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The shape of water, metamorphosis and infinite-dimensional geometric mechanics

Darryl D Holm
Imperial College London


Whenever we say the words "fluid flows" or "shape changes" we enter the realm of infinite-dimensional geometric mechanics. Water, for example, flows. In fact, Euler's equations tell us that water flows a particular way. Namely, it flows to get out of its own way as adroitly as possible. The shape of water changes by smooth invertible maps called diffeos (short for diffeomorphisms). The flow responsible for this optimal change of shape follows the path of shortest length, the geodesic, defined by the metric of kinetic energy. Not just the flow of water, but the optimal morphing of any shape into another follows one of these optimal paths.

The lecture will be about the commonalities between fluid dynamics and shape changes and will be discussed in the language most suited to fundamental understanding -- the language of geometric mechanics. A common theme will be the use of momentum maps and geometric control for steering along the optimal paths using emergent singular solutions of the initial value problem for a nonlinear partial differential equation called EPDiff, that governs metamorphosis along the geodesic flow of the diffeos. The main application will be in the registration and comparison of Magnetic Resonance Images for clinical diagnosis and medical procedures.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
11:00AM AP&M 2402