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The integral of mean curvature squared is a conformal invariant that measures the distance from a given immersion to the standard embedding of a round sphere. Following work of Robert Bryant who showed that all Willmore spheres in the 3-sphere are conformally minimal, Robert Kusner proposed in the early 1980s to use the Willmore energy to obtain an “optimal” sphere eversion, called the min-max sphere eversion.
We will present a method due to Tristan Rivière that permits to tackle a wide variety of min-max problems, including ones about the Willmore energy. An important step to solve Kusner’s conjecture is to determine the Morse index of branched Willmore spheres, and we show that the Morse index of conformally minimal branched Willmore spheres is equal to the index of a canonically associated matrix whose dimension is equal to the number of ends of the dual minimal surface.
- PDE CDT Lunchtime Seminar