Author Topic: Can of worms:naming knots  (Read 11802 times)


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Can of worms:naming knots
« on: August 28, 2005, 07:42:19 PM »
Part 1
PLEASE Dear WebMistress if too cluttering then delete and no hard feelings on either side.
errors on knots names does not matter. Sure!
Just as punctuation is not a matter of life and death but try this one : Eats shoots and leaves.
try it with and without punctuation variations. See what I means.

     Opening statements :

I am interested in knots inasmuch that they are tools.

Tools should not be mislaid/mistreated/misused/mislabeled/misclassified/mis-whatever-you-can-think-of

     Philosphy ?
Naming is charting the world.
Unambiguous - Univoque naming is mandatory to avoid mistake and make the world predictable and others's actions predictable ( well hopefully!)
Univoque : "A" imply "B" and only "B" and "B" imply "A" and only"A"
Unambiguous is the second best ( see down the about "rose" in French) for that if you cannot have univoque relation then you fix the context to try an get ambiguity out of the equation parameters.

Lineus made the world more "readable"with his classifying method.
Why not follow the same road.
Not that I count me a knot expert, not by leaps and bounds, but men like Dan_Lehman just to throw the name of someone who answer one of my post could certainly apply for he job, and I have no doubt that the ressource pool of IGKT can bring many other minds to bear to the task.

You can only usefully interact with someone that share the same "mind map".
Or beware : Babel Tower effect as I call it is guaranteed.

If you have a different mind map from the one I hold in my mind ( that is quite enjoyable for fun purposes, but certainly not for practical purposes.) then we will be hard put to interact on or about something.
An agreed set ( fixed, but modifiable upon common agreement) frame of reference is mandatory not to be at crossed purposes.

Yes I know " A rose under any......"
Sorry but that will be half in French.
Out of hand or rather out of brain I cannot think of a working illustration in English
Rose in French invoke a sort of flower ( en fact flowerS as they are quite a lot of cultivars : rose) but also invoke the wind quarters on a compass card, it invoke a colour (pink) , it invoke a make-up powder and the devil kow what else.
If I ask you out of context to give me "la rose" ( la is female)  you will immediatly know it is not "le rose" (le is male) be it the make-up or the tube of colour ( color to you Americans), but you will be hard put to know if I want the flower or the compass card.
See the necessity of the agreed frame of reference and context to offset ambiguity.

You can act with "raisonably repeatable predictability" only by strictly narrowing the "shared mind map meaning" of what wathever information ( here the concept you want to express), and that can only be done by agreeing on the "wording code to use".

Hence the old sails Navy "manuals" insistance on the strict use of names and procedures : only by doing so could safety, security, efficeiency, repeatability, coordinated action. I have not read any of the modern days Navies manuals but I strongly suspect they are only more insistent on those points.

Yes I agree the "set of rules" were not the same from periods to periods of time, from US Navy, toRN Navy ( UK), toRN Navy ( French Navy of old, and now still nicknamed "La Royale" ( The Royal), to Spanish Navy... But inside the set of reference agreed upon the "rules" strictly applied.

     Why have an IGKT
Why have an IGKT worldwide organization with all its ressources pool if not for ( among other things)  setting a commonly agreed  unambiguous-univoque frame of reference.
Or are we just members of another social club with not other use than pleasure and passing the time of the day or the night waiting either for Death or Santa Clauss, depending on one's beliefs.

     My interrogations
How one can hope to retrieve (fast, sure, unambiguous, repeatable retrieval) data without a pretty severe procedure?
How to be sure we are all speaking of the same thing if naming is the pleasant haphazard stratification of passed lore.
Or I am missing something?

     What I feel when I find a published/public error (apply not only to knots):

When I find, in a book or on a site, a fault that I am able to diagnose, I always wonder how many more there were that I was not able to detect.
And I suspect that I am not the only one having that response to "error found" flagging.
After that I am quite like the proverbial scalded cat.

If there is only one reason to weed out errors it is because they throw discredit on the rest of data, and make it easier to throw the baby with the bath : after one or two error you cannot really feel sure that you are not reading assinine misinformation.
If only for keeping the rest of data safe, errors/mistakes must be "cleaned out" or at least "flagged".

     What I do not adhere to :
-The idea that a new use for a structurally known knot make one new knot worth of a diffrenet naming.

In my book and training that is faulty thinking on logic ground.
Ockham would not be pleased. Not the strictest economy of means.

