We study the cohomology of Deligne-Lusztig varieties with aim the construction of actions of Hecke algebras on such cohomologies, as predicted by the conjectures of Broué, Malle and Michel ultimately aimed at providing an explicit version of the abelian defect conjecture. We develop the theory for varieties associated to elements of the braid monoid and partial compactifications of them. We are able to compute the cohomology of varieties associated to (possibly twisted) rank 2 groups and powers of the longest element w0 (some indeterminacies remain for G2). We use this to construct Hecke algebra actions on the cohomology of varieties associated to w0 or its square, for groups of arbitrary rank. In the subsequent work [F. Digne, J. Michel, Endomorphisms of Deligne-Lusztig varieties, Nagoya J. Math. 183 (2006)], we construct actions associated to more general regular elements and we study their traces on cohomology. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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