Introduction to Mean Curvature Flow (Fall 2017)

Instructor: Prof. Robert (Bob) Haslhofer

Contact Information: roberth(at)math(dot)toronto(dot)edu, BA6208

Lectures: Monday 13--15 and Wednesday 11--12 at the Fields Institute (Stewart Library)

Office Hours: Monday 10--12 in BA6208 (or by appointment)


Course Description: A surface moving so as to decrease its area most efficiently is said to evolve by mean curvature flow. Mean curvature flow is the most natural evolution equation in extrinsic geometry, and shares many features with Hamilton's Ricci flow from intrinsic geometry. Mean curvature flow and its variants have some striking applications in geometry, topology, material science, image processing and general relativity.
In this course we will provide a general introduction to mean curvature flow and its applications. In the first half of the course we will focus on the evolution up to the first singular time, which can be described in the classical framework of smooth differential geometry and partial differential equations. A central challenge is then to extend the solutions beyond the first singular time and to analyze the structure of singularities. This is crucial for the most striking applications, and will be our focus for the second half of the course.

Prerequisites: Some basic background in geometry is required, i.e. you should be familiar with basic concepts such as surfaces, manifolds, Riemannian metrics and the second fundamental form. Some prior knowledge of PDEs is also helpful, but not strictly required.

Grading Scheme: Attendance and participation 20%, Assignments 30%, Exam 50%

K. Ecker: Regularity Theory for Mean Curvature Flow, Birkhauser, 2004
R. Haslhofer, B. Kleiner: Mean curvature flow of mean convex hypersurfaces, CPAM, 2016
T. Ilmanen: Elliptic regularization and partial regularity for motion by mean curvature, Memoirs of the AMS, 1994
C. Mantegazza: Lecture Notes on Mean Curvature Flow, Birkhauser, 2012
B. White: Lecture notes on Mean Curvature flow (lecture notes by O. Chodosh)


Week 1 (Sep 18-24)
Mo: Introduction and motivation - Curve shortening flow, Mean curvature flow
We: Review - Geometry of hypersurfaces

Week 2 (Sep 25-Oct 1)
Mo: Evolution equations under MCF, maximum principle
We: short time existence

Week 3 (Oct 2-Oct 8)
Mo: Derivative estimates, maximal existence time
We: local derivative estimates

Week 4 (Oct 9-Oct 15)
Mo: no class (Thanksgiving)
We: Preserved curvature conditions

Week 5 (Oct 16-Oct 22)
Mo: Huisken's monotonicity formula, type I blowups
We: Classification of mean convex shrinkers

Week 6 (Oct 23-Oct 29)
Mo: Hamilton's estimate, type II blowups, Huisken's convergence theorem
We: Local regularity theorem

Week 7 (Oct 30-Nov 5)
Mo: Andrews' noncollapsing estimate
We: Local curvature estimate
Sa+Su: Minischool on Mean Curvature Flow and Ricci flow

Week 8 (Nov 6-Nov 12)
Mo-Fr: Workshop on Mean Curvature Flow and Ricci flow
We 4pm: Colloquium by Prof. Huisken

Week 9-12 (Nov 13-Dec 10)
Level set flow, Brakke flow, elliptic regularization, convexity estimate, global curvature estimate, structure theorem, partial regularity theorem