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Mark Levi : Arnold diffusion in physical examples

Arnold diffusion is the phenomenon of loss of stability of a completely integrable Hamiltonian system: an arbitrarily small perturbation can cause action to change along some orbit by a finite amount. Arnold produced the first example of diffusion and gave an outline of the proof. After a brief overview of related results I will describe the simplest example of Arnold diffusion which we found recently with Vadim Kaloshin. We consider geodesics on the 3-torus, or equivalently rays in a periodic optical medium in $ {\mathbb R} ^3 $ (or equivalently a point mass in a periodic potential in $ {\mathbb R} ^3 $.) Arnold diffusion has a transparent intuitive explanation and a simple proof. Resonances and the so-called ``whiskered tori" acquire a clear geometrical interpretation as well. I will conclude with a sketch of a different but related manifestation of Arnold diffusion as acceleration of a particle by a pulsating potential. This is joint work with Vadim Kaloshin.

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