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Introduction to Teichmüller theory and its applications to dynamics of interval exchange transformations, flows on surfaces and billiards

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  • This text is an expanded version of the lecture notes of a minicourse (with the same title of this text) delivered by the authors in the Będlewo school ``Modern Dynamics and its Interaction with Analysis, Geometry and Number Theory'' (from 4 to 16 July, 2011).
        In the first part of this text, i.e., from Sections 1 to 5, we discuss the Teichmüller and moduli space of translation surfaces, the Teichmüller flow and the $SL(2,\mathbb{R})$-action on these moduli spaces and the Kontsevich--Zorich cocycle over the Teichmüller geodesic flow. We sketch two applications of the ergodic properties of the Teichmüller flow and Kontsevich--Zorich cocycle, with respect to Masur--Veech measures, to the unique ergodicity, deviation of ergodic averages and weak mixing properties of typical interval exchange transformations and translation flows. These applications are based on the fundamental fact that the Teichmüller flow and the Kontsevich--Zorich cocycle work as renormalization dynamics for interval exchange transformations and translation flows.
        In the second part, i.e., from Sections 6 to 9, we start by pointing out that it is interesting to study the ergodic properties of the Kontsevich--Zorich cocycle with respect to invariant measures other than the Masur--Veech ones, in view of potential applications to the investigation of billiards in rational polygons (for instance). We then study some examples of measures for which the ergodic properties of the Kontsevich--Zorich cocycle are very different from the case of Masur--Veech measures. Finally, we end these notes by constructing some examples of closed $SL(2,\mathbb{R})$-orbits such that the restriction of the Teichmüller flow to them has arbitrary small rate of exponential mixing, or, equivalently, the naturally associated unitary $SL(2,\mathbb{R})$-representation has arbitrarily small spectral gap (and in particular it has complementary series).
    Mathematics Subject Classification: Primary: 37D40; Secondary: 30F10, 30F60, 32G15.


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