Mark Pollicott and Howard Weiss
Free energy as a geometric invariant
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ABSTRACT. 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 Poincar\'e 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.