Tagged Questions

Knot theory is dealing with embedding of curves in manifolds of dimension 3. A knot is a single circle embedded in the affine space of dimension 3 as a smooth curve not crossing itself. Many knot invariants are known and can be used to distinguish knots.

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Are there any very hard unknots?

Some years ago I took a long piece of string, tied it into a loop, and tried to twist it up into a tangle that I would find hard to untangle. No matter what I did, I could never cause the later me any ...
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Tying knots with reflecting lightrays

Let a lightray bounce around inside a cube whose faces are (internal) mirrors. If its slopes are rational, it will eventually form a cycle. For example, starting with a point $p_0$ in the interior of ...
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Prime numbers as knots: Alexander polynomial

A naive and idle number theory question from a topologist (but not a knot theorist): I have heard it said (and this came up recently at MO) that there is a fruitful analogy between Spec $\mathbb Z$ ...
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Kirby calculus and local moves

Every orientable 3-manifold can be obtained from the 3-sphere by doing surgery along a framed link. Kirby's theorem says that the surgery along two framed links gives homeomorphic manifolds if and ...
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Can knot diagrams be monotonically simplified using under moves?

It is well known that knot diagrams cannot be monotonically simplified using Reidemeister moves. For instance, the Goeritz unknot cannot be directly simplified. On the other hand, there is a stronger ...
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Knot security (When to trust your life with a knot)

This question is related to a a question about self-tightening knots. I am supervising a senior thesis and my student is interested in knots. My student is also a rock climber and has an ...
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In knot theory: Benefits of working in $S^3$ instead of $\mathbb{R}^3$?

In several textbooks on knot theory (e.g. Lickorish's, Rolfsen's) knots are considered in $\mathbb{R}^3$ or $S^3$. The reason for working in $S^3$ is sometimes given at the beginning of a text as that ...
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What is the three-dimensional hyperbolic volume of a four-manifold?

Every smooth closed orientable 4-manifold may be constructed via a handle decomposition. Before asking a couple of questions, I recall some well-known facts about handle-decompositions of 4-manifolds. ...
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What part is left unsolved in the Unknotting problem? (after results of Bar-Natan, Khovanov, Kronheimer and Mrowka)

Kronheimer and Mrowka showed that the Khovanov homology detects the unknot. Bar-Natan showed a program to compute the Khovanov homology fast: there was no rigorous complexity analysis of the algorithm,...
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Random knot on six vertices

This question is inspired by Joseph O'Rourke's beautiful question on random knots. Choose an random ordered 6-tuple of points on the unit sphere in $\mathbf{R}^3$, and form a knot by connecting ...
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probabilistic knot theory

Take a smooth closed curve in the plane. At each self-intersection, randomly choose one of the two pieces and lift it up just out of the plane. (Perturb the curve so there are no triple ...
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Does this knot invariant distinguish trefoil chiralities?

Let $C_N$ denote the labelled configuration of $N^{th}$ roots of unity with $p_J = e^{\frac{2\pi iJ}{N}}$ for $J = 1\ldots N$. As a corollary of something else I was playing around with, I recently ...
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Intuitive explanation for the use of matrix factorizations in knot theory

Hello! I read through parts of Khovanov/Rozansky's paper on the categorification of the HOMFLY polynomial using Matrix Factorizations. Technically, I can follow (though it seems to me that quite a ...
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Applications of knot theory

An answer of André Henriques' inspired the following closely related CW question. Parts of the following is extracted from his answer and my comments. I regularly teach a knot theory class. ...
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The Jones polynomial at specific values of $t$.

I've been calculating some Jones polynomials lately and I was just curious if there was a physical meaning to evaluating the Jones polynomial at a particular value of $t$. For example, if I take the ...
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Metrics on the 3-sphere with knotted geodesics

According to answers to this question every metrics on $S^3$ admits a simple closed geodesic. Given a knot (or link) $K$, it's also quite simple to build a metric on $S^3$ such that $K$ is a geodesic (...
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Resources for graphical languages / Penrose notation / Feynman diagrams / birdtracks?

There is an idea I've recently gotten interested in that doesn't seem to have a good agreed-upon name ("diagrammatic algebra?"). It centers around the use of two-dimensional diagrams of dots, ...
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How expensive is knowledge? Knots, Links, 3 and 4-manifold algorithms. [closed]

With geometrization, Rubinstein's 3-sphere recognition algorithm and the Manning algorithm, 3-manifold theory has reached a certain maturity where many questions are "readily" answerable about 3-...
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Why, in terms of quantum groups, does the knot determinant appear as an evaluation of both the Jones and Alexander polynomials?

The Jones polynomial can be computed from the representation theory of $\mathcal{U}_q(\mathfrak{sl}(2))$. The Alexander polynomial has an analogous description in terms of the representation theory of ...
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Why is it so hard to implement Haken's Algorithm for knot theory?

Why is it so hard to implement Haken's Algorithm for recognizing whether a knot is unknotted? (Is there a computer implementation of this algorithm?)
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Human Knot game [duplicate]

In the popular game "Human Knot", a group of people stands in a circle and each person grabs another person's hands at random (one with the left hand and one with the right hand). The goal is to ...
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Is the 4x5 chessboard complex a link complement?

The 2x3 and 3x4 chessboard complexes (form a square grid of vertices and make a simplex for any set of vertices no two of which are in the same row or column) are a 6-cycle and a triangulated torus ...
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How many definitions are there of the Jones polynomial?

Even with the connection to quantum groups being made clearer (I believe it was not known when the Jones polynomial was first introduced), it seems to me that still we don't have the "right" ...
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Does the super Temperley-Lieb algebra have a Z-form?

Background Let V denote the standard (2-dimensional) module for the Lie algebra sl2(C), or equivalently for the universal envelope U = U(sl2(C)). The Temperley-Lieb algebra TLd is the algebra of ...
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How are the Conway polynomial and the Alexander polynomial different?

Background story: I have just come out from a talk by Misha Polyak on generalizations of an arrow-diagram formula for coefficients of the Conway polynomial by Chmutov, Khoury, and Rossi. In it, he ...
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Are there piecewise-linear unknots that are not metrically unknottable?

A stick knot is a just a piecewise linear knot. We could define "stick isotopy" as isotopy that preserves the length of each linear piece. Are there stick knots which are topologically trival, but ...
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Looking for “large knot” examples

This question is about knots and links in the 3-sphere. I want to find an example of a "large" knot or link with some special properties. I'm looking for some fairly specific examples, but I'm also ...
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Can the n-string sphere braid group embed in to the (n+1)-string sphere braid group?

This question was originally posted on math.SE by myself nearly a year ago. I've been thinking again about the problem after it recently received a little attention, but little progress was made in ...
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Do you know where one could read on "Modular Forms, K-theory and Knots"? The combination of themes sounds thrilling! Edit: Zagier's paper on "quantum modular forms" will be published in Clay's ...
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