Stuart G. Whittington, De Witt Sumners, Timothy Lodge, editors
This book contains contributions from a workshop on topology and geometry of polymers, held at the IMA in June 1996, which brought together topologists, combinatorialists, theoretical physicists and polymer scientists, with a common interest in polymer topology. Polymers can be highly self-entangled even in dilute solution. In the melt the inter- and intra-chain entanglements can dominate the rheological properties of these phenomena. Although the possibility of knotting in ring polymers has been recognized for more than thirty years it is only recently that the powerful methods of algebraic topology have been used in treating models of polymers. This book contains a series of chapters which review the current state of the field and give an up to date account of what is known and perhaps more importantly, what is still unknown. The field abounds with open problems. The book is of interest to workers in polymer statistical mechanics but will also be useful as an introduction to topological methods for polymer scientists, and will introduce mathematicians to an area of science where topological approaches are making a substantial contribution.