A knot is a "structure" that can be described and indexed ( or there would be no possibility of a mathematical theory of knots). and that is this least common factor that should be indexed in an univoque manner.
You can always add whathever naming appellations after that, provide they are always linked with the "unique" identifying tag.

-That error in naming are of no consequence.
Too many great mistakes ( killing and sometimes mass-killing ones ) were made only because 2 persons were not using the same fixed and agreed frame of reference, that begining with name.

-That we should not "change one iota to the biblical knotting lore" ( not alluding to ABOK here but to the total world production concerning books, dvd, web site since the Sumerians to today!)


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Part 2
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2005, 07:49:03 PM »
-that weeding out errors is of no consequence in knots matter.
Since IGKT "self- attributed" ambition and mission is to be "THE REFERENCE" in knotting matters that would be a breach of self-appointed duty not to, at least, try.
Hopefuly, one can always daydream : that indexation could be of use to the knot theory mathematician, not to speak of phycisists working on the force at play in a knot or a plait. At least they could have a "common" database.

-That you can retrieve (fast, sure, unambiguous, repeatable retrieval) something without a pretty severe procedure for indexation in the first place.
That you can usefully compare/evaluate when you do not know for sure what you are evaluating.
A bit like the man with the red tee-shirt crossing the "victory line" well ahead of every body.
Someone had to tell him they were judging the blue tee-shirt runners to-day

     What I believe about error management
Zero tolerance approach ( for the errors/mistakes only not for persons)

It is not because a "faulty" notion is "almost religiously" repeated like some God sent words for years on end that there is no justification in putting a stop to that. Only my opinion.
Making good a mistake is not slandering the author or sullying his/her reputation.
The more you respect someone the more you have the duty to tell when he/she is erring.
At least that is my feeling.
I would hate that someone should find a mistake in what I say and would not make me the grace to correct it.
Only rule is that error must be "demonstrated" and not simply "asserted out of the blue".
I was trained not to believe in "argumentum bacculinum" ( "the stick argument" or in the "authorithy argument" ( the best of authorithy can err onthe side of error at time)

Past errors should not be "respected", (respected as in "let them live and grow").
Errors ofshould be branded "interesting historical data" and unmercifully put right ( till the next revision...).
Branded and left in the past and certainly not accepted in the present lest they are propulsed in the future.

Error weeding and adequate naming procedure make the world more predictable, therefore more amenable to be tackled by we humans.

( met some of you in it?) that is not a "clean cut draft but just my daydraming as I write along...
Each knot would have a particular knotty-metric ( as anthropometric...) file with:
     zero : its REGISTRATION NUMBER : one unique univocal numbers/letters designation
example gender/number ( no "value" "without dimension" )/ optional group of appertenance
bend/512/ sqaure knot family or use some of the mathematical characteristics of knot such as determined by Theory of Knot

     First its "FACE":
Possibly ask one or many mathematician knotter well versed in Knot theory to make a thre color drawing of the knot.
Good photos or drawing od the knot "finished" ( back and front and sides if necessary. May be use reflexions of knot in a mirror for that.

     Second : its "GENDER"/ group/family/ what you care to name that concepr :
consult Charles Warner " A fresh approach to knotting and ropeword" to have a brainstorming and confront it to ABOK classification. Priority should be given to the most "ancient" verified data and amended it with "modern" consideration.

     Third : its univocal NAME
(  neutraly descriptive or neutrally indicative of main historical use or "other to be defined by better mind than mine). Each time a name have seniority of rank with a good verified historical pedigree it should be preferred.
Sort of official naming as in species nomenclature and a vernacular/aboriginal/local name

Such "narrowing" appellation as surgeon's, fisherman's, Tugboat's that clearly design a very special team of use/user/trade should only be admitted on proofed historical ground and verified with said professionals.

- each time a knot is strictly attributed to a trade/profession, the first experts for its present and actual uses should be those practising in the fiels, and not even the best "back-reading room expert". Those expert can attend to background, historical, sociological, ethonological, whatever-cal you care to study.

Fourth : a short curriculum of its origins, uses, various names with the first retrievable mention of a particular use or a particular origin.

     Fifth : HOW TO ...
Good drawings or photos of the knot being made, being tightened/formed/... ( back and front ( may be the knot and its reflexion in a mirror?)
clear ( can be followed by someone not knot knowing! the "naive" subject) written instruction ( congruent with the pics)

     Sixth :
its "WEAKENING FACTOR" on different type of rope. Say if "statistically determined in a controled assay" or "field data" or "rule of thumb only" or...

