OF KNOTS
IAIN MOFFATT
Abstract. The concept of the partial dual of an embedded graph was recently introduced by
S. Chmutov. Partial duals of an embedded graph are obtained by forming the geometric dual
with respect to only a subset of edges of the graph. Partial duality is proving to have farreaching
consequences. In this paper we provide a characterization of the set of embedded graphs that are
partial duals of plane graphs. We characterize partial duals of plane graphs in terms of the existence
of 1sum decompositions of the embedded graph into two (not necessarily connected) plane graphs.
This provides a connection between the genus of partial duals and separability.
The class of embedded graphs that are partial duals of plane graphs is important since this
is precisely the class of embedded graphs that describes knots and links. Our characterization
of partial duals of plane graphs provides a characterization of the class of embedded graphs that
represents link diagrams. We apply this characterization to nd a move that relates all of the link
diagrams that are presented by the same ribbon graph.
1. Introduction
Here we are interested in the structure of those embedded graphs that are partial duals of plane
graphs. Partial duality, introduced by Chmutov in [8], is an extension of the geometric or Euler
Poincare dual of an embedded graph. Roughly speaking, the partial duals of an embedded graph are
obtained by forming the dual with respect to only a subset of edges of the graph (a formal denition
is given Subsection 2.3). Chmutov introduced partial duals in [8] order to unify the various recent
realizations of the Jones polynomial of a link as an evaluation of Bollobas and Riordan [3, 4] and Las
Vergnas [23] topological Tutte polynomial (see also [26]). These connections extend the well known
theorem of Thistlethwaite, from [29], relating the Jones and Tutte polynomials. The connections
between graph theory and knot theory provide the main motivation for the results presented in
this paper.
Partial duality appears to be a fundamental operation on embedded graphs, and many results and
applications of duality extend to partial duals. For example, the classical relationship relating the
Tutte polynomials of a plane graph and its duals, T(G; x, y) = T(G
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688, USA;
imoffatt@jaguar1.usouthal.edu.
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In the formation of a partial dual, the geometric dual is only formed with respect to a subset of
edges. Graph theoretic and topological structures can therefore vary widely over the set of partial
duals of an embedded graph. In particular, the genus of an embedded graph and one of its partial
duals can be very dierent. (This contrasts with geometric duals where G and G
corresponding to e is of sign
. For the third property, note that D is recovered from T(D) by equipping the medial graph of
T(D) with crossings according to the Tait signs.
2.2.2. The ribbon graphs of a link diagram. In [10], Dasbach et. al. extended the concept of a Tait
graph by describing how a set G(D) of ribbon graphs can be associated to a link diagram D. As
mentioned in the introduction, the set G(D) of ribbon graphs of a link diagram has proved to be
very useful in knot theory. We will now describe the construction of the set G(D), however, we
will also sign the edges of our ribbon graphs using the Tait signs of the crossing.
Let D be a link diagram. Every crossing of D admits an Asplicing and a Bsplicing as dened
in the following gure:

+
+
+




+
+
+



+/

+
+
+



A crossing in D. An Asplicing. A Bsplicing.
The lines in the gure are called markers.
A state of D is an assignment of an A or Bsplicing to each crossing of D. A sign of a splicing is
an assignment of + or to its marker. If the diagram D is equipped with a checkerboard colouring
then we may use the Tait sign of each crossing to assign a sign to each splicing according to the
following rules:
if the Tait sign is +, then the Asplicing has sign , and the Bsplicing has sign +;
if the Tait sign is , then the Asplicing has sign , and the Bsplicing has sign +.
A signed state of D is a state of D where a sign is assigned to each marking using the above rules.
A signed ribbon graph G
s
() is obtained from from a signed state of D by resolving all of the
crossings according to the signed states to obtain a set of nonintersecting closed plane curves with
markers between the curves; assigning a distinct colour to each marker; and assigning coloured
arrows to the plane curves according to the following scheme:
+/
+/

