, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 121-137

The Spectral Measure of Certain Elements of the Complex Group Ring of a Wreath Product

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We use elementary methods to compute the L 2-dimension of the eigenspaces of the Markov operator on the lamplighter group and of generalizations of this operator on other groups. In particular, we give a transparent explanation of the spectral measure of the Markov operator on the lamplighter group found by Grigorchuk and Zuk, and later used by them, together with Linnell and Schick, to produce a counterexample to a strong version of the Atiyah conjecture about the range of L 2-Betti numbers. We use our results to construct manifolds with certain L 2-Betti numbers (given as convergent infinite sums of rational numbers) which are not obviously rational, but we have been unable to determine whether any of them are irrational.