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We investigate the internal structure of a polymer during collapse from an expanded coil to a compact globule. Collapse is more probable in local regions of high curvature, so a smoothing of the fractal polymer structure occurs that proceeds systematically from the shortest to the longest length scales. A proposed universal scaling relationship is tested by comparison with Monte Carlo simulations. We speculate that the universal form applies to various fractal systems with local processes thatdoi:10.1103/physreve.60.4559 pmid:11970313 fatcat:mx7ypvaakvfmjefadh4xm3sdei