+
+
+



+/
+/
e
e
+/

+
+
+



6

+
+
+



+




+
+
A link diagram D A state s of D. The ribbon graph G
s
(D).
Figure 5. A link diagram D, a state s of D and the corresponding ribbon graph G
s
(D).
(The directions of the arrows should be consistent with an orientation of the plane) This results in
an arrow presentation for a signed ribbon graph. The corresponding ribbon graph is G
s
().
Denition 3 (Dasbach et. al. [10]). Let D be a checkerboard coloured link diagram. Then the
set G
s
(D) of signed ribbon graphs associated with D is dened to be
G
s
(D) = G
s
()  is a signed state of D.
If G G
s
(D) then we say that G is a signed ribbon graph of D, and we will also say that G presents
D.
An example of the ribbon graph of a link is shown in Figure 5
We note that the (unsigned) ribbon graphs constructed by Dasbach et. al in [10] are obtained by
forgetting the signs in the constructions above. We will let G(D) obtain this set of ribbon graphs,
which is obtained from G
s
(D) by forgetting the signs.
The following proposition states that G
s
(D) is independent of the choice of checkerboard colour
ing used in its construction, hence we may associate G
s
(D) with the link diagram itself rather than
the checkerboard coloured link diagram. The proposition also shows that the ribbon graphs of a
link diagram generalize the concept of the Tait graphs of a link diagram.
Proposition 1. Let D be a link diagram.
(1) G
s
(D) is independent of the choice of checkerboard colouring used in its construction.
(2) Both of the Tait graphs of D are in G
s
(D).
Proof. Item 1, is easily veried by noting that a choice of A or Bsplicing results in the same signed
state at each crossing regardless of the checkerboard colouring at that crossing.
For Item 2, given a checkerboard colouring of the diagram, we can recover one of the Tait graphs
by, at each crossing, choosing the splicing where the arcs follow the black faces of the diagram (so
take a Bsplicing at each positive crossing, and an Asplicing at each negative crossing). The other
Tait graph is recovered by following the white faces (so take an Asplicing at each positive crossing,
and a Bsplicing at each negative crossing).
Remark 1. For each diagram D, G
s
(D) contains exactly two elements where all of the edges are of
a single sign, either + or . We denote these ribbon graphs by G
+
(D) and G
(D) is constructed from D by choosing the state that consists wholly of Asplicings.
It then follows that, after forgetting signs, G
(D) associated with the allA and allBsplicings play a key role in the
applications of the ribbon graphs of a link diagram to knot theory.
7
2.2.3. Three motivating questions. We now come to the three fundamental questions on the ribbon
graphs of link diagrams that motivate the study presented here. We saw in Proposition 1 that
the ribbon graphs of a link generalize Tait graphs. An important problem is to understand how
properties of and results involving Tait graphs extend to ribbon graphs. Our motivation comes
from the following three questions which ask how the three fundamental properties T1T3 of Tait
graphs extend to ribbon graphs.
(Q1) How are the ribbon graphs of a link diagram related to each other?
(Q2) Which ribbon graphs arise as ribbon graphs of a link diagram?
(Q3) What is the relation between link diagrams that are presented by the same signed ribbon
graph?
Question Q1 has previously been answered by Chmutov [8]. It turns out that the ribbon graphs are
partial duals of each other. We will describe partial duality in Subsection 2.3 and we will explain
the relation between the ribbon graphs of links in the Subsection 2.4.
Turning Question Q2, the rst thing to observe is that not every ribbon graph arises as the
ribbon graph of a link diagram. It is not hard to verify this claim: consider the set of all link
diagrams with exactly three crossings and by construct the set of ribbon graphs that present them.
We nd that the ribbon graph G shown in the second example in Example 2 does not appear in
this set. Therefore G is not a ribbon graph of a link diagram. (As the ribbon graph has three
edges, it can only arise from a link diagram with three crossings.)
Observe that since the signs of the ribbon graph record only the under and over crossing structure
of the corresponding link diagram, a signed ribbon graph arises from a link diagram if and only
if its underlying unsigned ribbon graph arises from a link diagram. Thus it is enough to answer
Question Q2 for unsigned ribbon graphs (i.e. we can work with G(D) rather then G
s
(D)).
We will see in Section 4 that the ribbon graphs that present link diagrams can be characterized
in terms of separability. It is shown that a ribbon graph represents a link diagram if and only if it
admits a particular type of 1sum decomposition into plane graphs, answering Question Q2 . (The
1sum decomposition is described in Section 3.)
As for Question Q3, it turns out that although a signed ribbon graph does not, in general,
present a unique link diagram (unlike the case with Tait graphs), all of the link diagrams that a
ribbon graph can present are very closely related to each other. In Section 6 it is shown that all of
the link diagrams presented by the same ribbon graph are related by a summandip move (see
Denition 9).
The solutions to all three of the questions Q1Q3 above are intimately related to partial duality of
ribbon graphs. In the following subsection we describe partial duality. Equipped with this concept,
in Subsection 2.4, we will reformulate questions Q2 and Q3 in the way that we will solve them.
Remark 2. The relation between the ribbon graphs of a link diagram was a primary motivation
for the introduction of partial duality by Chmutov in [8]. Similarly, Tait graphs and their relation
to medial graphs were also the primary motivation for twisted duality, a generalization of duality
introduced by EllisMonaghan and the author in [16]. If G and H are embedded graphs and G
m
and
H
m
are their embedded medial graphs, then G and H must be Tait graphs of G
m
and H
m
. It then
follows that G
m
and H
m
are equal as embedded graphs if and only if G and H are geometric duals.
Thus we can take the point of view that the relation of equality as embedded graphs generates
the relation of geometric duality. This point of view suggests that other concepts of equality of
embedded graphs will generate other concepts of duality. In [16] we show that equality as abstract
graphs generates twisted duality, and that equality as combinatorial maps generates partial duality.
Also, [16] contains a way to construct the Tait graphs of noncheckerboard colourable 4regular
embedded graph.
8
2.3. Partial duality. Partial duality, introduced by Chmutov in [8], is an extension of the concept
of geometric (or EulerPoincare) duality of embedded graphs. Just as geometric duality related the
two Tait graphs of a link diagram, partial duality relates the ribbon graphs of a link diagram.
This provides an answer to Question Q1. Partial duality will also provide the framework we use to
answer Questions Q2 and Q3. As we would expect, many properties of geometric duality extend
to partial duality [8, 16, 26, 27, 28, 31].
Roughly speaking, a partial dual of an embedded graph is obtained by forming the dual with
respect to a subset of edges of the graph.
