For questions on knot theory, the study of mathematical knots

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37
votes
1answer
498 views

Can I solve an integral (or other tough problem) by playing with knots?

I've seen that in calculating things in knot theory that involves a lot of hard looking integrals and matrices, even though the knots themselves appear fairly simple. So is there some way in which ...
25
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are all knots trivial in 4D?

A classical knot is defined to be an embedding $S^1 \to \mathbb{R}^3$ where $S^1$ is a 1-sphere or circle. Embeddings $S^1 \to \mathbb{R}^4$ are usually not considered knots because they are trivial ...
23
votes
3answers
595 views

Picture of a 4D knot

A knot is a way to put a circle into 3-space $S^1 \to \mathbb R^3$ and these are often visualized as 2D knot diagrams. Can anyone show me a diagram of a nontrivial knotted sphere $S^2 \to \mathbb ...
23
votes
0answers
293 views

Geometric way to view the truncated braid groups?

This is perhaps a vague question, but hopefully there exists literature on the subject. The question is motivated by an answer I gave to this question. I also asked a related question on MO, although ...
15
votes
9answers
2k views

A good quick introduction to Knot Theory?

Is there a good quick introduction to knot theory? I am relatively mathematically savvy so any level is appreciated.
15
votes
1answer
205 views

Visualize Fourth Homotopy Group of $S^2$

I know $\pi_4(S^2)$ is $\mathbb{Z}_2$. However, I don't know how to visualize it. For example, it is well known that $\pi_3(S^2)=\mathbb{Z}$ can be understood by Hopf Fibration. Elements in ...
14
votes
5answers
2k views

Trefoil knot as an algebraic curve

Is the trefoil knot with its usual embedding into affine $3$-space an algebraic curve (maybe after extending scalars to $\mathbb{C}$)? Is there even some thickening to some algebraic surface? If ...
12
votes
2answers
440 views

Why are knot invariants best organized as polynomials?

Does anyone have a good explanation for why Knot invariants tend to be well organized as polynomials? What exactly is going on and why don't we often see polynomial invariants for classifying other ...
12
votes
1answer
964 views

Why is the knot group of the trefoil isomorphic to the group of 3-braids?

I apologise in advance for the vagueness of this question but I have not been able to find very much info on the topic and have made very little progress on my own. I am trying to understand why the ...
11
votes
2answers
289 views

Laymans explanation of the relation between QFT and knot theory

Could someone give an laymans explanation of the relation between QFT and knot theory? What are the central ideas in Wittens work on the Jones polynomial?
11
votes
1answer
378 views

Can the n-string sphere braid group embed in to the (n+1)-string sphere braid group?

This question has been cross posted on MathOverflow with some very interesting answers and discussion. I'm currently writing a project on the braid groups and their analogues on closed surfaces. ...
11
votes
0answers
201 views

Why is the Mazur swindle named so?

Often results or techniques in mathematics are called 'theorems'. Sometimes they are called 'tricks'. In no other context have I seen a result called a 'swindle'. Is there a historical reason for this ...
11
votes
0answers
236 views

How did Chern pictured the first Chern number?

The first Chern number $\cal C$ is known to be related to various physical objects. Gauge fields are known as connections of some principle bundles. In particular, principle $U(1)$ bundle is said to ...
10
votes
5answers
537 views

An Illustrated Classification of Knots.

Let me be honest here: I know very little about Knot Theory. I'm sorry. I've a friend though, someone with no training in Mathematics at all but who is a huge fan of knots (for whatever reason), who ...
9
votes
3answers
563 views

How to start learning knot theory?

Knot theory really sounds cool and I'm very interested in it. But I'm wondering what basic knowledge it is required and how I should start learning about it. Thanks
9
votes
2answers
240 views

Jones Polynomial from Statistical Mechanics

I've been told that, given a knot projection, there is a way of associating a statistical system in such a way that the partition function of the system corresponds to the Jones polynomial of the ...
8
votes
1answer
390 views

Equivalence of knots: ambient isotopy vs. homeomorphism

I am looking into knot theory and have found two different definitions stating that two knots $K_1$ and $K_2$ are equivalent, namely the concept of an ambient isotopy: These two knots are ambient ...
8
votes
1answer
886 views

Braid groups and the fundamental group of the configuration space of $n$ points

I am giving a lecture on Braid Groups this month at a seminar and I am confused about how to understand the fundamental group of the configuration space of $n$ points, so I will define some ...
8
votes
2answers
362 views

Total mean curvature of an immersed torus.

