Kesten’s theorem for invariant random subgroups Academic Article uri icon


  • An invariant random subgroup of the countable group Γ is a random subgroup of Γ whose distribution is invariant under conjugation by all elements of Γ. We prove that for a nonamenable invariant random subgroup H, the spectral radius of every finitely supported random walk on Γ is strictly less than the spectral radius of the corresponding random walk on Γ/H. This generalizes a result of Kesten who proved this for normal subgroups. As a byproduct, we show that, for a Cayley graph G of a linear group with no amenable normal subgroups, any sequence of finite quotients of G that spectrally approximates G converges to G in Benjamini–Schramm convergence. In particular, this implies that infinite sequences of finite d-regular Ramanujan–Schreier graphs have essentially large girth.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014