Clayton Shonkwiler

The Borromean rings

In our paper “Generalized Gauss maps and integrals for three-component links: Toward higher helicities for magnetic fields and fluid flows”, Dennis DeTurck, Herman Gluck, Rafal Komendarczyk, Paul Melvin, David Shea Vela-Vick, and I define a generalized Gauss map which detects the triple linking number of a three component link in the 3-sphere.

The triple linking number, originally defined by Milnor in his senior thesis, is the link-homotopy invariant of three-component links which distinguishes the Borromean rings, shown above, from the trivial three-component link.

See this page for more details on the generalized Gauss map.