The theory of large-scale structure is presently one of the most active research areas in cosmology. The important questions being studied include: Did structure form by gravitational instability? What are the nature and amount of dark matter? What is the background cosmological model? What were the initial conditions for structure formation? It is exciting that we can ask these questions seriously, knowing that observational tests are rapidly improving.
Numerous papers and reviews discuss specific theoretical models of large-scale structure, or specific theoretical techniques for constructing and analyzing models. However, there are few coherent presentations of the basic physical theory of the dynamics of matter and spacetime in cosmology. Although there are now several textbooks in this area, I think there is still room for further pedagogical development. My aim in these lecture notes is to provide a detailed yet readable introduction to cosmological dynamics.
Although I gave an evening seminar on N-body techniques for simulating large-scale structure, for reasons of length I have excluded that subject from these notes. The subject is presented elsewhere (e.g., Hockney & Eastwood 1981, Efstathiou et al. 1985, Bertschinger & Gelb 1991, and S. White's notes in this volume). Otherwise, these notes generally follow the lectures I gave in Les Houches, except that my lecture on Lagrangian fluid dynamics has been subsumed into the section on relativistic perturbation theory. The former subject is still evolving, and does not seem to be as fundamental as the subjects of my other lectures.
I would like to thank Andrew Hamilton, Lam Hui, Bhuvnesh Jain, Chung-Pei Ma, Dominik Schwarz, Uroš Seljak, and Simon White for useful comments and discussion, and Rennan Bar-Kana, Chung-Pei Ma, Nick Gnedin, and Marie Machacek for correcting several errors in early drafts. I am grateful to the organizers and students of the Les Houches Summer School for providing the opportunity to present this material. I appreciate the hospitality of John Bahcall and the Institute for Advanced Study, where much of the writing was done. This work was supported by NASA grants NAGW-2807 and NAG5-2816.