Inserted: 19 sep 2022
Last Updated: 20 sep 2022
We construct and study the intrinsic sub-Laplacian, defined outside the set of characteristic points, for a smooth hypersurface embedded in a contact sub-Riemannian manifold. We prove that, away from characteristic points, the intrinsic sub-Laplacian arises as the limit of Laplace--Beltrami operators built by means of Riemannian approximations to the sub-Riemannian structure using the Reeb vector field. We carefully analyse three families of model cases for this setting obtained by considering canonical hypersurfaces embedded in model spaces for contact sub-Riemannian manifolds. In these model cases, we show that the intrinsic sub-Laplacian is stochastically complete and in particular, that the stochastic process induced by the intrinsic sub-Laplacian almost surely does not hit characteristic points.