On surfaces with prescribed shape operator

Journal Article

The problem of immersing a simply connected surface with a prescribed shape operator is discussed. From classical and more recent work, it is known that, aside from some special degenerate cases, such as when the shape operator can be realized by a surface with one family of principal curves being geodesic, the space of such realizations is a convex set in an affine space of dimension at most 3. The cases where this maximum dimension of realizability is achieved have been classified and it is known that there are two such families of shape operators, one depending essentially on three arbitrary functions of one variable (called Type I in this article) and another depending essentially on two arbitrary functions of one variable (called Type II in this article). In this article, these classification results are rederived, with an emphasis on explicit computability of the space of solutions. It is shown that, for operators of either type, their realizations by immersions can be computed by quadrature. Moreover, explicit normal forms for each can be computed by quadrature together with, in the case of Type I, by solving a single linear second order ODE in one variable. (Even this last step can be avoided in most Type I cases.) The space of realizations is discussed in each case, along with some of their remarkable geometric properties. Several explicit examples are constructed (mostly already in the literature) and used to illustrate various features of the problem.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bryant, RL

Published Date

  • July 11, 2001

Published In

  • Results Math. 40 (2001), No. 1 4, 88 121