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Chandra Thompson '10, Grace Stadnyk '10, Luke Maher '11 and Professor Richard Bedient.
Chandra Thompson '10, Grace Stadnyk '10, Luke Maher '11 and Professor Richard Bedient.

This Could be a Puzzle But It’s Knot

Contact Holly Foster 315-859-4068
Posted July 20, 2009
Tags Mathematics Richard Bedient
Luke Maher '11, Grace Stadnyk '10, Chan Thompson '10 and Professor of Mathematics Richard Bedient just returned from the first Unknot (Undergraduate Knot Theory) Conference at Denison University where they gave a paper titled "Three-Trip Lorenz Knots," heard many more and generally had a great time meeting knot students from all over the country.

Professor Bedient explains: “If you take a single piece of string and tie a conventional knot in it, you can, of course, always untie it. If, however, after tying the knot you splice the ends together to form a loop it then makes sense to ask if the resulting 'knot' can be transformed to an unknotted circle without cutting the string. The answer will naturally depend on how the string was knotted in the first place.

"A slightly more complicated question is, what if you and a friend each form a knotted loop, can yours be turned into hers without cutting the string? You could spend 20 minutes trying to do so without success, but that doesn't prove that in the 21st minute you couldn't do it. How might you go about proving that it can't be done? That's the kind of question knot theorists like to untangle.”


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