# Tagged Questions

For questions about approaches and techniques for discovering a proof, as opposed to writing it down clearly (which involves (proof-writing)). Should not be used unless the focus is on the technique of the proof instead of the solution.

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### Problems that become easier in a more general form

When solving a problem, we often look at some special cases first, then try to work our way up to the general case. It would be interesting to see some counterexamples to this mental process, i.e. ...
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### Why do mathematicians sometimes assume famous conjectures in their research?

I will use a specific example, but I mean in general. I went to a number theory conference and I saw one thing that surprised me: Nearly half the talks began with "Assuming the generalized Riemann ...
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### How to determine with certainty that a function has no elementary antiderivative?

Given an expression such as $f(x) = x^x$, is it possible to provide a thorough and rigorous proof that there is no function $F(x)$ (expressible in terms of known algebraic and transcendental ...
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### Lesser-known integration tricks

I am currently studying for the GRE math subject test, which heavily tests calculus. I've reviewed most of the basic calculus techniques (integration by parts, trig substitutions, etc.) I am now ...
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### Getting better at proofs

So, I don't like proofs. To me building a proof feels like constructing a steel trap out of arguments to make true what you're trying to assert. Oftentimes the proof in the book is something that I ...
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### Prove if $n^2$ is even, then $n$ is even.

I am just learning maths, and would like someone to verify my proof. Suppose $n$ is an integer, and that $n^2$ is even. If we add $n$ to $n^2$, we have $n^2 + n = n(n+1)$, and it follows that ...
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### Proof by contradiction vs Prove the contrapositive

What is the difference between a "proof by contradiction" and "proving the contrapositive"? Intuitive, it feels like doing the exact same thing. And when I compare an exercise, one person proves by ...
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### Rigour in mathematics

Mathematics is very rigorous and everything must be proven properly even things that may seem true and obvious. Can you give me examples of conjectures/theories that seemed true but through rigorous ...
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### What is the most unusual proof you know that $\sqrt{2}$ is irrational?

What is the most unusual proof you know that $\sqrt{2}$ is irrational? Here is my favorite: Theorem: $\sqrt{2}$ is irrational. Proof: $3^2-2\cdot 2^2 = 1$. (That's it) That is a ...
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### Prove every odd integer is the difference of two squares

I know that I should use the definition of an odd integer ($2k+1$), but that's about it. Thanks in advance!
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### Is Lagrange's theorem the most basic result in finite group theory?

Motivated by this question, can one prove that the order of an element in a finite group divides the order of the group without using Lagrange's theorem? (Or, equivalently, that the order of the group ...
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### Pseudo Proofs that are intuitively reasonable

What are nice "proofs" of true facts that are not really rigorous but give the right answer and still make sense on some level? Personally, I consider them to be guilty pleasures. Here are examples ...
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### Is it possible to prove a mathematical statement by proving that a proof exists?

I'm sure there are easy ways of proving things using, well... any other method besides this! But still, I'm curious to know whether it would be acceptable/if it has been done before?
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### Could I be using proof by contradiction too much?

Lately, I've developed a habit of proving almost everything by contradiction. Even for theorems for which direct proofs are the clear choice, I'd just start by writing "Assume not" then prove it ...
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### Is an irrational number odd or even?

My sister just asked this question to me: "Is an irrational number odd or even?" I told her that decimals are not odd or even and that does imply that not recurring and non repeating decimals will ...
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### Proof that $\sum\limits_{k=1}^nk^2 = \frac{n(n+1)(2n+1)}{6}$?

I am just starting into calculus and I have a question about the following statement I encountered while learning about definite integrals: $$\sum_{k=1}^n k^2 = \frac{n(n+1)(2n+1)}{6}$$ I really ...
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### Is there such a thing as proof by example (not counter example)

Is there such a logical thing as proof by example? I know many times when I am working with algebraic manipulations, I do quick tests to see if I remembered the formula right. This works and is ...
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### What is the proper way to study (more advanced) math?

Here's what happens. I get stuck on some proof or some mathematical construction and I end up staring at the problem for hours, sometimes not making any progress. I do this because sometimes I think ...
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### When working proof exercises from a textbook with no solutions manual, how do you know when your proof is sound/acceptable?

When working proof exercises from a textbook with no solutions manual, how do you know when your proof is sound/acceptable? Often times I "feel" as if I can write a proof to an exercise but most ...
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### How to learn from proofs?

