Knot cobordisms, bridge index, and torsion in Floer homology

András Juhász, Maggie Miller, Ian Zemke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Given a connected cobordism between two knots in the 3-sphere, our main result is an inequality involving torsion orders of the knot Floer homology of the knots, and the number of local maxima and the genus of the cobordism. This has several topological applications: The torsion order gives lower bounds on the bridge index and the band-unlinking number of a knot, the fusion number of a ribbon knot, and the number of minima appearing in a slice disk of a knot. It also gives a lower bound on the number of bands appearing in a ribbon concordance between two knots. Our bounds on the bridge index and fusion number are sharp for (Formula presented.) and (Formula presented.), respectively. We also show that the bridge index of (Formula presented.) is minimal within its concordance class. The torsion order bounds a refinement of the cobordism distance on knots, which is a metric. As a special case, we can bound the number of band moves required to get from one knot to the other. We show that knot Floer homology also gives a lower bound on Sarkar's ribbon distance, and exhibit examples of ribbon knots with arbitrarily large ribbon distance from the unknot.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1701-1724
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Topology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geometry and Topology


  • 57M27 (primary)
  • 57R40 (secondary)
  • 57R58
  • 57R70


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