The aim of this paper is to provide a survey on the recent development in level set methods in inverse problems and optimal design. We give introductions on the general features of such problems involving geometries and on the general framework of the level set method. In subsequent parts we discuss shape sensitivity analysis and its relation to level set methods, various approaches on constructing optimization algorithms based on the level set approach, and special tools needed for the application of level set based optimization methods to ill-posed problems. Furthermore, we provide a review on numerical methods important in this context, and give an overview of applications treated with level set methods. Finally, we provide a discussion of the most challenging and interesting open problems in this field, that might be of interest for scientists who plan to start future research in this field.
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