# Use of “I” in mathematics papers

Some people consider the use of "I" in a paper to be a great evil. Others, however, consider the use of the passive voice to be an even greater evil.

I will be presenting a paper at a competition, and I don't know what the judges prefer. If I don't want to make anyone mad, which convention is safer to follow?

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Even single authors oftentimes write "we" – mathse Apr 14 '14 at 14:32
If you want to make certain the judges know you did the work, announce at the beginning that you did the work. That should settle that. – Gerry Myerson Apr 14 '14 at 14:37
Plus, in a less formal environment, the "I" is ok, I think, if not excessively made us of. E.g. here: maths.bris.ac.uk/~mampsj/Binomial.pdf – mathse Apr 14 '14 at 14:42
I try to reserve "we/us" to indicate "myself, and you, the reader, who joins me on this intellectual adventure", in constructions like "We take $\alpha$ to be ..." or "Let us embed the figure in $n$-dimensional space ..."; mixing that usage with the Royal We can be a little confusing (but I don't believe it's too big of a deal). You can always use "this author" to signify your specific contribution, with @Gerry's suggestion to get it out of the way early: "The following discusses this author's research into (whatever)...". In any case ... Doesn't the competition suggest a style guide? – Blue Apr 14 '14 at 15:16
I agree with Blue, as an undergrad, I have never collaborated with anyone, my proofs and assignments are always by myself alone. However, I always use we, and use it as "myself and the reader." I write my proofs as if someone was going to read along and work along to be convinced, that's why I do that. – Jonathan Hebert Apr 14 '14 at 15:31