The geometry of maximal development and shock formation for the Euler equations in multiple space dimensions

Steve Shkoller, Vlad Vicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We construct a fundamental piece of the boundary of the maximal globally hyperbolic development (MGHD) of Cauchy data for the multi-dimensional compressible Euler equations, which is necessary for the local shock development problem. For an open set of compressive and generic H7 initial data, we construct unique H7 solutions to the Euler equations in the maximal spacetime region below a given time-slice, beyond the time of the first singularity; at any point in this spacetime, the solution can be smoothly and uniquely computed by tracing both the fast and slow acoustic characteristic surfaces backward-in-time, until reaching the Cauchy data prescribed along the initial time-slice. The future temporal boundary of this spacetime region is a singular hypersurface, containing the union of three sets: first, a co-dimension-2 surface of “first singularities” called the pre-shock; second, a downstream hypersurface called the singular set emanating from the pre-shock, on which the Euler solution experiences a continuum of gradient catastrophes; third, an upstream hypersurface consisting of a Cauchy horizon emanating from the pre-shock, which the Euler solution cannot reach. We develop a new geometric framework for the description of the acoustic characteristic surfaces which is based on the Arbitrary Lagrangian Eulerian (ALE) framework, and combine this with a new type of differentiated Riemann variables which are linear combinations of gradients of velocity, sound speed, and the curvature of the fast acoustic characteristic surfaces. With these new variables, we establish uniform H7 Sobolev bounds for solutions to the Euler equations without derivative loss and with optimal regularity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInventiones Mathematicae
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics


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