In May 2017 I wrote down some problems that I hoped to look at in my study of random walks on quantum groups. Following work of Amaury Freslon, a number of these questions have been answered. In exchange for solving these problems, Amaury has very kindly suggested some other problems that I can work on. The below hopes to categorise some of these problems and their status.


  • Show that the total variation distance is equal to the projection distance. Amaury has an a third proof. Amaury suggests that this should be true in more generality than the case of \nu being absolutely continuous (of the form \nu(x)=\int_G xa_{\nu} for all x\in C(G) and a unique a_{\nu}\in C(G)). If the Haar state is no longer tracial Amaury’s proof breaks down (and I imagine so do the two others in the link above). Amaury believes this is true in more generality and says perhaps the Jordan decomposition of states will be useful here.
  • Prove the Upper Bound Lemma for compact quantum groups of Kac type. Achieved by Amaury.
  • Attack random walks with conjugate invariant driving probabilitys: achieved by Amaury.
  • Look at quantum generalisations of ‘natural’ random walks and shuffles. Solved is probably too strong a word, but Amaury has started this study by looking at a generalisation of the random transposition shuffle. As I suggested in Seoul, Amaury says: “One important problem in my opinion is to say something about analogues of classical random walks on S_n (for instance the random transpositions or riffle shuffle)”. Amaury notes that “we are blocked by the counit problem. We must therefore seek bounds for other distances. As I suggest in my paper, we may look at the norm of the difference of the transition operators. The \mathcal{L}^2-estimate that I give is somehow the simplest thing one can do and should be thought of as a “spectral gap” estimate. Better norms would be the norms as operators on \mathcal{L}^\infty or even better, the completely bounded norm. However, I have not the least idea of how to estimate this.”

Results to be Improved

  • I have recently received an email from Isabelle Baraquin, a student of Uwe Franz, pointing out a small error in the thesis (a basis-error with the Kac-Paljutkin quantum groups).
  • Recent calculations suggest that the lower bound for the random walk on the dual of S_n is effective at k\sim (n-1)! while the upper bound shows the walk is random at time order n!.  This is still a very large gap but at least the lower bound shows that this walk does converge very slowly.
  • Get a much sharper lower bound for the random walk on the Sekine family of quantum groups studied in Section 5.7. Projection onto the ‘middle’ of the M_n(\mathbb{C}) factor may provide something of use. On mature reflection, recognising that the application of the upper bound lemma is dominated by one set of terms in particular, it should be possible to use cruder but more elegant estimates to get the same upper bound except with lighter calculations (and also a smaller \alpha — see Section 5.7).

More Questions on Random Walks

  • Irreducibility is harder than the classical case (where ‘not concentrated’ on a subgroup is enough). Can anything be said about aperiodicity in the quantum case? (U. Franz).
  • Prove an Ergodic Theorem (Theorem 1.3.2) for Finite Quantum Groups. Extend to Compact Quantum Groups. It is expected that the conditions may be more difficult than the classical case. However, it may be possible to use Diaconis-Van Daele theory to get some results in this direction. It should be possible to completely analyse some examples (such as the Kac-Paljutkin quantum group of order 8).This will involve a study of subgroups of quantum groups as well as normal quantum subgroups and cosets.
  • Look at a random walk on the Sekine quantum groups with an n-dependent driving probability and see if the cut-off phenomenon (Chapter 4) can be detected. This will need good lower bounds for k\ll t_n, some cut-off time.
  • Convolutions of the Random Distribution: such a study may prove fruitful in trying to find the Ergodic Theorem. See Section 6.5.
  • Amaury mentions the problem of considering random walks associated to non-central states (in the compact case). “The difficulty is first to build non-central states (I do not have explicit examples at hand but Uwe Franz said he had some) and second to be able to compute their Fourier transform. Then, the computations will certainly be hard but may still be doable.”
  • A study of the Cesaro means: see Section 6.6.
  • Spectral Analysis: it should be possible to derive crude bounds using the spectrum of the stochastic operator. More in Section 6.2.

Future Work (for which I do not yet have the tools to attack)

  • Amaury/Franz Something perhaps more accessible is to investigate quantum homogeneous spaces. The free sphere is a noncommutative analogue of the usual sphere and a quantum homogeneous space for the free orthogonal quantum group. We can therefore define random walks on it and the whole machinery of Gelfand pairs might be available. In particular, Caspers gave a Plancherel theorem for Gelfand pairs of locally compact quantum groups which should apply here yielding an Upper Bound Lemma and then the problem boils down to something which should be close to my computations. There are probably works around this involving Adam Skalski and coauthors.
  • Amaury: If one can prove a more general total variation distance equal to half one norm result, then Amaury suggests one can consider random walks on compact quantum groups which are not of Kac type. The Upper Bound Lemma will then involve matrices Q measuring the modular theory of the Haar state and some (but not all) dimensions in the formulas must be replaced by quantum dimensions. The main problem here is to define explicit central states since there is no Haar-state preserving conditional expectation onto the central algebra. However, there are tools from monoidal equivalence to do this.