## The Beltrami EquationThe ``measurable Riemann Mapping Theorem'' (or the existence theorem for quasiconformal mappings) has found a central role in a diverse variety of areas such as holomorphic dynamics, Teichmuller theory, low dimensional topology and geometry, and the planar theory of PDEs. Anticipating the needs of future researchers, the authors give an account of the ``state of the art'' as it pertains to this theorem, that is, to the existence and uniqueness theory of the planar Beltrami equation, and various properties of the solutions to this equation. The classical theory concerns itself with the uniformly elliptic case (quasiconformal mappings). Here the authors develop the theory in the more general framework of mappings of finite distortion and the associated degenerate elliptic equations. The authors recount aspects of this classical theory for the uninitiated, and then develop the more general theory. Much of this is either new at the time of writing, or provides a new approach and new insights into the theory. Indeed, it is the substantial recent advances in non-linear harmonic analysis, Sobolev theory and geometric function theory that motivated their approach here. The concept of a principal solution and its fundamental role in understanding the natural domain of definition of a given Beltrami operator is emphasized in their investigations. The authors believe their results shed considerable new light on the theory of planar quasiconformal mappings and have the potential for wide applications, some of which they discuss. |

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