The ‘square peg problem’ or ‘inscribed square problem’ of Toeplitz asks if every simple closed curve in the plane inscribes a (nondegenerate) square, in the sense that all four vertices of that square lie on the curve. By a variety of arguments of a ‘homological’ nature, it is known that the answer to this question is positive if the curve is sufficiently regular. The regularity hypotheses are needed to rule out the possibility of arbitrarily small squares that are inscribed or almost inscribed on the curve; because of this, these arguments do not appear to be robust enough to handle arbitrarily rough curves. In this paper, we augment the homological approach by introducing certain integrals associated to the curve. This approach is able to give positive answers to the square peg problem in some new cases, for instance if the curve is the union of two Lipschitz graphs
that agree at the endpoints, and whose Lipschitz constants are strictly less than one. We also present some simpler variants of the square problem which seem particularly amenable to this integration approach, including a periodic version of the problem that is not subject to the problem of arbitrarily small squares (and remains open even for regular curves), as well as an almost purely combinatorial conjecture regarding the sign patterns of sums
ranging in finite sets of real numbers.