Causality, caustics, and the structure of transient wave fields

Michael G. Brown, Frederick D. Tappert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Transient acoustic wave fields in the vicinity of caustics in both two and three space dimensions are considered. In the vicinity of some possible caustics, the time history of the wave field due to an impulsive source includes a precursor. This noncausal behavior is reconciled with the physical principle of causality by requiring that such caustics be a part of certain higher dimensional caustics. With this constraint all noncausal arrivals are preceded by a causal arrival and the total time history is causal. This constraint is used to derive some simple general properties of transient wave fields in the short wave limit, e.g., the number of arrivals must be an odd number.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-255
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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