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HoffmanSingletonGraph
JohnBaez/1February,2016

HoffmanSingletonGraphFlixdelaFuente
ThisistheHoffmanSingletongraph,aremarkablysymmetricalgraphwith50verticesand175edges.Thereisabeautifulwayto
constructtheHoffmanSingletongraphbyconnecting5pentagonsto5pentagrams.
Inwhatfollows,allindiceslieinZ/5:thatis,theintegersmod5.
TakefivepentagonsPh :graphswith5verticessuchthatvertexjisadjacenttoverticesj 1andj + 1.Take5pentagramsQi :
graphswith5verticessuchthatvertexjisadjacenttoverticesj 2andj + 2.NowjoineachvertexjofpentagonPh tothevertex
ofpentagramQi .TheresultistheHoffmanSingletongraph.

hi + j

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FlixdelaFuenteconstructedtheabovepictureoftheHoffmanSingletongraphusingthismethod.Heexplainsthedetailshere:

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HoffmanSingletonGraph:ConstructionandPetersenSubgraphsFlixdelaFuente
InthisdiagramPh,j isthejthvertexofthepentagonPh ,whileQi,k isthekthvertexofthepentagramQi .EachvertexPh,j is
connectedto5verticesQhi+j .FlixdelaFuenteshowshowthisconnectseachpentagontoall5pentagrams,forming5copiesofthe
Petersengraph.FormoreonthePetersengraph,seethisearlierpost:
Petersengraph.
Hereisanotherimageofthesameconstruction:

HoffmanSingletongraphClaudioRocchini
TheHoffmanSingletongraphhas252,000symmetries.Notsurprisingly,theyredeeplyconnectedtothemathyoucandowiththe
numbers5and25.TheyformagroupisomorphictothegroupcalledPU(3, F 25 ).
Tounderstandthisgroup,notethatF 25 ,thefieldwith25elements,canbeobtainedfromF 5 ,thefieldwith5elements,byadjoininga
squarerooti ofsomeelementthatdoesnothaveasquarerootinF 5 .Thiselementwillthenhave2distinctrootsinF 25 ,namelyi and
i

,andthereisanautomorphismofF 25 thatexchangesthem,calledtheFrobeniusautomorphism.Thisautomorphismalsosends

eachelementofF 25 toits5thpower.
Sinceitswitchesi andi ,theFrobeniusautomorphismofF 25 issimilartocomplexconjugation.Wecanuseittodefineunitary
matricesoverF 25 ,andthustheunitarygroupU(3, F 25 )consistingof3 3unitarymatrices,anditssubgroupSU(3, F 25 ),the
specialunitarygroup,consistingofthosewithdeterminant1.
IfwetakeSU(3, F 25 )andmodoutbyitscenter,consistingofmatricesthataremultiplesoftheidentity,weobtaintheprojective
specialunitarygroupPSU(3, F 25 ).The2elementgroupgeneratedbytheFrobeniusautomorphismactsonPSU(3, F 25 ).Thus,we
canformthesemidirectproductofZ/2andPSU(3, F 25 ),obtainingagroupcalledPU(3, F 25 ).
Puzzle1:ShowthatPU(3, F 25 )has252,000elements.
Puzzle2:CanyouusethedescriptionoftheHoffmanSingletongraphintermsofpentagonsandpentagramstoprovethatits
symmetrygroupcontainsPU(3, F 25 )?

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ThesymmetrygroupoftheHoffmanSingletongraphactstransitivelyontheflags,whereaflagisapairconsistingofavertexandan
edgeincidenttothatvertex.TheHoffmanSingletongraphisthuscalledasymmetricgraph.
ThestabilizerofavertexoftheHoffmanSingletongraphisisomorphictothesymmetricgroupon7letters,S7 .Thestabilizerofan
edgeisisomorphictoAut(A6 ) ,whereA6 isthealternatinggroupon6letters.(ThegroupAut(A6 ) hasfourtimesasmanyelements
asA6 .)BoththesestabilizersaremaximalsubgroupsofthesymmetrygroupoftheHoffmanSingletongraph.
ThereisalsoamoresubtlewaytoconstructtheHoffmanSingletongraphstartingfromtheFanoplane:theprojectiveplaneoverthe
fieldwith2elements.
TheFanoplanehas7pointsand7lines,with3pointsoneachlineand3linesthrougheachpoint:

