Bob Glassey

I am sadden to learn that Bob Glassey passed away this weekend after a long illness. Bob was a pioneer in the mathematical study of kinetic theory and nonlinear wave equations. He, together with Walter Strauss, was the first to initiate the mathematical study of Vlasov-Maxwell systems that describe the dynamics of a collisionless plasma. One of his fundamental theorems, known as Glassey-Strauss’ theorem (ARMA 1986), is to assert that solutions to the relativistic Vlasov-Maxwell system in the three dimensional space do not develop singularities as long as the velocity support remains bounded. The latter condition was subsequently verified by him and his former PhD student Jack Schaeffer for the case of low dimensions; namely, when particles are limited to one or two spatial domains. Their work has inspired several attempts from the mathematical community to tackle the full three dimensional case, which remains an outstanding open problem in the field.

Together with J. Schaeffer, Bob was also one of the first to initiate the mathematical study of Landau damping for Vlasov-Poisson systems in the presence of low frequency (or unconfined spatial domain). More precisely, for confined plasma (say, plasma on a torus), it was discovered and fully understood by Landau in the 40s that at the linearized level near a Gaussian, the electric field decays exponentially or polynomially depending on the regularity of initial data in the large time. The linear Landau damping remains to hold for more general spatially homogenous equilibria, known as Penrose stable equilibria. Later, Mouhot and Villani (Acta Math, 2011) verified this damping for data with analyticity for the nonlinear equations. In the unconfined case, Glassey and Schaeffer proved that the linear damping holds and is optimal at a much slower rate, which is surprisingly worse for Gaussians, due to the failure of the Penrose stability condition that holds in the confined case.

Bob also made fundamental and beautiful studies on the blowup issue for semilinear Heat, Wave, and Schr\”odinger (e.g., the Glassey’s trick), among other things. His book “The Cauchy problem in kinetic theory (SIAM 1996)” remains a fundamental textbook in the field.

Although Bob was already retired when I came to Indiana for my graduate study, he kindly participated and generously offered valuable guidances in a working seminar that I ran on the DiPerna-Lions theory for Boltzmann equations in the summer of 2008.

Move to New Blog Address

I moved to this NEW blog address, hosted by Penn State University, more secure and no ads. Sorry for the inconvenience.

In a recent joint work with Daniel Han-Kwan (CMLS, Ecole polytechnique) and Frédéric Rousset (Paris-Sud University), we give an alternative proof of the Landau damping for screened Vlasov-Poisson system near stable homogenous equilibria on the whole space, a result that was first established by Bedrossian, Masmoudi and Mouhot, for data with finite Sobolev regularity (they remarked that 36 derivatives were sufficient). In this work, via a Lagrangian approach, we prove the Landau damping for data with essentially Lipschitz regularity, yielding the time decay estimates that are essentially sharp, being the same as those for free transport, up to a logarithmic correction. Below, I shall briefly present the result and sketch the proof.

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Dafermos and Rodnianski introduced an {r^p}-weighted vector field method to obtain boundedness and decay of solutions to wave equations on a Lorentzian background, avoiding to use global vector field multipliers and commutators with weights in {t} and thus proving to be more robust in dealing with black holes such as in Schwarzschild and Kerr background metrics. The approach has found numerous applications; see, for instance, Dafermos-Rodnianski, Moschidis, or Keir for many insightful discussions. In this blog post, I will give some basic details of this approach, based on lecture notes of S. Klainerman, focusing mostly on the flat Minkowski spacetime.

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In his famous 1981 paper, Mourre gave a sufficient condition for a self-adjoint operator {H} to assure the absence of its singular continuous spectrum. More precisely, consider a self-adjoint operator {H} on a Hilbert space {\mathcal{H}} (e.g., {L^2} with the usual norm), and assume that there is a self-adjoint operator {A}, called a conjugate operator of {H} on an interval {I\subset \mathbb{R}}, so that

\displaystyle P_I i[H,A] P_I \ge \theta_I P_I + P_I K P_I \ \ \ \ \ (1)

for some positive constant {\theta_I} and some compact operator {K} on {\mathcal{H}}, where {P_I} denotes the spectral projection of {H} onto {I}, the commutator {[H,A] = HA - AH}, and the inequality is understood in the sense of self-adjoint operators. Then, Mourre’s main results are

  • the point spectrum of {H} in the interior of {I} is finite.
  • for any closed interval {J \Subset I \cap \sigma_c(H)} and any {z\in J}, the operator {\langle A \rangle^{-1} (H - z - i\epsilon)^{-1} \langle A\rangle^{-1}} is bounded on {\mathcal{H}} uniformly as {\epsilon \rightarrow 0}, where {\langle A \rangle = \sqrt{1+|A|^2}}.

The Mourre’s theory is proven to be very useful in the study of spectral and scattering theory for Schrödinger operators and other dispersive PDEs. For instance, it yields the limiting absorbing principle, which in turn gives the Kato’s local smoothing estimate and the scattering RAGE’s theorem; for instance, see this blog post of T. Tao.

Below, I shall give a sketch of the proof of the Mourre’s beautiful theorem, then derive some local decay estimates on solutions to Schrödinger equations, and discuss some quick applications to linear damping in fluids.

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In 1904, Prandtl introduced his famous boundary layer theory in order to describe the behavior of solutions of incompressible Navier Stokes equations near a boundary as the viscosity goes to 0. His Ansatz was that the solution of Navier Stokes equations can be described as a solution of Euler equations, plus a boundary layer corrector, plus a vanishing error term in L^\infty in the inviscid limit. In this post, I briefly announce my recent work with E. Grenier (ENS Lyon) on the Prandtl’s boundary layer theory, where we prove

  • the Prandtl’s Ansatz is false for shear profiles that are unstable to Rayleigh equations;
  • the Prandtl’s asymptotic expansion is invalid for shear profiles that are monotone and stable to Rayleigh equations.


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This is part of my lecture notes on Kinetic Theory of Gases, taught at Penn State last semester, Fall 2017. In this part, I’d like to introduce this nice Bardos-Degond 1985’s global solutions to the Vlasov-Poisson system. Of course, the global smooth solutions are already constructed, without any restriction on size of initial data (e.g., Pfaffelmoser, Schaeffer ’91; see also the previous lecture), however they give no information on their asymptotic behavior at large time. Now, for initial data that are sufficiently small near zero, Bardos and Degond were able to construct global smooth solutions that decay in large time. To my knowledge, this was the first result where dispersion is rigorously shown for kinetic equations (they appear to be motivated by similar results for nonlinear wave equations where dispersion was (still is) the key to deduce the global behavior at the large time; e.g., Klainerman, Ponce, Shatah, among others, in the early 80s).

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