     Seventh :
its INDICATION / NOT AN INDICATION / CONTRA-INDICATION / LIMITS when applicable and of course taking in account if it is "ornemental" or "purposeful" knotting. Startification with "static" "dynamic" semi-dynamic" "bungle", "something I forgot"

A paragraph headed : established facts
 Another one : Thought to be exact
 yet a third one : Established malarkey
 and may be a fourth : Possible tips for further research.
 or a ranking following credibility of what is asserted ( something like one to five carrick bend icons)

- - - - - - WHAT OF PLAYING THE GAME of coming up  collectively with a "template file" .
For the moment apply the brainstorming rule : absolutely no internal or external censorship whatever the reason : practicality, fear to be ridiculous ( it is only the mocking bird that should be shot! not the moscked one),not seing the use of it
Could someone start a polling thread on what that template should be comprised of.

Hope I have not clutter too much the common forum or the minds!
Kind regards to all readers that went so far that they read these last words.


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Re: Can of worms:naming knots
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2005, 11:58:29 PM »
Bon Jour,  Perhaps it is two cans of worms.  A noble effort to define an infinite problem, is the first can while the actual completion of a template is the second can.
 This could well be a project that can only be done by an orginization such as the IGKT.  Surely if I start now (not that I might be qualified) I will be only in the first chapters by the time I die.  Someone must pass the baton to a new generation.  Well it is all too daunting a task for me.
 I don't have a problem with only one name for a knot when used for different purposes.  But I do need to see the various ways of creating the structure defined in some way.  As an example I tie the bowline by 4 different ways.  One (move the hands as in ABOK#1010) where I pass the line around my body and tie the knot in front of me, with the standing part pointing away from me.  One (moving the hands as in ABOK#1716) where I pass the line around a fixed object and tie the knot with the standing part pointing toward me.  One (ABOK#1010 again) tied in hand instead of with my body in the loop, where I can then pass the loop over a post or bollard.  Finally (similar to ABOK#1473) by forming a slip knot in hand, passing the working end around a fixed object and then though the slip loop, pull the standing part making the slip knot capsize, forming the bowline.  All 4 are the same final structure but the tieing method seems to my mind to demand 4 "identifiers".  So with just a simple bowline by my favorite methods I have 4 to document.  As I say, a daunting task.


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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2005, 12:18:43 AM »
Hello friend
Clear thinking once more PABPRES. (If I may say so)
Had not thought about differentiating "processes" to follow in getting the same final "structure".
Nature thrive on variations! ANd culture should do the same in my opinion.

And that is , no doubt in my mind, a precious knowledge to keep alive.
Sure of it!  just as in cooking "recipes" are a very important "cultural" knowledge to keep alive.

As they say in French "the more arrows to my bow".

La Fontaine, French fabulist wrote about " an older men"who state that he is quite proud to have planted a fruit tree of which he will never see the fruits.

Just as the Great Barrier was built by billions of microscopic creatures over an impossibly long sapn of tme we should not shun the task. Never one of them saw the collective "chef d'oeuvre".

WE ARE UP TO it if only we make the decision.

As the old chinese sage will have it : "a thousand miles trek begin with just ONE STEP"

Thank for your input. I for one always enjoy it.


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Re: Can of worms:naming knots
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2005, 02:41:15 AM »
With the recent anniversary of the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) there were some interesting interviews with those whose life is words and their meaning.

An interviewer asked a spokesman of the OED what the difference was between the OED and the Webster's Dictionary (other dictionaries were mentioned). His reply, as I understood it, was that the Webster's (and other's) aim was to DEFINE the meaning of a word while the OED's aim was to show USAGE of a word.

One of the striking attributes of the OED is its referencing the various meanings of a word to that meaning's first known usage. Note: words do not meet your "univoque" requirement. Without referenced examples of use,  the appropriate meaning of a word (you do not know) is often impossible to identify (although its context may give great hints).

All dictionaries have rules that qualify a word to be included in the dictionary. Few knot names appear in a dictionary.  Hence, if you are a writer on knots, then you must supply the meaning of the knot name that you are using if you desire to be clearly understood. You could supply the meaning of the knot name by reference to an ABOK reference number or supply a glossary. There are other methods; but the monkey is on the writer's back (if the writer wants to be understood)!

