# On a class of finite symmetric graphs

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4 4 S. Zhou / European Journal of Combinatorics ( ) Note that for B = 2 the statement in Lemma 2.2(b) is invalid. In fact, a 2-fold cover Γ of a (G, 2)-arc transitive graph Σ of valency at least 2 may be (G, 2)-arc transitive, and for the natural partition B of V (Γ ) we have m = val(σ) 2, M(B) is a trivial partition, and Γ B = Σ is (G, 2)-arc transitive. The following theorem contains most information on [B] that we will need to prove our main results. Let G (B) and G [B] denote the kernels of the actions of G B on B and Γ B (B), respectively. Theorem 2.3. Let Γ be a G-symmetric graph admitting a nontrivial G-invariant partition B such that Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 or K 2,2 for adjacent blocks B, C B, where G Aut(Γ ). Then the underlying simple graph of [B] is G B -symmetric, and the components of [B] for B running over B form a G-invariant partition Q of V (Γ ). This partition Q has block size B /ω, is a refinement of B, and is such that G (B) = G (Q), val(γ Q ) = val(γ B )/ω and Γ [P, Q] = Γ [B, C] for adjacent blocks P, Q Q, where ω is the number of components of [B]. Moreover, the following (a) and (b) hold. (a) In the case where the underlying simple graph of [B] is a perfect matching (hence B is even and the perfect matching is ( B /2) K 2 ), we have Q = {Γ (C) B : (B, C) Arc(Γ B )} (ignoring the multiplicity of each Γ (C) B), which has block size 2, and either Γ = Γ Q [K 2 ] or Γ is a 2-fold cover of Γ Q ; (b) In the case where the underlying simple graph of [B] is not a perfect matching, G is faithful on both B and Q, and G [B] is a subgroup of G (B) ; moreover, G (B) = G [B] if in addition [B] is simple, and G (B) = G [B] = 1 if [B] is simple and Γ B is a complete graph. Proof. It can be easily verified that the induced action of G B on B preserves the adjacency of [B] and hence the underlying simple graph of [B] admits G B as a group of automorphisms. Let α B and β, γ [B](α) (the neighbourhood of α in [B]). Then there exist C, D Γ B (B) such that Γ (C) B = {α, β} and Γ (D) B = {α, γ }. Hence α is adjacent to a vertex δ C and a vertex ε D. Since Γ is G-symmetric, there exists g G such that (α, δ) g = (α, ε). Thus, g G α and C g = D. Consequently, (Γ (C) B) g = Γ (D) B, that is, {α, β} g = {α, γ } and hence β g = γ. This means that G α is transitive on [B](α). Since G B is transitive on B, it follows that the underlying simple graph of [B] is G B -symmetric. Therefore, the connected components of [B] form a G B -invariant partition of B. From this it is straightforward to show that the set Q of such components, for B running over B, is a G-invariant partition of V (Γ ). Clearly, Q is a refinement of B with block size B /ω, val(γ Q ) = val(γ B )/ω, and Γ [P, Q] = Γ [B, C] for adjacent blocks P, Q Q. Since B is G-invariant and Q refines B, it follows that G (Q) G (B). On the other hand, if g G (B), then g fixes setwise each block of B and hence fixes Γ (C) B, for all pairs B, C of adjacent blocks of B. In other words, g fixes each edge of [B], for all B B. Thus, g fixes setwise each block of Q and so g G (Q). It follows that G (B) G (Q) and hence G (B) = G (Q). Assume that the underlying simple graph of [B] is a perfect matching, namely ( B /2) K 2. Then Q = {Γ (C) B : (B, C) Arc(Γ B )} and thus Q has block size 2. Since Γ [P, Q] = Γ [B, C], either Γ [P, Q] = K 2,2 or Γ [P, Q] = 2 K 2. In the former case we have Γ = Γ Q [K 2 ], and in the latter case Γ is a 2-fold cover of Γ Q. In the following we assume that the underlying simple graph of [B] is not a perfect matching. Then B 3 and this simple graph has valency at least two. Moreover, in this case distinct vertices of B are incident with distinct sets of edges of [B]; in other words, the vertices of B are distinguishable. Let g G [B]. Then g fixes setwise each block of Γ B (B) and hence fixes each edge of [B]. Since the vertices of B are distinguishable by different sets of edges of [B], it follows that g fixes B pointwise. Therefore, G [B] is a subgroup of G (B). Similarly, any g G (B)

