# COMBINATORIAL PROPERTIES OF THE HIGMAN-SIMS GRAPH. 1. Introduction

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1 COMBINATORIAL PROPERTIES OF THE HIGMAN-SIMS GRAPH ZACHARY ABEL 1. Introduction In this survey we discuss properties of the Higman-Sims graph, which has 100 vertices, 1100 edges, and is 22 regular. In fact it is strongly regular, where any two adjacent nodes have 0 common neighbors, and any two non-adjacent nodes have 6 common neighbors. We offer multiple constructions of the graph, based on the unique S(3, 6, 22) Steiner system (obtained by extending the projective plain Π 4 ), the Leech lattice, and maximal cocliques in the (50, 7, 0, 1) strongly regular Hoffman-Singleton graph. Along the way, we compute the automorphism group of the Higman-Sims graph, proving that it is a double cover of a simple group, the so-called Higman-Sims group. 2. Construction and Uniqueness In this section we construct the Higman-Sims graph G HS and prove that it is the unique (100, 22, 0, 6) strongly regular graph. Both the construction and the proof of uniqueness rely heavily on the S(3, 6, 22) Steiner system, D 22, which is known to be unique for those parameters. We require no knowledge about D 22 other than the fact that it is the unique 3-(22, 6, 1) design, and we will make frequent use of its intersection triangle shown in Figure 1, where entry ν i,j for 0 j i 6 counts the number of blocks of D 22 that intersect a given set of i points of a block exactly in a prescribed subset of size j. Let D 22 = (X, B). Define a graph G HS on vertex set V (G HS ) = { } X B of size = 100, with edges defined as follows: The point connects to each x X; for x X and B B, edge (x, B) is in the graph if and only if x B; and for B 1, B 2 B, edge (B 1, B 2 ) is in the graph if and only if B 1 B 2 =. Theorem 1. The graph G HS defined above is strongly regular with parameters (100, 22, 0, 6). Proof. In what follows, x and x i are always elements of X, and B or B i are elements of B. To see that G HS is regular of degree 22, note that connects to the 22 elements of X; each x X connects to and the 21 blocks containing it; and each block B B connects to its 6 points and the 16 blocks disjoint from it. Date: Thursday, May 6,

2 2 ZACHARY ABEL Figure 1: The intersection triange for the S(3, 6, 22) Steiner system D 22. Entry ν i,j counts the number of blocks of D 22 that intersect a given set of i points from a block exactly in a given subset of size j. The property λ = 0 is equivalent to G HS having no triangles. There can be no triangle of the form x, B 1, B 2 because if x B 1 and x B 2 then B 1 and B 2 are not disjoint. The only other possibility is a triangle of blocks B 1, B 2, B 3, so let us show that no such triangle exists. Suppose that B 1 and B 2 are disjoint blocks. How many blocks B intersect B 1 and B 2 (necessarily in two points each)? Such a block B may be specified by choosing the two points {x 1, x 2 } = B 1 B and a point x 3 B 2 B, and every block B comes from two such choices (we could replace x 3 with the other point of B B 2 ), so there are ( 6 2) 6/2 = 45 blocks intersecting both B 1 and B 2. It follows that there are = 0 blocks disjoint from B 1 and B 2, as needed. Now we verify µ = 6. A pair of non-adjacent edges has the form (, B), (x 1, x 2 ), (x, B) with x / B, or (B 1, B 2 ) with B 1 B 2. In the first case, and B have six common neighbors, namely the elements of B. In the (x 1, x 2 ) case, both points are connected to and are contained in exactly 5 blocks of D 22. Next suppose x / B. Any block B B intersects B in 0 or 2 points, and for each pair of points x 1, x 2 B there is a unique block containing x, x 1, x 2, so there are exactly ( 6 2) blocks containing x that intersect B. So there are = 6 blocks containing x that are disjoint from B, i.e. nodes x, B V (G HS ) have exactly 6 common neighbors. Finally, suppose blocks B 1, B 2 are not disjoint, and therefore intersect in 2 points, thus accounting for two common neighbors of B 1 and B 2. With a similar count as in the previous paragraph, we find that there are exactly 4 blocks disjoint from both B 1 and B 2, showing that B 1 and B 2 indeed have 6 common neighbors. This completes the proof of strong regularity. We may also use the uniqueness of D 22 to show the uniqueness of the G HS graph. This uniqueness was first proved by Gewirtz [3], but the proof below follows a simplified argument by Brouwer [1]. Theorem 2. The Higman-Sims graph G HS is the unique (100, 22, 0, 6) strongly regular graph. Proof. Suppose G is some (100, 22, 0, 6) graph. Pick any vertex V (G), and let Y be the set of 22 neighbors of, with C the set of 77 non-neighbors of. Any node C C has µ = 6 neighbors in common with, so let N(C) denote this set of six points in Y that are neighbors of C. The crux of the proof is showing that these 77 6-tuples N(C) form a 3-(22, 6, 1) design on Y.

