The geometric content of Tait’s conjectures

Thomas Kindred (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

In 1898, Tait asserted several properties of alternating knot diagrams, which remained unproven until the discovery of the Jones polynomial in 1985. During that time, Fox asked, “What geometrically is an alternating knot?” By 1993, the Jones polynomial had led to proofs of all of Tait’s conjectures, but the geometric content of these new results remained mysterious. In 2017, Howie and Greene independently answered Fox’s question, and Greene used his characterization to give the first purely geometric proof of part of Tait’s conjectures. Recently, I used Greene and Howie’s characterizations, among other techniques, to give the first entirely geometric proof of Tait’s flyping conjecture (first proven in 1993 by Menasco and Thistlethwaite). I will describe these recent developments and sketch approaches to other parts of Tait’s conjectures, and related facts about tangles and adequate knots, which remain unproven by purely geometric means.


Kindred, Thomas, “A geometric proof of the flyping theorem”,

Slides for talk:


One thought on “The geometric content of Tait’s conjectures

  1. Thank you Thomas for a spectacular talk! If anyone would like to leave a question for our speaker, please reply to this comment below.

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