When do random subsets decompose a finite group? Academic Article uri icon


  • Let A, B be two random subsets of a finite group G. We consider the event that the products of elements from A and B span the whole group, i.e. [AB ∪ BA = G]. The study of this event gives rise to a group invariant we call Θ(G). Θ(G) is between 1/2 and 1, and is 1 if and only if the group is abelian. We show that a phase transition occurs as the size of A and B passes √Θ(G)|G| log |G|; i.e. for any ɛ > 0, if the size of A and B is less than (1 − ɛ)√Θ(G)|G| log |G|, then with high probability AB ∪ BA ≠ G. If A and B are larger than (1 + ɛ)√Θ(G)|G| log |G|, then AB ∪ BA = G with high probability.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009