3 COMBINATORIAL PROPERTIES OF THE HIGMAN-SIMS GRAPH 3 First, if two point C 1, C 2 C had N(C 1 ) N(C 2 ) 3, then these three points of Y together with C 1, C 2, would form a complete bipartite induced subgraph K = K 3,3. But the variance trick allows us to prove that no such subgraph exists. Indeed, for each 0 i 6 let n i denote the number of nodes outside of K adjacent to exactly i nodes of K. The number of nodes in G \ K is i n i = 94. Each node of K connects to 19 nodes outside of K, so the number of edges joining K and G \ K is 6 19 = i in i. Finally, for each pair of distinct nodes {k 1, k 2 } in K, if they are not adjacent then they have 3 common neighbors in K and µ 3 = 3 common neighbors outside K, whereas if they are adjacent then they have no common neighbors. So the number of unordered paths (k 1, v, k 2 ) in G with k 1 k 2 K and v G \ K is 6 3 = i ( i 2) ni. It follows that i (i 1)(i 2)n i = 2, which is impossible because (i 1)(i 2)n i 0 for each i. So no induced K 3,3 subgraphs exist in G, meaning any two blocks N(C 1 ) and N(C 2 ) have at most 2 points in common. We have just shown that each triple of points in Y is contained in at most one block N(C), so exactly ( 6 3) 77 = 1540 distinct triples in Y appear in some block. But there are exactly ( 22 3 ) = 1540 triples of points in Y, so each appears exactly once. This exactly means that the sets N(C) indeed form a S(3, 6, 22) Steiner system on Y, which must be the unique D 22 design. If two points C 1, C 2 C are adjacent in G then they have no common neighbors, so N(C 1 ) N(C 2 ) =. It follows that the 16 neighbors of C 1 in C must correspond exactly to the 16 blocks in the S(3, 6, 22) Steiner system disjoint from N(C 1 ). So G has exactly the same edges as G HS above, as desired. Note. The graph whose 77 vertices are the blocks of D 22 where two blocks are adjacent if and only if they are disjoint equivalently, the subgraph of G HS induced on the vertices B forms a strongly regular graph with parameters (77, 16, 0, 4). Brouwer [1] uses this embedding into the Higman-Sims graph, combined with methods similar to those above, to show the uniqueness of the 77-node strongly regular graph with the above parameters. 3. Automorphisms of G HS and the Higman-Sims group Let HS = Aut(G HS ) be the automorphism group of graph G HS. An automorphism f Aut(G HS ) fixing must send X to itself and B to itself while preserving incidence, i.e. must be an automorphism of D 22. So the point stabilizer HS is Aut(D 22 ) = M 22, which contains the Mathieu group M 22 with index 2 as the subgroup of even permutations of the 99 elements X B. The group HS, thought of as a permutation group on its 100 nodes, therefore contains odd permutations, so we may define HS HS as the index-2 subgroup of even permutations, whose point stabilizer HS is M 22. In this section we will compute the orders of HS and HS and show that the group HS is simple. Lemma 3. The group HS acts transitively on the vertices of G HS.

