The Annals of Probability

Critical percolation of virtually free groups and other tree-like graphs

Iva Špakulová

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This article presents a method for finding the critical probability pc for the Bernoulli bond percolation on graphs with the so-called tree-like structure. Such a graph can be decomposed into a tree of pieces, each of which has finitely many isomorphism classes. This class of graphs includes the Cayley graphs of amalgamated products, HNN extensions or general groups acting on trees. It also includes all transitive graphs with more than one end.

The idea of the method is to find a multi-type Galton–Watson branching process (with a parameter p) which has finite expected population size if and only if the expected percolation cluster size is finite. This provides sufficient information about pc. In particular, if the pairwise intersections of pieces are finite, then pc is the smallest positive p such that det(M−1)=0, where M is the first-moment matrix of the branching process. If the pieces of the tree-like structure are finite, then pc is an algebraic number and we give an algorithm computing pc as a root of some algebraic function.

We show that any Cayley graph of a virtually free group (i.e., a group acting on a tree with finite vertex stabilizers) with respect to any finite generating set has a tree-like structure with finite pieces. In particular, we show how to compute pc for the Cayley graph of a free group with respect to any finite generating set.

Article information

Ann. Probab. Volume 37, Number 6 (2009), 2262-2296.

First available in Project Euclid: 16 November 2009

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Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Primary: 60K35: Interacting random processes; statistical mechanics type models; percolation theory [See also 82B43, 82C43] 60D05: Geometric probability and stochastic geometry [See also 52A22, 53C65] 20P05: Probabilistic methods in group theory [See also 60Bxx]

Bond percolation random processes on graphs virtually free groups special linear group


Špakulová, Iva. Critical percolation of virtually free groups and other tree-like graphs. Ann. Probab. 37 (2009), no. 6, 2262--2296. doi:10.1214/09-AOP458.

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