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24/05/2005, 16:30 — 17:30 — Amphitheatre Pa1, Mathematics Building
, School of Mathematics, Georgia Inst. of Technology

The symmetry of minimizers of variational problems

Physical systems often "relax" to a state of "minimal energy", and finding these minimal energy configurations of the system is a problem in the calculus of variations. Quite often, the solutions, that is, the minimizing configurations, have a special symmetry property that is not an obvious consequence of the energy functional being minimized. How does this symmetry arise? Can we explain it in mathematical and physical terms? A large number of questions in mathematics arise in this way, and it is a very active field of research. In this lecture we shall present several examples, some with recently obtained answers, and others that are still open.

The Mathematics Colloquium is a series of monthly talks organized by the Department of Mathematics of IST, aiming to be a forum for the presentation of mathematical ideas or ideas about Mathematics. The Colloquium welcomes the participation of faculty, researchers and undergraduate or graduate students, of IST or other institutions, and is seen as an opportunity of bringing together and fostering the building up of ideas in an informal atmosphere.

Organizers: Conceição Amado, Lina Oliveira e Maria João Borges.