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Embedded contact knot homology and a surgery formula



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Brown, Thomas Alexander Gordon 


Embedded contact homology is an invariant of closed oriented contact 3-manifolds first defined by Hutchings, and is isomorphic to both Heegard Floer homology (by the work of Colin, Ghiggini and Honda) and Seiberg-Witten Floer cohomology (by the work of Taubes). The embedded contact chain complex is defined by counting closed orbits of the Reeb vector field and certain pseudoholomorphic curves in the symplectization of the manifold. As part of their proof that ECH=HF, Colin, Ghiggini and Honda showed that if the contact form is suitably adapted to an open book decomposition of the manifold, then embedded contact homology can be computed by considering only orbits and differentials in the complement of the binding of the open book; this fact was then in turn used to define a knot version of embedded contact homology, denoted ECK, where the (null-homologous) knot in question is given by the binding.

In this thesis we start by generalizing these results to the case of rational open book decompositions, allowing us to define ECK for rationally null-homologous knots. In its most general form this is a bi-filtered chain complex whose homology yields ECH of the closed manifold. There is also a hat version of ECK in this situation which is equipped with an Alexander grading equivalent to that in the Heegaard Floer setting, categorifies the Alexander polynomial, and is conjecturally isomorphic to the hat version of knot Floer homology.

The main result of this thesis is a large negative n-surgery formula for ECK. Namely, we start with an (integral) open book decomposition of a manifold with binding K and compute, for all n greater than or equal to twice the genus of K, ECK of the knot K(−n) obtained by performing (n)-surgery on K. This formula agrees with Hedden's large n-surgery formula for HFK, providing supporting evidence towards the conjectured equivalence between the two theories.

Along we the way, we also prove that ECK is, in many cases, independent of the choices made to define it, namely the almost complex structure on the symplectization and the homotopy type of the contact form. We also prove that, in the case of integral open book decompositions, the hat version of ECK is supported in Alexander gradings less than or equal to twice the genus of the knot.





Rasmussen, Jacob


Embedded contact homology, Embedded contact knot homology, Knot Floer homology, Low dimensional topology, Contact topology


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
St John's College Benefactors scholarship