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In differential geometry, the Yamabe flow is an intrinsic geometric flow—a process which deforms the metric of a Riemannian manifold. Yamabe flow is for noncompact manifolds. It is the negative L2-gradient flow of the (normalized) total scalar curvature, restricted to a given conformal class: it can be interpreted as deforming a Riemannian metric to a conformal metric of constant scalar curvature, when this flow converges.
The fixed points of the Yamabe flow are metrics of constant scalar curvature in the given conformal class. The flow was first studied in the 1980s in unpublished notes of Richard Hamilton. Hamilton conjectured that, for every initial metric, the flow converges to a conformal metric of constant scalar curvature. This was verified by Rugang Ye in the locally conformally flat case. Later, Brendle, proved convergence of the flow for all conformal classes and arbitrary initial metrics. The limiting constant-scalar-curvature metic is typically no longer a Yamabe minimizer in this context. While the compact case is settled, the flow on complete, non-compact manifolds is not completely understood, and remains a topic of current research.