The weak KAM theory was developed by Fathi in order to study the dynamics of convex Hamiltonian systems. It somehow makes a bridge between viscosity solutions of the Hamilton–Jacobi equation and Mather invariant sets of Hamiltonian systems, although this was fully understood only a posteriori. These theories converge under the hypothesis of convexity, and the richness of applications mostly comes from this remarkable convergence. In this paper, we provide an elementary exposition of some of the basic concepts of weak KAM theory. In a companion paper, Albert Fathi exposed the aspects of his theory which are more directly related to viscosity solutions. Here, on the contrary, we focus on dynamical applications, even if we also discuss some viscosity aspects to underline the connections with Fathi's lecture. The fundamental reference on weak KAM theory is the still unpublished book Weak KAM theorem in Lagrangian dynamics by Albert Fathi. Although we do not offer new results, our exposition is original in several aspects. We only work with the Hamiltonian and do not rely on the Lagrangian, even if some proofs are directly inspired by the classical Lagrangian proofs. This approach is made easier by the choice of a somewhat specific setting. We work on ℝd and make uniform hypotheses on the Hamiltonian. This allows us to replace some compactness arguments by explicit estimates. For the most interesting dynamical applications, however, the compactness of the configuration space remains a useful hypothesis and we retrieve it by considering periodic (in space) Hamiltonians. Our exposition is centred on the Cauchy problem for the Hamilton–Jacobi equation and the Lax–Oleinik evolution operators associated to it. Dynamical applications are reached by considering fixed points of these evolution operators, the weak KAM solutions. The evolution operators can also be used for their regularizing properties; this opens an alternative route to dynamical applications.