I revised the question. In smooth ergodic theory, a diffeomorphism is said to be conservative (I), if it preserves the Lebesgue measure. So for some of us, conservativity is just short for measure-preserving.

On the other hand, we can define the conservative part $C_f$ for general measure-class preserving maps (see below). We can also say $f$ is conservative (II) if $C_f=M$.

My question is:

  • given a smooth map $f:M\to M$, when could we upgrade from conservative (II) to conservativity (I) (up to a change of Riemannian metric, or to some measure $\mu\sim m$)?

  • More generally, when could the restriction $f|_{C_f}$ be conservative (I) (assuming $m(C_f)>0$)?

Let $(X,\mu)$ be a standard measure space and $f:X\to X$ be an isomorphism under which $\mu$ is quasi-invariant. That is, $f^\ast\mu\ll \mu$ and $\mu\ll f^\ast\mu$. A measurable set $E$ is said to be wandering if all $f^nE$, $n\in\mathbb{Z}$ are mutually disjoint.

(We may call it topologically wandering if $E$ is an open subset. So we generalize the classical definition of wandering.)

It has been proved that there exists a maximal wandering set $W$ (up to a $\mu$-null set). Then the dissipative part $D_f$ of $(X,f,\mu)$ is $D_f=\bigsqcup_{\mathbb{Z}}f^nW$. Then $C_f=X\backslash D_f$ is called the conservative part of $(X,f,\mu)$. The induced partition $\lbrace C_f,D_f\rbrace$ is called Hopf decomposition (named by Halmos?)

For example, the dissipative part is trivial if $\mu$ is probability and preserved by $f$ simultaneously.

Observation: by introducing an artificial measure $\nu=\sum_{\mathbb{Z}}f^n(\mu|_W)$, the map can be made $\nu$-preserving on the dissipative part $D_f$.

  • What about the conservative part? Could we make it measure-preserving with respect to some measure?

  • More specifically, let $M$ be a closed manifold, $f:M\to M$ be a smooth diffeomorphism (say $C^\infty$ if necessary), and $m$ be the normalized Lebesgue measure (automatically quasi-invariant). Assume $m(C_f)>0$. When could we find some $\mu\sim m|_{C_f}$ that is preserved by $f$?

Thank you!

  • $\begingroup$ For $C^{1+\alpha}$ Anosov diffeomorphism, Gurevic and Oseledec proved the following dichotomy that either $f$ is completely dissipative, or there exists a smooth invariant measure. A recent preprint of Z. Kosloff (arxiv.org/abs/1410.7707) proved that, there exists a $C^1$ Anosov diffeomorphism which is conservative and ergodic (in the sense of abstract ergodic theory), but does not even admit a $\sigma$-finite invariant measure being absolutely continuous with respect to Lebesgue. So the answer to my question should be 'yes sometimes', but 'no in general'. $\endgroup$
    – Pengfei
    Dec 1, 2014 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


Several comments

(1) There is no need to require invariance or finiteness of the measure in order to define the Hopf decomposition - it makes sense for any quasi-invariant measure.

(2) There is no need to evoke metric spaces, homeomorphisms, manifolds, etc. The Hopf decomposition is defined entirely in the measure category.

(3) There is no reason for existence of an equivalent invariant measure on the conservative part. There are ergodic actions (of so-called type III), for which there is no equivalent invariant measure.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi! In fact your third comment is the reason why require much stronger regularity in my question: do there exist the examples of type III in the category of smooth diffeomorphisms on closed manifolds? That is, in the class of special $\mathbb{Z}$-actions on special spaces. $\endgroup$
    – Pengfei
    Apr 3, 2013 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ I did forget to make the quasi-invariance assumption. I will edit the question. I am aware the existence of the general definition and the classification. Just I am not that familiar with the general scheme... I wonder whether the thpe III can happen in my daily life (that is, diffeomorphisms) :) $\endgroup$
    – Pengfei
    Apr 3, 2013 at 13:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I see. I wouldn't immediately know any type III examples for smooth $\mathbb Z$ actions. The ones I know are either $\mathbb Z$ actions on pretty abstract spaces (e.g., shift on product spaces) or smooth actions of much bigger groups (e.g., boundary actions of Fuchsian or Kleinian groups). $\endgroup$
    – R W
    Apr 3, 2013 at 17:01

Regarding the modified question I first guess that you want your measure to be absolutely continuous with respect to Lebesgue measure (otherwise you can use existence of invariant measures if your manifold is compact and so on but they might be singular).

In certain situations, for example Anosov diffeomorphisms, if your map is $C^2$ then a result of Gurevic and Oseledec shows that the two notions of conservativity agree (that is a recurrent $C^2$ Anosov diffeomorphism has a volume absolutely continuous invariant measure with smooth density). The same proof is true so long as you have absolute continuity of the foliations but then the density might be less regular. There are type $III$, $C^1$ Anosov diffeomorphisms of $\mathbb{T}^2$ so the absolute continuity of folliations is essential in some way.

If you ask about a more general class of diffeomorphisms then Michel Hermann's monograph (in French) has examples of type $III$ diffeomorphisms. See also the paper "On $C^2$-diffeomorphisms of the circle which are of type $III_1$." by Jane Hawkins and Klaus Schmidt and other papers of Hawkins with a similar name. Again if the diffeomorphism is $C^3$ then the situation is different.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.