How to prove that the total mean curvature of an immersed torus of $R^3$ such that has nontrivial self-intersection must $> 8 \pi$? The definition of total mean curvature is the integral of $H^2$ ...
8
votes
2answers
674 views

Seifert matrices — Figure 8 knot

I've just learnt about Seifert matrices and thought it might be a good idea to compute some. Can you tell me if this is right: Here $x_1^+$ denotes the push off of $x_1$. I have omitted the diagram ...
7
votes
2answers
450 views

Which mathematical topics is knot theory related to?

I wonder if knot theory is related to any other topic in mathematics. I've not read much about it, but it seems to be living isolated. I also wonder if there any particular mathematical background ...
7
votes
3answers
923 views

An introduction to Khovanov homology, Heegaard-Floer homology

I am interested in knot theory and low dimensional topology. I would like to start studying Khovanov homology and Heegaard-Floer homology. I (partially) read the original paper of Khovanov and then ...
7
votes
4answers
327 views

Reference for an unknotting move

Consider the following move on diagrams. I dimly recall hearing or reading that a sequence of such moves is sufficient to unknot any knot but I don't recall where I saw this. The strands in the ...
7
votes
1answer
650 views

Complement of figure-8 knot

I am reading W. Thurston's famous "3-dimensional Geometry and Topology", but I am stuck at the point where it is said that gluing two tetrahedra in an appropriate way give you the complement of the ...
7
votes
0answers
87 views

Is “slightly deform” a well defined concept in mathematical proof?

In topological proofs the phrase "slightly deform" is widely used. To me, although I can accept the idea intuitively, the phrase "slightly deform" does not sound like a strict mathematical concept. ...
7
votes
2answers
381 views

Seifert matrices and Arf invariant — Cinquefoil knot

I have computed the following Seifert matrix for the Cinquefoil knot: $$ S = \begin{pmatrix} 1 & -1 & -1 & -1 \\ 0 & 1 & 0 & 0 \\  0 & 1 & 1 & 0 \\ 0 ...
6
votes
2answers
253 views

homeomorphism of cantor set extends to the plane?

Suppose C is a Cantor set in the Euclidean plane, or even in R^3. Suppose h is a homeomorphism of C onto itself. Can h be extended to a homeomorphism of the whole space? What about if h preserves the ...
6
votes
3answers
773 views

School project in knot theory

Can someone suggest an idea for a school project in knot-theory for a 13 year old? Thanks
6
votes
2answers
217 views

The construction of knotted surfaces in $\mathbb{R}^4$

For a two-sphere embedded in $\mathbb{R}^4$,how can you check whether or not there is an ambient isotopy to the "standard" 2-sphere (the set of points $(x,y,z,0)$ in $\mathbb{R}^4$ distance 1 from the ...
6
votes
2answers
205 views

Framed Cobordism Classes of links in $\mathbb R^3$

We know that every link in $S^3$ is framed cobordant to the unknot with some framing. The idea is to study smooth homotopy classes of maps from $S^3$ to $S^2$. Actually in the title I have given ...
6
votes
1answer
116 views

Can a trefoil knot be stretched to look like a triangle with three knots at the vertices?

Can a trefoil knot be stretched to look like a triangle with three knots at the vertices, like in the right side of the image below, or is that transformation impossible to happen? If possible, what ...
6
votes
2answers
600 views

Homology of knot complement

I was told in a topology class that if $Y$ is a closed $3$-manifold and $K$ is a null-homologous knot in $Y$, then $H_1(Y- \nu(K)) \cong H_1(Y) \oplus \mathbb{Z}$. I'm trying to prove this ...
6
votes
2answers
123 views

How does smoothness prevent “singularities”?

