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These terrible puns are the output of the Knot Theory Mini course sarah-marie co-taught at the 2000 Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics with Emily Peters (undergrad UC, now grad at Berkeley). Read aloud for maximal effect.


All that Knot Theory for Naught!

Tie him (Wing Mui) into a Wing Knot.

We must define a knot, because if we do not, then we do not know what is a knot and what is not a knot.

John "Still Chicken" Choi: "Called the 'trefoil' knot. Let's say it again, the 'trefoil' knot. ...Called the 'figure 8' knot... let's knot say it again..."

Amanda Redlich: "Knots to you." "She's knots. We're knot able to..."

Wing: "Knot Theory---Chapter 4. Making a knot not a knot, or an unknot, or not... knot?" "2 types of knots? knot!"

John Darius Mangual: "...in knot theory we may be knot sure or not sure."

John Basias: "Our not rules for not polynomials."

Emily: "Knotting my knitting; I mean not knotting; I mean infinknitting; I mean making bad puns."

Wing: "Not cool? That is not true for all knot theorists not working on knotting knots but not slacking in their studies in the theory of knots not for naught."

No, These Are Knot Puns

An Edited version of the... summary of the knot theory mini written by John Basias and Wing Mui (title puns by Emily Peters)


Knots are fun, and you would think so too if you had Emily and sarah-marie for this mini. We learned all sorts of interesting new ways of looking at knots, did we not? In the end we even found a way of classifying (patenting and even selling knots at a price not affordable by the general consumer). Here's how it went:

Day 1: If we knot the unknot, is it still the unknot? Is any knot not the unknot?

Today we began our journey into the wonderful world of knots. ... We then showed that there are two types of knots, those that are knots and those that are not knots, or the unknot. Of course we were left with the evil task of showing that not all knots are the not knots.

Then we began to define several not operations that can be done on a knot; these were known as the Reidemeister moves.

Day 2: Knot Tonk!

We began the day with Emily saying "Reidemeister This!" while pointing to an obscene knot. ...

Day 3: Not unknot plus not unknot equals unknots? No, it's (k)not!

...and then Wing called her a knotzi.

Day 4: Making a knot not a knot

Day 5: How to (k)notate a knot (even though we'd rather (k)not)

Day 6: Knot polynomials that are not polynomials

...the entire class along with Emily derived the entire system of knot polynomials so that we can polynomialize a knot, and if the polynomials of knots are not the same, they are not the same knot.

Day 7: Trefoil knot is not liofert knot

...we proved that the trefoil knot is not the liofert knot, which is its mirror image.

Day 9: All this for naught!

[Ed. note -- there were only seven days of the mini.]

Knot Puns that are Not Puns


"You Knote-zi bastard!"
"Knot puns are not puns."

John B.:

"We must define a knot, for if we do not, we do not know what is knot, what is a knot, and what is not a knot."

sarah-marie: (with German accent)

"Knot Knotes for you!"
"No knots for you!"
"Knots for you!"
"Notes knot for you!"

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