A knot property, also called the twist number, defined as the sum of crossings p of a link L,

 w(L)=sum_(p in C(L))epsilon(p),

where epsilon(p) defined to be +/-1 if the overpass slants from top left to bottom right or bottom left to top right and C(L) is the set of crossings of an oriented link.

The writhe of a minimal knot diagram is not a knot invariant, as exemplified by the Perko pair, which have differing writhes (Hoste et al. 1998). This is because while the writhe is invariant under Reidemeister moves II and III, it may increase or decrease by one for a Reidemeister move of type I (Adams 1994, p. 153).

Thistlethwaite (1988) proved that if the writhe of a reduced alternating projection of a knot is not 0, then the knot is not amphichiral (Adams 1994).

A formula for the writhe is given by


where K is parameterized by x^mu(s) for 0<=s<=L along the length of the knot by parameter s, and the frame K_f associated with K is


where epsilon is a small parameter, n^mu(s) is a unit vector field normal to the curve at s, and the vector field e^mu is given by


(Kaul 1999).

Letting Lk be the linking number of the two components of a ribbon, Tw be the twist, and Wr be the writhe, then the Calugareanu theorem states that


(Adams 1994, p. 187).

See also

Calugareanu Theorem, Linking Number, Screw, Twist

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Adams, C. C. The Knot Book: An Elementary Introduction to the Mathematical Theory of Knots. New York: W. H. Freeman, pp. 152-153 and 185, 1994.Hoste, J.; Thistlethwaite, M.; and Weeks, J. "The First 1701936 Knots." Math. Intell. 20, 33-48, Fall 1998.Kauffman, L. Knots and Physics. Teaneck, NJ: World Scientific, p. 19, 1991.Kaul, R. K. "Topological Quantum Field Theories--A Meeting Ground for Physicists and Mathematicians." 15 Jul 1999., M. B. "Kauffman's Polynomial and Alternating Links.' Topology 27, 311-318, 1988.

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Cite this as:

Weisstein, Eric W. "Writhe." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource.

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