This entry deals with the conservation law
and the problem of determining which weak solutions of the above equation are to be considered acceptable. We shall use the idea of vanishing viscosity whereby one considers instead the equation
in the limit as decreases to zero.
We consider a jump discontinuity in the solution with left state and right state and shock speed satisfying the Rankine-Hugoniot condition
and the problem is to determine further conditions on the shock that will hopefully lead to uniqueness as well of existence of weak solutions to the initial value problem for the problem.
Traveling waves. One way to get an answer to our problem is to look for traveling wave solutions to our problem, i.e., solutions on the form
Substituting this into the equation gives
We can integrate this once to get
Now we get
and therefore we shall insist that
In particular, the right hand side of the above ODE has a limit as and so has a limit as well. If this limit is nonzero then of course itself cannot have a limit so in fact the limit must be zero. Thus we get
Besides, the above identity states that is the equation of the straight line joining the two points and on the graph of , that is the secant between those two points. So we have discovered that the graph must lie to one side of that secant for between and .
Theorem. The given equation admits a traveling wave solution of the form above satisfying
if and only if
for all between and where and are chosen so that the above expression is zero when or .
O. Oleinik entropy condition. The entropy condition given by the above theorem is equivalent to the inequalities
This entropy condition was suggested by O. Oleinik but since she gave another entropy condition more commonly associated with her name this condition is often referred to as the viscous profile entropy condition.
Lax entropy condition. The Lax entropy condition is the pair of inequalities
in the case when is either strictly convex or strictly concave. Of course the Lax condition has the advantage that it is very easy to check.