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We view closed orientable 3-manifolds as covers of S^3 branched over hyperbolic links. For a p-fold cover M \to S^3, branched over a hyperbolic link L, we assign the complexity p Vol(S^3 minus L) (where Vol is the hyperbolic volume). We define an invariant of 3-manifolds, called the link volume and denoted LV, that assigns to a 3-manifold M the infimum of the complexities of all possible covers M \to S^3, where the only constraint is that the branch set is a hyperbolic link. Thus the linkdoi:10.2140/agt.2013.13.927 fatcat:56mj7zbfqbh7baqf2talo2jdni