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The Inverse Mean Curvature Flow: Singularities, Dynamical Stability, and Applications to Minimal Surfaces


This dissertation concerns the Inverse Mean Curvature Flow of closed hypersurfaces in Euclidean Space, and its relationship with minimal surfaces. Inverse Mean Curvature Flow is an extrinsic geometric flow which has become prominent in differential geometry because of its applications to geometric inequalities and general relativity, but deep questions persist about its analytic and geometric structure. The first four chapters of this dissertation focus on singularity formation in the flow, the flow behavior near singularities, and the dynamical stability of round spheres under mean-convex perturbations.

On the topic of singularities, I establish the formation of a singularity for all embedded flow solutions which do not have spherical topology within a prescribed time interval. I later show that mean-convex, rotationally symmetric tori undergo a flow singularity wherein the flow surfaces converge to a limit surface without rescaling, contrasting sharply with the singularities of other extrinsic geometric flows. On the topic of long-time behavior, I show that all flow solutions whichexist and remain embedded for some minimal time depending only on initial data must exist for all time and asymptotically converge to round spheres at large times. In the fourth chapter, I utilize this characterization to establish dynamical stability of the round sphere under certain mean-convex, axially symmetric perturbations that are not necessarily star-shaped.

In the last chapter, I relate questions of singularities and dynamical stability for the InverseMean Curvature Flow to the mathematics of soap films. Specifically, I show that certain families of solutions to Plateau’s problem do not self-intersect and remain contained within a given region of Euclidean space. I accomplish this using a barrier method arising from global embedded solutions of Inverse Mean Curvature Flow. Conversely, I also use minimal disks to establish that a singularity likely forms in the flow of a specific mean-convex embedded sphere.

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