 Recommended Texts:

Almgren, Plateau's Problem: An Invitation to Varifold Geometry, Revised Ed, AMS (Stud.Math.Lib 13)
Morgan, Geometric Measure Theory: A Beginner's Guide, 3nd Ed, Academic Press
Morgan, Riemannian Geometry: A Beginner's Guide, 2nd Ed, A K Peters
Oprea, Differential Geometry and Its Application, Prentice Hall
Osserman, Geometry V, Springer (Enc.Math.Sci 90)
 Outline:

This course will cover variational problems in geometry,
primarily the geometry of surfaces in (euclidean or spherical) space.
Specifically, it will concentrate on problems of minimizing area,
which lead to minimal surfaces, or constantmeancurvature surfaces
if there is a volume constraint.
This course will give an overview of the different methods
(from geometric measure theory, partial differential equations,
and complex analysis) which have been used to study minimal
surfaces.
Minimal surfaces arise physically in soap films and foams.
We will also consider their varied mathematical applications,
which include the study of threemanifolds and the positivemass
conjecture in relativity.
As time permits, we will look at other geometric optimization problems,
like surfaces minimizing Willmore's elastic bending energy.
The course will include an introduction to Brakke's
Evolver,
a piece of mathematical software for numerical simulation of solutions
to such problems.
