Nonlinear Wave Motion in Viscoelasticity and Free Surface Flows

  • Nail Ussembayev

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This dissertation revolves around various mathematical aspects of nonlinear wave motion in viscoelasticity and free surface flows. The introduction is devoted to the physical derivation of the stress-strain constitutive relations from the first principles of Newtonian mechanics and is accessible to a broad audience. This derivation is not necessary for the analysis carried out in the rest of the thesis, however, is very useful to connect the different-looking partial differential equations (PDEs) investigated in each subsequent chapter. In the second chapter we investigate a multi-dimensional scalar wave equation with memory for the motion of a viscoelastic material described by the most general linear constitutive law between the stress, strain and their rates of change. The model equation is rewritten as a system of first-order linear PDEs with relaxation and the well-posedness of the Cauchy problem is established. In the third chapter we consider the Euler equations describing the evolution of a perfect, incompressible, irrotational fluid with a free surface. We focus on the Hamiltonian description of surface waves and obtain a recursion relation which allows to expand the Hamiltonian in powers of wave steepness valid to arbitrary order and in any dimension. In the case of pure gravity waves in a two-dimensional flow there exists a symplectic coordinate transformation that eliminates all cubic terms and puts the Hamiltonian in a Birkhoff normal form up to order four due to the unexpected cancellation of the coefficients of all fourth order non-generic resonant terms. We explain how to obtain higher-order vanishing coefficients. Finally, using the properties of the expansion kernels we derive a set of nonlinear evolution equations for unidirectional gravity waves propagating on the surface of an ideal fluid of infinite depth and show that they admit an exact traveling wave solution expressed in terms of Lambert’s W-function. The only other known deep fluid surface waves are the Gerstner and Stokes waves, with the former being exact but rotational whereas the latter being approximate and irrotational. Our results yield a wave that is both exact and irrotational, however, unlike Gerstner and Stokes waves, it is complex-valued.
Date of AwardJul 24 2020
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorPeter Markowich (Supervisor)


  • weakly nonlinear surface waves
  • Birkhoff normal form
  • Integrable systems
  • Hamiltonian PDEs
  • Water waves problem
  • Zener model

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