FanoPlaneGunther
ThesymmetrygroupoftheFanoplanehas168elements.So,thenumberofdifferentFanoplanestructuresona7elementsetis
7!/168 = 30

CalleachoftheseaFano.
Fixa7elementsetS .Thissethas
7
(

) = 35
3

3elementsubsets,whichwewillcalltriads.ChooseatriadL

.Sincethereare30 Fanos,eachwith7lines,andjust35triads,

thereare
30 7
= 6
35

FanosforwhichLisaline.
Puzzle3.ShowthatforanyFanoF ,thereare14otherFanosF

thathavealineincommonwithF .(Thatis,sometriadisa

lineinbothF andF .)
Now,fixaFanoandconsiderall15FanosthathavealineincommonwithF .
TobuildtheHoffmanSingletongraph,takethese15Fanosandall35elementsubsetsofS asvertices.Drawanedgebetweenany
triadandanyFanothathasitasaline.Drawanedgebetweenanytwo3elementsubsetsthataredisjoint.Neverdrawanedge
betweentwoFanos.
TheresultinggraphistheHoffmanSingletongraph!Ithasthe50verticescorrespondingtothe35triadsand15Fanos.Eachvertex
hasdegree7.AvertexcorrespondingtoaFanoisconnectedto7triads,sincetheFanoplanehas7lines.Eachtriadisconnectedto
the3Fanosthatincludeitandthe4triadsitisdisjointfrom.
Puzzle3.WhycantheHoffmanSingletongraphbebuiltthisway?Beingbuiltfrom5pentagonsand5pentagrams,itsnotsurprising
thatitssymmetrygroupisconnectedtothenumber5andthefieldF 25 .ButtheFanoplaneseemsunrelatedtothis.
MybestguessaboutPuzzle3isthatitsconnectedtothestabilizerofanyvertexoftheHoffmanSingletongraphbeingS7 .Thisgroup
canactona7pointset,andthusonthesetofFanos.
TheHoffmanSingletongraphisa(7,5)cage,meaningagraphwhereeachvertexhasexactly7neighbors,theshortestcycleshave
length5,andithasasfewverticesaspossiblewhilepossessingboththeseproperties.ThisfollowsfromthefactthattheHoffman
SingletongraphisaMooregraph.Infact,itisthelargestknownMooregraph,anditaroseinHoffmanandSingletonsattemptto
classifyMooregraphs:

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AlanJ.HoffmanandRobertR.Singleton,Mooregraphswithdiameter2and3,IBMJournalofResearchandDevelopment5(1960),
497504.
TheHoffmanSingletontheoremstatesthatinaMooregraphwithgirth5,everyvertexmusthave2,3,7,or57neighbors.The
existenceofonewhereeveryvertexhas57neighborsisunknown.
Formore,see:
HoffmanSingletongraph,Wikipedia.
AndriesE.Brouwer,HoffmanSingletongraph.
AsifZaman,Mooregraphswithdiameter2and3.
ThepentagonsandpentagramsconstructionoftheHoffmanSingletongraphwasfirstgivenbyRobertson,butitwasusedtostudy
thegraphssymmetrieshere:
P.R.Hafner,TheHoffmanSingletongraphanditsautomorphisms,JournalofAlgebraicCombinatorics18(2003),712.
IfyougetstuckonPuzzle2,thispaperholdsusefulclues.TheyalsoshowthattheHoffmanSingletongraphcontainsexactly1260
cyclesoflength5.Idonotknowtheanswertothisquestion:
Puzzle4:DoesthesymmetrygroupoftheHoffmanSingletongraphacttransitivelyonthesetofcyclesoflength5?
Anaffirmativeanswerwouldexplainwhytheorderofthesymmetrygroupisdivisiblebythenumberof5cycles:
252, 000
= 200.
1260

Spoiler
HereisananswertoPuzzle3,providedbyGregEgan.However,theremaybemoreintuitivewaystocounttheFanosthatsharealine
withagivenFano.