5 S. Zhou / European Journal of Combinatorics ( ) 5 fixes each edge of [B] for all B B. Since the vertices of B are distinguishable, it follows that g fixes B pointwise for all B B; in other words, g fixes each vertex of Γ. Since G Aut(Γ ) is faithful on V (Γ ), we conclude that g = 1, and hence G (B) = 1. Thus, G is faithful on B. Since G (B) = G (Q), G is faithful on Q as well. In the case where [B] is simple, by Lemma 2.2(a) the actions of G B on Γ B (B) and on the edge set of [B] are permutationally equivalent. Thus, since any h G (B) fixes each edge of [B], it follows that h fixes setwise each block of Γ B (B). That is, h G [B] and so G (B) G [B]. This together with G [B] G (B) implies G (B) = G [B]. Finally, if [B] is simple and Γ B is a complete graph, then we have Γ B (B) = B \ {B} and hence G (B) = G [B] = G (B). However, G is faithful on B, so we have G (B) = G [B] = 1 and the proof is complete. Note that the condition G Aut(Γ ) was required only in part (b) of Theorem 2.3. Remark 2.4. (a) That the underlying simple graph of [B] is G B -symmetric was known in [6, Lemma 6.1] under the additional assumption that Γ is G-locally primitive. In this case, either [B] is a simple graph, or the underlying simple graph of [B] is a perfect matching. (b) In the case where the underlying simple graph of [B] is a perfect matching, the faithfulness of G ( Aut(Γ )) on B is not guaranteed. For example, let Γ = 2 C n be a 2-fold cover of C n (cycle of length n), and let G = Z 2 wrd 2n. Then Γ is G-symmetric, and it admits the natural G-invariant partition with quotient C n such that the underlying simple graph of [B] is isomorphic to K 2. Clearly, the induced action of G on B is unfaithful. Let us end this section by the following observations, which will be used in the next section. Lemma 2.5. Let Γ be a G-symmetric graph admitting a nontrivial G-invariant partition B such that Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 or K 2,2 for adjacent blocks B, C B. (a) If Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 and [B] is simple, then for α B the actions of G α on Γ (α) and [B](α) are permutationally equivalent, where [B](α) is the neighbourhood of α in [B]. (b) If Γ [B, C] = K 2,2 and val([b]) 2, then the subsets Γ (α) C of Γ (α), for C running over all C B such that Γ (α) C, form a G α -invariant partition of Γ (α) of block size 2; in particular, Γ is G-locally imprimitive and hence not (G, 2)-arc transitive. Proof. (a) Since [B] is simple and Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2, from (a) and (c) of Lemma 2.1 we have Γ (α) = [B](α) = {C B : Γ (α) C }. For each β Γ (α), say, β C, the unique vertex γ of (Γ (C) B) \ {α} is a neighbour of α in [B](α). It can be easily verified that β γ defines a bijection between Γ (α) and [B](α), and the actions of G α on Γ (α) and [B](α) are permutationally equivalent with respect to this bijection. (b) The proof is straightforward and hence omitted. 3. Main results and proofs Let (Γ, B) be an imprimitive G-symmetric graph such that Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 or K 2,2 for adjacent B, C B. If B = 2, then either Γ is a 2-fold cover of Γ B, or Γ = Γ B [K 2 ]. In the former case Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive if Γ is (G, 2)-arc transitive, whilst in the latter case Γ is not (G, 2)-arc transitive unless Γ = q K 2,2 and Γ B = q K2 for some q 1. Thus, we may assume B 3 in the following. In answering Question (1), the case B = 3 invokes 3-arc graphs of trivalent 2-arc transitive graphs, which were determined in [22]. For a regular graph Σ, a subset of Arc 3 (Σ) is called self-paired if (τ, σ, σ, τ ) implies (τ, σ, σ, τ). For such a, the 3-arc graph of Σ with respect to, denoted by Ξ (Σ, ), is defined [10,18] to be the graph with vertex set Arc(Σ) in which (σ, τ), (σ, τ ) are adjacent if and only if

