How many ways are there to tie a necktie? Five? Ten? A hundred?
Actually, new research by mathematicians in Sweden shows that there are 177,147 possible ways to do it. That's over a thousand times more than what researchers found in a 1999 study, which listed only 85 different ways.
If that study didn't get you to ditch the Windsor knot, maybe the new one will.
The new research got going after one of the mathematicians noticed that a fancy knot featured in the movie "The Matrix Reloaded" wasn't on the 1999 list. In response, the mathematician and his colleagues decided to take the formula for determining every possible knot back to the drawing board.
What did they come up with? A new formula that bumps up the number of possible "winding moves" from eight to 11, and allows for multiple tucks and tying with the thin end of the tie.
In addition to the knot seen in "The Matrix," the new formula allows for other knots that recently have become popular, including "the Eldredge" and "the Trinity."
If you'd like to try out a novel knot, have a look at the online random tie knot generator the mathematicians created.
"I have tried 10 or 20 of them, and most of them to be quite honest look kind of awkward," lead researcher Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm told New Scientist. "This is pure speculation, but it seems to be the fraction of really attractive tie knots goes down when we widen the scope."
If math and knots seem like strange bedfellows, they're not. Knot theory, or the mathematical study of knots and their properties, dates back to the 19th Century.
The new research results were submitted for online publication in the journal ArXiv on Jan. 31.