Questions tagged [proof-writing]

For questions about the formulation of a proof. This tag should not be the only tag for a question and should not be used to ask for a proof of a statement.

Questions with this tag are about the presentation of a mathematical proof. Questions might include:

  • Should I include [x-mathematical detail] at [y-part of this proof]?
  • Is the following a sufficient proof of [x-mathematical tidbit]?
  • I have written the following proof, could I somehow improve it, does it have good flow/can I improve readability?

But this tag is not for asking someone else to write a proof for you, or for how to answer some question. Questions such as: My professor asked me to prove the Pythagorean theorem and I don't know how to begin are not to have this tag.

This tag is intended for use along with other, more "mathematical" tags. A question about the writing of a proof in abstract algebra, for example, should have as well. This tag can be used along with the proof verification tag.

See here for a useful set of guidelines for writing a solution.

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How to efficiently use a calculator in a linear algebra exam, if allowed

We are allowed to use a calculator in our linear algebra exam. Luckily, my calculator can also do matrix calculations. Let's say there is a task like this: Calculate the rank of this matrix: $$M =\begin{pmatrix} 5 & 6 & 7\\ 12 &4 &9 \\ 1 & 7 &…
cnmesr
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Why do proof authors use natural language sentences to write proofs?

I haven't read very many proofs. The majority of the ones that I've read, I've read in my first-year proofs textbook. Nevertheless, its first chapter expatiates on the proper use of English in mathematical proofs, so I suspect that most proof…
Hal
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Should a mathematical proof be 'convincing'?

I just read a description of what is a mathematical proof in my mathematical logic textbook, and I'm a bit puzzled by it. It goes like this: A mathematical proof is a finite sequence of mathematical assertions which forms a valid and convincing…
Stephen
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How can I answer this Putnam question more rigorously?

Given real numbers $a_0, a_1, ..., a_n$ such that $\dfrac {a_0}{1} + \dfrac {a_1}{2} + \cdots + \dfrac {a_n}{n+1}=0,$ prove that $a_0 + a_1 x + a_2 x^2 + \cdots + a_n x^n=0$ has at least one real solution. My solution: Let $$f(x) = a_0 + a_1 x +…
Ovi
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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 don't Venn diagrams count as formal proofs?

Just curious. If the purpose of a proof is to inform and persuade, why don't Venn diagrams count? Is it just convention or is there a more, umm, formal reason haha. Thanks!
papercuts
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What is the proof that covariance matrices are always semi-definite?

Suppose that we have two different discreet signal vectors of $N^\text{th}$ dimension, namely $\mathbf{x}[i]$ and $\mathbf{y}[i]$, each one having a total of $M$ set of samples/vectors. $\mathbf{x}[m] = [x_{m,1} \,\,\,\,\, x_{m,2} \,\,\,\,\, x_{m,3}…
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English words in written mathematics

I recently marked over $100$ assignments for a multivariable calculus course. One question which a lot of people did poorly was proving a given set was open. Aside from issues relating to rigour and logic (or lack thereof), I noticed an issue that I…
Michael Albanese
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Explain proof that any positive definite matrix is invertible

If an $n \times n$ symmetric A is positive definite, then all of its eigenvalues are positive, so $0$ is not an eigenvalue of $A$. Therefore, the system of equations $A\mathbf{x}=\mathbf{0}$ has no non-trivial solution, and so A is invertible. I…
mauna
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Teacher claims this proof for $\frac{\csc\theta-1}{\cot\theta}=\frac{\cot\theta}{\csc\theta+1}$ is wrong. Why?

My son's high school teacher says his solution to this proof is wrong because it is not "the right way" and that you have to "start with one side of the equation and prove it is equal to the other". After reviewing it, I disagree. I believe his…
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Proof for triangle inequality for vectors

Generally,the length of the sum of two vectors is not equal to the sum of their lengths. To see this consider the vectors $u$ and $v$ as shown below. By considering $u$ and $v$ as two sides of a triangle, we can see that the lengths of the third…
alok
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Why does drawing $\square$ mean the end of a proof?

To end a proof, I often write "as was to be shown" or "q.e.d". Both of these terms make sense to me as a reader. On the other hand, I feel a little strange to put down $\square$ although I saw it many times here and there. In fact, I learned…
Chan
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prove $\sqrt{a_n b_n}$ and $\frac{1}{2}(a_n+b_n)$ have same limit

I am given this problem: let $a\ge0$,$b\ge0$, and the sequences $a_n$ and $b_n$ are defined in this way: $a_0:=a$, $b_0:=b$ and $a_{n+1}:= \sqrt{a_nb_n}$ and $b_{n+1}:=\frac{1}{2}(a_n+b_n)$ for all $n\in\Bbb{N}$ To prove is that both sequences…
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When has one sufficiently mastered an area of mathematics?

This is a rather soft question regarding the mastery of various mathematical subjects, such as undergraduate subjects. In particular, say, when has one mastered undergraduate analysis? Is it realistic to expect some individual to be able to prove…
Anthony Peter
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Is it okay to reverse engineer proofs in homework questions?

In a linear algebra text book, one homework question I received was: Prove that $\mathbf{a \cdot b} = \frac{1}{4}(\|\mathbf{a + b}\|^2 - \|\mathbf{a - b}\|^2)$. Where $\mathbf{a}$ and $\mathbf{b}$ are vectors in $\Bbb{R}^n$. This is trivial to…
user3002473
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