6 6 S. Zhou / European Journal of Combinatorics ( ) (τ, σ, σ, τ ). In the case where Σ is G-symmetric and G is transitive on (under the induced action of G on Arc 3 (Σ)), Γ := Ξ (Σ, ) is a G-symmetric graph [10, Section 6] which admits B(Σ) := {B(σ ) : σ V (Σ)} (1) as a G-invariant partition such that Γ B(Σ) = Σ with respect to the bijection σ B(σ ), where B(σ ) := {(σ, τ) : τ Σ(σ )}. The following theorem is the full version of Theorem 1.1. In part (ii) of this theorem the graph 3 C 4 in (3 C 4, PGL(2, 3)) is the cross-ratio graph [7,17] CR(3; 2, 1), and in (3 C 4, AGL(2, 2)) it should be interpreted as the affine flag graph [17] Γ = (A; 2, 2). It is well known that, for a connected trivalent G-symmetric graph Σ, G is a homomorphic image of one of seven finitely presented groups, G 1, G 1 2, G2 2, G 3, G 1 4, G2 4 or G 5, with the subscript s indicating that Σ is (G, s)- arc regular. The reader is referred to [3,4] for this result and the presentations of these groups. Theorem 3.1. Let Γ be a G-symmetric graph admitting a nontrivial G-invariant partition B such that B 3 and Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 or K 2,2 for adjacent B, C B. Suppose that Γ B is connected. Then Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive if and only if [B] is a simple graph and one of the following (a) and (b) occurs: (a) B = 3, and [B] = K 3 is (G B, 2)-arc transitive (that is, G B B /G (B) = S 3 ); (b) B 4 is even, [B] = ( B /2) K 2, and G B is 2-transitive on the edges of [B]. Moreover, in case (a) the following hold: (i) Γ = Ξ (Γ B, ) for some self-paired G-orbit on Arc 3 (Γ B ), Γ B is a trivalent (G, 2)-arc transitive graph of type other than G 2 2, and moreover any connected trivalent (G, 2)-arc transitive graph Σ of type other than G 2 2 can occur as Γ B; (ii) one of the following (1) (2) occurs: (1) Γ = s C t for some s 3, t 3, Γ is (G, 2)-arc transitive, Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2, Γ B is (G, 2)-arc regular of type G 1 2, and either Γ B = K 4 and (Γ, G) = (4 C 3, S 4 ), (3 C 4, PGL(2, 3)) or (3 C 4, AGL(2, 2)), or Γ B = K4 and Γ B is a near n-gonal graph for some integer n 4; (2) Γ is 4-valent, connected and not (G, 2)-arc transitive, = Arc 3 (Γ B ), Γ [B, C] = K 2,2, and Γ B is (G, 3)-arc transitive. In case (b), we have: (iii) val(γ B ) = B /2, and V (Γ ) = 4q for some integer q 3; (iv) Γ is (G, 2)-arc transitive, and either Γ = 2q K 2 and Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2, or Γ = q K 2,2 and Γ [B, C] = K 2,2 ; (v) Γ Q = q K2, where Q = {Γ (C) B : (B, C) Arc(Γ B )} is as in Theorem 2.3(a). In the proof of Theorem 3.1 we will exploit the main results of [10,20] and a classification result in [17]. We will also use the following lemma, which is a restatement of a result in [22]. Lemma 3.2 ([22]). A connected trivalent G-symmetric graph Σ has a self-paired G-orbit on Arc 3 (Σ) if and only if it is not of type G 2 2. Moreover, when Σ is (G, 1)-arc regular, there are exactly two self-paired G-orbits on Arc 3 (Σ); when Σ K 4 is (G, 2)-arc regular of type G 1 2, there are exactly two self-paired G-orbits on Arc 3 (Σ), namely 1 := (τ, σ, σ, τ ) G and 2 := (τ, σ, σ, δ ) G (where σ, σ are adjacent vertices, Σ(σ ) = {σ, τ, δ} and Σ(σ ) = {σ, τ, δ }), and Ξ (Σ, 1 ), Ξ (Σ, 2 ) are both almost covers of Σ with valency 2; when Σ is (G, s)-arc regular, where 3 s 5, the only self-paired G-orbit is := Arc 3 (Σ), and Ξ (Σ, ) is a connected G-symmetric but not (G, 2)-arc transitive graph of valency 4.

