Studying rational tangles was a way to focus in a limited fashion on how crossings interact with one another to build intricate local structures that define a knot. But as an invariant for knots, the tangle number isn't perfect: it's most useful for rational knots, and even then, it can be challenging to rearrange a knot diagram into a twist-form rational tangle.
What we'd like instead are more global invariants that work for knots, invariants that capture the whole structure of the topology without relying upon making a specific set of choices along the way. This will come at the cost of needing invariants capable of conveying more algebraic information than a single rational number does: polynomials on one hand, and algebraic groups on the other.
- Determine and contrast several ways to notate (tabulate) a knot using its crossings.
- Use numerical invariants for knots including the unknotting, bridge, and crossing numbers, to investigate relationships among classes of knots.