Caustics are places where the light intensity diverges, and where the wave front has a singularity. We use a self-similar description to derive the detailed spatial structure of a cusp singularity, from where caustic lines originate. We also study singularities of higher order, which have their own, uniquely three-dimensional structure. We use this insight to study shock formation in classical compressible Euler dynamics. The spatial structure of these shocks is that of a caustic, and is described by the same similarity equation.
- Industrial and Applied Mathematics Seminar