Questions tagged [induction]

For questions about mathematical induction, a method of mathematical proof. Mathematical induction generally proceeds by proving a statement for some integer, called the base case, and then proving that if it holds for one integer then it holds for the next integer. This tag is primarily meant for questions about induction over natural numbers but is also appropriate for other kinds of induction such as transfinite, structural, double, backwards, etc.

Mathematical induction is a form of deductive reasoning. Its most common use is induction over well-ordered sets, such as natural numbers or ordinals. While induction can be expanded to class relations which are well-founded, this tag is aimed mostly at questions about induction over natural numbers.

In general use, induction means inference from the particular to the general. This is used in terms such as inductive reasoning, which involves making an inference about the unknown based on some known sample. Mathematical induction is not true induction in this sense, but is rather a form of proof.

Induction over the natural numbers generally proceeds with a base case and an inductive step:

  • First prove the statement for the base case, which is usually $n=0$ or $n=1$.
  • Next, assume that the statement is true for an input $n$, and prove that it is true for the input $n+1$.

The following variant goes without a base case: Assuming the statement is true for all $n\in\mathbb N$ with $n < N$, prove that is true for $N$, too. This has to be done for all $N\in\mathbb N$.

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Proof of 1 = 0 by Mathematical Induction on Limits?

I got stuck with a problem that pop up in my mind while learning limits. I am still a high school student. Define $P(m)$ to be the statement: $\quad \lim\limits_{n\to\infty}(\underbrace{\frac{1}{n}+\frac{1}{n}+\cdots+\frac{1}{n}}_{m})=0$ The…
Charles Bao
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Examples of mathematical induction

What are the best examples of mathematical induction available at the secondary-school level---totally elementary---that do not involve expressions of the form $\bullet+\cdots\cdots\cdots+\bullet$ where the number of terms depends on $n$ and you're…
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Is it a new type of induction? (Infinitesimal induction) Is this even true?

Suppose we want to prove Euler's Formula with induction for all positive real numbers. At first this seems baffling, but an idea struck my mind today. Prove: $$e^{ix}=\cos x+i\sin x \ \ \ \forall \ \ x\geq0$$ For $x=0$, we have $$1=1$$ So the…
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Why is $a^n - b^n$ divisible by $a-b$?

I did some mathematical induction problems on divisibility $9^n$ $-$ $2^n$ is divisible by 7. $4^n$ $-$ $1$ is divisible by 3. $9^n$ $-$ $4^n$ is divisible by 5. Can these be generalized as $a^n$ $-$ $b^n$$ = (a-b)N$, where N is an integer? But…
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Avoiding proof by induction

Proofs that proceed by induction are almost always unsatisfying to me. They do not seem to deepen understanding, I would describe something that is true by induction as being "true by a technicality". Of course, the axiom of induction is required to…
Asvin
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We all use mathematical induction to prove results, but is there a proof of mathematical induction itself?

I just realized something interesting. At schools and universities you get taught mathematical induction. Usually you jump right into using it to prove something like $$1+2+3+\cdots+n = \frac{n(n+1)}{2}$$ However. I just realized that at no point…
bodacydo
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How do I find a flaw in this false proof that $7n = 0$ for all natural numbers?

This is my last homework problem and I've been looking at it for a while. I cannot nail down what is wrong with this proof even though its obvious it is wrong based on its conclusion. Here it is: Find the flaw in the following bogus proof by strong…
user378071
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Is there no solution to the blue-eyed islander puzzle?

Text below copied from here The Blue-Eyed Islander problem is one of my favorites. You can read about it here on Terry Tao's website, along with some discussion. I'll copy the problem here as well. There is an island upon which a tribe…
picakhu
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What exactly is the difference between weak and strong induction?

I am having trouble seeing the difference between weak and strong induction. There are a few examples in which we can see the difference, such as reaching the $k^{th}$ rung of a ladder and proving every integer $>1$ can be written as a product of…
user46372819
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Why doesn't mathematical induction work backwards or with increments other than $1$?

From my understanding of my topic, if a statement is true for $n=1$, and you assume a statement is true for arbitrary integer $k$ and show that the statement is also true for $k+1,$ then you prove that the statement's true for all $n\geq 1$. Makes…
theycallmezeal
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Questions on "All Horse are the Same Color" Proof by Complete Induction

I'm bugged by the following that's summarized on p. 109 of this PDF. False theorem: All horses are the same color. Proof by induction: $\fbox{$P(n)$ is the statement: In every set of horses of size $n$, all $n$ horses are the same color.}$ …
MVTC
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Why is this 'Proof' by induction not valid?

I am trying to understand why induction is valid. For instance why would this 'proof' not be valid under the principle of proof by induction ? : $$ \sum_{k=1}^{\infty} \frac{1}{k} \lt \infty$$ because using induction on the statement $$S(n) = …
user3203476
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What makes induction a valid proof technique?

What makes induction (over natural numbers) a valid proof technique? Is $$ \dfrac{ P(0) \quad \forall i \in \mathbb{N}. P(i) \Rightarrow P(i+1) }{ \forall n \in \mathbb{N}. P(n)} $$ just taken for granted as a proof rule, or can it be derived from…
Will
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Is my game fair?

Occasionally when I'm bored, I'll play a game: Pick a random positive integer $X$. Add $+1$, $0$, $-1$ to make it divisible by $3$. $^\dagger$ Divide by $3$ to create a new $X$. Repeat steps $2$ and $3$ until you reach $1$. $^\dagger$ Keep track…
RowlandB
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Examples where it is easier to prove more than less

Especially (but not only) in the case of induction proofs, it happens that a stronger claim $B$ is easier to prove than the intended claim $A$ (e.g. since the induction hypothesis gives you more information). I am trying to come up with exercises…
M Carl
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