I doubt the IGKT's "Authorized Dictionary of Approved Knot Names" will have much effect on the usage of knot names in, say, the various fishing publications (the uni-knot bugs me!). Heck, the attempts of governments are almost always futile. People who speak a language, use it and the meanings become accepted or not.

However, an IGKT "publication" with the aim of the OED would be very useful to the reader. Especially in cases where the writer did not met the obligations discussed above.

I would suggest the start of your project should be to catalogue knot usage and the names associated with those usages (with references and including non-English language useage and names). Structure would arise out of collected information. The error you pointed out in the case of the name "Franciscan Knot" would be corrected under usage and a link to the knot named "Triple Overhand Knot".

Nautile you said
You can only usefully interact with someone that share the same "mind map".  
I would say you can only usefully interact with someone who defines their "mind map" and whose "mind map" you understand".

Well, I am done!
Cheers - Brian.


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Re: Can of worms:naming knots
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2005, 02:59:39 AM »
At the IGKT AGM 2002 Frank Brown (Tasmania) floated this very idea of a "Knot dictionary" and gave a talk on how he proposed to proceed.  His ideas were much on the lines discussed here, especially with regard to knot structures.
He recruited a few volunteers to help him but I am not sure how far he got - as I know he had other pressing things on shortly afterwards.
Perhaps you might like to get in touch with him Charles - his email address is in the Membership Hanbook



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Babel effect - correcting my mistakes
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2005, 02:01:21 PM »
Babel effect ! or simply stupidity ?

First confusion I made was between "unequivocal" ( "non equivoque" in French and "univocal".
Then I forgot that "univoque" is French, should have wrote "univocal"

Then I went to write A imply B and only B and B imply A and only A

That is not UNIvocal  but BI-UNIvocal.
It works both ways : forward and backward . Like water and ice

Univocal in rather like flour and bread from flour you can go to bread but from bread you will not get back your flour.

Two mistakes for the price of one! Sorry about that.
As Fairlead wrote : don't believe all you read!

To Brian
Meaning / Usage : Interesting dichotomic perspective and useful to keep in mind. Thanks

Mind map : define & understand.
Well your are stating, explicitely ( "more clearly",  what I put implicitely under "share".
Another lesson to keep in mind for the "IGKT dictionnary" always work on the explicit and avoid as much as possible the implicit. thanks again.

To Fairlead.
Thanks for the tip. Will send an e-mail.
Happy to see your post : but then "fair" is in your pseudo


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Playing again at being a dandelion
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2005, 06:53:32 PM »
Hi All

Why dandelion : they put their light floating seeds in the care of the wind.
That is what I do here.

As one of my professeur of litterature said of me " Charles you are like the road post : always showing the way but never following it"...

Still playing with the brainstrom rules : no internal censorship, sky is the limit.

Unintended polling vote on the topic ?

That was not the intent but I think that we will have a sort of "wild polling about the interest of "naming the knots and sorting them out".
Data mining
- number ofviews : should have way to evaluate what in French is dubbed "coefficient de revoyure" : total number of views / total number of different pseudo.

- absolute number of post in reply
- ratio of number of different pseudo/number of answers
- ratio : "number of views/number of post in answer.

The absolute number of different pseudo answering posts would be of great interest.

If there are too few viewings and most important too few interaction(replies) then, whatever the standing participants it will show that this issue is to be forsaken for quite a long time.

Only the first 2 of my posts should taken of account for my pseudo, my answering posts should be susbstracted or the bias would be too great.

Yes I know I am just as a 3 years old toddler with my "why".

Database to be used in the first step of this trekking = ABOK
A database is useful is verified and cleaned
- no doubles
- no "not in the subject"
- no missing
- no "what am I forgetting that you can think of?"

Why IGKT would not send an e-mail to all members ( is that possible? don't know) asking them to send back
- For each non-uniquely mentionned knot in ABOK ( NOTE :here naming does not apply, only structure of knot) send ALL the numbers pertaining to it. IGKT ad hoc commission will work on material.
Yes: The buck stop at IGKT board desk!
- Each member who know a "missing" knot send carefully verified drawings ( or photo) of said knot, all the names known by sender, its usage...

After all : say 1000 members and 4000 knots that is only 4 knots for each member.
Yes I know this silly arithmetic ( exact though, mind you!) does not apply/ mean anything in treal life problem. But (badly done) "statistics" are the modern manipulation tool.
Why IGKT would not publish an e-book with the above end result( always provisionnal revisabled "end" result) of the above working.
There are quite a few members who have web sites quite usefully illustrated : they could give a hand.