7 S. Zhou / European Journal of Combinatorics ( ) 7 Fig. 1. Proof of part (ii)(2) of Theorem 3.1. In the 3-arc graph Ξ (Γ B, ), where = Arc 3 (Γ B ), the vertex (σ, τ) is adjacent to (σ 1, ε 1 ), (σ 1, δ 1 ), (σ 2, ε 2 ) and (σ 2, δ 2 ). Similarly, (σ, σ 1 ) is adjacent to (σ 2, ε 2 ), (σ 2, δ 2 ), (τ, τ 1 ) and (τ, τ 2 ), and (σ, σ 2 ) is adjacent to (σ 1, ε 1 ), (σ 1, δ 1 ), (τ, τ 1 ) and (τ, τ 2 ). Proof of Theorem 3.1 ( ). Suppose Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive. Then [B] is a simple graph by Lemma 2.2, and val([b]) = {C B : Γ (α) C } by Lemma 2.1(c). Since Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive, G B is 2-transitive on Γ B (B), and hence 2-transitive on the set of edges of [B] by Lemma 2.2(a). It follows that, whenever [B] contains adjacent edges, any two edges of [B] must be adjacent. Thus, one of the following possibilities occurs: (A) [B] contains at least two edges, and any two edges of [B] are adjacent; (B) [B] consists of pairwise independent edges, that is, [B] is a perfect matching. Case (A) In this case we must have B = 3 and hence [B] = K 3. Thus, val([b]) = 2 and hence val(γ B ) = 3 by Lemma 2.1. Hence Γ B is a trivalent (G, 2)-arc transitive graph. Let B = {α, β, γ }, and let C, D, E Γ B (B) be such that Γ (C) B = {α, β}, Γ (D) B = {β, γ } and Γ (E) B = {γ, α}. Since Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive, there exists g G B such that (C, E) g = (E, C). Since g fixes B and interchanges C and E, it interchanges Γ (C) B and Γ (E) B, that is, {α, β} g = {γ, α} and {γ, α} g = {α, β}. Thus, we must have α g = α, β g = γ and γ g = β. Now that g G α and [B] is G B -symmetric, it follows that [B] is (G B, 2)-arc transitive, or equivalently G B B /G (B) = S 3. Since Γ (C) B = B 1 = 2 and [B] is simple, we have Γ (F) B Γ (F ) B for distinct F, F Γ B (B) and hence from [10, Theorem 1] there exists a self-paired G-orbit on Arc 3 (Γ B ) such that Γ = Ξ (Γ B, ). From Lemma 3.2 it follows that Γ B is of type other than G 2 2. (It is also of type other than G 1 since it is (G, 2)-arc transitive.) From [10, Theorem 2] the case Γ [B, C] = K 2,2 occurs if and only if Γ B is (G, 3)-arc transitive, which in turn is true if and only if = Arc 3 (Γ B ) in the 3-arc graph Ξ (Γ B, ) above. In this case Γ B is of type G 3, G 1 4, G2 4 or G 5, and it is clear that Γ is 4-valent. (See Fig. 1 for an illustration.) Moreover, since in this case Γ B is connected and Γ [B, C] = K 2,2, Γ is connected and not (G, 2)-arc transitive. In the case where Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2, which occurs if and only if Γ B is of type G 1 2, we have val(γ ) = 2 and hence Γ is a union of vertex-disjoint cycles of the same length. In this case the element g in the previous paragraph must interchange the two neighbours of α in Γ, and hence Γ is (G, 2)-arc transitive. If Γ B = K4, then (Γ, G) = (4 C 3, S 4 ), (3 C 4, PGL(2, 3)) or (3 C 4, AGL(2, 2)) by [17, Theorem 3.19]. In the general case where Γ B = K4, since Γ

