Random Cayley Graphs are Expanders: a Simple Proof of the Alon–Roichman Theorem

  • Zeph Landau
  • Alexander Russell


We give a simple proof of the Alon–Roichman theorem, which asserts that the Cayley graph obtained by selecting $c_\varepsilon \log |G|$ elements, independently and uniformly at random, from a finite group $G$ has expected second eigenvalue no more than $\varepsilon$; here $c_\varepsilon$ is a constant that depends only on $\varepsilon$. In particular, such a graph is an expander with constant probability. Our new proof has three advantages over the original proof: (i.) it is extremely simple, relying only on the decomposition of the group algebra and tail bounds for operator-valued random variables, (ii.) it shows that the $\log |G|$ term may be replaced with $\log D$, where $D \leq |G|$ is the sum of the dimensions of the irreducible representations of $G$, and (iii.) it establishes the result above with a smaller constant $c_\varepsilon$.

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