Introduction 7
Exercise 1.4 Sho w tha t an y kno t ha s a projectio n wit h ove r 1000 cross-
Certain types of knots are particularly interesting. One such type is an
alternating knot . An alternatin g knot is a knot wit h a projection tha t ha s
crossings that alternate between over and under a s one travels around th e
knot in a fixed direction . The trefoil kno t in Figure 1.3 is alternating. So is
the figure-eight kno t in Figure 1.5, since the two projections of it on the left
and middle are alternating.
Exercise 1.5 Choos e crossing s a t eac h verte x i n Figur e 1.9 t o mak e th e
resulting knot alternating.
Figure 1.9 A projectio n without over- and undercrossings .
Exercise 1.6* Show that by changing the crossings from ove r to under o r
vice versa, any projection o f a knot can be made into the projection of
an alternatin g knot . (Thi s isn't a s easy as it might seem . How d o yo u
know your procedure will always work?) In a projection wit h n cross-
ings, what is the maximum number of crossings that would have to be
changed in order to make the knot alternating ?
Exercise 1.7* Show that by changin g som e of the crossings from ove r t o
under or vice versa, any projection of a knot can be made into a projec-
tion of the unknot.
1.2 Compositio n of Knots
Given two projections o f knots, we can define a new kno t obtaine d b y re-
moving a small arc from eac h knot projection an d then connecting the fou r
endpoints by two new arcs as in Figure 1.10 . We call the resulting knot th e
composition of the two knots. If we denote the two knots by the symbols /
and K, the n thei r compositio n i s denote d b y J#K. We assum e tha t th e
* Exercise with asterisk denotes more difficult problem .
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