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Weil-Petersson curves, traveling salesman theorems, and minimal  surfaces

Chris Bishop, SUNY Stonybrook

Location:  Zoom Meeting; Contact a faculty member for link
Date & time: Friday, 02 December 2022 at 2:00PM - 3:00PM

Weil-Petersson curves are a class of rectifiable closed curves in the plane, defined as the closure of the smooth curves with respect to the Weil-Petersson metric defined by Takhtajan and Teo in 2006. Their work solved a problem from string theory by making the space of closed loops into a Hilbert manifold, but the same class of curves also arises naturally in complex analysis, geometric measure theory, probability theory, knot theory, computer vision, and other areas. No geometric description of Weil-Petersson curves was known until 2019, but there are now more than twenty equivalent conditions. One involves inscribed polygons and can be explained to a calculus student. Another is a strengthening of Peter Jones's traveling salesman condition characterizing rectifiable curves. A third says a curve is Weil-Petersson iff it bounds a minimal surface in hyperbolic 3-space that has finite total curvature. I will discuss these and several other characterizations and sketch why they are all equivalent to each other. The lecture will contain many pictures, several definitions, but not too many proofs or technical details.

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