8 8 S. Zhou / European Journal of Combinatorics ( ) is an almost cover of Γ B, by [20, Theorem 3.1] there exists an integer n 4 such that Γ B is a near n-gonal graph with respect to a G-orbit E on n-cycles of Γ B. The cycles in E that contain the 2-arcs (C, B, D), (C, B, E), (D, B, E) respectively must be pairwise distinct, and so E 3. Moreover, since is the set of 3-arcs contained in cycles in E [20, Theorem 3.1], by the definition of a 3-arc graph, each cycle in E gives rise to a cycle of Ξ (Γ B, ) and vice versa. Hence Γ = Ξ (Γ B, ) = s C t, where s = E 3, and t 3 is the cycle length of E. To complete the proof for case (A), we now justify that any connected trivalent (G, 2)-arc transitive graph of type other than G 2 2 can occur as Γ B. In fact, by Lemma 3.2, for such a graph Σ there exists at least one self-paired G-orbit on Arc 3 (Σ). Thus, by [10, Theorem 1] the 3-arc graph Γ := Ξ (Σ, ) is a G-symmetric graph whose vertex set Arc(Σ) admits B(Σ) (defined in (1)) as a G-invariant partition such that Γ B(Σ) = Σ. Obviously, for such a graph (Γ, B(Σ)) we have Γ (B(τ)) B(σ ) = B(σ ) 1 = 2 for (σ, τ) Arc(Σ) and [B(σ )] = K 3, where B(η) := {(η, ε) : ε Σ(η)} for each η V (Σ). Also, since Σ is (G, 2)-arc transitive, G σ τ is 2-transitive on Σ(σ ) \ {τ}. This is equivalent to saying that G σ τ is 2-transitive on {(σ, ε) : ε Σ(σ )\{τ}}, which is the neighbourhood of (σ, τ) in [B(σ )]. Since G σ τ G B(σ ), it follows that [B(σ )] is (G B(σ ), 2)-arc transitive. From [10, Theorem 2], Γ [B(σ ), B(τ)] = 2 K 2 if Σ is (G, 2)-arc regular, and Γ [B(σ ), B(τ)] = K 2,2 if Σ is (G, 3)-arc transitive. Case (B) In this case we have B 4, B is even, and [B] = ( B /2) K 2. Hence val(γ B ) = B /2 and each vertex of Γ has neighbour in exactly one block of B. Thus, B val(γ B ) + 1 3, V (Γ ) = B B = 2 val(γ B ) B = 4q 12, where q = E(Γ B ). Clearly, if Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 then Γ = 2q K 2 ; whilst if Γ [B, C] = K 2,2 then Γ = q K 2,2. In the first case Γ has no 2-arc and hence is (G, 2)-arc transitive automatically. In the second possibility, since G α is transitive on Γ (α) and Γ (α) = 2, G α is 2-transitive on Γ (α), and hence Γ is (G, 2)-arc transitive. Since G B is 2-transitive on Γ B (B), by Lemma 2.2(a), G B is 2-transitive on the edges of [B]. Evidently, for the G-invariant partition Q of V (Γ ), we have Γ Q = q K2. ( ) We need to prove that if [B] is simple and one of (a), (b) occurs then Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive. Suppose first that (a) occurs. Since [B] = K 3 has three edges, Γ B is trivalent by Lemma 2.1(b). Using the notation above, there exists g G α such that g interchanges β and γ since [B] = K 3 is (G B, 2)-arc transitive. Thus, g fixes D and interchanges C and E. Hence Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive. Now suppose (b) occurs. Then [B] is simple and G B is 2-transitive on the edges of [B]. From Lemma 2.2(a), this implies that G B is 2-transitive on Γ B (B), and hence Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive. Remark 3.3. In the case where B = 4, we have Γ (C) B = B 2 = 2 for adjacent B, C B, and hence the results in [8] apply. In fact, in this case [B] agrees with the multigraph Γ B introduced in [8], and moreover the underlying simple graph of [B] is 2 K 2, C 4 or K 4. (For a G-symmetric graph (Γ, B) with Γ (C) B = B 2 1, Γ B is defined [8] to be the multigraph with vertex set B and edges joining the two vertices of B \ (Γ (C) B) for C Γ B (B).) From [8, Theorems 1.3], Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive if and only if [B] is simple and [B] = 2 K 2, and in this case Γ B = s Ct for some s 1 and t 3, and either Γ = 2st K 2 or Γ = st C 4, agreeing with (b) and (iv) of Theorem 3.1. The next theorem tells us what happens when (Γ, B) is a (G, 2)-arc transitive graph with Γ (C) B = 2 for adjacent B, C B. In particular, it answers Question (2) for such graphs.

