Construction of Seifert surfaces by differential geometry
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A Seifert surface for a knot in ℝ³ is a compact orientable surface whose boundary is the knot. Seifert surfaces are not unique. In 1934 Herbert Seifert provided a construction of such a surface known as the Seifert Algorithm, using the combinatorics of a projection of the knot onto a plane. This thesis presents another construction of a Seifert surface, using differential geometry and a projection of the knot onto a sphere. Given a knot K : S¹⊂ R³, we construct canonical maps F : ΛdiffS² → ℝ=4πZ and G : ℝ³ - K(S¹) → ΛdiffS² where ΛdiffS² is the space of smooth loops in S². The composite FG : ℝ³ - K(S¹) → ℝ=4πZ is a smooth map defined for each u∈2 ℝ³ - K(S¹) by integration of a 2- form over an extension D² → S² of G(u) : S1 → S². The composite FG is a surjection which is a canonical representative of the generator 1∈H¹(ℝ³- K(S¹)) = Z. FG can be defined geometrically using the solid angle. Given u ∈ ℝ³ - K(S¹), choose a Seifert surface Σu for K with u ∉ Σu. It is shown that FG(u) is equal to the signed area of the shadow of Σu on the unit sphere centred at u. With this, FG(u) can be written as a line integral over the knot. By Sard's Theorem, FG has a regular value t ∈ ℝ=4πZ. The behaviour of FG near the knot is investigated in order to show that FG is a locally trivial fibration near the knot, using detailed differential analysis. Our main result is that (FG)-¹(t)⊂ ℝ³ can be closed to a Seifert surface by adding the knot.