Dehn twist

A positive Dehn twist applied to a cylinder about the red curve c modifies the green curve as shown.

In geometric topology, a branch of mathematics, a Dehn twist is a certain type of self-homeomorphism of a surface (two-dimensional manifold).

Suppose that c is a simple closed curve in a closed, orientable surface S. Let A be a tubular neighborhood of c. Then A is an annulus, homeomorphic to the Cartesian product of a circle and a unit interval I:

Let f be the map from S to itself which is the identity outside of A and inside A we have

Dehn twists can also be defined on a non-orientable surface S, provided one starts with a 2-sided simple closed curve c on S.

The automorphism on the fundamental group of the torus induced by the self-homeomorphism of the Dehn twist along one of the generators of the torus.

Consider the torus represented by a fundamental polygon with edges a and b

This self homeomorphism acts on the closed curve along b. In the tubular neighborhood it takes the curve of b once along the curve of a.

A homeomorphism between topological spaces induces a natural isomorphism between their fundamental groups. Therefore one has an automorphism

Lickorish also obtained an analogous result for non-orientable surfaces, which require not only Dehn twists, but also "Y-homeomorphisms."