Seminar on Minimal Surfaces Spring 2022

Prof. Dr. Alessandro Carlotto
Giada Franz
Thu 16-18 / HG D 3.2
First lecture
Course Catalogue
401-3830-22L Seminar on Minimal Surfaces (an Invitation to Geometric Analysis)

This course is meant as an invitation to some key ideas and techniques in Geometric Analysis, with special emphasis on the theory of minimal surfaces. It is primarily conceived for advanced Bachelor or beginning Master students.


The minimal surface equation, examples and basic questions. Parametrized surfaces, first variation of the area functional, different characterizations of minimality. The Gauss map, basic properties. The Douglas-Rado approach, basic existence results for the Plateau problem. Monotonicity formulae and applications, including the Farey-Milnor theorem on knotted curves. The second variation formula, stability and Morse index. The Bernstein problem and its solution in the two-dimensional case. Total curvature, curvature estimates and compactness theorems. Classification results for minimal surfaces of low Morse index.


Three basic references that we will mostly refer to are the following ones:

Further, more specific references will be listed during the first two introductory lectures.

Useful resources

Rules of the seminar

To obtain the credits for the seminar each student has to get strictly more than 70 points over 100. The points are assigned as follows:

At the end of each lecture on Thursday, the speakers and the topics for the next lecture are assigned. For any question or doubt about the preparation of the talk, you can ask the course coordinator during the office hours (Mon 15-17 in HG G 28) or contact her by email to set a different time.

After each lecture, an exercise sheet concerning the topics of that lecture is published on the website. We suggest that everyone tries to solve the problems, but each student is asked to write (in LaTex, using this template) the solution to only one exercise sheet, together with another student.

Diary of the lectures

Date Content Speakers Reference Notes
24.02. Introduction to the course. Minimal surface equation. Some examples and applications. Prof. A. Carlotto [Oss86] §2, [CM11] Ch.1 §1.1
03.03. Local theory of surfaces in \(\mathbb R^3\) Prof. A. Carlotto [Oss86] §1
10.03. First variation of the area Niklas Canova [Oss86] §3 until pp. 23 included
Minimal surfaces and harmonic functions Giada Franz [Oss86] §4 until Lemma 4.2 included
17.03. Stability inequality Aurel Zürcher [CM11] Ch.1 §4 and Ch.1 §5 until Lemma 1.19 included
Bernstein problem Jason Brüderlin [CM11] conclusion of Ch.1 §5
24.03. Minimal surfaces of small total curvature Greg Weiler [Whi16] pp. 15-17
The Weierstrass representation Huaitao Gui [Whi16] pp. 17-20, see also [CM11] Ch.1 §6 Examples
31.03. Monotonicity formula Cosmin Manea [Whi16] pp. 6-8
Extended monotonicity and Farey-Milnor theorem Gabriel Frey [Whi16] pp. 8-12
07.04. Plateau's problem Marek Kurczynski [Whi16] pp. 33-38, see also [CM11] Ch.4 §1
28.04. Basic compactness and curvature estimate Julian Bürge [Whi16] pp. 23-26
Concentration theorem Tristan Strumann [Whi16] pp. 27-29
05.05. Second variation of the area Giada Franz [CM11] Ch.1 §8
12.05. Choi-Schoen theorem - Part I Chiara Tschopp [CM11] pp. 244 - 248 included, without proof of Prop 7.14
Choi-Schoen theorem - Part II Filippo Paiano [CM11] pp. 249 - 251
19.05. Frankel's theorem Elia Mazzucchelli [PW03] Theorem 3 with proof
Hersch trick Tim Haupt [CM11] Ch.7 §2


Assignment date Due date Exercises Solutions Solutions authors Extras
24.02. 09.03. Exercise sheet 1 Solution 1 Tristan Strumann, Chiara Tschopp
03.03. 16.03. Exercise sheet 2 Solution 2 Julian Bürge, Tim Haupt Mathematica code
10.03. 23.03. Exercise sheet 3 Solution 3 Marek Kurczynski, Filippo Paiano
17.03. 30.03. Exercise sheet 4 Solution 4 Elia Mazzucchelli
24.03. 06.04. Exercise sheet 5 Solution 5 Niklas Canova, Aurel Zürcher
07.04. 27.04. Exercise sheet 6 Solution 6 Cosmin Manea
28.04. 11.05. Exercise sheet 7 Solution 7 Jason Brüderlin, Greg Weiler
05.05. 18.05. Exercise sheet 8 Solution 8 Gabriel Frey, Huaitao Gui