E-Book first edition would be just ABOK cleaned of of all double.
Drawings or pictures would be "new original "ones to avoid copyright trouble.
( original ABOK number will always be retained / later an index number would be add)
E-publication = easy revision of "errors"

Could be a sort of Wikipedia or "project Gutenberg" thing.
Why would not it be possible to use the mathematical knots classification/coding in
see those sites :( no need to be a mathematician to enjoy the pics. And I am sure someone  like "Grog" (Alan Grogono)could lend a hand and surely there are other math-head at large in IGKT that could help.
See the Rolfsen Knot Table at
Why would not IGKT ( per statute) would not contact:
ALL (Naval, maritime, fisheries) museums, or whatever dealing with knots, and ask them for documentation.
Could even try Universities with Professor of Ethnology.
That is certainly NOT a limited proposition...
Why IGKT  would not contact each of its branches ( either members directly or via the local President) to try and enlist aid on the matter?
Graal, Troy, Nessie, Yeti, Little Green "men"
Is that what you think about the IGKT dictionnry of Knots ?
Well, when I am very long dead ( and I am told it is for quite a long time) and THE dictionary is published : Put in in a GREEN cover with a "very queer" knot looking like a creature from outer space!
Last one for the road : STARK RAVING MAD this one ( very much more than the others)
Why would not IGKT appply to UNESCO for a grant " sauvegarde d'un patrimoine de l'Humanité"
for safeguarding a Humanity patrimony?
Mad but not senseless :
Is not knot-lore  precious knowledge( hand craftma included, (women, girls included in the craft...sorry Ladies and Mes Demoiselles))
There were not always sophisticated high-tech glues/tapes and from the first prehistoric hunter using pine resine and vines "ropes" to fix his knapped flint on a wooden shaft.
Stark raving mad I said! Understatement surely?
EMERGENCY BRAKE ( no fine if used abusively)
ANYBODY want me to shup ut on the topic : send a post headed "shut up" and I promised that at the second one, I will not post anymore without another post asking " open it again!", even without please!

Kind regards to all

PS Sobering phony statistics ?

Suppose there are 4000 knots. one knot per month ( reasonable speed dont you think?) is "finished".
In LESS THAN 334 years "we" are done! ( the "  " for we are sekf-evident, ar they not?)
Wanted to speed it up 4 knots a month : less than 83 years
40 knots a month : less than 9 years!

French "Academie Française" is "reviewing" our Dictionnnaire to accept words.
Now letter F "done".12 memberscommission one meeting a week.
In 1935 there were 35 000 words, in the last 9th edition there are 50000 words. ( some "added", some "retired"".  
First tome (A to Enzyme) of 9th edition was published in 1992.
See the e-version of this Dictionnary at

If they did it why not an IGKT-DK
Don't know what it is that IGKT-DK thing? barbarian!
International Guild of Knot Tyers Dictionnary of Knots
easy and short!


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Re: Can of worms:naming knots
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2005, 02:35:45 AM »
A major challenge, which should set the foundation for such work,
is defining knot--what exactly is the object of our interest?!

I don't find topology holding an answer, for much of its work is
in equating things that for any practical use are quite distinct.
--a closed circle of cord with any Tied-In-the-Bight knot being
identical to no knot at all.

An interviewer asked a spokesman of the OED what the difference was between the OED and the Webster's Dictionary (other dictionaries were mentioned). His reply, as I understood it, was that the Webster's (and other's) aim was to DEFINE the meaning of a word while the OED's aim was to show USAGE of a word.

Odd thing to say, as though the OED doesn't put forward definitions?!
There was much controversy with the 3rd New Webster's (the long-standing
current American standard--though rumor has it that there  is
some work towards a replacement (overdue by hist. durations!))
about its shift to DE- vs. PREscriptiveness, and certainly the former
is driven by usage.  (It has the unfortunate irony of putting those
who mind a dictionary following the vast majority who don't, re language.)

I doubt the IGKT's "Authorized Dictionary of Approved Knot Names" will have much effect on the usage of knot names in, say, the various fishing publications (the uni-knot bugs me!).

No, not so much if just that.  But a more involved treatment of knots
--a better "Ashley", if you will--might/sould be able to do so.
Esp. for at least some practical application areas, if the work is
well done and presented to pertinent people.



