Dagur Tómas Ásgeirsson (06/02/2019)

Valentina Giangreco, January 29, 2019

Math Colloquium

Speaker: Dagur Tómas Ásgeirsson

Title: Palindromes in Finite Groups

Location: TG-227 Tæknistofan, (Tæknigarður)
Time: Miðvikudagur 6. febrúar kl. 11.00


A subset P of a group G is called palindromic if it contains the identity element, and satisfies the property that for all a,b in P, the element aba also belongs to P. The Magnus-Derek game is a two-player game in which one of the players, Magnus, moves a token around a group by specifying a group element while the other player, Derek, decides whether Magnus multiplies the current position of the token by the specified element or its inverse, and moves the token to the resulting element. Magnus’s goal is to maximize the number of group elements the token visits, while Derek’s is to minimize that number. The problem we are interested in is finding f(G), the number of elements visited in the group G assuming optimal play. This problem has previously been solved for abelian groups. In this talk, we give a solution for general groups, in terms of palindromic subsets. Our solution yields a more satisfactory solution, i.e. in terms of subgroups rather than palindromic subsets, for certain classes of groups. Among those are nilpotent groups – a big step forward from the previous solution for abelian groups. After presenting the solution of the game, we consider further properties of palindromic subsets in finite groups. We introduce the notion of a civic group; a group in which every palindromic subset is a subgroup, and prove results about those. For instance, every civic group is the direct product of a cyclic 2-group and a civic group of odd order. We also give the form of minimal non-civic groups of odd order, and prove that the number of palindromes in a group of odd order divides the order. 

The talk presented here is based on joint work with Patrick Devlin at Yale University.