**Background**

One of my friends told me the following story: A child must walk from his home at point A = (1,0) to his school at point B = (0,1). The laws in his country state that you can only walk parallel to the horizontal and vertical axis. No matter how he tries to get to school, he finds that he must walk at least 2 miles. He is very frustrated that he cannot walk diagonally. He doesn't want to get in trouble, so he puts up with this silly law until his senior year of high school. At this point he takes calculus, and learns about limits, and so he decides that each day he will walk a new "zig-zag" path around the line, in such a way that his sequence of paths approaches the line from A to B uniformly. On the 30th day he is pulled over by a policeman for walking diagonally.

The point of the story is to get you to think about the notion of the length of a curve. Here we have an instance of a sequence of polygonal paths which approach a curve uniformly, but the lengths of the polygonal approximations do not converge to the length of the curve.

Our usual definition of the arclength of a curve involves approximating it with polygonal secant segments. My question is why this is the "best" definition. Or to make this precise, how do we know that any other sequence of polygonal approximations to the curve will not have a shorter limit? **EDIT**: In the case of a straight line, this is clear, but my precise question below is about answering this for more general curves.

**Precise Question**:

Let $C:[0,1] \to \mathbb{R}^n$ be a rectifiable curve (or feel free to add as many smoothness requirements as you like), and let $P_n: [0,1] \to \mathbb{R}^n$ be a sequence of piecewise linear curves which converge uniformly to $C$. Is it true that limsup{Length($P_n$)} $\geq$ Arclength(C)? **EDIT** I goofed: I meant to ask whether or not liminf{Length($P_n$)} $\geq$ Arclength(C).

Hopefully this question is not too elementary; my analysis skills are almost pitifully weak. I strongly suspect that the answer to this precise question is "Yes", because otherwise I think that the usual definition of arc length is incorrect. I have enough faith in mathematics to believe that we have found the right definition, but I would still like to see a proof of this fact.