Denition 4 (Chmutov [8]). Let G be a signed ribbon graph and A E(G). Arbitrarily orient
and label each of the edges of G (the orientation need not extend to an orientation of the ribbon
graph). The boundary components of the spanning ribbon subgraph (V (G), A) of G meet the
edges of G in disjoint arcs (where the spanning ribbon subgraph is naturally embedded in G). On
each of these arcs, place an arrow which points in the direction of the orientation of the edge and
is labelled by the edge it meets. Associate a sign to each label in the following way: if e is a label
of an edge of G with sign , then the arrow labelled by e has sign if the edge is in A, and has
sign otherwise. The resulting decorated boundary components of the spanning ribbon subgraph
(V (G), A) dene an signed arrow presentation. The signed ribbon graph corresponding to this
signed arrow presentation is the partial dual G
A
of G.
Example 1. The signed ribbon graph G equipped with and arbitrary labelling and orientation of
its edges is shown in Step 1. For this example we take A = 2, 3. The marked spanning ribbon
subgraph (V (G), A) is shown in Step 2 (note the change of signs of the edges in A). The boundary
components of this spanning ribbon subgraph dene a signed arrow presentation (shown in Step
3). The corresponding signed ribbon graph is shown in Step 4. This is the partial dual G
{2,3}
of G.
1
2
3
+
+
1
2
3
1
2
3
+
+
+
Step 1. Step 2.
2
1
3
1
3
2
+
+ +
+
+
Step 3. Steps 4.
Additional examples of partially dual graphs can be found in [8, 27, 28, 31].
For completeness we include the denition of the geometric dual of a ribbon graph. The geometric
dual (or EulerPoincare dual) G
= G;
(2) G
E(G)
= G
, where G
e
e
.
This is readily seen to correspond to the change in the state of a link diagram cased by switching
between A and Bsplicings at the crossing corresponding to e.
Corollary 1. G G(D) if and only if G is a partial dual of an unsigned Tait graph of D.
Corollary 2. Any two embedded graphs in G(D) (or G
s
(D)) are partial duals.
Corollary 3. G is the (signed) ribbon graph of a link diagram if and only if it is a partial dual of
a (signed) plane graph.
Corollary 3 provides following graph theoretical formulation of question Q2:
(Q2
, and D(T(D)) = D.
Now suppose that G is a (not necessarily plane) signed ribbon graph and that G is the ribbon
graph of some link diagram. We want to nd the set D(G) of link diagrams that have G as a signed
ribbon graph. We know that by the construction of G
s
(D), G represents a link diagram D if and
only if G is the partial dual of a Tait graph of D. Since every signed plane graph is a Tait graph
of a link diagram, it follows that
(1) D(G) = D(G
A
)  A E(G) and G
A
is plane.
Notice that although there is a unique link diagram associated with a Tait graph, in general a
ribbon graph can have many plane partial duals, and therefore D(G) can contain more than one
distinct link diagram. However, we will see in Section 6, that all of the link diagrams in D(G) not
only represent the same link, but are very closely related. This result will provide an answer to
question Q3.
3. 1sums of ribbon graphs
In this section we discuss separability and 1sums of ribbon graphs. These operations are the
natural extension of the corresponding operations for graphs to t ribbon graphs. We will go on
to dene 1decompositions of ribbon graphs into two ribbon graphs. We will see in the following
section that 1decompositions provide a characterization of ribbon graphs that have plane partial
duals. This provides a connection between the genus of a partial dual and the structure of a ribbon
graph.
3.1. Decompositions of embedded graphs. In this subsection we will discuss the separation
of ribbon graphs and its use in obtaining decompositions of ribbon graphs.
Just as with graphs, a decomposition of a ribbon graph G is a family F of edgedisjoint ribbon
subgraphs of G such that
FF
E(F) = E(G).
A separation of a connected ribbon graph G is a decomposition of ribbon graph into two non
empty connected ribbon subgraphs P and Q which have exactly one vertex in common. If v is the
vertex common to the two subgraphs, we will say that the separation occurs at v, and that v is a
separating vertex.
We will say that a connected ribbon graph G is a 1sum of ribbon graphs P and Q, written
G = P Q, if there is a separation of G into ribbon graphs P and Q. If the separation occurs at a
vertex v, we will say that the 1sum occurs at v.
While it would be more conventional to use the symbol
1
to denote the 1sum operation,
here we use the symbol . This is in order to reduce the number of subscripts in the expressions
that to follow.
Observe that the denition of the 1sum given above is consistent with the usual denition of
1sums of graphs from the literature since G = P Q if and only if P Q = K
1
E(K
1
) = K
1
and
G = P Q E(K
1
) = P Q. Also note that a ribbon graph G = P Q if and only if this identity
holds for the underlying abstract graphs of G, P and Q. It is perhaps also worthwhile emphasizing
that a 1sum is not a join of ribbon graphs (see Section 5 for a denition of a join), although a join
is a 1sum.
It is important to keep in mind that if we take two dierent separations of G into subgraphs P
1
and Q
1
, and into P
2
and Q
2
, say, where the separation is at the same vertex (so P
1
Q
1
= P
2
Q
2
),
then the topological properties of P
1
and Q
1
, and P
2
and Q
2
can be quite dierent. For example,
the genus 2 ribbon graph with one vertex and four edges can be separated into two subgraph of
genus 2, or two subgraphs of genus 0, or one subgraph of genus 2 and one of genus 0. Here will be
11
particularly interested in the existence separations of a ribbon graph into plane ribbon subgraphs.
Also note that, nonequivalent ribbon graphs can be separated into equal ribbon graphs. For
example, there are two ribbon graphs with one vertex and two edges  one plane and the other of
genus one  but each of these ribbon graphs admits exactly one separation into two ribbon graphs
with one vertex and one edge.
Here we are interested in using separation to obtain a decomposition. In our decompositions, we
will insist that at most one separation occurs at any vertex of the ribbon graph.
Denition 5. Let G be a ribbon graph. We say that G has a 1decomposition into two graphs if
(1) G has a decomposition into two (not necessarily connected and possibly empty) ribbon
subgraphs P and Q;
(2) each vertex that is incident to edges in both P and Q is a separating vertex of the connected
component of G on which it lies.
In addition, if P and Q are plane, we say that the 1decomposition is a 1decomposition into two
plane graphs.
If A E(G), then we say that A denes a 1decomposition into two graphs if and only if G has
a 1decomposition into two graphs and A is the edge set of one of these graphs.
Example 2. The following two genus 1 ribbon graphs admit 1decompositions into two graphs.
Observe that that example on the left admits a 1decomposition into two plane graphs, while the
example on the right does not.
G =
= P
= Q
G =
= P
= Q
Note that the 1decompositions in the above examples were separations. We will now give two
examples that illustrate more complicated 1separations into two plane graphs. The example below
gives a 1decomposition of the signed ribbon graph G
s
(D) = G from Figure 5.
+


