Covering link calculus and iterated Bing doubles

Mathematics – Geometric Topology

Scientific paper

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21 pages, 18 figures; typos fixed, sections 6 and 7 revised; to appear in Geometry and Topology

Scientific paper

We give a new geometric obstruction to the iterated Bing double of a knot being a slice link: for n>1 the (n+1)-st iterated Bing double of a knot is rationally slice if and only if the n-th iterated Bing double of the knot is rationally slice. The main technique of the proof is a covering link construction simplifying a given link. We prove certain similar geometric obstructions for n <= 1 as well. Our results are sharp enough to conclude, when combined with algebraic invariants, that if the n-th iterated Bing double of a knot is slice for some n, then the knot is algebraically slice. Also our geometric arguments applied to the smooth case show that the Ozsvath-Szabo and Manolescu-Owens invariants give obstructions to iterated Bing doubles being slice. These results generalize recent results of Harvey, Teichner, Cimasoni, Cha and Cha-Livingston-Ruberman. As another application, we give explicit examples of algebraically slice knots with non-slice iterated Bing doubles by considering von Neumann rho-invariants and rational knot concordance. Refined versions of such examples are given, that take into account the Cochran-Orr-Teichner filtration.

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