How Mathematics
gets into Knots
In order to talk mathematically about knots, we have to show them in some kind of way, to have a method of describing them. We can do this for the simplest knots in a lecture by using a piece of string or rope, which nicely shows the 3-dimensional nature of the object. But even this gets difficult for more complicated knots, since the string becomes difficult to handle and fairly quickly it gets difficult to understand what is going on. So we resort to drawing and pictures.

In mathematics we look at knotted and unknotted loops of string and analyse the forms and relationships between them. So here is the unknot and some common knots.





Figure Eight




Granny Knot


Stevedore's Knot


Reef Knot


On this exhibition there is a table of knots. In fact, it lists only prime knots up to crossing number 9 and does not distinguish between a knot and its mirror image. But it does give an idea of the complexity of the problem.

| Next |

© Mathematics and Knots, U.C.N.W.,Bangor, 1996 - 2002
This material may be used freely for educational, artistic and scientific purposes, but may not be used for commercial purposes, for profit or in texts without the permission of the publishers.