 
+
+


+
+


+
G =
= P
= Q
In the example below, a 1decompositions of G into two plane graphs P and Q shown. Note
however that G admits several 1decompositions into plane graphs P
and Q
, where P
and Q
are
12
not isomorphic to the graphs P and Q shown below.
G =
= P
= Q
Additional examples of 1decompositions of the above graph are given in Example 7.
We will now describe a few of the basic properties of 1decompositions that we need later. These
properties are analogies of standard results about separable graphs.
Proposition 4. Let G be a ribbon graph that has a 1decomposition into the two graphs P and Q.
Then
(1) each cycle of G is contained in a connected component of P or Q;
(2) G is orientable if and only if P and Q are orientable.
Proof. A cycle of G does not contain a separating vertex and so it must be contained in a connected
component of P or Q.
If either P or Q is nonorientable, then G contains a nonorientable subgraph and is therefore
nonorientable. Conversely, if G is nonorientable then G contains a cycle that is homeomorphic to
a Mobius band. By the rst property, this cycle is contained in one of the connected components
of P or Q. Therefore one of P or Q is nonorientable.
Now suppose that G is a connected ribbon graph that has a 1decomposition into two graphs P
and Q. We will associate a vertexlabelled graph T
(G,P,Q)
to the 1decomposition. For the vertex
set of T
(G,P,Q)
, take one vertex for each connected component of P and of Q, and label the vertex
by the corresponding connected component. For the edge set, assign one edge between two distinct
vertices if and only if the connected components labelling the vertices meet at a single vertex in G.
Let T
(G,P,Q,)
denote the rooted graph obtained from T
(G,P,Q)
by distinguishing a vertex. We
then dene the height of a vertex of T
(G,P,Q,)
to be the number of edges in the shortest path
between the given vertex and the root (we will see below that T
(G,P,Q)
is connected and so this
denition is sound). This assigns a height to each connected component of P and Q since each
connected component labels a unique vertex of T
(G,P,Q,)
. Finally by the height of T
(G,P,Q,)
, we
mean the maximum of the set of heights of its vertices.
Example 3. This example provides an illustration of the construction of the rooted graph T
(G,P,Q,)
associated with the 1decomposition given in the last example of Example 2. The root is taken to
be the P
1
labelled component of P.
P
1
P
2
P
3
Q
1
Q
2
Q
3
P
4
P
1
P
2
P
3
Q
1
Q
2 Q
3
P
4
P
1
P
2
P
3
Q
1
Q
2
Q
3
P
4
P
1
P
2
P
3
Q
1
Q
2 Q
3
P
4
13
Proposition 5. Suppose that G is a connected ribbon graph that has a 1decomposition into two
graphs P and Q. Let T
(G,P,Q)
be the graph associated with this 1decomposition and T
(G,P,Q,)
be
the height h rooted graph associated with this 1decomposition. Then the following properties hold.
(1) T
(G,P,Q)
is a tree.
(2) If the root is a connected component of P, then a vertex of T
(G,P,Q,)
is of odd height if
and only if its label is a component of Q; and is of even height if and only if its label is a
component of P.
(3) If the root is a connected component of Q, then a vertex of T
(G,P,Q,)
is of odd height if
and only if its label is a component of P; and is of even height if and only if its label is a
component of Q.
(4) If R
i,j
 j = 1, . . . k
i
denotes the set of connected components of P and Q of height i, then
G =
h
i=0
k
i
j=1
R
i,j
,
denote the restriction of to the boundary.
Now cellularly embed P into a surface , and embed Q into the 2sphere S
2
in such a way that
v
Q
consists of the Southern hemisphere of S
2
with the equator of S
2
is the boundary of v
Q
. (The
conditions on the embedding involving v
Q
are merely for convenience.) (For an example of these
embeddings see the top row of Figure 6.)
The partial dual G
E(Q)
= (P Q)
E(Q)
can be formed from the embeddings of P and Q in the
following way.
(1) Form the dual Q
S
2
of Q S
2
.
(2) Delete the v
P
P . Also delete the Southern hemisphere of S
2
to obtain an embedding
of Q
in a disc D
2
. (Note that Q
The idea behind the if part of the proof is as follows. We are given a 1decomposition of G into
plane graphs P or Q. Suppose that the decomposition is of height h and S
i
is the set of edges of G
belonging to all of the components of the decomposition of height at least i. Then, by Lemma 1, it
follows that G
S
h
admits a 1decomposition of height h1 into two plane graphs. By repeating this,
it follows that H = (((G
S
h
)
S
h1
))
S
1
admits a height 0 1decomposition into two plane graphs,
i.e. H is a plane graph. It then follows by Propositions 2 and 5 that H = G
E(P)
or H = G
E(Q)
,
proving the result. This argument is formalized in the following inductive proof.
15
v
v
P
v
Q
G = P Q P Q
Q
G
E(Q)
Redrawing G
E(Q)
Figure 6. An example of the construction used in the proof of Lemma 1
Proof of the if part of Theorem 1. Firstly, since partial duality acts disjointly on disconnected
components (by Proposition 2), it is enough to prove the result for connected graphs. So, without
loss of generality, assume that G is connected.
We will prove the if part of the theorem by induction on the height h of a tree associated with
the 1decomposition of G.
Base case: Suppose that G has a 1decomposition into two plane graphs P and Q, and that a tree
associated to 1decomposition has height h = 0. Then either P or Q is an empty graph. Without
loss of generality assume that Q is empty. Therefore G = P and since P is plane, G plane. Thus
G
E(Q)
= G
= G and G
E(P)
= G
E(G)
= G are both plane.
Inductive hypothesis: Assume that if G has a a 1decompositions of height h 1 into two plane
graphs P and Q, then G
E(Q)
and G
E(P)
are both plane graphs.
Inductive step: Let G = P Q be a 1decomposition of height h, where P and Q are plane graphs.
Let T
(G,P,Q,)
be a rooted tree associated with this 1decomposition.
Let R
i,j
 j = 1, . . . k
i
denote the set of connected components of P and Q of height i, so that,
by Proposition 5,
G =
h
i=0
k
i
j=1
R
i,j
.
For simplicity, we will assume, without loss of generality, that the rooted vertex R
0,1
is a connected
component of P. Then by Proposition 5 The edges of Q are the components of odd numbered
height, so
(2) G
E(Q)
=
i=0
k
i
j=1
R
i,j
B
where B is set of edges of all of the components of odd height:
B =
h+1
2
i=1
k
i
j=1
E(R
2i1,j
)
.
16
We will partition (and relabel) the components of height h according to the components of height
h 1 as follows: let S
j
= S
j,p
 p = 1, . . . l
j
denote the set of components of height h that are
1summed to R
h1,j
. In addition, let S = E(R
h,j
)  j = 1, . . . k
h
be the set of edges of components
of height h is the 1decomposition.
With this notation we have
