A symplectic basis for 3-manifold triangulations

In the 1980s, Neumann and Zagier introduced a symplectic vector space associated to an ideal triangulation of a cusped 3-manifold, such as a knot complement. We give a geometric interpretation for this symplectic structure in terms of the topology of the 3-manifold, via intersections of certain curves on a Heegaard surface. We also give an algorithm to construct curves forming a symplectic basis.