Knots in collapsible and non-collapsible balls

Bruno Benedetti, Frank H. Lutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We construct the first explicit example of a simplicial 3-ball B15,66 that is not collapsible. It has only 15 vertices. We exhibit a second 3-ball B12,38 with 12 vertices that is collapsible and not shellable, but evasive. Finally, we present the first explicit triangulation of a 3-sphere S18,125 (with only 18 vertices) that is not locally constructible. All these examples are based on knotted subcomplexes with only three edges; the knots are the trefoil, the double trefoil, and the triple trefoil, respectively. The more complicated the knot is, the more distant the triangulation is from being polytopal, collapsible, etc. Further consequences of our work are: (1) Unshellable 3-spheres may have vertex-decomposable barycentric subdivisions. (This shows the strictness of an implication proven by Billera and Provan.) (2) For d-balls, vertex-decomposable implies non-evasive implies collapsible, and for d = 3 all implications are strict. (This answers a question by Barmak.) (3) Locally constructible 3-balls may contain a double trefoil knot as a 3-edge subcomplex. (This improves a result of Benedetti and Ziegler.) (4) Rudin's ball is non-evasive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalElectronic Journal of Combinatorics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 30 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Collapsibility
  • Discrete Morse theory
  • Knots in triangulations
  • Local constructibility
  • Non-evasiveness
  • Shellability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Geometry and Topology
  • Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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