Let v : M → R3 be a smooth immersion of a compact, orientable surface. Giving M the Riemannian metric induced by v, let H : M → R be the mean curvature (the arithmetic mean of the principal curvatures κ1 and κ2 at each point). In this notation, the Willmore energy W(M) of M is given by
Calculation of W(M) for a few examples suggests that there should be a better bound than W(M) ≥ 4π for surfaces with genus g(M) > 0. In particular, calculation of W(M) for tori with various symmetries led Willmore to propose in 1965 the following conjecture, which now bears his name
- For every smooth immersed torus M in R3, W(M) ≥ 2π2.