9 S. Zhou / European Journal of Combinatorics ( ) 9 Theorem 3.4. Let Γ be a (G, 2)-arc transitive graph admitting a nontrivial G-invariant partition B such that Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 or K 2,2 for adjacent B, C B. Then one of the following (a) (c) holds. (a) Γ [B, C] = K 2,2, B is even, [B] = ( B /2) K 2 is simple, and Γ = q K 2,2 for some q 1; (b) Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2, [B] is simple and (G B, 2)-arc transitive; (c) Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2, m = val([b]) 2, B is even, the underlying simple graph of [B] is the perfect matching ( B /2) K 2, Γ Q is (G, 2)-arc transitive with valency m, and Γ is a 2-fold cover of Γ Q, where Q = {Γ (C) B : (B, C) Arc(Γ B )} is as in Theorem 2.3(a). Moreover, in case (a) Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive if and only if G B is 2-transitive on the edges of [B]; in case (b) Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive if and only if (i) B = 3, [B] = K 3, G B B /G (B) = S 3 and Γ = s C t for some s 3, t 3, or (ii) B is even, [B] = ( B /2) K 2, Γ = 2q K 2 for some q 1, and G B is 2-transitive on the edges of [B]; in case (c) Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive if and only if B = 2. Proof. We distinguish the following three cases. Case (A) Γ [B, C] = K 2,2. In this case, since Γ is (G, 2)-arc transitive we have val([b]) = 1 by Lemma 2.5(b). Thus, m = 1 and B = 2 val(γ B ) by Lemma 2.1. Therefore, [B] is simple, [B] = ( B /2) K 2, and Γ = q K 2,2 for some integer q 1. Hence by Lemma 2.2(a) the actions of G B on Γ B (B) and on the edges of [B] are permutationally equivalent. Thus, Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive if and only if G B is 2-transitive on the edges of [B]. Case (B) Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 and [B] is simple. In this case the actions of G α on [B](α) and Γ (α) are permutationally equivalent by Lemma 2.5(a). But G α is 2-transitive on Γ (α) since Γ is (G, 2)-arc transitive by our assumption. Hence G α is 2-transitive on [B](α) as well. Since [B] is G B -symmetric by Theorem 2.3, it follows that [B] is (G B, 2)-arc transitive. From Lemma 2.2(a), Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive if and only if G B is 2-transitive on the set of edges of [B]. This occurs only if either (i) B = 3 and [B] = K 3 ; or (ii) B is even, [B] = ( B /2) K 2, and G B is 2-transitive on the edges of [B]. In case (i), we have G B B /G (B) = S 3 since [B] is (G B, 2)-arc transitive, and moreover Γ has valency 2 and thus is a union of vertex-disjoint cycles. Furthermore, in case (i), since Γ (C) B = B 1 = 2 for adjacent B, C B, by [10, Theorem 1] Γ is a 3-arc graph of Γ B with respect to a self-paired G-orbit on Arc 3 (Γ B ), and an argument similar to the third paragraph in the proof of Theorem 3.1 ensures that Γ = s C t for some s 3, t 3. In case (ii) we have Γ = 2q K 2 for some integer q. Clearly, if the conditions in (ii) are satisfied, then Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive. If the conditions in (i) are satisfied, then since B = 3 the (G B, 2)-arc transitivity of [B] implies that G B is 2-transitive on the edges of [B], and hence Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive by Lemma 2.2(a). Case (C) Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 and m 2. In this case, for α B there exist distinct C, D Γ B (B) such that α Γ (C) B = Γ (D) B. (Hence C, D are in the same block of M(B).) Let β C, γ D be adjacent to α in Γ. We first show that the underlying simple graph of [B] is a perfect matching. Suppose otherwise, then there exists E Γ B (B) such that α Γ (E) B Γ (D) B. Thus, α is adjacent to a vertex δ in E, and E, D belong to distinct blocks of M(B). Since Γ is (G, 2)-arc transitive, there exists g G αβ such that γ g = δ. Then g G BC and D g = E. However, since M(B) is a G B -invariant partition of Γ B (B) by Lemma 2.2, g G BC implies that g fixes the block of M(B) containing C and D, and on the other hand D g = E implies that g permutes the block of M(B) containing D to the block of M(B) containing E. This contradiction shows that the underlying simple graph of [B] must be the perfect matching ( B /2) K 2 and hence B is even. Thus, m = val([b]) 2. Since

