a1 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Western Australia, Nedlands WA 6907, Australia
An approach to analysing the family of Cayley graphs for a finite group G is given which identifies normal edge-transitive Cayley graphs as a sub-family of central importance. These are the Cayley graphs for G for which a subgroup of automorphisms exists which both normalises G and acts transitively on edges. It is shown that, for a nontrivial group G, each normal edge-transitive Cayley graph for G has at least one homomorphic image which is a normal edge-transitive Cayley graph for a characteristically simple quotient group of G. Moreover, given a normal edge-transitive Cayley graph ΓH for a quotient group G/H, necessary and sufficient conditions are obtained for the existence of a normal edge-transitive Cayley graph Γ for G which has ΓH as a homomorphic image, and a method for obtaining all such graphs Γ is given.
(Received April 27 1999)