Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Maggy Tomova

Second Advisor

Charles Frohman


Since its inception, the notion of thin position has played an important role in low-dimensional topology. Thin position for knots in the 3-sphere was first introduced by David Gabai in order to prove the Property R Conjecture. In addition, this theory factored into Cameron Gordon and John Luecke's proof of the knot complement problem and revolutionized the study of Heegaard splittings upon its adaptation by Martin Scharlemann and Abigail Thompson.

Let h be a Morse function from the 3-sphere to the real numbers with two critical points. Loosely, thin position of a knot K in the 3-sphere is a particular embedding of K which minimizes the total number of intersections with a maximal collection of regular level sets, where this number of intersections is called the width of the knot. Although not immediately obvious, it has been demonstrated that there is a close relationship between a thin position of a knot K and essential meridional planar surfaces in its exterior E(K).

In this thesis, we study the nature of thin position under knot companionship; namely, for several families of knots we establish a lower bound for the width of a satellite knot based on the width of its companion and the wrapping or winding number of its pattern. For one such class of knots, cable knots, in addition to finding thin position for these knots, we establish a criterion under which non-minimal bridge positions of cable knots are stabilized. Finally, we exhibit an embedding of the unknot whose width must be increased before it can be simplified to thin position.


bridge number, cable knot, thin position, width complex


v, 65 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 63-65).


Copyright 2012 Alexander Martin Zupan

Included in

Mathematics Commons