10 10 S. Zhou / European Journal of Combinatorics ( ) the underlying simple graph of [B] is a perfect matching, from Theorem 2.3(a) it follows that Q = {Γ (C) B : (B, C) Arc(Γ B )} (ignoring the multiplicity of each Γ (C) B) is a G-invariant partition of V (Γ ). It is readily seen that Γ is a 2-fold cover of Γ Q. Thus, both Γ Q and Γ have valency m, and moreover Γ Q is (G, 2)-arc transitive since Γ is (G, 2)-arc transitive. Hence, if B = 2, then Q coincides with B and hence Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive. On the other hand, if B 4, then since [B] is not simple, Γ B is not (G, 2)-arc transitive by Theorem 3.1. Therefore, Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive if and only if B = 2. Remark 3.5. From Theorem 3.4, for a (G, 2)-arc transitive graph (Γ, B) with Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 or K 2,2 for adjacent B, C B, Γ B is (G, 2)-arc transitive if and only if one of the following (a)- (c) holds: (a) B is even, [B] = ( B /2) K 2 is simple, and G B is 2-transitive on the edges of [B]; (b) B = 3, [B] = K 3 is simple, and Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 ; (c) B = 2 and Γ is a 2-fold cover of Γ B. Moreover, in case (a) we have either Γ [B, C] = K 2,2 and Γ = q K 2,2, or Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 and Γ = 2q K 2, and in case (b) we have G B B /G (B) = S 3 and Γ = s C t for some s 3, t 3. In case (c), [B] is not necessarily simple since it may happen that m = val([b]) 2. Note that cases (a) and (c) overlap when B = 2 and Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2. The reader is referred to [8, Examples 4.7 and 4.8] for examples with Γ (C) B = B 2 = 2 for adjacent B, C B such that Γ is (G, 2)-arc transitive but Γ B is not (G, 2)-arc transitive. In part (c) of Theorem 3.4, Γ Q is (G, 2)-arc transitive while Γ B is not when B 4. These two quotient graphs of Γ are connected by (Γ Q ) B = ΓB, where B := {{Γ (C) B : C Γ B (B)} : B B} (ignoring the multiplicity of Γ (C) B), which is a G-invariant partition of Q. 4. Concluding remarks A scheme for constructing G-symmetric graphs with Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 for adjacent B, C B was described in [6, Section 6]. In view of Theorem 3.4 and Lemma 2.5, to construct a 2-arc transitive graph (Γ, B) with Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 and m = 1 by using this scheme, we may start with a G-symmetric graph Γ B and mutually isomorphic (G B, 2)-arc transitive graphs [B] (where B V (Γ B )) on v vertices such that v val([b]) = 2 val(γ B ). The action of G on V (Γ B ) induces an action on such graphs [B]. To construct Γ we need to develop a rule [6] of labelling each edge of [B] by an edge BC of Γ B, where C Γ B (B), such that the actions of G B on such labels and on the edges of [B] are permutationally equivalent. We also need a G-invariant joining rule [6] to specify how to join the end-vertices of BC and the end-vertices of C B by two independent edges. If we can find such a rule such that, for each α B, the actions of G α on Γ (α) and [B](α) are permutationally equivalent, then by the (G B, 2)-arc transitivity of [B] the graph Γ thus constructed is (G, 2)-arc transitive. Theorem 3.4 suggests that we should choose Γ B to be G-symmetric but not (G, 2)-arc transitive in order to obtain interesting (G, 2)- arc transitive graphs Γ by using this construction. The reader is referred to [6, Section 6] for a few examples of this construction. One of them is Conder s trivalent 5-arc transitive graph [2] on vertices which can be obtained by taking [B] as Tutte s 8-cage [1]. Finally, for a G-symmetric graph (Γ, B) with Γ (C) B = 2 for adjacent B, C B, by Theorem 2.3 the underlying simple graph of [B] is isomorphic to K B if and only if G B is 2-transitive on B, and in this case we have val([b]) = m( B 1) and val(γ B ) = m B ( B 1)/2. Under the assumption that Γ is G-locally primitive, G B is 3-transitive on B and Γ B is a complete graph, it was shown in [6, Theorem 6.11] that Γ [B, C] = 2 K 2 and either Γ or the graph obtained from Γ by consistently swapping edges and non-edges of Γ [B, C] is isomorphic to (val(γ B ) + 1) K B.

