In 2000, Thomas Fink and Yong Mao studied neck ties and, with certain assumptions, found 85 different ways to tie a neck tie. They gave a formal language which describes how a tie is made, giving a sequence of moves for each neck tie. The ends of a neck tie can be joined together, which gives a physical model of a mathematical knot that we call a tie knot. In this paper we classify the knot type of each of Fink and Mao’s 85 tie knots. We describe how the unknot, left and right trefoil, twist knots and torus knots can be recognized from their sequence of moves. We also view tie knots as a family within the set of all knots. Among other results, we prove that any tie knot is prime and alternating.
"The mathematics of tie knots." Involve 14 (2) 241 - 270, 2021. https://doi.org/10.2140/involve.2021.14.241