Minimum number of times a specific knot must be passed through itself to become untied
In the mathematical area of knot theory, the unknotting number of a knot is the minimum number of times the knot must be passed through itself (crossing switch) to untie it. If a knot has unknotting number , then there exists a diagram of the knot which can be changed to unknot by switching crossings. The unknotting number of a knot is always less than half of its crossing number. This invariant was first defined by Hilmar Wendt in 1936.
Any composite knot has unknotting number at least two, and therefore every knot with unknotting number one is a prime knot. The following table show the unknotting numbers for the first few knots: