This workshop in the first week of the Programme has two main aims:
To set the stage for the Programme as a whole, with an introduction to basic models, methods and results as well as outstanding problems, and to bring together researchers working in the field of liquid crystals with mathematicians working on bifurcation theory and geometric mechanics with emphasis on symmetry.
The goal is to inspire mathematicians to work on problems related to liquid crystals, and to introduce liquid crystal experts to new approaches and geometric techniques from bifurcation theory. With these aims in view, the talks will generally have an expository flavour as appropriate for an audience of mathematicians and physicists with diverse backgrounds.
It is anticipated that both the concepts and the interactions initiated at this workshop will continue to develop throughout the Programme, resulting in collaborations and the exploration of new areas.