In recent years many researchers in material science have focused their attention on the study of composite materials, equilibrium of crystals and crack distribution in continua subject to loads. At the same time several new issues in computer vision and image processing have been studied in depth. The understanding of many of these problems has made significant progress thanks to new methods developed in calculus of variations, geometric measure theory and partial differential equations. In particular, new technical tools have been introduced and successfully applied. For example, in order to describe the geometrical complexity of unknown patterns, a new class of problems in calculus of variations has been introduced together with a suitable functional setting: the free-discontinuity problems and the special BV and BH functions. The conference held at Villa Olmo on Lake Como in September 1994 spawned successful discussion of these topics among mathematicians, experts in computer science and material scientists. von Serapioni, R. und Tomarelli, F.