A point source of light is placed inside an oval. The nth caustic by reflection is the envelope of the light rays emanating from the light source after n reflections off the curve. We show that, for a generic point light source, each of these caustics has at least 4 cusps. This is a billiard variation on Jacobi’s Last Geometric Statement concerning the number of cusps of the conjugate locus of a point on a convex surface. We present various proofs, using different ideas, including the curve shortening flow and Legendrian knot theory.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Mathematics