In many nonlinear equations, the existence of a solution (but not its uniqueness) follows from a topological argument in the vein of BFP Theorem. The BFP is at work especially when the equation is posed in some finite dimensional vector space, and you can establish an *a priori* estimate of the size of the solution. This means that you know a ball $B_R$ containing all the solutions.

The most important example of this situation is the *stationary* Navier-Stokes equation, with Dirichlet condition $u=0$ on the boundary of the domain. Of course, the ambient space is infinite dimensional, so you first establish the existence of an approximate solution in a subspace of dimension $n$ (Galerkin procedure); this is where you use the BFP Theorem, or its equivalent form that a continuous vector field over $B_R$ which is outgoing on $\partial B_R$ must vanish somewhere. Then passing to the limit as $n\rightarrow\infty$ is pedestrian.

The BFP Theorem is a consequence of the fact that the Euler-Poincaré characteristic of the ball is non-zero. There are counterparts when you work on a compact manifold (with boundary) whose EPC is non-zero. This happened to me in a very interesting way. I considered the free fall of a rigid body in water filling the entire space. The mathematical problem is a coupling between Navier-Stokes and the Euler equation for the top. I looked at a permanent regime, in which the solid body has a time-independent velocity field, and that of the fluid is time-independent as well, once you consider it in the moving frame attached to the solid. The difficulty is that you don't know *a priori* the direction of the vertical axis (the direction of gravity) in this frame. After a Galerkin procedure, the problem reduces to the search of a zero of a tangent vector field over $B_R\times S^2$. This vector field is outgoing on the boundary $\partial B_R\times S^2$. Because
$$EP(B_R\times S^2)=EP(B_R)\cdot EP(S^2)=1\cdot2\ne0,$$
such a zero exists. Therefore the permanent regime does exist. Remark that because $EP=2$, we even expect an even number of solutions when counting multiplicities, at least at each level of the Galerkin approximation.

stationarygin molecule, just one which ends up at the same point where it starts. $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Mar 25 '10 at 15:07Matrices(Springer GTM 216) because I used Brouwer FPT to prove that every $n\times n$ real matrix with non-negative entries has a non-negative eigenvalue (its spectral radius). Yet I intended only to illustrate the powerness of Brouver's FPT. The reviewer took it too seriously. $\endgroup$ – Denis Serre Jan 24 '11 at 15:36