Spatial localization is a common feature of physical systems, occurring in both conservative and dissipative systems. This article reviews the theoretical foundations of our understanding of spatial localization in forced dissipative systems, from both a mathematical point of view and a physics perspective. It explains the origin of the large multiplicity of simultaneously stable spatially localized states present in a parameter region called the pinning region and its relation to the notion of homoclinic snaking. The localized states are described as bound states of fronts, and the notions of front pinning, self-pinning, and depinning are emphasized. Both one-dimensional and two-dimensional systems are discussed, and the reasons behind the differences in behavior between dissipative systems with conserved and nonconserved dynamics are explained. The insights gained are specific to forced dissipative systems and are illustrated here using examples drawn from fluid mechanics (convection and shear flows) and a simple model of crystallization.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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