This is a refinement of one of my earlier questions (I failed to put into words what I really wanted to ask). First of all, I'm not sure "singularity" is the correct word to use hence the quotes. ...
6
votes
2answers
50 views

Knots from the boundary of Möbius strips

A Möbius strip with one half twist has the unknot as its boundary. One with two half twists has a link of two unknots. One with three half twists has the trefoil knot as its boundary. Years ago, I ...
6
votes
1answer
198 views

How to ensure Topological Correctness

Question: I read through an enormous amount of material on topology and knot-theory in wikipedia, but I still am stuck at the following fundamental problem: Given two representations of closed ...
6
votes
2answers
391 views

Uniqueness of Preferred Framing of a Solid Torus in $S^3$

One way to state my question tersely is: For a homeomorphism $f : S^1 \times \mathbb{D}^2 \rightarrow S^1 \times \mathbb{D}^2$, does $f|_{S^1 \times S^1}$ determine the isotopy class of $f$? This is ...
6
votes
1answer
98 views

Probability that two circles in space are linked

Let $C_0$ be a circle centered on the origin, and $C_1$ a circle centered on $(1,0,0)$, center distance of $1$. Q1. If both $C_0$ and $C_1$ are randomly oriented and have the same radius $r ...
6
votes
2answers
261 views

Knots and graphs

Every knot gives rise to a number of 4-regular planar graphs - by regular projections onto the plane - which just have to be enriched by an over/under flag for every vertex to be able to reconstruct ...
6
votes
0answers
95 views

Algebraic topology needed for knot theory

Both Rolfsens Knots and Links and Lickorish knot theory require some knowledge of algebraic topology, what is a resource that covers the bare minimum I need to get through either of these? I am not ...
6
votes
0answers
394 views

Definition of Reshetikhin-Turaev TQFT

I am studying Reshetikhin-Turaev TQFT. In their paper or in the book " Quantum invariants of knots and 3-manifolds", they first define an invariant $\tau(M)$ for a closed orientable 3-manifold $M$ and ...
5
votes
3answers
525 views

Framing Integer associated with a Framed Knot/Link

I have been looking for a clear definition of the n-framing of a knot unsuccessfully. A framing here refers to a choice of homeomorphism between a solid torus neighborhood (a.k.a, tubular ...
5
votes
1answer
631 views

Framed manifolds and framed knots

I've been looking at intersection forms and the Arf invariant recently and I got a comment to one of my previous questions related to this. So I looked at framed manifolds. There seems to be quite a ...
5
votes
1answer
170 views

knot invariants from the symmetric group

Producing knot/link invariants is "as simple as" finding functions on the braid group invariant under the Markov moves. Many classical invariants arise from the character of a representation of the ...
5
votes
1answer
121 views

How to prove a knot with genus larger than 1 is prime, such as Miller Institute Knot?

It is easy to show that a knot with genus 1 is a prime knot because the genus is additive under direct sum. However, I found that some prime knot, for example, $6_2$ the Miller Institute Knot have ...
5
votes
2answers
477 views

Obtaining Wirtinger presentation using van Kampen theorem

Hatcher's Algebraic Topology, section 1.2, problem #22 describes an algorithm for computing the Wirtinger presentation of the complement of a smooth or piecewise linear knot K in $\mathbb{R}^3$: ...
5
votes
1answer
269 views

Category theory for knot theory

Where would I start to learn category theory for its use in knot theory? I have a background in physics and Ive read Adams Knot book. I know nothing about category theory. Eventually I want to learn ...
5
votes
1answer
95 views

Applying Khovanov homology to two different non-trivial diagrams of the unknot

I'm attempting the calculate the Khovanov homology of the unknot using the figure eight diagram of the unknot with exactly one crossing going from top left to bottom right as shown below. I also ...
5
votes
1answer
145 views

Showing every knot has a regular projection using differential topology

Can we use differential topology to prove that every smooth knot has a regular projection? Here is some background: Let $\gamma : S^1 \rightarrow \mathbb{R}^3$ be a smooth unit-speed imbedding. For ...
5
votes
1answer
202 views

What knot groups are Abelian?

The knot group (the fundamental group of the complement of a knot) of the unknot is $\mathbb{Z}$ and the Hopf link is $\mathbb{Z}^2$, so those are knots (links) with Abelian knot group but are there ...
5
votes
1answer
328 views

Question about definition of regular projection of a knot

One can define a knot in two ways: (1) A knot is a closed polygonal curve in $\mathbb R^3$ (2) A knot is an equivalence class of embeddings $S^1 \hookrightarrow \mathbb R^3$ And perhaps also: (3) ...