, Volume 298, Issue 1, pp 37-64
Date: 20 May 2010

Geometrization and Generalization of the Kowalevski Top

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A new view on the Kowalevski top and the Kowalevski integration procedure is presented. For more than a century, the Kowalevski 1889 case, has attracted full attention of a wide community as the highlight of the classical theory of integrable systems. Despite hundreds of papers on the subject, the Kowalevski integration is still understood as a magic recipe, an unbelievable sequence of skillful tricks, unexpected identities and smart changes of variables. The novelty of our present approach is based on our four observations. The first one is that the so-called fundamental Kowalevski equation is an instance of a pencil equation of the theory of conics which leads us to a new geometric interpretation of the Kowalevski variables w, x 1, x 2 as the pencil parameter and the Darboux coordinates, respectively. The second is observation of the key algebraic property of the pencil equation which is followed by introduction and study of a new class of discriminantly separable polynomials. All steps of the Kowalevski integration procedure are now derived as easy and transparent logical consequences of our theory of discriminantly separable polynomials. The third observation connects the Kowalevski integration and the pencil equation with the theory of multi-valued groups. The Kowalevski change of variables is now recognized as an example of a two-valued group operation and its action. The final observation is surprising equivalence of the associativity of the two-valued group operation and its action to the n = 3 case of the Great Poncelet Theorem for pencils of conics.

Communicated by M. Aizenman
Dedicated to my teacher Boris Anatol’evich Dubrovin on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday