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Restoring geometrical optics near caustics using sequenced metaplectic transforms

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posted on 2023-11-30, 19:43 authored by N. A. Lopez, I. Y. Dodin
Geometrical optics (GO) is often used to model wave propagation in weakly inhomogeneous media and quantum-particle motion in the semiclassical limit. However, GO predicts spurious singularities of the wavefield near reflection points and, more generally, at caustics. We present a new formulation of GO, called metaplectic geometrical optics (MGO), that is free from these singularities and can be applied to any linear wave equation. MGO uses sequenced metaplectic transforms of the wavefield, corresponding to symplectic transformations of the ray phase space, such that caustics disappear in the new variables, and GO is reinstated. The Airy problem and the quantum harmonic oscillator are studied analytically using MGO for illustration. In both cases, the MGO solutions are remarkably close to the exact solutions and remain finite at cutoffs, unlike the usual GO solutions.

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