Inserted: 24 apr 2010
Last Updated: 12 jun 2018
Journal: Ann. Sci. Ecole Norm. S.
We investigate a new geometric flow which consists of a coupled system of the Ricci flow on a closed manifold M with the harmonic map flow of a map phi from M to some closed target manifold N with a (possibly time-dependent) positive coupling constant alpha. This system can be interpreted as the gradient flow of an energy functional Falpha which is a modification of Perelman's energy F for the Ricci flow, including the Dirichlet energy for the map phi. Surprisingly, the coupled system may be less singular than the Ricci flow or the harmonic map flow alone. In particular, we can always rule out energy concentration of phi a-priori - without any assumptions on the curvature of the target manifold N - by choosing alpha large enough. Moreover, if alpha is bounded away from zero it suffices to bound the curvature of (M,g(t)) to also obtain control of phi and all its derivatives - a result which is clearly not true for alpha = 0. Besides these new phenomena, the flow shares many good properties with the Ricci flow. In particular, we can derive the monotonicity of an entropy functional Walpha similar to Perelman's Ricci flow entropy W and of so-called reduced volume functionals. We then apply these monotonicity results to rule out non-trivial breathers and geometric collapsing at finite times.