In the mathematical field of knot theory
, the Jones polynomial
is a knot polynomial
discovered by Vaughan Jones
in 1983. Specifically, it is an invariant
of an oriented knot
which assigns to each oriented knot or link a Laurent polynomial
in the variable
with integer coefficients.
Definition by the bracket
Suppose we have an oriented link
, given as a knot diagram
. We will define the Jones polynomial,
, using Kauffman's bracket polynomial
, which we denote by
. Note that here the bracket polynomial is a Laurent polynomial in the variable
with integer coefficients.
First, we define the auxiliary polynomial (also known as the normalized bracket polynomial) , where denotes the writhe of in its given diagram. The writhe of a diagram is the number of positive crossings ( in the figure below) minus the number of negative crossings (). The writhe is not a knot invariant.
is a knot invariant since it is invariant under changes of the diagram of by the three Reidemeister moves. Invariance under type II and III Reidemeister moves follows from invariance of the bracket under those moves. The bracket polynomial is known to change by multiplication by under a type I Reidemeister move. The definition of the polynomial given above is designed to nullify this change, since the writhe changes appropriately by +1 or -1 under type I moves.
Now make the substitution in to get the Jones polynomial . This results in a Laurent polynomial with integer coefficients in the variable .
Definition by braid representation
Jones' original formulation of his polynomial came from his study of operator algebras. In Jones' approach, it resulted from a kind of "trace" of a particular braid representation into an algebra which originally arose while studying certain models, e.g. the Potts model, in statistical mechanics.
Let a link L be given. A theorem of Alexander's states that it is the trace closure of a braid, say with n strands. Now define a representation of the braid group on n strands, Bn, into the Temperley-Lieb algebra TLn with coefficients in and . A standard braid generator gets sent to , where are the standard generators of the Temperley-Lieb algebra. It can be checked easily that this defines a representation.
Take the braid word obtained previously from L and compute where tr is the Markov trace. This gives , where < > is the bracket polynomial. This can be seen by considering, as Kauffman did, the Temperley-Lieb algebra as a particular diagram algebra.
An advantage of this approach is that one can pick similar representations into other algebras, such as the R-matrix representations, leading to "generalized Jones invariants".
The Jones polynomial is characterized by the fact that it takes the value 1 on any diagram of the unknot and satisfies the following skein relation
are oriented link diagrams that are identical except in a small region where they differ by crossing change or smoothing as in the figure below:
The definition of the Jones polynomial by the bracket makes it simple to show that for a knot , the Jones polynomial of its mirror image is given by substitution of for in . Thus, an amphicheiral knot, a knot equivalent to its mirror image, has palindromic entries in its Jones polynomial.
See the page on skein relation for an example of a computation using these relations.
Link with Chern-Simons theory
As first shown by Edward Witten
, the Jones polynomial of a given knot γ, can be obtained by considering Chern-Simons theory
on the three-sphere with gauge group
SU(2), and computing the vacuum expectation value
of a Wilson loop WF
(γ), associated to γ, and the fundamental representation F
- Is there a nontrivial knot with Jones polynomial equal to that of the unknot? It is known that there are nontrivial links with Jones polynomial equal to that of the corresponding unlinks by the work of Morwen Thistlethwaite.
- Vaughan Jones, The Jones Polynomial
- Colin Adams, The Knot Book, American Mathematical Society, ISBN 0-8050-7380-9
- Louis H. Kauffman, State models and the Jones polynomial. Topology 26 (1987), no. 3, 395--407. (explains the definition by bracket polynomial and its relation to Jones' formulation by braid representation)
- W. B. R. Lickorish, An introduction to knot theory. Graduate Texts in Mathematics, 175. Springer-Verlag, New York, (1997). ISBN 0-387-98254-X
- Morwen Thistlethwaite, Links with trivial Jones polynomial. J. Knot Theory Ramifications 10 (2001), no. 4, 641–643.
- Eliahou, Shalom; Kauffman, Louis H.;Thistlethwaite, Morwen B. Infinite families of links with trivial Jones polynomial, Topology 42 (2003), no. 1, 155–169.