FortheFano:
{{1,2,4},{1,3,7},{1,5,6},{2,3,5},{2,6,7},{3,4,6},{4,5,7}}
the14otherFanosthatshareexactlyonelinewithitcomeinpairswherethecommonlineiseachofthe7linesinthe
originalFano:
{{1,2,4},{1,3,5},{1,6,7},{2,3,6},{2,5,7},{3,4,7},{4,5,6}}
{{1,2,4},{1,3,6},{1,5,7},{2,3,7},{2,5,6},{3,4,5},{4,6,7}}
{{1,2,5},{1,3,7},{1,4,6},{2,3,6},{2,4,7},{3,4,5},{5,6,7}}
{{1,2,6},{1,3,7},{1,4,5},{2,3,4},{2,5,7},{3,5,6},{4,6,7}}
{{1,2,3},{1,4,7},{1,5,6},{2,4,6},{2,5,7},{3,4,5},{3,6,7}}
{{1,2,7},{1,3,4},{1,5,6},{2,3,6},{2,4,5},{3,5,7},{4,6,7}}
{{1,2,6},{1,3,4},{1,5,7},{2,3,5},{2,4,7},{3,6,7},{4,5,6}}
{{1,2,7},{1,3,6},{1,4,5},{2,3,5},{2,4,6},{3,4,7},{5,6,7}}
{{1,2,3},{1,4,6},{1,5,7},{2,4,5},{2,6,7},{3,4,7},{3,5,6}}
{{1,2,5},{1,3,6},{1,4,7},{2,3,4},{2,6,7},{3,5,7},{4,5,6}}
{{1,2,3},{1,4,5},{1,6,7},{2,4,7},{2,5,6},{3,4,6},{3,5,7}}
{{1,2,6},{1,3,5},{1,4,7},{2,3,7},{2,4,5},{3,4,6},{5,6,7}}
{{1,2,5},{1,3,4},{1,6,7},{2,3,7},{2,4,6},{3,5,6},{4,5,7}}
{{1,2,7},{1,3,5},{1,4,6},{2,3,4},{2,5,6},{3,6,7},{4,5,7}}

ThepictureofthepentagonsandpentagramsconstructionwascreatedbyClaudioRocchiniandplacedonWikicommonsunderaGNU
FreeDocumentationlicense.

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VisualInsightisaplacetosharestrikingimagesthathelpexplainadvancedtopicsinmathematics.Imalwayslookingfortruly
beautifulimages,soifyouknowaboutone,pleasedropacommenthereandletmeknow!

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8thoughtsonHoffmanSingletonGraph

TimSilverman 1February,2016at10:30
ThesetranslateasusualintoPG(3, 2) ,takingthe15 planes(or,dually,points)and35 linesofthis3 spaceoverF 2 .
Anedgeofthegraphjoinsaplanevertexandalinevertexpreciselyifthelineliesintheplanebuttheedges
betweenlineverticesaresubtler.Thereare16 linesskewtoagivenline,butthepicturewith3 elementsubsetsofa
7

elementsetshowstheyaresubdividedinto12 whichshare2 pointswithagiven3 elementsubset,and4

