Special Issue in honor of Laci Babai's 60th birthday: Combinatorics, Groups, Algorithms, and Complexity

Honoring László (Laci) Babai's 60th birthday, the conference "Combinatorics, Groups, Algorithms, and Complexity" (Ohio State University, March 15-25, 2010) explored the links between the areas mentioned in the title. These areas represent Laci's wide interests in mathematics and theoretical computer science; his work has revealed and enriched many of the interconnections between them. The conference had 109 participants from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia (31 of them from overseas), including 3 Nevanlinna prize winners, 32 students, 13 postdocs, 20 females, and 18 former and current students of Laci Babai. The program consisted of 73 talks and a problem session. The full list of talks can be found in the introductory article by the guest editors of this special issue who also served as the organizers of the conference. We thank all participants and speakers for the success of the conference. We wish to express our gratitude to the National Science Foundation, National Security Agency, and The Ohio State Mathematical Research Institute for their generous support. This special issue contains papers in the conference topics, but not necessarily coinciding with the authors' talks at the conference. Each paper has been peer-reviewed. Toniann Pitassi, László Pyber, Uwe Schöning, Jiří Sgall, and Aner Shalev served with us as editors of this special issue. We thank for their work as well as for the assistance of the anonymous referees.

We describe an algorithm to compute tensor decompositions of central products of groups. The novelty over previous algorithms is that in the case of matrix groups that are both tensor decomposable and imprimitive, the new algorithm more often outputs the more desirable tensor decomposition.

For every positive integer k, we construct an explicit family of functions f : \0, 1\(n) -\textgreater \0, 1\ which has (k + 1) - party communication complexity O(k) under every partition of the input bits into k + 1 parts of equal size, and k-party communication complexity Omega (n/k(4)2(k)) under every partition of the input bits into k parts. This improves an earlier hierarchy theorem due to V. Grolmusz. Our construction relies on known explicit constructions for a famous open problem of K. Zarankiewicz, namely, to find the maximum number of edges in a graph on n vertices that does not contain K-s,K-t as a subgraph.

We prove that the extended equivalence problem is solvable in polynomial time for finite nilpotent groups, and coNP-complete, otherwise. We prove that the extended equation solvability problem is solvable in polynomial time for finite nilpotent groups, and NP-complete, otherwise.

For a polynomial f(x) is an element of Z(2)[x] it is natural to consider the near-ring code generated by the polynomials f circle x, f circle x(2) ,..., f circle x(k) as a vectorspace. It is a 19 year old conjecture of Gunter Pilz that for the polynomial f (x) - x(n) broken vertical bar x(n-1) broken vertical bar ... broken vertical bar x the minimal distance of this code is n. The conjecture is equivalent to the following purely number theoretical problem. Let (m) under bar = \1, 2 ,..., m\ and A subset of N be an arbitrary finite subset of N. Show that the number of products that occur odd many times in (n) under bar. A is at least n. Pilz also formulated the conjecture for the special case when A = (k) under bar. We show that for A = (k) under bar the conjecture holds and that the minimal distance of the code is at least n/(log n)(0.223). While proving the case A = (k) under bar we use different number theoretical methods depending on the size of k (respect to n). Furthermore, we apply several estimates on the distribution of primes.

In this paper, we study the residual solvability of the generalized free product of solvable groups.

In this paper we construct a cyclically invariant Boolean function whose sensitivity is Theta(n(1/3)). This result answers two previously published questions. Turan (1984) asked if any Boolean function, invariant under some transitive group of permutations, has sensitivity Omega(root n). Kenyon and Kutin (2004) asked whether for a "nice" function the product of 0-sensitivity and 1-sensitivity is Omega(n). Our function answers both questions in the negative. We also prove that for minterm-transitive functions (a natural class of Boolean functions including our example) the sensitivity is Omega(n(1/3)). Hence for this class of functions sensitivity and block sensitivity are polynomially related.

For an integer constant d \textgreater 0, let Gamma(d) denote the class of finite groups all of whose nonabelian composition factors lie in S-d; in particular, Gamma(d) includes all solvable groups. Motivated by applications to graph-isomorphism testing, there has been extensive study of the complexity of computation for permutation groups in this class. In particular, the problems of finding set stabilizers, intersections and centralizers have all been shown to be polynomial-time computable. A notable open issue for the class Gamma(d) has been the question of whether normalizers can be found in polynomial time. We resolve this question in the affirmative. We prove that, given permutation groups G, H \textless= Sym(Omega) such that G is an element of Gamma(d), the normalizer of H in G can be found in polynomial time. Among other new procedures, our method includes a key subroutine to solve the problem of finding stabilizers of subspaces in linear representations of permutation groups in Gamma(d).

The metric dimension of a graph Gamma is the least number of vertices in a set with the property that the list of distances from any vertex to those in the set uniquely identifies that vertex. We consider the Grassmann graph G(q)(n, k) (whose vertices are the k-subspaces of F-q(n), and are adjacent if they intersect in a (k 1)-subspace) for k \textgreater= 2. We find an upper bound on its metric dimension, which is equal to the number of 1-dimensional subspaces of F-q(n). We also give a construction of a resolving set of this size in the case where k + 1 divides n, and a related construction in other cases.