Large Incidence-free Sets in Geometries

  • Stefaan De Winter
  • Jeroen Schillewaert
  • Jacques Verstraete
Keywords: eigenvalues, generalized polygons, probabilistic method


Let $\Pi = (P,L,I)$ denote a rank two geometry. In this paper, we are interested in the largest value of $|X||Y|$ where $X \subset P$ and $Y \subset L$ are sets such that $(X \times Y) \cap I = \emptyset$. Let $\alpha(\Pi)$ denote this value. We concentrate on the case where $P$ is the point set of $\mathsf{PG}(n,q)$ and $L$ is the set of $k$-spaces in $\mathsf{PG}(n,q)$. In the case that $\Pi$ is the projective plane $\mathsf{PG}(2,q)$, where $P$ is the set of points and $L$ is the set of lines of the projective plane, Haemers proved that maximal arcs in projective planes together with the set of lines not intersecting the maximal arc determine $\alpha(\mathsf{PG}(2,q))$ when $q$ is an even power of $2$. Therefore, in those cases,
\[ \alpha(\Pi) = q(q - \sqrt{q} + 1)^2.\] We give both a short combinatorial proof and a linear algebraic proof of this result, and consider the analogous problem in generalized polygons. More generally, if $P$ is the point set of $\mathsf{PG}(n,q)$ and $L$ is the set of $k$-spaces in $\mathsf{PG}(n,q)$, where $1 \leq k \leq n - 1$, and $\Pi_q = (P,L,I)$, then we show as $q \rightarrow \infty$ that \[ \frac{1}{4}q^{(k + 2)(n - k)} \lesssim \alpha(\Pi) \lesssim q^{(k + 2)(n - k)}.\] The upper bounds are proved by combinatorial and spectral techniques. This leaves the open question as to the smallest possible value of $\alpha(\Pi)$ for each value of $k$. We prove that if for each $N \in \mathbb N$, $\Pi_N$ is a partial linear space with $N$ points and $N$ lines, then $\alpha(\Pi_N) \gtrsim \frac{1}{e}N^{3/2}$ as $N \rightarrow \infty$.
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