completelydisjoint.ImnotsurewhatthesetranslateintoinPG(3, 2) .
Reply

JGregoryMoxness 3February,2016at17:14
Justguessingherebutthe16skewlinesmayberelatedtothe16permutationsoftriadsignmaskson
eachofthe30canonicaltriples(16*30=480uniquedirectedFanoplanes(Octonionmultiplicationtables)).
Thelinkbetweentheseandthepentagonal(Coxeter#30)groups(e.g.E8(240)whichfoldstoH4(120)&H4
Phi(120))maybeduetothedeeperlinkbetweenOctonions/SedenionsandE8.
Formorespecificsonthe30setsof7triplesandthe16permutations:
The30canonicalsetsof7triples(whichgetsignmasksappliedtomakevalidoctonions).
1{{1,2,3},{1,4,5},{1,6,7},{2,4,6},{2,5,7},{3,4,7},{3,5,6}}
2{{1,2,3},{1,4,5},{1,6,7},{2,4,7},{2,5,6},{3,4,6},{3,5,7}}
3{{1,2,3},{1,4,6},{1,5,7},{2,4,5},{2,6,7},{3,4,7},{3,5,6}}
4{{1,2,3},{1,4,6},{1,5,7},{2,4,7},{2,5,6},{3,4,5},{3,6,7}}
5{{1,2,3},{1,4,7},{1,5,6},{2,4,5},{2,6,7},{3,4,6},{3,5,7}}
6{{1,2,3},{1,4,7},{1,5,6},{2,4,6},{2,5,7},{3,4,5},{3,6,7}}
7{{1,2,4},{1,3,5},{1,6,7},{2,3,6},{2,5,7},{3,4,7},{4,5,6}}
8{{1,2,4},{1,3,5},{1,6,7},{2,3,7},{2,5,6},{3,4,6},{4,5,7}}
9{{1,2,4},{1,3,6},{1,5,7},{2,3,5},{2,6,7},{3,4,7},{4,5,6}}
10{{1,2,4},{1,3,6},{1,5,7},{2,3,7},{2,5,6},{3,4,5},{4,6,7}}
11{{1,2,4},{1,3,7},{1,5,6},{2,3,5},{2,6,7},{3,4,6},{4,5,7}}
12{{1,2,4},{1,3,7},{1,5,6},{2,3,6},{2,5,7},{3,4,5},{4,6,7}}

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13{{1,2,5},{1,3,4},{1,6,7},{2,3,6},{2,4,7},{3,5,7},{4,5,6}}
14{{1,2,5},{1,3,4},{1,6,7},{2,3,7},{2,4,6},{3,5,6},{4,5,7}}
15{{1,2,5},{1,3,6},{1,4,7},{2,3,4},{2,6,7},{3,5,7},{4,5,6}}
16{{1,2,5},{1,3,6},{1,4,7},{2,3,7},{2,4,6},{3,4,5},{5,6,7}}
17{{1,2,5},{1,3,7},{1,4,6},{2,3,4},{2,6,7},{3,5,6},{4,5,7}}
18{{1,2,5},{1,3,7},{1,4,6},{2,3,6},{2,4,7},{3,4,5},{5,6,7}}
19{{1,2,6},{1,3,4},{1,5,7},{2,3,5},{2,4,7},{3,6,7},{4,5,6}}
20{{1,2,6},{1,3,4},{1,5,7},{2,3,7},{2,4,5},{3,5,6},{4,6,7}}
21{{1,2,6},{1,3,5},{1,4,7},{2,3,4},{2,5,7},{3,6,7},{4,5,6}}
22{{1,2,6},{1,3,5},{1,4,7},{2,3,7},{2,4,5},{3,4,6},{5,6,7}}
23{{1,2,6},{1,3,7},{1,4,5},{2,3,4},{2,5,7},{3,5,6},{4,6,7}}
24{{1,2,6},{1,3,7},{1,4,5},{2,3,5},{2,4,7},{3,4,6},{5,6,7}}
25{{1,2,7},{1,3,4},{1,5,6},{2,3,5},{2,4,6},{3,6,7},{4,5,7}}
26{{1,2,7},{1,3,4},{1,5,6},{2,3,6},{2,4,5},{3,5,7},{4,6,7}}
27{{1,2,7},{1,3,5},{1,4,6},{2,3,4},{2,5,6},{3,6,7},{4,5,7}}
28{{1,2,7},{1,3,5},{1,4,6},{2,3,6},{2,4,5},{3,4,7},{5,6,7}}
29{{1,2,7},{1,3,6},{1,4,5},{2,3,4},{2,5,6},{3,5,7},{4,6,7}}
30{{1,2,7},{1,3,6},{1,4,5},{2,3,5},{2,4,6},{3,4,7},{5,6,7}}
The8setsofsignmasks.EachHex(7bit)signmask(orthesetof7triples)canbepermutedina
consistentwaytoproduceisomorphicsetsof480octonions.
1{00,07,19,1E,2A,2D,33,34}
2{01,06,18,1F,2B,2C,32,35}
3{02,05,1B,1C,28,2F,31,36}
4{03,04,1A,1D,29,2E,30,37}
5{08,0F,11,16,22,25,3B,3C}
6{09,0E,10,17,23,24,3A,3D}
7{0A,0D,13,14,20,27,39,3E}
8{0B,0C,12,15,21,26,38,3F}
Belowistheindexof8setsof8signmaskstoeachofthe30canonicaltriples.Thesecanbeinverted(01)
making16*30=480octonionpermutations.Theyareassignedtothe30canonicalsetsof7triplesusingthis
maskList:
{5,8,4,3,7,6,3,2,6,5,1,4,6,7,3,3,8,6,3,1,6,6,2,3,5,8,4,3,7,6}
Sothereyouhavethekeytocreating480uniquedirectedFanoplanes!
Reply

