Words, Hausdorff dimension and randomly free groups

We study fibers of word maps in finite, profinite, and residually finite groups. Our main result is that, for any word w in the free group on d generators, there exists $\epsilon \gt 0$ such that if G is a residually finite group with infinitely many non-isomorphic non-abelian upper composition factors, then all fibers of the word map $w\colon G^d \to G$ have Hausdorff dimension at most $d-\epsilon$. We conclude that the profinite completion of a group G as above satisfies no probabilistic identity. It is therefore randomly free; namely, for any d $\gt$ 0, the probability that d randomly chosen elements freely generate a free subgroup of G is 1. This solves an open problem of Dixon, Pyber, Seress, and Shalev. Additional applications and related results are also established. For example, combining our results with recent results of Bors, we conclude that a profinite group in which the set of elements of finite odd order has positive measure has an open prosolvable subgroup. This may be regarded as a probabilistic version of the Feit-Thompson theorem.

Publication Date:
Jun 26 2017
Date Submitted:
Mar 01 2019
Mathematische Annalen, 371, 3-4
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 Record created 2019-03-01, last modified 2019-04-03

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