requires integrating an expression containing the reflection coefficient over the real axis. Under the usual assumption, the reflection coefficient has no poles on the real axis. In general, the integration contour cannot be deformed to avoid poles, because the reflection coefficient may not admit analytic extension off the real axis. Here it is shown that the GLM equations may be (uniquely) solved using a principal value integral, provided the initial condition satisfies further conditions.

Modulational instability (focusing NLS with symmetric nonzero boundary conditions at infinity.) The focusing NLS equation is considered with potentials that are “box-like” piecewise constant functions. Several results are obtained. In particular, it is shown that there are conditions on the parameters of the potential for which there are no discrete eigenvalues. Thus there is a class of potentials for which the corresponding solutions of the NLS equation have no solitons. Hence, solitons cannot be the medium for the modulational instability. This contradicts a recent conjecture by Zakharov. On the other hand, it is shown for a different class of potentials the scattering problem always has a discrete eigenvalue along the imaginary axis. Thus, there exist arbitrarily small perturbations of the constant potential for which solitons exist, so no area theorem is possible. The existence, number and location of discrete eigenvalues in other situations are studied numerically.

Finally, the small-deviation limit of the IST is computed and compared with the direct linearization of the NLS equation around a constant background. From this it is shown that there is an interval of the continuous spectrum on which the eigenvalue is imaginary and the scattering parameter is imaginary. The Jost eigenfunctions corresponding to this interval are the nonlinear analogue of the unstable Fourier modes.

Defocusing NLS equation with asymmetric boundary conditions at infinity. The defocusing NLS equation with asymmetric boundary conditions is considered. To do so, first the case of symmetric boundary conditions is revisited. While the IST for this case has been formulated in the literature, it is usually done through the use of a uniformization variable. This was done because the eigenvalues of the scattering problem have branching; the uniformization variable allows one to move from a 2-sheeted Riemann surface to the complex plane. In the case of asymmetric boundary conditions, no such uniformization is possible. Here, the symmetric case is reformulated without the use of a uniformization variable; this framework is then used to develop the IST in the case of asymmetric boundary conditions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Biondini, Gino
Commitee: Dimock, Jonathan, Hassard, Brian
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Mathematics
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Applied Mathematics
Keywords: Asymmetric boundary conditions, Infinity, Modulational instability, Nonlinear schrodinger equation, Real spectral singularities
Publication Number: 3714589
ISBN: 9781321921212
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