Visualizing Math

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Minimal Surface

In mathematics, a minimal surface is a surface that locally minimizes its area. This is equivalent to having a mean curvature of zero. The term “minimal surface” is used because these surfaces originally arose as surfaces that minimized total surface area subject to some constraint. Physical models of area-minimizing minimal surfaces can be made by dipping a wire frame into a soap solution, forming a soap film, which is a minimal surface whose boundary is the wire frame. However the term is used for more general surfaces that may self-intersect or do not have constraints.

Art by Paul Nylander.

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