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Re: Can of worms:naming knots
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2005, 04:14:15 PM »
Dan, your comment about my attempted explanation of the difference in the aim of the OED and the aim of the Webster's is certainly correct. My explanation was expressed poorly and incorrectly. Rather than support my attempted point, I am sure it confused it. I must say that it made sense to me before I hit post.  ;D

My point is that I think a valuable role for members of the IGKT today is to collect information on who uses a knot, what is its use, the name(s) given that knot with a source (more information is always welcome!) From this information and analysis, the IGKT could produce a reference or references, which had a chance to become a standard and could include a recommended knot name.

From previous posts to this forum, many are interested and are already playing this role. However, the information, in this forum, has a limited lifetime. An example would be your (Dan's) collection of errors and their solution in Ashley. As discussed before, where is this information to be kept so that can be referenced by people interested in knotting? This may be the key question (analysis needs available information). This may be a key role for the IGKT.

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the IGKT-NAB's meeting coming up in September 25th in Charleston S.C. Perhaps, the role of the IGKT to provide storage and access to this type information can be discussed by those who attend and, perhaps, a motion submitted. A start might be to provide support for this forum's information.

It may be that the IGKT does not have the resources to provide support in this often-discussed need for knotting information.

As nautile said, "Brainstorming!"

Cheers, Brian.

Ps. I must say this post makes sense as I am about to hit post. Will it after?  ;D


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With a vengeance
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2005, 05:44:54 PM »
Brian you make sense to me!
- -
If"in abstracto" I aggree with Dan_Lehman, I do not want to throw the baby.

meaning/usage : useful charting tool in exploring this "terra incognita".

In French : for me a source of irritation (makes for "upside down" decisions )

Meaning : (comes from forestry )
"coupe claire" ( clear cutting)  = cutting almost all the trees and allowing much light to come down
"coup sombre" (dark or somber cutting) = cutting almost no trees and leaving the undercover in the penumbra
     point of reference is "light level"

Usage : (in business!)
"coupe claire"= very light cutting
"coupe sombre"= heavy handed cutting
     point of reference is now adjectives light and somber applied to the intensity of the cutting done
So I understand what you say but I would keep dichotomy in mind and use it with due precautions in a precisely delinated environment.

I deplore "sliding of sense" ( more of landslide), that is world's way, you can only fight a doomed retarding rear-guard fight.
All the more reason to have some "islets" preserved like a dictionnary.
It could very well be census/index/catalog/listing/collection/thesaurus/florilege...

- - topology
I have no difficulty about the no-knot/zero-knot/null knot ( prefer this one)
Just a 0 is the numeral that really give sense to 1 through 9 and permit all our numbering feats, null-knot has its place.

I think that knot theory can be brought to down to earth level ( by the trained, of whom I am not) : if that is not so why applicable in biology, chemistry... well not really down-to earth, rather high level research.(Well DNA-wise it might well be down to earth if the clay-template model is exact)

Labelling  a familly of knot "null knot will not transmogrify them in some unspeakle monsters.

A knot that cannot hold itself,alone, without a prop is a null-knot in practical life, even if it is a useful tool.

Lark's head, trucker's hitch,  sheepshank, marlinspike hitch,round turn and two hal hitches if I am not mistaken are all null-knots.
Dan_lehman example is also a null-knot but it stand together by itself.
So what ! ( in biology there are vertebrates and molluscs) you can always have :
upstream ( say that so as this "ordinal" allow to skirt the hierarchical issue) Null-knot,
down-stream two "categorical" "stand of themselves" your example "do not stand of themselves" the ones I named above.
Or vice-versa if you want : 2 "upstream ordinals" : stand/Does not and downstream "categorigals"
nul-knot and non-null knots with the "3, to 12 or 13 crossings"  "categoricals" ( yes I know turks head, well can be downsized as most are "extensions" of others)

- -As for practicallity of knot theory tools , in case ( I would be quite surprised) you never played with it, just try  the Dowker Notation to give instructions to "make" a knot ( just a little ( or big) numerical suite and there you have your knot and it "drawing" instruction". It is fun to puzzle it out even if like me you are no real mathematician.

- -define knot

While I am much impressed by Dan_Lehman posts, I will not bow out of intellectual respect, but only through conviction.

Fencing for the sake of it, taking "prestige stance" is not a good way to make things really advance.
It is a powerful brake I think. But there I go eye wide-shut!

I am game to play "the passive-aggressive hinderer game" under the guise of trying to help.

What about you "helping" me and defining what you means by "define knot".