4 4 ZACHARY ABEL Proof. Recall that M 22 acts three-transitively on the points of D 22, so HS acts transitively on X G HS and acts transitively on B G HS (because three points uniquely determine their block). Let x X be any point, and let Y and C be the set of neighbors and non-neighbors of x, respectively. By the uniqueness of the Higman-Sims graph, the neighbor sets {y Y (C, y) E(G HS )} for each C C form a D 22 on Y. Thus, the point stabilizer HS y is another copy of M 22, which therefore acts transitively on Y. But Y contains as well as points from X and B, so all 100 nodes of G HS are indeed in the same orbit under HS. Corollary 4. The group HS has order 100 M 22 = = , and HS has order 2 HS = = Proof. This follows directly from the Orbit-Stabilizer theorem. Corollary 5. The group HS acts primitively on the vertices of G HS. Proof. If G HS were transitive but imprimitive, then its action would fix some partition V (G HS ) = P 1 P k for 2 < k < 100. Because G HS acts transitively, all P i have the same size d, which is some divisor of 100. Suppose without loss of generality that P 1. Because neither nor divide 100, we may find two vertices v, w V (G HS ) \ { } such that v P 1, w / P 1, and either both v and w are in X or both are in B. We know that HS = M 22 acts transitively on both X and B, so there is some automorphism of G HS fixing and sending v to w. This automorphism does not preserve the partition P 1 P k, contrary to assumption. Armed with the primitivity of the action of HS on V (G HS ), as well as the fact that the point stabilizers of HS namely M 22 are simple, we may prove the simplicity of HS itself: Theorem 6. The group HS is simple. Proof. Suppose {1} N HS is a normal subgroup. If N were not transitive, then the orbits under the action of N would form a partition of V (G HS ) which is fixed by the action of HS, contrary to the fact that HS acts primitively. So N is transitive. The intersection N HS is normal in HS = M22, so by simplicity of M 22 this intersection is either M 22 or {1}. In the former case, N = 100 N = HS, which cannot happen because N is a strict subgroup. So N HS = {1}, and N has order 100. By Sylow s theorems, if n 5 is the number of 5-Sylow subgroups of N then both n 5 (100/5 2 ) = 4 and n 5 1 mod 5 hold, so n 5 = 1. This Sylow subgroup S N is thus the unique subgroup of N of order 25, and because conjugation by elements in HS fixes N it also sends S to a 25-element subgroup of N, namely S. So S is normal in HS. But as shown above, any nontrivial normal subgroup of HS has order exactly 100, which is a contradiction. This proves that N does not exist, and HS is simple.

5 COMBINATORIAL PROPERTIES OF THE HIGMAN-SIMS GRAPH 5 4. Embedding in the Leech Lattice The Leech lattice Λ 24 is an even, unimodular, 24-dimensional lattice with minimal norm 1 4, which may be constructed from the extended binary Golay code G as follows. For convenience, scale the standard Euclidean inner product by 1 8 so that we may write the vectors of Λ 24 with integer coordinates. The Leech lattice vectors have the form (x 1,..., x 24 ) where each x i is an integer such that x x 24 4x 1 4x 24 mod 8 and furthermore, for each residue m mod 4, the binary word with a 1 in the i th slot exactly when x i m mod 4 must be in the extended Golay code G. Recall that the automorphism group of the Golay code is M 24. Both M 24 and the Golay code itself act on Λ 24 by signed permutations: M 24 naturally permutes the 24 coordinates, and a word w G negates the coordinates where w has a 1. This group 2 12 M 24 is not the full automorphism group Aut(Λ 24 ), but it is useful for computing within the lattice. For example, we may use it to easily enumerate the minimal (norm 4) vectors of Λ 24. Suppose first that each x i is even. If the Golay codeword of 2 mod 4 elements is the zero codeword then all entries are divisible by 4 and their sum is divisible by 8. So there must be at least two nonzero coordinates, and the smallest possibility has shape (±4, ±4, 0 22 ), with squared norm 4. Any permutation and sign choice is contained in Λ 24, and these comprise a single orbit under the action of 2 12 M 24. This orbit contains exactly ( 24 2 ) 2 2 = 1104 vectors of this shape. If the Golay codeword is nonzero, then there are at least 8 entries that are 2 mod 4, and the smallest possibility has the form (±2 8, 0 16 ) (and squared norm 4), where the eight ±2s form a block of the 5-(24, 8, 1) design and the number of minus signs is even. There are = such vectors, again forming a single orbit under 2 12 M 24. Finally, if each of the coordinates is odd then not all of them can be ±1, so the smallest possibility has 23 entries of ±1 and one ±3. It may be seen that all vectors in Λ 24 of this form arise from the orbit of the norm 4 vector ( 3, 1 23 ) under 2 12 M 24, and that this orbit has size = There are thus = vectors in Λ 24 of norm 4. Let us show that the Higman-Sims graph may be found within Λ 24. Choose two vectors v, w Λ 24 of norm 3 such that v w has norm 2, for example v = (5, 1, 1 22 ), w = (1, 5, 1 22 ). It is known that the group Aut(Λ 24 ) acts transitively on ordered pairs (v, w) with this property (see [5, 5.4]), so there is no loss of generality in choosing v, w as above. How many vectors t Λ 24 of norm 2 have 1 In this section, norm always means squared length.

