How does the applicant of a patent cite prior art? Is it necessary to cite prior art that I'm aware of in a first filing (provisional)?
It is done by filing a document called an Information Disclosure Statement with the USPTO in the case file. An IDS is only allowed in a regular non-provisional application, not in a provisional application IDS directions for on-line submittal (link fixed)
No information disclosure statement may be filed in a provisional application.
This may be obvious, but you only need to cite what you are aware of - no positive requirement to go looking for it, but you should look so you will know what you are up against and can tailor your application accordingly.