G
S
=
i=0
k
i
j=1
R
i,j
S
=
h2
i=0
k
i
j=1
R
i,j
k
h1
j=1
R
h1,j
k
h
j=1
R
h,j
=
h2
i=0
k
i
j=1
R
i,j
k
h1
j=1
R
h1,j
l
j
p=1
S
j,p
S
.
Since each S
j,p
meets R
h1,j
at a distinct vertex and meets no other vertex of G S
j,p
, we can
write the above expression as
h2
i=0
k
i
j=1
R
i,j
k
h1
j=1
R
h1,j
l
j
p=1
S
j,p
E(S
j
)
,
where, for simplicity, we abuse notation and use E(S
j
) to denote
l
j
p=1
E(S
j,p
), the set of all edges
of the ribbon subgraphs in S
j
. Now by setting
R
h1,j
=
R
h1,j
l
j
p=1
S
j,p
E(S
j
)
,
we can write
(3) G
S
=
h2
i=0
k
i
j=1
R
i,j
k
h1
j=1
R
h1,j
.
Each
R
h1,j
is plane by Lemma 1. From this we deduce that Equation 3 denes a 1decomposition
of G
S
into two plane graphs (where one plane graphs consist of all of the components of odd
height, and the other of all of the components of even height). (Note that this uses that fact that
Equation 2 denes a 1decomposition of G.)
It then follows from the inductive hypothesis and Proposition 5 that (G
S
)
B
is plane, where
B
h1
2
i=1
{
k
i
j=1
E(R
2i1,j
)) if h 1 is even
_
h2
2
i=1
{
k
i
j=1
E(R
2i1,j
))_
k
j
j=1
E(
R
h1,j
) if h 1 is odd
is the set of components of odd height in the 1decomposition for G
S
.
To complete the proof, we need to show that (G
S
)
B
= G
B
. To do this we rst note that by
Proposition 2 (G
S
)
B
= G
SB
= [E(R
h,j
)  j = 1, . . . , k
h
h1
2
i=1
k
i
j=1
E(R
2i1,j
)
=
h+1
2
i=1
k
i
j=1
E(R
2i1,j
)
= B.
If h is even, then
SB
= [E(R
h,j
)  j = 1, . . . k
h
h2
2
i=1
k
i
j=1
E(R
2i1,j
)
k
j
j=1
E(
R
h1,j
)
17
since
k
j
j=1
E(
R
h1,j
) = E(R
i,j
)  i = h 1, h, and j = 1, . . . , k
i
SB
h2
2
i=1
k
i
j=1
E(R
2i1,j
)
k
j
j=1
E(R
h1,j
) = B
Thus G
B
= (G
S
)
B
and so G
E(Q)
is plane. Also (G
E(Q)
)
= G
E(Q)
)
E(G)
= G
E(Q)E(G)
= G
E(P)
is
plane. This completes the proof.
4.2. Proof of the only if part of Theorem 1. We will need to introduce a certain amount
of terminology for the proof. We begin with a graph G which is cellularly embedded in the sphere
S
2
, and a set of edges A E(G). An arrow presentation for the partial dual G
A
can be obtained by
constructing a set of cycles that follow the boundaries of a small neighbourhood of G A
c
, where
A
c
= E(G) A, and adding coloured arrows as indicated:
e
e
e
e
e
An edge in G . If e A. If e A.
.
Notice that, in this construction, the set of cycles that form the vertices of G
A
follow the boundaries
of the faces of the (not necessarily cellularly) embedded graph G A
c
. (Here the embedding of
GA
c
is obtained from the embedding of G by deleting the edges in A.) We will call the embedded
cycles in this set the vertex cycles. It is clear from the construction that for each colour of the
marking arrows, we can embed a straight line, called a marking line, between the two marking
arrows of the same colour as shown:
e
e
e
e
If e A. If e A.
.
There is a natural correspondence between the marking lines and the edges of G and the edges of
G
A
. We will say that a marking line is in A (respectively A
c
) if it corresponds to an edge in A
(respectively A
c
) . We will refer to the set of vertex cycles equipped with the marking lines as the
cycle diagram for G
A
. The cycle diagram is embedded in the sphere, and the vertex cycles divide
the sphere into disjoint regions which we will refer to as the regions of the cycle diagram. Two
regions are adjacent if they share a common boundary. Note that each marking line is embedded in
a region. An example of these denitions and an illustration of their use in the proof of Theorem 1
is given below.
Example 4. In this example, we provide an example to illustrate the ideas behind the proof of the
only if part of Theorem 1. For this example, we consider the embedded graph G shown below.
In the gure the edges in A
c
are dotted, and the edges in A are solid. G
A
and the cycle diagram
for G
A
are also shown below. (The arrows in the cycle diagrams are omitted for clarity.)
G. The cycle diagram for G
A
. G
A
.
18
Observe that in the cycle diagram for G
A
, the marking lines in A and the marking lines in G
A
lie in
dierent regions. Also if two marking lines line are in adjacent regions then one belongs to A and
the other to A
c
. It then follows that a vertex cycle that meets lines in both A and A
c
corresponds
to a separating vertex of G
A
. (These observations will be shown to hold in the general case in
Lemma 2.) Thus all of the edges in A, say, dene a 1decomposition into two graphs. Moreover,
the each component of the graph must be plane because of the embedding of the cycle diagram in
S
2
:
The 1summands arising from A. The 1summands arising from A
c
.
Thus we have obtained a 1decomposition into two plane graphs of the partial dual G
A
of the plane
graph G. This completes the example and the illustration of the ideas behind the proof of the only
if part of Theorem 1.
Lemma 2. Let G be a connected graph that is cellularly embedded in the sphere, and let A E(G).
(1) If two marking lines lie in the same region of the cycle diagram for G
A
then they both belong
to A or to A
c
.
(2) If two marking lines lie in adjacent regions of the cycle diagram for G
A
then one belongs to
A and the other belongs to A
c
.
(3) If C is a vertex cycle in the cycle diagram which meets marking lines that belong to both A
and to A
c
, then the vertex in G
A
corresponding to C is a separating vertex.
Proof. (1)& (2) We will prove these properties simultaneously using induction on the number of
edges in A. If A is the empty set then a vertex cycle bounds each vertex of G. Each vertex cycle
bounds two regions one region contains a vertex of G and no marking lines, while the other region
meets every marking cycle and contains marking lines in A
c
. The results are then seen to be true.
Now suppose that that results stated as items (1) and (2) are true for all subsets of edges of size
m. Let A = m+ 1 and e A. Then, by the inductive hypothesis, the cycle diagram for G
A{e}
satises the conditions in the lemma. Moreover, the cycle diagram for G
A
is obtained from the
cycle diagram for G
A{e}
by the following change:
A
c
A
c
A
A
A
c
A
c
A
.
(The vertices shown in the gure need not be distinct.) In the gure above, the regions containing
the marking lines in A and the marking lines in A
c
in a neighbourhood of the edge e is shown.
From the gure and the inductive hypothesis, we see that a region of the cycle diagram of G
A
only
contains A or A
c
marking lines and adjacent regions contain marking lines from dierent sets out
of A and A
c
.
(3) Consider the cycle diagram for G
A
. Since each vertex cycle C is an embedding of a circle in
the plane it partitions the plane into two discs. Call one of these discs the interior of C and the
other the exterior of C.
