The classical Euclidean problem studied by Bonnet in the 19th century was to determine whether, and in how many ways, a Riemannian surface can be isometrically embedded into Euclidean 3-space so that its mean curvature is a prescribed function. He found that, generically, specifying a metric and mean curvature admitted no solution but that there are special cases in which, not only are there solutions, but there are even 1-parameter families of distinct (i.e., mutually noncongruent) solutions. Much later, these Bonnet surfaces were found to be intimately connected with integrable systems and Lax pairs. In this talk, I will consider the analogous problem in affine geometry: To determine whether, and in how many ways, a surface endowed with a Riemannian metric g and a function H can be immersed into affine 3-space in such a way that the induced Blaschke metric is g and the induced affine mean curvature is H. This affine problem is, in many ways, richer and more interesting than the corresponding Euclidean problem. I will classify the pairs (g,H) that display the greatest flexibility in their solution space and explain what is known about the (suspected) links with integrable systems and Lax pairs.
Reaction-diffusion equations are widely used to model spatial propagation, and constant-speed "traveling waves" play a central role in their dynamics. These waves are well understood in "essentially 1D" domains like cylinders, but much less is known about waves with noncompact transverse structure. In this direction, we will consider traveling waves of the Fisher–KPP reaction-diffusion equation in the Dirichlet half-space. We will see that minimal-speed waves are unique (unlike faster waves) and exhibit curious asymptotics. The arguments rest on the theory of conformal maps and a powerful connection with the probabilistic system known as branching Brownian motion.
This is joint work with Julien Berestycki, Yujin H. Kim, and Bastien Mallein.
Strikingly regular, large-scale patterns of vegetation growth were first documented by aerial photography in the Horn of Africa circa 1950 and are now known to exist in drylands across the globe. The patterns often appear on very gently sloped terrain as bands of dense vegetation alternating with bare soil, and models suggest that they may be a strategy for maximizing usage of the limited water available. A particular challenge for modeling these patterns is appropriately resolving fast processes such as surface water flow during rainstorms while still being able to capture slow dynamics such as the uphill migration of the vegetation bands, which has been observed to occur on the scale of a band width per century. We propose a pulsed-precipitation model that treats rainstorms as instantaneous kicks to the soil water as it interacts with vegetation on the timescale of plant growth. We use a stochastic rainfall model with the influence of fast storm-level hydrology captured by the spatial distribution of the soil water kicks. The model allows for predictions about the influence of storm characteristics on the large-scale patterns. Analysis and simulations suggest that the distance water travels on the surface before infiltrating into the soil during a typical storm plays a key role in determining the spacing between the bands.