Six Themes on Variation
To attract talented young students to research in mathematics is a problem facing all universities. A purpose of the meeting organized at Rice University was to present various aspects of calculus of variation in a way that was understandable to undergraduate students. The workshop was very successful and the reader can find a written version of lectures in this small booklet. The lectures are very well prepared and their topics are quite attractive.
They include a discussion of Euler-Lagrange equations, an introduction to Morse theory, a discussion of minimal surfaces, an explanation of isoperimetric problem and the double bubble conjecture, a presentation of new extraordinary minimal surfaces, a study of string vibrations and of decay of their amplitudes, and differential equations modelling traffic flow. Themes described in the book would need difficult and advanced mathematics for a complete treatment. Nevertheless, the authors succeed in presenting the main ideas of the chosen topics at an understandable and elementary level. The book is recommended to an audience of undergraduate students as well as to teachers looking for inspiration for their own lectures.