Math in the Media

Also see the Blog on Math Blogs


Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Square Knots" by Brian Hayes. American Scientist, November-December 1997, pages 506-510.

Mathematicians have always been fascinated by the under- and over-weavings of knots. A mathematical knot is a closed loop that may simply be a circle (called the "unknot") or that may cross under and over itself any number of times to form a knot that cannot be untied except by cutting the loop. An open question in this field of study is how to devise a method of determining when two knots are the same. This article describes a way of representing knots on a computer and discusses efforts to use these representations to answer mathematical questions about knots. These efforts show that the complex world of knots easily overwhelms computational attempts to catalogue them.

--- Allyn Jackson

American Mathematical Society