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We now begin the study of (smooth) solutions $t \mapsto (M(t),g(t))$ to the Ricci flow equation

$\frac{d}{dt} g_{\alpha \beta} = - 2 \hbox{Ric}_{\alpha \beta}$, (1)

particularly for compact manifolds in three dimensions. Our first basic tool will be the maximum principle for parabolic equations, which we will use to bound (sub-)solutions to nonlinear parabolic PDE by (super-)solutions, and vice versa. Because the various curvatures $\hbox{Riem}_{\alpha \beta \gamma}^\delta$, $\hbox{Ric}_{\alpha \beta}$, R of a manifold undergoing Ricci flow do indeed obey nonlinear parabolic PDE (see equations (31) from Lecture 1), we will be able to obtain some important lower bounds on curvature, and in particular establishes that the curvature is either bounded, or else that the positive components of the curvature dominate the negative components. This latter phenomenon, known as the Hamilton-Ivey pinching phenomenon, is particularly important when studying singularities of Ricci flow, as it means that the geometry of such singularities is almost completely dominated by regions of non-negative (and often quite high) curvature.

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