Is that a common sense ( common sense is an idiot, but I never felt sufficiently endowed to think that)
or  accepted everyday definition( social consensus definition), a mathematicaly formalized, a simple man-of-the art point of view, a cultural perspective......
For the cultural perspective: an example :

English : knot seem to come in 2 main flavors : bend ( corruption of bind?) and hitch, with splices, seizing, whipping..
Frecnh : un noeud est un noeud (yes we are dumb enopugh to have a workable notion of what is a knot without defining it.We dont make a fine formal distinction between hich/bend, but then I am quite sure that there are what are "hitch" that are not labelled as such, and bend that are not labelled as such in English ) and there are also : amarrages, épissures,bridure,génope,surliure, rousture, tresillon,oeil,aiguilletage, élingue...
You see another mind map.

Right :we should try to offer some definitionS ( alternate ones for the sake of diversity and "universality") but no need to have it to "weed out" the doubles ( structurals not nominals).

What about you starting a topic of your own asking people to give "their" definitions of "knot".
Should make for interesting material.

You seem to me to be a man of great precision and of references, why don't you put a post with all the definitions you could find in dictionnary and on the Web.
That would be "pour encourager les autres" ( to boost others).
Playing chess with the "whites" can be fun also, not always the "blacks" and closed openings, as much fun as they are.

I think that many things were made by people not smart enough to know that it was impossible without a good definition of the problem.

Limited start :"knot" = was is in ABOK. Later for a "better" one.

ABOOK : weeding all the doubles ( but keeping all the original numbers as one must always keep the chain of knowledge that help verification by others. Be explicit on the double as Brian was on mindmaps( first encoutered is winner but all the doubles gettheir number cited)  and not implicit ( only the first of each double series kept)

Names does not apply, only "structure" "shape" "configuration" "projection" "form" "aspect" "geometry" : well should have the concept by now without high and dry definition but rather a "floating" or "fuzzy" one.

Yes "fuzzy" logic seems to exist and trying to elbow hard and fast logic.

E-publishing by IGKT.


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Re: Can of worms:naming knots
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2005, 08:59:09 AM »
Hi Nautile,

The purpose of your effort seems to be admirable - having a standard dictionary of named knots (by which language and with what definition by the way?) would seem on the face of it to be a good place to go for information on a knot.  However, as our good PAB President points out, there is the question of usage, the method of tying and the material with which the knot is formed.  Dan L makes good points also.  What about decorative knots such as Asian Knots (Chinese knots, Korean knots, Japanese knots, Indian knots, etc.), knots used in embroidery, knots found in Nature (bird's nests, wind-whipped twigs, grasses, entrails, etc.), fishing nets, mathematical knots, mental knots, carpet knots, stonework knots, Celtic knots - you can see that such a list would have no end.  To what purpose therefore would such a project lend itself?  To have a catalogue of knot names?  Classifying basic utility knots by shape might have some benefit and I can see that this would be a feasible project with a finite basis.  Would that satisfy?  I would be happy to work with you or any other member on such a project.  Perhaps you could spend some time outlining your task more clearly so that we could have a basis for moving forward?  Perhaps then also an approach could be made to some funding body to support such a long-term venture.  I look forward to hearing more from you.



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Hi Squarerigger Re: Can of worms
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2005, 12:50:54 AM »
Hello Squarerigger
Thank you for your post and interest.
Posts : Can of worms...Tentative defining and the ABOK compacted-extaended are a plaiting of thoughts, rather similar but that I deem better kept on different lines of thought/post.
You will find part of an answer  in "tentative defining..."

Have in mind a draft for a "Knot's individual file". Will be "multiple-entries" for retrieval and "exhaustivity" purposes.

Fell free to use my e-mail if you feel like it for discussing "freely" outside the forum.


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Re: Can of worms:naming knots
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2005, 06:54:28 PM »
Some "tweaking" after all the input receivedto which I am indebted.

- - -

- English would be the "working" language
- ABOK# census of knots should be retained
- every clearly stated different "method" "process" known for a knot should be retained

- A "nominal" designation that would not be "a name" used by one culture and not others is to be used ( see UIN / UIS)

- The culturally "stamped" names would be retained in an appropriated sub-paragraph in the Knot Individual Files. ( KIF)

- KIF should be able to withstand additions and complement without its structure being destroyed. ( Should be "robust" to evolution.

