A continuum of exponents for the rate of escape of random walks on groups

Stochastic Analysis Seminar Series

A central question in the theory of random walks on groups is how symmetries of the underlying space gives rise to structure and rigidity of the random walks. For example, for nilpotent groups, it is known that random walks have diffusive behavior, namely that the rate of escape, defined as the expected distance of the walk from the identity satisfies E|Xn|~=n^{1/2}. On nonamenable groups, on the other hand we have E|Xn| ~= n. (~= meaning upto (multiplicative) constants )

In this work, for every 3/4 <= \beta< 1 we construct a finitely generated group so that the expected distance of the simple random walk from its starting point after n steps is n^\beta (up to constants). This answers a question of Vershik, Naor and Peres. In other examples, the speed exponent can fluctuate between any two values in this interval.

Previous examples were only of exponents of the form 1-1/2^k or 1 , and were based on lamplighter (wreath product) constructions.(Other than the standard beta=1/2 and beta=1 known for a wide variety of groups) In this lecture we will describe how a variation of the lamplighter construction, namely the permutational wreath product, can be used to get precise bounds on the rate of escape in terms of return probabilities of the random walk on some Schreier graphs. We will then show how groups of automorphisms of rooted trees, related to automata groups , can be constructed and analyzed to get the desired rate of escape.  This is joint work with Balint Virag of the University of Toronto. (Paper available at http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.6226)

No previous knowledge of random walks,automaton groups or wreath products is assumed.


Gidi Amir (University of Toronto)

Monday, February 18, 2013 - 15:45
to 16:45