We study the motivic Serre invariant of a smoothly bounded algebraic or rigid variety X over a complete discretely valued field K with perfect residue field k. If K has characteristic zero, we extend the definition to arbitrary K-varieties using Bittner’s presentation of the Grothendieck ring and a process of Néron smoothening of pairs of varieties. The motivic Serre invariant can be considered as a measure for the set of unramified points on X. Under certain tameness conditions, it admits a cohomological interpretation by means of a trace formula. In the curve case, we use T. Saito’s geometric criterion for cohomological tameness to obtain more detailed results. We discuss some applications to Weil-Châtelet groups, Chow motives, and the structure of the Grothendieck ring of varieties
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