*(I rewrote this question, hopefully it's more clear now. It's still the same question, but I reordered its parts.)*

Let *S* be a surface (possibly non-compact, but no boundary). It seems that there are three different theorems that people sometimes call "the Uniformization Theorem":

There is some constant-curvature metric on

*S*.Given any conformal structure on

*S*, there is a constant-curvature complete metric on*S*that represents it. More precisely,Given any metric

*g*on*S*, there is a (unique) complete metric*g*of constant curvature that represents the same conformal structure, i.e. there is a strictly positive function $f\in C^\infty (S)$ such that_{0}*g'=fg*.Up to diffeomorphism, there is only one conformal structure on the sphere, and two on a topological disk (namely, the disk with the standard hyperbolic metric or the plane with the Euclidean metric).

The first of these is easy, see proof below. It's also easy to see that 3 implies 2, see below.

Henceforth, "Uniformization Theorem" will mean number 3. It is very powerful, but also rather mysterious. Its proofs are rather complicated and usually involve solving a somewhat complicated differential equation, here is a very interesting discussion about that.

I feel that 2, on the other hand, should be simpler, and not require the full power of uniformization to prove it. I also think it is quite distinct in spirit from 3, and so having a different proof for it could be illuminating. So, my basic questions are:

- Are there any nice proofs of 2. that do not use 3.?
- Is there any way to prove 3. from 2.? (this would imply that the answer to the above question is no. This is certainly possible unless we remove the work "unique" from the statement of 2., so we'll do that)

(It would be nice if the proof worked for non-compact surfaces, i.e. with cusps or funnels. Then, however, it could be tricky to make the metric complete - or maybe there is some trick to make any constant-curvature metric complete?)

What follows are the promised proofs together with some vague thoughts on how to prove number 2 using them or otherwise. Ideally, it would be great to have two proofs, one for Ricci flow, and another one with something like the proof of theorem 1. Also, perhaps there are other/better approaches?

## Proof of theorem 1. above (used to be Proof #2, sorry)

Here's a proof that just constructs *some* constant-curvature metric on any compact surface. This basically comes from Thurston's book, and could probably be adapted to surfaces with boundary, although it wouldn't be trivial.

Namely, a genus-*g* surface can be thought of as a regular *4g*-gon with sides glued in the appropriate fashion. (If *g=0*, it's already a sphere, so we ignore this case). For example, a torus is a square with opposite sides glued. So, we can tile the plane with squares, by taking one square and translating it around so that new squares are adjacent to old ones.
We notice that these translations do not change the standard metric, and conclude that the plane modulo a $\mathbb Z^2$ action by translations is a torus with a constant-curvature metric.

Similarly, if $g>1$, we can present a regular *4g*-gon in the hyperbolic plane. By varying its size, we can make the angles at vertices as small as we want (if it's tiny, the angles will be almost as large as they would be for a Euclidean regular *4g*-gon. If it's so huge that the vertices are almost at the line at infinity, the angles will be almost zero. So, we can get any intermediate value). If we make these angles precisely $\frac{2\pi}{4g}$, then translating the *4g*-gons around just like we translated squares before will give us a tiling of the hyperbolic plane. Just like before, quotienting out the hyperbolic plane by the appropriate group will give us our surface with a constant-curvature metric.

**Note** that we can get many other conformal structures on our surface by replacing our *regular* *4g*-gon with an *irregular* one (we can pick any length for each side, I think, as long as the sides we glue have the same length). However, it's not clear that we could get *any* conformal structure this way. So, **this is also a vague approach to proving number 2.**

## Proof idea for number 2: Ricci-like flow (used to be Proof idea #1)

It seems that we could try to apply something like the Ricci flow to the metric *g* on *S* to make its curvature uniform. I don't know enough analysis to fill in the details; I'm wondering whether it's possible to create such a flow so that it does not change the conformal structure. Also, getting a complete metric could be tricky.

*(Many people answered that this is possible. In particular, Dmitri's answer pretty much settled for me this part of the question. Only one small question remains: will these flows work for non-compact surfaces and result in a complete metric? Also, it's not quite clear to me whether the proofs with flows are powerful enough to show #3. My guess would be that they aren't, but Hamilton's paper seems to claim that the Ricci flow proof is.)*

## Appendix: Proof of 2. from Uniformization (#3.) (Used to be Proof #0)

Consider the universal cover $U=\tilde S$ of *S* with the metric *g* pulled back from *S*. By uniformization, there is a conformal map $f: (U,g) \to (X,g_{standard})$ where $(X,g_{standard})$ is one of three: the Poincare disk with the standard hyperbolic metric, the plane with the Euclidean metric, or the sphere with the standard spherical metric. In any case, it's a standard space with a constant-curvature metric.

As Tom's comment pointed out, at least in the hyperbolic case, all conformal maps on the disk preserve the constant-curvature metric (we can list what they all are). Since the covering transformations become conformal maps on *X*, they preserve the metric. So, we can pull $g_{standard}$ back to $U$, and then down to $S$ to get $g_0$. The non-hyperbolic cases can also be dealt with.

**Usual disclaimer**: there might be mistakes, point them out. Thank you!