Author Topic: The Lexicon of Knotology  (Read 54523 times)

DerekSmith

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The Lexicon of Knotology
« on: January 15, 2010, 10:40:17 AM »
When I first came here (to the IGKT), I knew and used a fair number of knots.  Knowing each by its name, they were all knots for tying things with.

Then I was introduced to the 'Secret Handshake' of the Guild - its language.

'Novices' were outed the moment they 'tied' two pieces of string together - Ohhh No...  Those from within the Guild 'bent' their cordage and knew how to spell 'bight' and strew about their 'SParts', keeping those novices firmly in thrall of the 'experts'.

I met a number of people both on this forum and within the Guild who I admired for their expertise, and as time has passed my respect for these and other individuals has grown.  However, with the same passage of time, my initial awe of the language has turned into contempt.

If there is one thing above all others holding back the development of our field from becoming anything more than a 'hobby shop' it is our ridiculous language and a covetous insistence on retaining it.  Our language was developed in a different age, within various crafts and from different countries, which is great because it has had the opportunity to develop great richness, but today we are petrifying that richness by preventing the language from evolving to serve its new needs.

The language of cordage is evolving nicely, driven by the commerce of the development of a myriad new materials and usages. But our language of knots is being held in stasis by us - its 'keepers' - 'proper knotters' who do Turks heads and 'Bends' and hitches and who know the secret right (or is it left) handed way to tie a Bowline.

The time to review our language is long overdue, especially with regard to being able to communicate with each other about the functional characteristics of the knots that we study.  The name has already been taken by people who tie knots in strips of paper - Knotology - but I propose taking it back.  From now on, I propose to use the term Knotology to mean the science and study of knots - all knots.

As several have pointed out before, each language has its audience - its users, so before developing one it is necessary to define that target audience.  For the sake of starting somewhere, I am going to propose that the audience is those who frequent the Knot Theory and Computing (KT&C) board of the IGKT Forum - i.e. English speaking with an interest focussed on knot form and function.

If any rationalisations are developed here which make it easier or clearer to discuss Knotology, then it is possible that this lexicon may find use and favour in the wider field of knot usage, if that is the case, then wonderful, but that is not the prime directive for developing the lexicon - that directive is to enable the discussion of Knotology on this forum board, and if the terminology we choose is not understood outside of this board, then that is not relevant to our selection and definition of terms.

Is it arrogance to hijack, redefine and create new terms?  I don't believe so, any more than it was arrogance to define the new file formats and language used to unambiguously describe a knot diagram in FCB or its enhancement KnotMaker.  The simple sentence 'ebi fbj dci ech fcg gca ddk edg fdl eeo' in the lexicon of FCB is sufficient to exactly describe a diagram of the overhand knot.  It is meaningless to anyone but Frank Brown, Dave Root or myself, but using the FCB utility, it can be translated into a diagram that just about anybody can understand - but most importantly the language is used without ANY ambiguity.  If you are trying to communicate some aspect or concept of Knotology, then ambiguity is going to be a killer from the word go, so an unambiguous lexicon is the bedrock of Knotology.

There you have it.  I have driven the standard into the ground, thrown down the gauntlet and nailed my colours to the mast.

Let the lexicon of Knotology begin  -  January 2010


« Last Edit: January 15, 2010, 10:41:12 AM by DerekSmith »

DaveRoot

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2010, 07:56:53 PM »
I looked through a number of websites on the mathematics of knots, but didn't see anything useful about naming the parts of knots.

However, here are a couple of websites on knot notations, which perhaps will address the need for "an unambiguous language for trying to communicate some aspect or concept of Knotology":

"Knot theory" at Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knot_theory


Peter Suber's Knot Tying Notation:
http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/knotting/notate.htm

Some quotes from Peter Suber's website:

"The purpose of this notation is not to instruct beginners. Learning the basic knots is easier than learning this notation. The purpose is to help advanced knotters (1) communicate without illustrations, (2) communicate details difficult to discern from illustrations, (3) record their experiments and discoveries, and (4) analyze different tying methods."

"The purpose is to have a precise record of a tying method that can be translated into action by anyone giving it the time."

"Mathematical knot theory has several systems of notation for describing the structure of knots already tied. By contrast, the present notation describes methods of tying knots. Identifying a tying method is an indirect way of identifying the knot tied by that method, of course, and its structure. But there's still an important difference between a notation for knots and a notation for tying methods."

"On the one hand, I want this notation to be adequate for most of the knots you will ever want to tie or notate. On the other hand, I want it to be easy to learn and use. Unfortunately, these virtues are in tension. We can have one or the other, probably not both."


Dave

DerekSmith

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2010, 02:52:36 PM »
Hello Dave,

I am so glad that you have joined in.  This is not a task for a single viewpoint.  Although an individual can pose solutions, a working lexicon is going to need multiple perspectives to knock down proposals with -'but what about...' and build them back up stronger with -'we could consider...'

