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Constructing solutions to the Björling problem for isothermic surfaces by structure preserving discretization

Bücking, Ulrike; Matthes, Daniel

Inst. Mathematik

In this article, we study an analog of the Björling problem for isothermic surfaces (that are a generalization of minimal surfaces): given a regular curve γ in R3 and a unit normal vector field n along γ, find an isothermic surface that contains γ, is normal to n there, and is such that the tangent vector γ′ bisects the principal directions of curvature. First, we prove that this problem is uniquely solvable locally around each point of γ, provided that γ and n are real analytic. The main result is that the solution can be obtained by constructing a family of discrete isothermic surfaces (in the sense of Bobenko and Pinkall) from data that is read off from γ, and then passing to the limit of vanishing mesh size. The proof relies on a rephrasing of the Gauss-Codazzi-system as analytic Cauchy problem and an in-depth-analysis of its discretization which is induced from the geometry of discrete isothermic surfaces. The discrete-to-continuous limit is carried out for the Christoffel and the Darboux transformations as well.