- -

- Names, "medium-low level" ones like "bend" & "hitch" and "high level" ones as "carrick bend or clove hitch tend to be culturally "biased or stamped". They do not make the least "automatic" sense in French for example.

I would like to the notions of
- chapter "X" : bends
- chapter "Y" : hitches

become more " generalized and transcultural" : by being replaced by "functionnal" naming:

- Chapter "X" : junction knots
- Chapter "Y" : fixing knots
or something like that.

- -

I would envision a "cladistic" perspective rather the hard and fast tree-like structure of the Lineus classification.

- - -
Mind mapping :
low-level = take the annuaire, go to "plumber, find a plumber in a radius of less than 20mn driving time, ask him to come with tools and spare part for a tap of this make and which has a gfuite of this debit...;
medium level = phone to the plumber and have him comes and fixes the left tap of the bathtub which is leaking...
high level = have the bathromm problem fixed

Inside the "low level" classification ( the chest of drawers) I would put in each knot's drawer English, French, Patagonese... labels.

- -

Care should be taken not to mix two "logical planes":
- creating and using a UIN/UIS
- creating "chapters" for putting all the different "individual item" found in a census of knots

The first do not necessarily imply the second.
The first is to "identify" and "designate" eventually
The second is to "class", to put in a "relatively homogeneous" groupings.

- - -

U.I.N ( unique identifying number) amend that to U.I.S unique identifying Sequence or U.R.S ( unique retrieval sequence)
The last one is "neutral about "naming" the knot.

U.I.S :( comprising a long sequence)is made with the following parts :

- ABOK number ( original or equivalent = expanded Abok) : 5 digits fromm 00001 to 99999)

- Vertebrates (coded 010)/ Worms (coded 002) / Molluscs (coded 006)/ Op-out category ( coded 08)
- non-NK ( coded 01) / NK (coded 00)
- GSC letters
- GSC number ( 3 digits : 000 to 099) ( 099 should cover most turk's heads)
- Unitary ( coded 01) or Composed/Compounded ( this one from an idea given by Dan_lehman) (coded 09)
Unitary = autonomous knot Composed/compounded : knots made with assembly of Unitaries ( should cover the "ornamental knots and some others knots such as the one signalled by Dan_Lehman)
- Unique compounded number  build using transcoding with the precedent parts.

e.g ( fictionnal and not "complete") : ABOOK"-Vdertebrates-Non NK- GSC number
Searching can be done using any of the sub-fields.

To get the Unique Compounded Number : formula
([vertebrates...] * [non-NK /NK] * 72 * GSC number)  + ABOK# ( have still to make a complete verification of "feasibility" and "fiability"

- -

3 types of knots :

- RoTaCa on itself
- RoTaCa on  one other ( or more ) RoTaCa
- RoTaCa on a fixed point
- RoTaCa on a moving point

- - -

Knots : they must be :
- "known by heart" that is one must be proficient and efficient in "making it
-  must be "understood" : that is knowing when/how to use and not to.

The KIF should provide for these two "needs"

- - -

Knots uses : ( to be "used" in the KIF)

- fixing
- stoping
- to rig a pulleys block
- tow - haul -trail - pull - draw - tug - sustain- support - hold - brace
- shorthening
- lenghtening ( junction of 2 RoTaCa)
- tie - connect - join
- squeeze - clasp - hold - tighten - constrict
- making of a tool : fishing net

- -

H&L sequence of crossings

NO piling up IF for describing the successive moves made to lay/throw a knot
Piling up IF for GSC on a "finished" knot


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Re: Can of worms:naming knots
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2005, 12:00:32 AM »
Given that I do not profess to be a knot expert (or even beginner) by any stretch of the imagination, please understand that I may be throwing yet another worm into this particular can.

However, my particular skills revolve around finding technical solutions to problems, so perhaps I can be of some use here.

It seems to me one possible option here would be to develop a standardised, image based, dictionary via the site initially. As I see it, such a dictionary would comprise single entries of a standard, close-up image of each knot catalogued by it's most common (or IGKT voted) name followed by every known name variation for that particular knot. Entries could also include technical descriptions, earliest known usage, common current usage etc etc.

The entire dictionary could be database-driven which would allow the opportunity for the data, once entered, to be output in a variety of ways. Most useful of all, people could such search on any name variations and they would still find the appropriate knot entry (or entries). Other elements could also possibly be searched upon such as 'current usage'.

The technology to develop such an online project is currently available on All I would need is the official go-ahead from IGKT officials and a working group to  develop it with.