I hope that others will be moved to contribute, especially if proposals jar their sensibilities, the purpose of a Lexicon after all is to improve communication and understanding.

Diving in then.

I am mindful of the fact that in order to achieve the goal, we will inevitably find ourselves re-defining certain terms rather than making up new words.  Where we do this we create the opportunity for even more confusion - i.e. which of the available definitions are we referring to?  To eliminate this confusion, I would propose that the Lexicon makes use of the popular modern dot notation method to clarify derivation.

Examples - if we create a definition for say 'Cord' or 'Turn' in our lexicon and we want to use the term within our definition then we would write knotology.cord or knotology.turn - they stand for the specific meanings of those terms as defined in our Knotology lexicon.  Writing it out like that is clear, but long winded, so the abbreviation k.cord or k.turn would be equivalent where we wanted to make it clear that we meant our definition of cord or turn.

The dot notation also has another use for terms that have different meanings dependent upon context.  Let us say that in the context of cord, the term bight had one meaning, but in the context of turn, bight has been defined as having another meaning.  Dot notation can be used to remove ambiguity - cord.bight would refer to the meaning relative to 'cord', while turn.bight would be explicitly referring to our definition of bight in relation to its usage within turns - confused - you will be...    Seriously though, although I cannot see us regularly needing to use the dot notation to ensure meaning, if you see it being used, at least we should know what it means.  Perhaps the 'k.' prefix will be the most we ever need to use.

------------------------------------------

Mathematical Knots:  This is a huge field in its own right, but I see it as a sub field of Knotology - a bit of a claim, so how do I justify it ?

While it is claimed that "Knot Theory" has identified over six billion structures, this is only a subset of Knotology because "Knot Theory" (KT) only describes the base structure.  It totally fails for example to differentiate the OH from the Slipped OH.  Further, 'KT' fails to include force, friction, kinetics, time, formation (tying), failure etc. - the whole host of aspects which turn a simple mathematical representation of a knot into the functioning reality of the knots we are dealing with.

On this basis, I would propose that we define "Knot Theory" as a sub field of Knotology - and leave it at that.

-----------------------------------------

Peter Suber's Knot Tying Notation:  Peter's groundbreaking work serves to highlight the fact that our field has a number of aspects or 'Fields', and that 'Tying' is a fundamental one of those fields.

Perhaps we should start 'at the top' and work down the structural tree of terminology.  So we might have --

  Knotology :- All aspects of Knot theory, practice and use.
       |
     ------------------------------------------------------
     |                                                                 |
   Real Knots                                                 Mathematical Knots (KT) ...
         |
      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      |                        |                     |                               |                      |
    Cordage           Tying           Functionality              Weaknesses            Usage ...
      |                        |
    --------             --------------
    |       |            |            |
   Rope ....        PSKTN      Methods  ...

What do you think ?

Derek

sharky

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2010, 03:23:00 PM »
How about a different concept of knotology...the knots that people will actually tie, and why they tie them...keeping in mind that without the people to tie the knots, there would be no knots... :o
Sharky

DaveRoot

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2010, 06:19:01 PM »
Hi Derek,

That looks like a good start to a structure of Knotology.  As we've seen before, we don't always know how useful something is until we start down the path and make adjustments and see how well the idea is working out.

The branch labeled "Weaknesses" caused me to expect a branch called "Strengths."  Perhaps a "Weaknesses" and "Strengths" pair of branches should be listed under the "Usage" branch.  

Where should the terminology for naming the parts of a knot fit into the structure?

How about a branch for the potential users of a knot, e.g. climbers, sailors, weavers, fishing persons, etc.?

Since each individual knot will have its own set of best/worst cordage and tying methods and functionality and usage and strengths/weaknesses and so on, would each individual knot be placed directly under the "Real Knots" level, so that your Cordage/Tying/Functionality/Weaknesses/Usage level is replicated under each individual knot?

Dave

« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 07:13:25 PM by DaveRoot »

DerekSmith

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2010, 11:15:10 PM »
How about a different concept of knotology...the knots that people will actually tie, and why they tie them...keeping in mind that without the people to tie the knots, there would be no knots... :o

Hi Capn' Billy,

Remember there will be several aspects of knotology - one may well be the popular knots that people actually tie, and even the 'psychology' of knot usage, but for now, all we are trying to do is establish a lexicon that can be used without ambiguity.

