When is a knot actually knotted?

Posted on April 18th, 2012 by

Alex Zupan portraitWhen: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 11:30am-12:20 pm
Where: Olin Hall 320
Presenter: Alexander M. Zupan, Dept. of Mathematics, University of Iowa

Knot theory is the study of closed loops in 3-dimensional space, and two knots are considered to be equivalent if one can be deformed to match the other without passing it through itself. In other words, imagine tying a rope and gluing the ends together. Two knotted ropes are the same if you can manipulate them to be identical without breaking either rope. The simplest knot is a closed loop that bounds a disk, called the unknot, and a broad problem which has dominated knot theory is the following: given a knot, decide whether it is the unknot. This seemingly simple problem can be incredibly deceptive, and we will discuss several approaches, obstructions, and related open problems.

Alex Zupan is a 2007 graduate of Gustavus who completed honors majors in both mathematics and music. He is currently finishing his PhD in mathematics at The University of Iowa.

Lunch will be served.

This presentation is part of the MCS Seminar series; please see the calendar of upcoming events. Also, please email suggestions for future seminars as well as any questions.


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