A-polynomials, Ptolemy varieties and Dehn filling

The A-polynomial encodes hyperbolic geometric information on knots and related manifolds. Historically, it has been difficult to compute, and particularly difficult to determine A-polynomials of infinite families of knots. Here, we show how to compute A-polynomials by starting with a triangulation of a manifold, similar to Champanerkar, then using symplectic properties of the Neumann-Zagier matrix encoding the gluings to change the basis of the computation. The result is a simplicifation of the defining equations. Our methods are a refined version of Dimofte’s symplectic reduction, and we conjecture that the result is equivalent to equations arising from the enhanced Ptolemy variety of Zickert, which would connect these different approaches to the A-polynomial.

We apply this method to families of manifolds obtained by Dehn filling, and show that the defining equations of their A-polynomials are Ptolemy equations which, up to signs, are equations between cluster variables in the cluster algebra of the cusp torus. Thus the change in A-polynomial under Dehn filling is given by an explicit twisted cluster algebra. We compute the equations for Dehn fillings of the Whitehead link.