On Distortion and Thickness of Knots*
What length of rope (of given diameter) is required to tie a particular knot ? Or, to turn the problem around, given an embedded curve, how thick a regular neighborhood of the curve also is embedded ? Intuitively, the diameter of the possible rope is bounded by the distance between strands at the closest crossing in the knot. But of course the distance between two points along a curve goes to zero as the points approach each other, so to make the notion precise, we need to exclude some neighborhood of the diagonal.
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