Abstract:
I review the state of the art of the investigation on the structure formation in $f(R)$-gravity based on the Covariant and Gauge Invariant approach to perturbations. A critical analysis of the results, in particular the presence of characteristic signature of these models, together with their meaning and their implication is given.

Abstract:
We propose a new dynamical system formalism for the analysis of f(R) cosmologies. The new approach eliminates the need for cumbersome inversions to close the dynamical system and allows the analysis of the phase space of f(R)-gravity models which cannot be investigated using the standard technique. Differently form previously proposed similar techniques, the new method is constructed in such a way to associate to the fixed points scale factors, which contain four integration constants (i.e. solutions of fourth order differential equations). In this way a new light is shed on the physical meaning of the fixed points. We apply this technique to some f(R) Lagrangians relevant for inflationary and dark energy models.

Abstract:
We revisit the relativistic restricted two-body problem with spin employing a perturbation scheme based on Lie series. Starting from a post-Newtonian expansion of the field equations, we develop a first-order secular theory that reproduces well-known relativistic effects such as the precession of the pericentre and the Lense-Thirring and geodetic effects. Additionally, our theory takes into full account the complex interplay between the various relativistic effects, and provides a new explicit solution of the averaged equations of motion in terms of elliptic functions. Our analysis reveals the presence of particular configurations for which non-periodical behaviour can arise. The application of our results to real astrodynamical systems (such as Mercury-like and pulsar planets) highlights the contribution of relativistic effects to the long-term evolution of the spin and orbit of the secondary body.

Abstract:
We discuss a mechanism that induces a time-dependent vacuum energy on cosmological scales. It is based on the instability induced renormalization triggered by the low energy quantum fluctuations in a Universe with a positive cosmological constant. We employ the dynamical systems approach to study the qualitative behavior of Friedmann-Robertson-Walker cosmologies where the cosmological constant is dynamically evolving according with this nonperturbative scaling at low energies. It will be shown that it is possible to realize a "two regimes" dark energy phases, where an unstable early phase of power-law evolution of the scale factor is followed by an accelerated expansion era at late times.

Abstract:
The 1+3 covariant approach and the covariant gauge-invariant approach to perturbations are used to analyze in depth conformal transformations in cosmology. Such techniques allow us to obtain very interesting insights on the physical content of these transformations, when applied to non-standard gravity. The results obtained lead to a number of general conclusions on the change of some key quantities describing any two conformally related cosmological models. In particular, it is shown that the physics in the Einstein frame has characteristics which are completely different from those in the Jordan frame. Even if some of the geometrical properties of the cosmology are preserved (homogeneous and isotropic Universes are mapped into homogeneous and isotropic universes), it can happen that decelerating cosmologies are mapped into accelerated ones. Differences become even more pronounced when first-order perturbations are considered: from the 1+3 equations it is seen that first-order vector and tensor perturbations are left unchanged in their structure by the conformal transformation, but this cannot be said of the scalar perturbations, which include the matter density fluctuations. Behavior in the two frames of the growth rate, as well as other evolutionary features, like the presence or absence of oscillations, etc., appear to be different too. The results obtained are then explicitly interpreted and verified with the help of some clarifying examples based on $f(R)$-gravity cosmologies.

Abstract:
The dynamical system approach has recently acquired great importance in the investigation on higher order theories of gravity. In this talk I review the main results and I give brief comments on the perspectives for further developments.

Abstract:
The evolution equations for tensor perturbations in a generic scalar tensor theory of gravity are presented. Exact solution are given for a specific class of theories and Friedmann-Lema\^{i}tre-Robertson-Walker backgrounds. In these cases it is shown that, although the evolution of tensor models depends on the choice of parameters of the theory, no amplification is possible if the gravitational interaction is attractive.

Abstract:
We propose a new reconstruction method for scalar--tensor gravity based on the use of conformal transformations. The new method allows the derivation of a set of interesting exact cosmological solutions in brans Dicke gravity as well as other extensions of General Relativity.

Abstract:
In this paper, the issue how to introduce matter in Ho\v{r}ava-Lifshitz theories of gravity is addressed. This is a key point in order to complete the proper definition of these theories and, what is very important, to study their possible phenomenological implications. As is well known, in Ho\v{r}ava-Lifshitz gravity the breakdown of Lorentz invariance invalidates the usual notion of minimally coupled matter. Two different approaches to bypass this problem are here described. One is based on a Kaluza-Klein reinterpretation of the 3+1 decomposition of the gravity degrees of freedom, what naturally leads to a definition of a U(1) gauge symmetry and, hence, to a new type of minimal coupling. The other approach relies on a midi-superspace formalism and the subsequent parametrization of the matter stress-energy tensor in terms of deep infrared variables. Using the last option, the phase space of the Horava-Lifshitz cosmology in the presence of general matter couplings is studied. It is found, in particular, that the equation of state of the effective matter may be very different from the actual matter one, owing to the non-linear interactions which exists between matter and gravity.

Abstract:
Using the dynamical system approach, properties of cosmological models based on the Horava-Lifshitz gravity are systematically studied. In particular, the cosmological phase space of the Horava-Lifshitz model is characterized. The analysis allows to compare some key physical consequences of the imposition (or not) of detailed balance. A result of the investigation is that in the detailed balance case one of the attractors in the theory corresponds to an oscillatory behavior. Such oscillations can be associated to a bouncing universe, as previously described by Brandenberger, and will prevent a possible evolution towards a de Sitter universe. Other results obtained show that the cosmological models generated by Horava-Lifshitz gravity without the detailed balance assumption have indeed the potential to describe the transition between the Friedmann and the dark energy eras. The whole analysis leads to the plausible conclusion that a cosmology compatible with the present observations of the universe can be achieved only if the detailed balance condition is broken.