(Non-)unique limits of geometric flows / The Landau equation as a gradient flow

15 October 2020
James Kohout / Jeremy Wu

In the study of geometric flows it is often important to understand when a flow which converges along a sequence of times going to infinity will, in fact, converge along every such sequence of times to the same limit. While examples of finite dimensional gradient flows that asymptote to a circle of critical points show that this cannot hold in general, a positive result can be obtained in the presence of a so-called Lojasiewicz-Simon inequality. In this talk we will introduce this problem of uniqueness of asymptotic limits and discuss joint work with Melanie Rupflin and Peter M. Topping in which we examined the situation for a geometric flow that is designed to evolve a map describing a closed surface in a given target manifold into a parametrization of a minimal surface.


The Landau equation is an important PDE in kinetic theory modelling plasma particles in a gas. It can be derived as a limiting process from the famous Boltzmann equation. From the mathematical point of view, the Landau equation can be very challenging to study; many partial results require, for example, stochastic analysis as well as a delicate combination of kinetic and parabolic theory. The major open question is uniqueness in the physically relevant Coulomb case. I will present joint work with Jose Carrillo, Matias Delgadino, and Laurent Desvillettes where we cast the Landau equation as a generalized gradient flow from the optimal transportation perspective motivated by analogous results on the Boltzmann equation. A direct outcome of this is a numerical scheme for the Landau equation in the spirit of de Giorgi and Jordan, Kinderlehrer, and Otto. An extended area of investigation is to use the powerful gradient flow techniques to resolve some of the open problems and recover known results.

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  • PDE CDT Lunchtime Seminar