TimSilverman 1February,2016at18:44
AnddoesntAut (A6 )havefourtimesasmanyelementsasA6 ,becauseoftheouterautomorphismofS 6 ?
Reply

JohnBaez 1February,2016at18:49
WhoopsIdforgottenthatconjugationbyanoddpermutationgivesA6 anouterautomorphismevenbefore
theexceptionalonekicksin.Illfixthat.
Reply

JohnGolden 4February,2016at21:39
ItriedmakingthisinGeoGebra,butamnotcertainitiscorrect.Cananyoneverify?(N=5,Offset=2)
https://tube.geogebra.org/m/2597839
Reply

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JohnBaez 6February,2016at17:30
Niceprogram!Itwouldtakeworkformetoreallyverifyit,butInoticethatyourimageoftheHoffman
Singletongraphhasanumberofedgespassingverynearthecenterofthepicture,whileFlixshasalarge
emptyspacenearthecenter,andClaudeRocchinis(alsoonthisblogarticle)hasasinglepentagonand
pentagramnearthecenter.Whatscausingthesedifferences?
Reply

JohnGolden 6February,2016at17:38
Ithinkitstheoffsetbetweenthepentagonsandpentagrams.ThatswhyIaddedthatslideralso
necessaryforthegeneralizationtolargerN.Ialsofudgedontheevencaseswhichhavenonice
starsassociated.IcouldntdecidebetweenNgonsor2intersectingN/2gons.Maybetheresa
graphtheoreticreasonforchoosingoneovertheother?
Reply

FlixdelaFuente 7February,2016at08:47
Thedifferencesintherepresentationsarecausedbythelabelling
assignation.Thisisaconsequenceoftheconstructionitself:
1.Thebasicblocks:5 pentagonsP and5 pentagramsQ,sayyoudrawthemintwoconcentriccrownsasinallthese
figures,withoutanymorespecification.
2.1.Numberthepentagons:P1 , P2 , P3 , P4 , P5andpentagramsQ1 , Q2 , Q3 , Q4 , Q5inaspecificpositionthis
assignmentcanbedoneinanumberofwaysinsteadoftheconsecutivethathasbeenchoseninthefigure.
2.2.Labeltheverticesineachpolygon.Thiscanbedoneclockwise(asdoneinthefigure)orcounterclockwise.
3.ApplytheadjacencyrulePh,j

Qi,hi+j

Thelabellingprocessofsteps2.1and2.2determinehowwindedthenewedgeswillbeandhencedeterminedifferent
representationsoftheHoffmanSingletongraphoverthetwocrownsofpentagonsandpentagrams.Thinkforinstance
thatifweinterchangecyanQ0 withpinkQ4 pentagrams,andnumbercyanclockwisebeginningQ0,0 intheformer
positionofQ4,2 ,theedgejoiningP0,0

Q0,0

willapproachcloselytothecenter.

Reply

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