Show your mathematics to the world!

A 15-year legacy

Knots by Simon WillertonSimon Willerton drew these knots on a board at the University of Edinburgh when he was a graduate student in 1995, and today they are still there! You can see in the bottom left corner there is a message to new students that these knots must never be rubbed off, so there is every hope that they will persist for many years to come. Simon’s thesis was about Vassiliev invariants, which are a way of constructing knot invariants using the extended space of singular knots (i.e. not just the usual knots, like those drawn on the board, but knots which may intersect themselves or have crossings where more than two strands are present). It is still an open question in mathematics whether Vassiliev invariants can be used to distinguish any pair of knots.

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5 responses

  1. Gary Wing

    This actually makes me feel a bit sad. The whole joy of maths on blackboards is its ephemeral nature. It’s kind of like seeing a butterfly pinned to a board in a collection: pretty, but a bit wrong. Maybe it’s just me…

    August 19, 2011 at 4:40 pm

  2. The one on the lower right is the start of a Turks Head.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:00 pm

  3. Vicki

    I’m a fourth mechanical engineering undergrad at Edinburgh University and I’ve never seen these – anyone know the exact location?

    October 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm

  4. haggisthesheep

    They are in Room 5615 in the James Clerk Maxwell Building, King’s Buildings. Quite hidden away in a postgraduate office, so you’d never find them unless you were looking for them!

    October 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm

  5. Feeling a bit nostalgic seeing my old office here 🙂

    October 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm

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