## Abstract

Following the philosophy behind the theory of maximal representations, we introduce the volume of a Zimmer's cocycle Gamma x X -> PO degrees (n, 1), where Gamma is a torsion-free (non-)uniform lattice in PO degrees (n, 1), with n > 3, and X is a suitable standard Borel probability Gamma-space. Our numerical invariant extends the volume of representations for (non-)uniform lattices to measurable ...

## Abstract

Following the philosophy behind the theory of maximal representations, we introduce the volume of a Zimmer's cocycle Gamma x X -> PO degrees (n, 1), where Gamma is a torsion-free (non-)uniform lattice in PO degrees (n, 1), with n > 3, and X is a suitable standard Borel probability Gamma-space. Our numerical invariant extends the volume of representations for (non-)uniform lattices to measurable cocycles and in the uniform setting it agrees with the generalized version of the Euler number of self-couplings. We prove that our volume of cocycles satisfies a Milnor-Wood type inequality in terms of the volume of the manifold Gamman). Additionally this invariant can be interpreted as a suitable multiplicative constant between bounded cohomology classes. This allows us to define a family of measurable cocycles with vanishing volume. The same interpretation enables us to characterize maximal cocycles for being cohomologous to the cocycle induced by the standard lattice embedding via a measurable map X -> PO degrees (n, 1) with essentially constant sign. As a by-product of our rigidity result for the volume of cocycles, we give a different proof of the mapping degree theorem. This allows us to provide a complete characterization of maps homotopic to local isometries between closed hyperbolic manifolds in terms of maximal cocycles. In dimension n = 2, we introduce the notion of Euler number of measurable cocycles associated to a closed surface group and we show that it extends the classic Euler number of representations. Our Euler number agrees with the generalized version of the Euler number of self-couplings up to a multiplicative constant. Imitating the techniques developed in the case of the volume, we show a Milnor-Wood type inequality whose upper bound is given by the modulus of the Euler characteristic of the associated closed surface. This gives an alternative proof of the same result for the generalized version of the Euler number of self-couplings. Finally, using the interpretation of the Euler number as a multiplicative constant between bounded cohomology classes, we characterize maximal cocycles as those which are cohomologous to the one induced by a hyperbolization.