Now let C be a vertex cycle in the cycle diagram which meets marking lines that belong to both
A and and to A
c
. First of all we show that the vertex of G
A
corresponding to C is a separating
vertex of G. To show this, let P denote C together with the set of marking lines and vertex cycles
contained in the exterior of C, and let Q denote C together with the set of marking lines and
19
vertex cycles contained in the interior of C. The sets P and Q correspond to subgraphs P and Q
respectively of G
A
. We will show the subgraphs P and Q dene a separation of G
A
.
First we show that P and Q have only one vertex in common. Since the vertex cycles do not
intersect, a vertex cycle is either C, in the interior of C, or in the exterior of C, and since the
marking lines are embedded, each marking line is contained in the interior of C or the exterior of
C. This means that there are no marking lines between a vertex cycle in the interior and a vertex
cycle in the exterior of C. Therefore, the subgraphs P and Q of G
A
can only meet at the vertex
corresponding to C.
We also need to show that P and Q are not empty graphs. To do this it is enough to show that
that the sets P and Q each contain a marking line. To see why this is, note that C meets marking
lines in A and in A
c
and, by property (2) of the lemma, each type or marking line must lie on
dierent sides of C so there are marking lines in the interior of C and the exterior of C.
Proof of the only if part of Theorem 1. Since partial duality acts disjointly on connected com
ponents, it is enough to prove the result for connected embedded graphs.
Let G be a connected cellularly embedded graph in the sphere and let A E(G). Let P denote
the subgraph of G
A
determined by the edges in A and their incident vertices, and let Q denote the
subgraph of G
A
corresponding to the edges in A
c
and their incident vertices. We will show that
P and Q dene a 1decomposition of G
A
into the two plane graphs. We will do this by looking
at the structures in the cycle diagram for G
A
corresponding to P and Q and to their connected
components.
First observe that P and Q clearly dene a decomposition of G
A
. We will now show that this is
a 1decomposition.
Let v be a vertex in G
A
that is incident to edges in both P and Q. Then v corresponds to a
vertex cycle C
v
in the cycle diagram for G
A
that meets marking lines belonging to both A and A
c
.
Therefore, by Lemma 2, v is a separating vertex of G. It follows that A denes a 1decomposition
of G
A
.
Having just shown that A denes a 1decomposition into two graphs P and Q. It remains to
show that P and Q are plane graphs. We will show that P is plane, the fact that Q is plane
follows similarly. Let P
i
be a connected component of P. Let P
i
denote the subdiagram of the
cycle diagram of G
A
that corresponds to the vertices and edges in P
i
. Since all edges in A must
lie on a single side of a cycle in the cycle diagram of G
A
, it follows that P
i
must consist of a set
of embedded vertex cycles which lie inside one vertex cycle together with embedded marking lines
between the vertex cycles. This set of vertex cycles and marking lines is easily seen to correspond
to a plane graph.
1
2
+
H
1
and H
2
with arcs
1
and
2
. The join H
1
H
2
.
The join operation for ribbon graphs is also known as the onepoint join and the connected
sum in the literature.
We will make a few elementary observations about the join operation. Firstly, note that while
every join of ribbon graphs is a 1sum, 1sums need not be joins. Secondly, observe that there is a
certain amount of ambiguity in the notation H
1
H
2
. The suppresses the choice of the arcs
1
and
2
used in the formation of the join. Dierent choices of orientation of the arcs (and of course
dierent choices of position on the vertices) used in the formation of the join can result in non
isomorphic ribbon graphs. This ambiguity in the notation, however, will cause no problems
for us here.
It is also worth emphasizing the following complication of the join of ribbon graphs that does not
arise with join of abstract graphs. If a ribbon graph G can be written as (H
1
H
2
) H
3
where H
1
,
H
2
and H
3
all meet at the same vertex of G, in general the order of the join can not be changed,
that is we may not be able to write G as (H
1
H
3
) H
2
. This is since it is possible that the join
involving H
3
identies arcs on H
2
and H
3
, rather than H
1
and H
3
. Consequently, when we use the
convention that when we write
k
i=1
R
i
, we mean (((R
1
R
2
) R
3
) R
k1
) R
k
.
5.2. Joins and joindecompositions. As mentioned above, joins are a special case of 1sums.
We will see that every 1sum into two plane graphs must be a join. As we will see, this means that
1decompositions of plane graphs have a particularly simple structure.
The following result tells us that every 1decomposition of a plane graph can be expressed in
terms of join of plane graphs.
Theorem 2. Let G be a plane ribbon graph with a 1decomposition into two (plane) ribbon graphs
P and Q. Then
G =
k
i=1
R
i
,
where each subgraph R
i
of G is a distinct subgraph of P or of Q, and G =
k
i=1
R
i
.
Proof. We will prove the result by induction on the number of separating vertices in the 1
decomposition.
Base case: First assume that there are no separating vertices. In this case one of the ribbon
subgraphs in the 1decomposition is trivial and we set G = R
1
.
Inductive hypothesis: Assume that the result holds for all ribbon graphs with fewer than n sepa
rating vertices.
Inductive step: Let v be a separating vertex. Then v meets edges in P and edges in Q. Let
s = (e
1
, . . . , e
p
) denote the cyclic order of the edges of G that are incident to v (with respect to an
arbitrary orientation of v). Since G has a 1decomposition, this sequence of edges must contain a
subsequence s
= (e
q
, . . . , e
r
) with the property that all of the edges in s
j
i=1
R
i
where the R
i
are subgraphs of G
belonging either of P or of Q. Finally, G = H
1
H
s
= (
1
i=1
R
i
) (
s
i=1
R
i
), and the result
follows by reindexing the joinsummands.
If a ribbon graph G has an expression of the form G =
k
i=1
R
i
, we will say that G admits a
joindecomposition. The expression
k
i=1
R
i
being the joindecomposition.
Example 6. This example provides an illustration of a joindecomposition. The original ribbon
graph is shown on the left and a joindecomposition for the ribbon graph is shown on the right.
The arrows indicate the positions of the joins.
The following corollary of Lemma 2 provides some useful additional structure of the join
decompositions of a ribbon graph G that admits a 1decomposition into two plane graphs.
Corollary 6. Let G is a connected plane graph that admits a 1decomposition into subgraphs P
