Acceleration wave

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In the mechanics of continuous media, the behaviour of a material body is described by a number of field variables which are required to satisfy a set of governing partial differential equations arising from balance laws, and from kinematic and constitutive considerations. The variables are generally assumed to have the requisite degree of smoothness consistent with the governing equations, except possibly on surfaces in the body across which some of the variables may suffer jump discontinuities (cf. also Smooth function).

Suppose that a material body occupies a region in at time , and at some later time occupies, in its deformed state, a region . The motion of the body is described by the function , , in which denotes the position at time of a material particle, and its position at time . The function is assumed to be invertible, and both and its inverse are assumed to be continuously differentiable with respect to the spatial and temporal variables on which they depend, except possibly on specified surfaces in the body. A propagating smooth surface divides the body or into two regions, forming a common boundary between them. The unit normal to the surface is considered to be in the direction in which propagates. The region ahead of the surface is denoted by and the region behind the surface is denoted by . Let be an arbitrary scalar-, vector- or tensor-valued function which is continuous in both and . This function has definite limits and at a point on , as the point is approached from and . The jump of at is defined by


The surface is called a singular surface with respect to at time if . A singular surface that has a non-zero normal velocity called a wave. An acceleration wave is a propagating singular surface across which the motion , velocity and (hence) the deformation gradient , are continuous; however, quantities involving second-order derivatives of the motion, such as the acceleration and the time rate of deformation gradient , are discontinuous. Various kinematical and geometrical conditions of compatibility involving the variables and , the normal to the surface, and the speed of the surface, may be derived with the aid of Hadamard's lemma (see, for example, [a2], [a4]). These considerations lead to the propagation condition


which is a statement of balance of linear momentum across the surface; is the Cauchy stress, is the mass density, and is the intrinsic speed of the surface. To make further progress it is necessary to introduce information about the constitution of the material; in the case of an elastic material, for example, (a2) becomes the eigenvalue problem


in which is referred to as the amplitude vector of the acceleration jump, and is the acoustic tensor. This leads to the Fresnel–Hadamard theorem: The amplitude of an acceleration wave travelling in the direction must be an eigenvector of the acoustic tensor ; the corresponding eigenvalue is . It follows that, for real wave speeds to exist, must possess at least one real and positive eigenvalue. The acoustic tensor is symmetric, and consequently its eigenvalues are real, if and only if the material is hyperelastic. In addition, possesses three positive eigenvalues if and only if it is positive definite; in the context of elasticity, positive definiteness of implies that the material is strongly elliptic. Further information on acceleration waves may be found in the references cited.


[a1] A.C. Eringen, E.S. Suhubi, "Elastodynamics" , I , Acad. Press (1975)
[a2] J. Hadamard, "Leçons sur la propagation des ondes et les équations de l'hydrodynamique" , Dunod (1903)
[a3] M.F. McCarthy, "Singular surfaces and waves" A.C. Eringen (ed.) , Continuum Physics II: Continuum Mechanics of Single Surface Bodies , Acad. Press (1975)
[a4] C.-C. Wang, C. Truesdell, "Introduction to rational elasticity" , Noordhoff (1973)
How to Cite This Entry:
Acceleration wave. B.D. Reddy (originator), Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This text originally appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098