Derek

DerekSmith

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2010, 11:20:44 PM »
@Dave,

In answer to your questions - I honestly don't know...  just putting up Aunt Sallies at this point and hoping that they will trigger other points of view that will help us see a sensible way forward.  I totally agree with your view that we should start down a path and see how well the ideas work out.

time for wild ideas and 'what if's '

Derek

squarerigger

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2010, 05:45:05 AM »
Hi Derek and Dave,

As usual, you two are way out in front of all and thank you for that!  I have a minor suggestion - if we use the term "-logy" to end the word describing knotting (root of -logy is Greek as in -logo or Latin as in -logia) then perhaps using the same root to describe "knot" is appropriate?  The word for studying knots then comes out as Nodology - what do you think of that?

More thoughts to come....

SR

DerekSmith

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2010, 08:57:03 AM »
Well spotted Lindsey,

Make corrections as we go, and this gets us straight right at the very root of our lexicon.

I am well happy to accept NODOLOGY - the Science and Study of knots.

That would make someone who studies knots a Nodologist, and someone who knows a lot about knots a 'Node it all' (sorry, I couldn't resist that, I found it on a Google search for Nodology) along with ---


Re: latin word for knot....

Nodus is the singular, nodi is plural, nodo is the verb and nodology
would be the legitimate form...

  Does anyone know how to edit the topic title ?

Derek
« Last Edit: January 22, 2010, 08:58:10 AM by DerekSmith »

SS369

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2010, 01:49:46 PM »
So, we're a bunch of Node Heads now?

International Guild of Node Tyers?

Has a certain ring to it. LOL

Just wait until you tell someone that, the look in their eyes should be priceless.
;-)

Have a nice day.

SS

DerekSmith

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2010, 06:43:56 PM »
Looks like we have been in Nodology land before on the Forensic Expert post http://igkt.net/sm/index.php?topic=316.0

One question then is would anyone who studies the science of knots be a Nodologist ? and would it be the place for the Guild to define what would make an Expert Nodologist ?

And if not the Guild, then who ?

Perhaps along with the lexicon, will come definition of 'Fields of Nodology'

Derek

squarerigger

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2010, 07:17:33 PM »
Derek,

Twas not I who came up with nodology but Lasse - thanks Lasse!  I like the idea you have, Derek, of Fields of Nodology - as for who should define it, I really think that there is only one source, the IGKT, who could even be concerned with this.  The post you noted (from 2006!!) discusses the use of "Forensic Nodology" and it would seem appropriate to use Bob Chisnall's book on forensic knotting to define terms.  Alas, Geoffrey Budworth's book can no longer be found so that may be a dead duck as source material (what good is something that is not available for reference?) but Bob Chisnall has some excellent terms definitions.  I'll dig out my copy and we could start with some of those.

As for Fields of Nodology - that presents some discussion in and of itself, doesn't it?  Some ideas here might include flat knots, binding knots, joining knots, stopper knots and loop knots, and then subdividing those into subsets of other more complex areas.  Probably needs more thought....

SR

DerekSmith

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2010, 08:20:01 PM »
Some 'Aunt Sallies' to kick off with.

Nodology  --  The field and study of bindings made using linear flexible material (cordage)

Binding (or specifically n.binding) --  Any means of associating cordage components so that forces may be translated from one to the other.

Cordage  (or specifically n.cordage)  --  Any flexible linear material capable of being manipulated into shapes that are capable of translating forces from one part to another, or constrained with sufficient lateral pressure so that friction can transfer linear forces form one part to another.
               
Cordage --  may be formed from numerous rigid components (atomic, molecular or particulate) so long as the overall performance of the cordage is flexible.
                 
Flexibility -- is a term relative to the forces intended to be associated with its use.  Steel or carbon fibre cable is rigid in comparison with silk thread, yet is still considered to be flexible under its intended operational forces.

N.Cordage  --  typically includes rope, chain, cable, cord, string, thread, braid, plait, wool, leather thong, ribbon...

N.Binding  --  Splice, knot, whipping... ?


For building on or knocking down, but preferably only if you have something to replace it with.


Derek

DerekSmith

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2010, 08:49:01 PM »
Alternatively, fields of Nodology could be arranged around types of Nodology or areas of usage --

Historical  --  maritime, warfare, agriculture...

Geographical / Cultural  -- national expertise...

Trade / Usage  --  Rescue, climbing, magic, nautical, gardening, DIY, forensic, decorative, ceremonial / religious, sexual deviancy...

...

Derek


DaveRoot

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Re: The Lexicon of Knotology
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2010, 09:31:33 PM »
Simplifying the 'Aunt Sallies' a bit:

Nodology -- The field and study of bindings made in cordage.

     N.Binding -- The result of manipulating cordage components into shapes that are capable of translating forces from one part to another.  Includes knots, splices, whippings, and so on.

     N.Cordage -- Any material capable of being manipulated into n.bindings.  Includes rope, chain, cable, cord, string, thread, braid, plait, wool, leather thong, ribbon, and so on.


Dave