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Virtual tangles and fiber functors by:1 (Source: Crossref)

    We define a category v𝒯 of tangles diagrams drawn on surfaces with boundaries. On the one hand, we show that there is a natural functor from the category of virtual tangles to v𝒯 which induces an equivalence of categories. On the other hand, we show that v𝒯 is universal among ribbon categories equipped with a strong monoidal functor to a symmetric monoidal category. This is a generalization of the Shum–Reshetikhin–Turaev theorem characterizing the category of ordinary tangles as the free ribbon category. This gives a straightforward proof that all quantum invariants of links extend to framed oriented virtual links. This also provides a clear explanation of the relation between virtual tangles and Etingof–Kazhdan formalism suggested by Bar-Natan. We prove a similar statement for virtual braids, and discuss the relation between our category and knotted trivalent graphs.

    AMSC: 17B37, 57M27


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