and Q. The G admits a joindecomposition of the form
G =
h
i=0
k
i
j=0
R
i,j
,
where
(1) if R
i,j
is a subgraph of P (respectively Q) , then R
i+1,k
is a subgraph of Q (respectively P),
for 0 i < h.
(2) For each 1 l h, R
l,j
is joined to
l1
i=0
{
k
i
j=0
R
i,j
) by identifying an arc on R
l,j
with an
arc on R
(l1),k
, for some k.
Proof. By Lemma 2, we have G =
k
i=1
R
i
, where each subgraph R
i
of G is a distinct subgraph of
P or of Q, and G =
k
i=1
R
i
. All joins will be formed with respect to the set of identifying arcs used
in this expression.
Set H = R
1
, and S = R
2
, . . . , R
k
. Without loss of generality, assume that R
1
belongs to P. If
any ribbon graph in S that belongs to P can be joined to H, do the join, denoting the resulting
ribbon graph also by H, and delete the ribbon graph from S. Continue to do this for as long as
possible. This gives the expression H =
0
i=0
{
k
i
j=0
R
i,j
).
Suppose now that H =
l1
i=0
{
k
i
j=0
R
i,j
), and that R
(l1),j
belong to P (respectively Q). If any
ribbon graph in S belongs to P (respectively Q) can be joined to H, do the join, denoting the
resulting ribbon graph also by H, and delete the ribbon graph from S. Continue to do this for as
long as possible. Doing so gives H =
l
i=0
{
k
i
j=0
R
i,j
).
Continue this process until S is empty. The resulting expression for H is the expression of joins
required by the theorem.
22
5.3. Relating 1decompositions of G. It is obvious that 1decompositions into two plane graphs
are not unique. However, it turns out that any two 1decompositions of a ribbon graph into two
plane graphs are related in a very simple way. Roughly speaking, the only choices that one can
make in the construction of a 1decompositions into two plane graphs is whether to place a join
summand in P or Q. In this subsection we will make this statement precise and describe the
relation between dierent 1decompositions into two plane graphs that a ribbon graph G can have.
Denition 7. A ribbon graph is said to be prime if it can not be expressed as the join of two
nontrivial ribbon graphs.
As an illustration of this denition, the second and third ribbon graphs named G in Example 2
are prime, while the rst and fourth ribbon graphs named G in Example 2 are not. Also each of
the joinsummands in the joindecomposition shown in Example 6 is prime.
The following result is obvious and its proof is therefore omitted.
Proposition 6. Every ribbon graph admits a factorization into unique prime ribbon subgraphs,
that is, for every ribbon graph G, we can write
G = _
k
i=1
R
i
_,
where each R
i
is prime. Moreover, any other expression of G as joins of prime joinsummands can
only dier from the above expression by the order of the joinsummands in the expression.
The following result tells us that prime ribbon graphs admit only trivial 1decompositions into
two plane graphs.
Lemma 3. Let G be a prime, ribbon graph. Then G admits at most one 1decomposition into two
plane graphs.
Proof. Suppose that G admits at most one 1decomposition into two plane graphs. We will show
that at each vertex v on which the 1decomposition acts, there is only one choice of decomposition.
It then follows that the 1decomposition into two plane graphs is unique.
Let v be a vertex of G which is incident to edges both in P and Q. Arbitrarily choose a cyclic
order of the halfedges incident to v. Partition these half edges into sets S
1
, . . . S
k
according to
the equivalence relation that two halfedges e and e
are in S
i
if and only if there is a path in G
connecting e and e
that does not pass through the vertex v. During this proof will call the sets S
i
blocks.
We say that two blocks S
i
and S
j
interlace each other if there are halfedges e, e
S
i
and f, f
S
j
such that we meet the edges in the order e, f, e
, f
and Q
and Q
can be obtained from the 1decomposition into P and Q by switching the parity of
prime joinsummands.
Proof. Let G be a ribbon graph that admits two 1decompositions into two plane graphs P and
Q, and P
and Q
H
1
H
2
a b
c
d
1
H
A
2
,
where A
= AE(H
1
), A
= AE(H
2
), and the joins act naturally with respect to partial duality.
We will now go on to dene a move that will relate all of the plane partial duals of a ribbon
graph. We will see in the next section that this move is particularly natural when considering the
ribbon graphs of link diagrams.
Let G be a ribbon graph such that G = H
1
H
2
. We will say that the ribbon graph G
E(H
2
)
=
H
1
H
E(H
2
)
2
= H
1
H
2
is obtained from G by taking the dual of a joinsummand. This corresponding
move on the set of ribbon graphs is called the dual of a joinsummand move. Furthermore, we dene
an equivalence relation on the set of ribbon graphs by setting G H if and only if there is a
sequence of dual of a joinsummand moves taking G to H.
Lemma 5. Let G be a ribbon graph with a joindecomposition into G =
k
i=1
R
i
. Then G
k
i=l
E(R
i
)
=
{
k
i=1
R
i
)
k
i=l
E(R
i
)
can be obtained from G by a sequence of dual of a joinsummand moves.
Proof. Let H
1
, . . . , H
p
be the connected components of G {
l1
i=1
R
i
). The graph G can then be
written as
_
l1
i=1
R
i
_ H
1
H
p
,
where each join involving an H
i
is formed by identifying an arc on H
i
with an arc on {
l1
i=1
R
i
).
Then
G
k
i=l
E(R
i
)
= _
k
i=1
R
i
_
k
i=l
E(R
i
)
= __
l1
i=1
R
i
_ H
1
H
p
_
p
i=1
E(H
i
)
= _
l1
i=1
R
i
_ H
1
H
p
,
where the third equality follows by Lemma 4. From this identity it follows that G
k
i=l
E(R
i
)
can be
obtained by dual of a joinsummand moves which act on H
1
, . . . , H
p
.
Theorem 4. Let G and H be plane graphs. Then G and H are partial duals if and only if G H.
Proof. If G H then G and H are partial dual by the denition of .
To prove the converse we need to show that any partial dual G
A
of G can be obtained from G
by dual of a joinsummand moves.
Let A E(G). Then by Theorem 1, A denes a 1decomposition into two plane graphs P and
Q. By Corollary 6 we can then write
G =
h
i=0
k
i
j=0
R
i,j
,
such that if R
i,j
is a subgraph of P (respectively Q) , then R
i+1,k
is a subgraph of Q (respectively
P), where 0 i < h. We also have
A =
i odd
j
E(R
i,j
) or A =
i even
j
E(R
i,j
).
25
Assume that A =
i odd
j
E(R
i,j
). Then
(4) G
A
=
i=0
k
i
j=0
R
i,j
i odd j
E(R
i,j
)
=
i=0
k
i
j=0
R
i,j
i2 j
E(R
i,j
)
i3 j
E(R
i,j
)
i=h j
E(R
i,j
)
where the second equality follows by the third item of Proposition 2. Observe now that the partial
dual {
h
i=0
{
k
i
j=0
R
i,j
))
i2 j
E(R
i,j
)
can be obtained a sequence of dual of a joinsummand moves
by Lemma 5, and the partial dual has a joindecomposition by Lemma 4. Then it follows that
i=0
k
i
j=0
R
i,j
i2 j
E(R
i,j
)
i3 j
E(R
i,j
)
can be obtained a sequence of dualsummand moves and has a joindecomposition. Continuing in
