Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Loopy Solution Brings Infinite Relief," by Charles Seife. Science, 9February 2001.

How long does it take to untangle a tangle? Mathematicians have been studyingthis question for years in the field of knot theory, with no definitive answer.Lately there has been a step in the right direction---Jeffrey Lagarias of AT&Tand Joel Hass of the University of California, Davis have proved that onlyfinitely many moves are required to untangle the simplest knot of all, a loopof string called the unknot. While the bound on the number of moves isridiculously large, the proof of the existence of this limit is inspiringfurther research.

--- Benjamin Stein