Two-point functions and their applications in geometry
The maximum principle is one of the most important tools in the analysis of geometric partial differential equations. Traditionally, the maximum principle is applied to a scalar function defined on a manifold, but in recent years more sophisticated versions have emerged. One particularly interesting direction involves applying the maximum principle to functions that depend on a pair of points. This technique is particularly effective in the study of problems involving embedded surfaces.
In this survey, we first describe some foundational results on curve shortening flow and mean curvature flow. We then describe Huisken's work on the curve shortening flow where the method of two-point functions was introduced. Finally, we discuss several recent applications of that technique. These include sharp estimates for mean curvature flow as well as the proof of Lawson's 1970 conjecture concerning minimal tori in .