Explorations of Infinitesimal Inverse Spectral Geometry
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Spectral geometry is a mathematical discipline that studies the relationship between the geometry of Riemannian manifolds and the spectra of natural differential operators defined on them. The spectra of Laplacians are the ones most studied in this context. A sub-field of this discipline, called inverse spectral geometry, studies how much geometric information one can recover from such spectra. The motivation behind our study of inverse spectral geometry is a physical one. It has recently been proposed that inverse spectral geometry could be the missing mathematical link between quantum field theory and general relativity needed to unify those theories into a single theory of quantum gravity. Unfortunately, this proposed link is not well understood. Most of the efforts in inverse spectral geometry were historically concentrated on the generation of counterexamples to the most general formulation of inverse spectral geometry and the few positive results that exist are quite limited. In order to remedy to that, it has been proposed to linearize the problem, and study an infinitesimal version of inverse spectral geometry. In this thesis, I begin by reviewing the theory of pseudodifferential operators and using it to prove the spectral theorem for elliptic operators. I then define the commonly used Laplacians and survey positive and negative results in inverse spectral geometry. Afterwards, I briefly discuss a coordinate free reformulation of Riemannian geometry via the notion of spectral triple. Finally, I introduce a formulation of inverse spectral geometry adapted for numerical implementations and apply it to the inverse spectral geometry of a particular class of star-shaped domains in ℝ².