Modulation instability: The beginning

V. E. Zakharov, L. A. Ostrovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

507 Scopus citations


We discuss the early history of an important field of "sturm and drang" in modern theory of nonlinear waves. It is demonstrated how scientific demand resulted in independent and almost simultaneous publications by many different authors on modulation instability, a phenomenon resulting in a variety of nonlinear processes such as envelope solitons, envelope shocks, freak waves, etc. Examples from water wave hydrodynamics, electrodynamics, nonlinear optics, and convection theory are given.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-548
Number of pages9
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 15 2009


  • Active systems
  • BFL criterion
  • Envelope waves
  • Instability
  • Nonlinear Schrodinger equation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


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