Can computers discover ideal knots?
geometric knots, polygonal knots, ropelength
We discuss the relationship between polygonal knot energies and smooth knot energies, concentrating on ropelength. We show that a smooth knot can be inscribed in a polygonal knot in such a way that the ropelength values are close. For a given knot type, we show that polygonal ropelength minima exist and that the minimal polygonal ropelengths converge to the minimal ropelength of the smooth knot type. A subsequence of these polygons converges to a smooth ropelength minimum. Thus, ropelength minimizations performed on polygonal knots do, in fact, approximate ropelength minimizations for smooth knots.