this way, we see that G
A
can be obtained from G by a sequence of dual of a joinsummand moves.
The case when A =
i even
j
E(R
i,j
) follows similarly.
6. Link diagrams with the same graph
In this section we answer Question Q3 which asked how link diagrams that are presented by
the same ribbon graphs are related to each other. Recall that this question was motivated by
considering that fact that a Tait graph presents a unique link diagram (Property T3). Unlike Tait
graphs, in general a ribbon graph can present more that one distinct link diagram, however it turns
out that all of the link diagrams that are presented by the same ribbon graph are related to each
other in an extremely simple way. One particular consequence of this is that all of the link diagrams
presented by a given ribbon graph are diagrams of isotopic links.
Recall that we consider all link diagrams up to planar isotopy. Note that the construction of
ribbon graphs of a link diagram and the construction of link diagrams from plane graphs are both
well dened up to planar isotopy.
In Section 5 we saw the importance of the join operation on ribbon graphs when considering
partial duals of plane graphs. The operation on link diagrams corresponding to a join is a connected
sum.
Let D
1
S
2
and D
2
S
2
be link diagrams. The connected sum D
1
#D
2
S
2
of D
1
and D
2
is
the link diagram formed by, for i = 1, 2, choosing a disc D
i
on S
2
that intersects D
i
in an arc
i
,
deleting the interior or each D
i
, and identifying the boundaries of S
2
D
1
and S
2
D
2
in such a
way that each end point of
1
is identied with a distinct endpoint of
2
. This process is illustrated
in the following gure.
a
b
c
a
b
c
D(H
2
)
D
1
D
2
a
b
c
a
b
c
D(H
2
)
D
1
D
2
D
1
and D
2
D
1
#D
2
The following wellknown (and obvious) result describes the connection between joins and con
nected sums. Its proof is omitted.
26
Lemma 6. Let G be a plane graph such that G = H
1
H
2
, then D(H
1
H
2
) = D(H
1
)#D(H
2
).
Moreover, there is a natural correspondence between the arcs on H
1
and H
2
used to form the join,
and the arcs on D(H
1
) and D(H
2
) used to form the connected sum.
We will also need to make use of the following wellknown result.
Lemma 7. Let G be a signed plane ribbon graphs. Then D(G) = D(G
)
Proof. This follows since G and G
are the two Tait graphs (formed with respect to the two possible
checkerboard colourings) of D(G) and D(G
2
)
D D
a
b
c
a
b
c
D(H
2
)
D D
a
b
c
a
b
c
D(H
2
)
D D
D
1
= D#D
) if and only if G G
.
Proof. First observe that to prove the lemma it is enough to show that G and G
are related by
a single dual of a joinsummand move if and only if D(G) and D(G
= H
1
H
2
= (H
1
H
2
)
E(H
2
)
. We can form the partial dual (H
1
H
2
)
E(H
2
)
in
the following way: supposing H
1
H
2
= v, then
(1) detach E(H
1
) (V (H
1
) v) from the vertex v by cutting along the intersections of H
1
and v. Record the position of the edges by using coloured marking arrows in such a way
that H
1
H
2
can be recovered by identifying the arrows on H
2
and E(H
1
) (V (H
1
) v)
of the same colour.
(2) Form the dual H
2
of H
2
retaining the coloured arrows on the boundary.
(3) Attach E(H
1
) (V (H
1
) v) to H
2
by identifying the arrows of the same colour. The
resulting ribbon graph is (H
1
H
2
)
E(H
2
)
.
27
This process is illustrated in the following gure:
H
1
H
2
H
1
H
2
a
b
c
a
b
c
H
1
a
b
c
a
b
c
H
2
H
1 H
2
.
Now G = H
1
H
2
is a plane graph so it admits a unique embedding in the sphere S
2
. We
consider this construction of the partial dual (H
1
H
2
)
E(H
2
)
acting on the embedded ribbon graph
H
1
H
2
S
2
. Start o with an embedding of H
1
H
2
in S
2
where the vertex v forms the Southern
hemisphere. Detaching E(H
1
) (V (H
1
) v) gives an embedding of H
2
in S
2
with marking arrows
recording how H
1
was attached. Since v H
2
S
2
is the Southern Hemisphere, the dual H
S
2
is
embedded in the Northern hemisphere with the marking arrows sitting on the equator. Finally, to
attach and embed H
1
(in order to obtain an embedding of H
1
H
2
= (H
1
H
2
)
E(H
2
)
in S
2
) we ip
over H
1
and embed it in the Southern hemisphere. The resulting embedding of (H
1
H
2
)
E(H
2
)
is obtained from the embedding of H
1
H
2
by a single dual of a joinsummand move acting in H
1
.
The argument is illustrated in the following gure.
v
H
1
a
b
c
a
b
c
H
2
v
H
1
a b
c
a
b
c
H
2
H
1
a
c
b
c
v
b a
H
2
H
1
c
c
v
H
2
.
Now since the embeddings of G = H
1
H
2
and G
= H
1
H
2
in S
2
are unique (as they are
obtained by lling in the punctures of the ribbon graph), it follows that the embeddings of G and
G
are related as in the above gures. The lemma then follows by considering the corresponding
link diagrams D(G) and D(G
) as illustrated:
v
H
1
a
b
c
a
b
c
H
2
dual of a joinsummand
H
1
c
c
v
H
2
D
(
H
1
H
2
)
T
(
D
(
H
1
)
#
D
(
H
2
)
)
D
(
H
1
H
2
)
T
(
D
(
H
1
)
#
D
(
H
2
)
)
a
b
c
a
b
c
D(H
1
) D(H
2
)
D(H
2
)
ipping a summand
c
c
v
D(H
1
)
D(H
2
)
D(H
2
)
28
Since the link diagrams D(H
2
) and D(H
2
) are equal by Lemma 7, it is clear from the gure that
G and G
are related by a single dual of a joinsummand move if and only if D(G) and D(G
) are
related by a single summandip. This completes the proof of the lemma.
Remark 3. It is worthwhile noting that Lemma 8 does not say that the medial graphs of G and G
are equal. (See [16] for a discussion on the relation between medial graphs and partial duals.) To
see why this is, notice that in the proof of Lemma 8 the interior and the exterior of the vertex v,
where the join acts, is switched. This switching may add halftwists the ribbons. Consequently,
twists may be added to the medial graphs. For link diagrams this switching is not a problem
since links are one dimensional. In particular, this means that the lemma does not contradict the
well known result that the medial graphs of G and H are equivalent if and only if H = G or H = G
.
The following theorem is the main result of this section. It describes how link diagrams arising
from the same ribbon graph are related to each other. Consequently, the theorem provides an
answer to our nal motivational question Q3 completing the exploration of the ribbon graphs of a
link diagram presented in this paper.
Theorem 5. Let G be a signed ribbon graph. Then D, D
.
Proof. By Equation 1 and Proposition 2, D, D
= D(H
A
),
where H is a partial dual of G, and H and H
A
are both plane graphs. By Theorem 4, this happens
if and only if H H
A
. Finally, by Lemma 8, H H
A
if and only if D = D(H) D(H
A
) = D
.
The following corollary is a straight forward consequence of Theorem 5.
Corollary 7. Let D, D
are isotopic.
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