# Walk refinement, walk logic, and the iteration number of the Weisfeiler-Leman algorithm

We show that the 2-dimensional Weisfeiler-Leman algorithm stabilizes n-vertex graphs after at most O(n log n) iterations. This implies that if such graphs are distinguishable in 3-variable first order logic with counting, then they can also be distinguished in this logic by a formula of quantifier depth at most O(n log n). For this we exploit a new refinement based on counting walks and argue that its iteration number differs from the classic Weisfeiler-Leman refinement by at most a logarithmic factor. We then prove matching linear upper and lower bounds on the number of iterations of the walk refinement. This is achieved with an algebraic approach by exploiting properties of semisimple matrix algebras. We also define a walk logic and a bijective walk pebble game that precisely correspond to the new walk refinement.

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