6 6 ZACHARY ABEL inner product 3 with both v and w? Equivalently, t v and t w must both have norm 2. Let T denote the set of such vectors. The copy of M 22 M 24 that stabilizes the first two coordinates acts on T, because such permutations do not affect distances to v and w. Because we know exactly what the norm-2 vectors of Λ 24 look like, we may easily enumerate T. If x is in the 2 12 M 24 orbit of (±4, ±4, 0 22 ) then it must be the single vector = (4, 4, 0 22 ). If x has shape ( 3, 1 23 ) (up to sign) then it must have a 3 in the last 22 coordinates with all other coordinates +1, so these vectors are in the M 22 orbit of (1, 1, 3, 1 21 ) of size 22; call this orbit X. Finally, if it is in the 2 12 M 24 orbit of (2 8, 0 16 ) then it must be in the M 22 orbit of (2, 2, 2 6, 0 16 ), of which there are 77 members; call this orbit B. So T has exactly = 100 vectors. Form the graph on T by creating edge (t 1, t 2 ) exactly when t 1 and t 2 have inner product 1, i.e. t 1 t 2 has norm 2. This graph is isomorphic to the Higman-Sims graph. For proof, identify a vector in the X orbit with the coordinate containing 3, and identify a vector in the (2, 2, 2 6, 0 16 ) orbit B with the block of six coordinates (other than the first two) containing its 2s. Then has inner product 1 with each x X and inner product 2 with each B B; any two x 1, x 2 X have inner product 2; vectors x X and B B have inner product 1 exactly when the 3 pairs with a 2, i.e. when B s six-tuple contains x s coordinate; and two vectors B 1, B 2 B have inner product 1 exactly when their six-tuples do not intersect. This completes the proof. 5. Connections with the Hoffman-Singleton Graph Finally, we mention (without proof) some connections between the Higman-Sims graph and maximal cocliques in the Hoffman-Singleton graph G Hof. The verification of some of these facts is illustrated in [2, 3.6] using the GRAPE computational package inside GAP, and the rest may be verified in the same way. From its strongly regular parameters (50, 7, 0, 1), the Hoffman-Singleton graph is seen to have eigenvalues r = 2 (multiplicity 28) and s = 3 (multiplicity 21) as well as 7 (multiplicity 1). It is known that in any k-regular graph on n vertices with minimal eigenvalue s, a maximal coclique has size at most ns/(k s), which for G Hof is (50)( 3)/(7 + 3) = 15. It can be checked that G Hof has exactly 100 cocliques of size 15, any two of which intersect in 0, 3, 5, 8, or 15 vertices. Form the graph on these 100 cocliques, where two cocliques are joined if they intersect in 0 or 8 vertices. The resulting graph is the Higman-Sims graph, as in [2] The 100 cocliques in G Hof are naturally divided into two equivalence classes of size 50, where two cocliques are in the same class if they intersect in 0, 5, or 15 vertices. Within each class, connecting disjoint cocliques creates a copy of the Hoffman-Singleton graph, and the above construction then shows that the Higman-Sims graph may be partitioned into two Hoffman-Singleton graphs; in fact, in [4] it is shown that there are exactly

7 COMBINATORIAL PROPERTIES OF THE HIGMAN-SIMS GRAPH such partitions. These equivalence classes also offer an alternative construction of G HS from G Hof : Form a graph on the 50 vertices of G Hof and the 50 cocliques from one of the equivalence classes, where two vertices v 1, v 2 V (G Hof ) are joined if they are connected in G Hof, two cocliques are joined if they are disjoint, and a vertex v V (G Hof ) connects to a coclique C precisely when v C. Then this graph is also the Higman-Sims graph. References [1] A.E. Brouwer. The uniqueness of the strongly regular graph on 77 points. Journal of Graph Theory, 7: , [2] P.J. Cameron. Permutation Groups, volume 45 of London Mathematical Society Student Texts. Cambridge University Press, [3] A. Gewirtz. Graphs with maximal even girth. Canadian Journal of Mathematics, 21: , [4] P.R. Hafner. On the graphs of hoffman-singleton and higman-sims. Electronic Journal of Combinatorics, 11(1), [5] Robert A. Wilson. The Finite Simple Groups. Graduate Texts in Mathematics. Springer, 2009.

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