Mathematical models of generalized diffusion
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We discuss in this paper equations describing processes involving non-linear and higher-order diffusion. We focus on a particular case (u(t) = 2 lambda (2)(uu(x))(x) + lambda (2)u(xxxx)), which is put into analogy with the KdV equation. A balance of nonlinearity and higher-order diffusion enables the existence of self-similar solutions, describing diffusive shocks. These shocks are continuous solutions with a discontinuous higher-order derivative at the shock front. We argue that they play a role analogous to the soliton solutions in the dispersive case. We also discuss several physical instances where such equations are relevant.