Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mathematics and Statistics

Major Professor

Masahiko Saito, Ph.D.


knot theory, coloring, algebraic structures


Knot theory has rapidly expanded in recent years. New representations of braid groups led to an extremely powerful polynomial invariant, the Jones polynomial. Combinatorics applied to knot and link diagrams led to generalizations. Knot theory also has connections with other fields such as statistical mechanics and quantum field theory, and has applications in determining how certain enzymes act on DNA molecules, for example.

The principal objective of this dissertation is to study the relations between knots and algebraic structures called quandles. A quandle is a set with a binary operation satisfying some properties related to the three Reidemeister moves. The study of quandles in relation to knot theory was intitiated by Joyce and Matveev. Later, racks and their (co)homology theory were defined by Fenn and Rourke. The rack (co)homology was also studied by Grana from the viewpoint of Hopf algebras. Furthermore, a modified definition of homology theory for quandles was introduced by Carter, Jelsovsky, Kamada, Langford, and Saito to define state-sum invariants for knots and knotted surfaces, called quandle cocycle invariants.

This dissertation studies the quandle cocycle invariants using extensions of quandles and knot colorings. We obtain a coloring of a knot by assigning elements of a quandle to the arcs of the knot diagram. Such colorings are used to define knot invariants by state-sum. For a given coloring, a 2-cocycle is assigned at each crossing as the Boltzmann weight. The product of the weights over all crossings is the contribution to the state-sum, which is the formal summation of the contributions over all possible colorings of the given knot diagram by a given quandle. Generalizing the cocycle invariant for knots to links, we define two kinds of invariants for links: a component-wise invariant, and an invariant defined as families of vectors.

Abelian extensions of quandles are also defined and studied. We give a formula for creating infinite families of abelian extensions of Alexander quandles. These extensions give rise to explicit formulas for computing 2-cocycles. The theory of quandle extensions parallels that of groups. Moreover, we investigate the notion of extending colorings of knots using quandle extensions. In particular, we show how the obstruction to extending the coloring contributes to the non-trivial terms of the cocycle invariants for knots and links. Moreover, we demonstrate the relation between these new cocycle invariants and Alexander matrices.