Given a point ξ on a complex abelian variety A, its abelian logarithm can be expressed as a linear combination of the periods of A with real coefficients, the Betti coordinates of ξ. When (A, ξ) varies in an algebraic family, these coordinates define a system of multivalued real-analytic functions. Computing its rank (in the sense of differential geometry) becomes important when one is interested about how often ξ takes a torsion value (for instance, Manin’s theorem of the kernel implies that this coordinate system is constant in a family without fixed part only when ξ is a torsion section). We compute this rank in terms of the rank of a certain contracted form of the Kodaira–Spencer map associated to (A, ξ) (assuming A without fixed part, and Zξ Zariski-dense in A), and deduce some explicit lower bounds in special situations. For instance, we determine this rank in relative dimension ≤ 3 , and study in detail the case of jacobians of families of hyperelliptic curves. Our main application, obtained in collaboration with Z. Gao, states that if A→ S is a principally polarized abelian scheme of relative dimension g which has no non-trivial endomorphism (on any finite covering), and if the image of S in the moduli space Ag has dimension at least g, then the Betti map of any non-torsion section ξ is generically a submersion, so that ξ-1Ators is dense in S(C).
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