Zero-sum cycles in flexible polyhedra

Abstract

We show that if a polyhedron in the three-dimensional affine space with triangular faces is flexible, i.e., can be continuously deformed preserving the shape of its faces, then there is a cycle of edges whose lengths sum up to zero once suitably weighted by 1 and -1. We do this via elementary combinatorial considerations, made possible by a well-known compactification of the three-dimensional affine space as a quadric in the four-dimensional projective space. The compactification is related to the Euclidean metric, and allows us to use a simple degeneration technique that reduces the problem to its one-dimensional analogue, which is trivial to solve.

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