Title:

Random generation and chief length of finite groups

Part I of this thesis studies P[subscript(G)](d), the probability of generating a nonabelian simple group G with d randomly chosen elements, and extends this idea to consider the conditional probability P[subscript(G,Soc(G))](d), the probability of generating an almost simple group G by d randomly chosen elements, given that they project onto a generating set of G/Soc(G). In particular we show that for a 2generated almost simple group, P[subscript(G,Soc(G))](2) 53≥90, with equality if and only if G = A₆ or S₆. Furthermore P[subscript(G,Soc(G))](2) 9≥10 except for 30 almost simple groups G, and we specify this list and provide exact values for P[subscript(G,Soc(G))](2) in these cases. We conclude Part I by showing that for all almost simple groups P[subscript(G,Soc(G))](3)≥139/150. In Part II we consider a related notion. Given a probability ε, we wish to determine d[superscript(ε)] (G), the number of random elements needed to generate a finite group G with failure probabilty at most ε. A generalisation of a result of Lubotzky bounds d[superscript(ε)](G) in terms of l(G), the chief length of G, and d(G), the minimal number of generators needed to generate G. We obtain bounds on the chief length of permutation groups in terms of the degree n, and bounds on the chief length of completely reducible matrix groups in terms of the dimension and field size. Combining these with existing bounds on d(G), we obtain bounds on d[superscript(ε)] (G) for permutation groups and completely reducible matrix groups.