11 S. Zhou / European Journal of Combinatorics ( ) 11 Acknowledgments The author thanks the anonymous referees for their valuable comments and suggestions. The author is supported by a Discovery Project Grant (DP ) of the Australian Research Council and an Early Career Researcher Grant of The University of Melbourne. References [1] N.L. Biggs, Algebraic Graph Theory, second ed., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Cambridge Mathematical Library. [2] M. Conder, A new 5-arc transitive cubic graph, J. Graph Theory 11 (1987) [3] M. Conder, P. Lorimer, Automorphism groups of symmetric graphs of valency 3, J. Combin. Theory Ser. B 47 (1989) [4] D.Z. Djokovic, G.L. Miller, Regular groups of automorphisms of cubic graphs, J. Combin. Theory Ser. B 29 (1980) [5] J.D. Dixon, B. Mortimer, Permutation Groups, Springer, New York, [6] A. Gardiner, C.E. Praeger, A geometrical approach to imprimitive graphs, Proc. London Math. Soc. 3 (71) (1995) [7] A. Gardiner, C.E. Praeger, S. Zhou, Cross-ratio graphs, J. London Math. Soc. 2 (64) (2001) [8] M.A. Iranmanesh, C.E. Praeger, S. Zhou, Finite symmetric graphs with two-arc transitive quotients, J. Combin. Theory Ser. B 94 (2005) [9] C.H. Li, The finite primitive permutation groups containing an abelian regular subgroup, Proc. London Math. Soc. 87 (2003) [10] C.H. Li, C.E. Praeger, S. Zhou, A class of finite symmetric graphs with 2-arc transitive quotients, Math. Proc. Cambridge Philos. Soc. 129 (2000) [11] Z. Lu, S. Zhou, Finite symmetric graphs with 2-arc transitive quotients (II), J. Graph Theory (in press). [12] D. Marušič, On 2-arc-transitivity of Cayley graphs, J. Combin. Theory Ser. B 87 (2003) [13] M. Perkel, Near-polygonal graphs, Ars Combin. 26(A) (1988) [14] C.E. Praeger, Finite transitive permutation groups and finite vertex transitive graphs, in: G. Hahn, G. Sabidussi (Eds.), Graph Symmetry (Montreal, 1996), in: NATO Adv. Sci. Inst. Ser. C, Math. Phys. Sci., vol. 497, Kluwer Academic Publishing, Dordrecht, 1997, pp [15] C.E. Praeger, Finite symmetric graphs, in: L.W. Beineke, R.J. Wilson (Eds.), Algebraic Graph Theory, in: Encyclopedia of Mathematics and its Applications, vol. 102, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp (Chapter 7). [16] W.T. Tutte, A family of cubical graphs, Proc. Cambridge Philos. Soc. 43 (1947) [17] S. Zhou, Constructing a class of symmetric graphs, Eur. J. Combin. 23 (2002) [18] S. Zhou, Imprimitive symmetric graphs, 3-arc graphs and 1-designs, Discrete Math. 244 (2002) [19] S. Zhou, Symmetric graphs and flag graphs, Monatsh. Math. 139 (2003) [20] S. Zhou, Almost covers of 2-arc transitive graphs, Combinatorica 24 (2004) [21] S. Zhou, A local analysis of imprimitive symmetric graphs, J. Algebraic Combin. 22 (2005) [22] S. Zhou, Trivalent 2-arc transitive graphs of type G 1 2 are near polygonal, Preprint.

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