Free energy as a geometric invariant

Mark Pollicott, Howard Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The free energy plays a fundamental role in statistical and condensed matter physics. A related notion of free energy plays an important role in the study of hyperbolic dynamical systems. In this paper we introduce and study a natural notion of free energy for surfaces with variable negative curvature. This geometric free energy encodes a new type of marked length spectrum of closed geodesics, which lies between the well-known marked length spectrum (marked by the corresponding element of the fundamental group) and the unmarked length spectrum. We prove that the free energy parametrizes the boundary of the domain of convergence of a Poincaré series which also encodes this spectrum. We also show that this new length spectrum, or equivalently the geometric free energy, is not an isometry invariant. In the final section we use tools from multifractal analysis to effect a fine asymptotic comparison of word length and geodesic length of closed geodesics. We hope that our geometric understanding of free energy will provide new insight into this fundamental physical and dynamical quantity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-454
Number of pages10
JournalCommunications In Mathematical Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics


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