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Let V be a d-dimensional vector space over a field of prime order p. We classify the affine transformations of V of order at least p^d/4, and apply this classification to determine the finite primitive permutation groups of affine type, and of degree n, that contain a permutation of order at least n/4. Using this result we obtain a classification of finite primitive permutation groups of affine type containing a permutation with at most four cycles.
We conjecture that if $G$ is a finite primitive group and if $g$ is an element of $G$, then either the element $g$ has a cycle of length equal to its order, or for some $r,m$ and $k$, the group $G\leq S_m\wr S_r$, preserving a product structure of $r$ direct copies of the natural action of $S_m$ or $A_m$ on $k$-sets. In this paper we reduce this conjecture to the case that $G$ is an almost simple group with socle a classical group.
A simple undirected graph is weakly $G$-locally projective, for a group of automorphisms $G$, if for each vertex $x$, the stabiliser $G(x)$ induces on the set of vertices adjacent to $x$ a doubly transitive action with socle the projective group $L_{n_x}(q_x)$ for an integer $n_x$ and a prime power $q_x$. It is $G$-locally projective if in addition $G$ is vertex transitive. A theorem of Trofimov reduces the classification of the $G$-locally projective graphs to the case where the distance fac...
We determine upper bounds for the maximum order of an element of a finite almost simple group with socle T in terms of the minimum index m(T) of a maximal subgroup of T: for T not an alternating group we prove that, with finitely many exceptions, the maximum element order is at most m(T). Moreover, apart from an explicit list of groups, the bound can be reduced to m(T)/4. These results are applied to determine all primitive permutation groups on a set of size n that contain permutations of or...
A pseudo-hyperoval of a projective space $\PG(3n-1,q)$, $q$ even, is a set of $q^n+2$ subspaces of dimension $n-1$ such that any three span the whole space. We prove that a pseudo-hyperoval with an irreducible transitive stabiliser is elementary. We then deduce from this result a classification of the thick generalised quadrangles $\mathcal{Q}$ that admit a point-primitive, line-transitive automorphism group with a point-regular abelian normal subgroup. Specifically, we show that $\mathcal{Q}...
In 2008, Schneider and Van Maldeghem proved that if a group acts flag-transitively, point-primitively, and line-primitively on a generalised hexagon or generalised octagon, then it is an almost simple group of Lie type. We show that point-primitivity is sufficient for the same conclusion, regardless of the action on lines or flags. This result narrows the search for generalised hexagons or octagons with point- or line-primitive collineation groups beyond the classical examples, namely the two...
The only known skew-translation generalised quadrangles (STGQ) having order $(q,q)$, with $q$ even, are translation generalised quadrangles. Equivalently, the only known groups $G$ of order $q^3$, $q$ even, admitting an Ahrens-Szekeres (AS-)configuration are elementary abelian. In this paper we prove results in the theory of STGQ giving (i) new structural information for a group $G$ admitting an AS-configuration, (ii) a classification of the STGQ of order $(8,8)$, and (iii) a classification o...
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