Recently I finished my 4-year undergraduate studies in mathematics. During the four years, I've met all kinds of proofs. Some of them are friendly: they either show you a basic skill in one field or ...
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### Prove that $i^i$ is a real number

According to WolframAlpha, $i^i=e^{-\pi/2}$ but I don't know how I can prove it.
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### A proof of the Isoperimetric Inequality - how does it work?

Here is a nice proof of the isoperimetric inequality (equality part ommited): Isoperimetric Inequality If $\gamma$ is any simple closed piecewise $C^1$ curve of length $l$, with it's interior having ...
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### Examples of “Non-Logical Theorems” Proven by Logic

I am still an undergraduate student, and so perhaps I just haven't seen enough of the mathematical world. Question: What are some examples of mathematical logic solving open problem outside of ...
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### Bag of tricks in Advanced Calculus/ Real Analysis/Complex Analysis

I am studying for an exam and I have been studying my butt off during the winter break for it. During the course of my study I have written down quite a number of tricks, which in my opinion were ...
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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 ...
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### What is an efficient nesting of mathematical theorems?

Various mathematical areas of research evolved from a wide and diverse range of questions. Many are physical in nature or come from informatics/computer science, some are procedural or optimization ...
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### Rational + irrational = always irrational?

I had a little back and forth with my logic professor earlier today about proving a number is irrational. I proposed that 1 + an irrational number is always irrational, thus if I could prove that 1 + ...
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### What are the theorems in mathematics which can be proved using completely different ideas?

I would like to know about theorems which can give different proofs using completely different techniques. Motivation: When I read from the book Proof from the Book, I saw there were many ...
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### Must we use induction to prove a statement for all integers

This question is prompted by a remark from Bill Dubuque in his answer to this question on proving a particular sum without using mathematical induction. From Bill's answer: A proof that a ...
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### Constructing $\mathbb N$ from the set of factorials

Let S be the set $\{0!, 1!, 2!, \ldots\}$. Is it possible to construct any positive integer using only addition, subtraction and multiplication, and using any element in S at most once? For example: ...
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### Run away from lions in a cage

I came across an interesting problem: There is a round cage and you are in it. Also two lions are in this cage too. The start position is that the distance between you and both lions is the ...
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### Prove that a counterexample exists without knowing one

I strive to find a statement $S(n)$ with $n \in N$ that can be proven to be not generally true despite the fact that noone knows a counterexample, i.e. it holds true for all $n$ ever tested so far. ...
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### How can I prove that $xy\leq x^2+y^2$?

How can I prove that $xy\leq x^2+y^2$ for all $x,y\in\mathbb{R}$ ?
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### Prove that $\lim \limits_{n \to \infty} \frac{x^n}{n!} = 0$, $x \in \Bbb R$.

Why is $$\lim_{n \to \infty} \frac{2^n}{n!}=0\text{ ?}$$ Can we generalize it to any exponent $x \in \Bbb R$? This is to say, is $$\lim_{n \to \infty} \frac{x^n}{n!}=0\text{ ?}$$ This is ...
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### Does an elementary solution exist to $x^2+1=y^3$?

Prove that there are no positive integer solutions to $$x^2+1=y^3$$ This problem is easy if you apply Catalans conjecture and still doable talking about Gaussian integers and UFD's. However, can this ...
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### A prime number pattern

The algorithm Given a natural number $n$ define a procedure as follows: Generate a list of primes upto and possibly including, $n$ Assign $Z = n$ If $Z > 0$, subtract the largest prime from list ...
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### Moriarty's calculator: some bizarre and deceptive graphical anomalies

Background: This is a problem I first came across a few years ago in a calculus textbook (a James Stewart one), where it addressed some of the pitfalls of using graphing calculators. The original ...
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### Is a brute force method considered a proof?

Say we have some finite set, and some theory about a set, say "All elements of the finite set $X$ satisfy condition $Y$". If we let a computer check every single member of $X$ and conclude that the ...
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### A (probably trivial) induction problem: $\sum_2^nk^{-2}\lt1$

So I'm a bit stuck on the following problem I'm attempting to solve. Essentially, I'm required to prove that $\frac{1}{2^2}+\frac{1}{3^2}+\cdots+\frac{1}{n^2} < 1$ for all $n$. I've been toiling ...
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### how to be good at proving?

I'm starting my Discrete Math class, and I was taught proving techniques such as proof by contradiction, contrapositive proof, proof by construction, direct proof, equivalence proof etc. I know how ...
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### Integral $\int_1^\infty\frac{dx}{1+2^x+3^x}$

Can the integral $$\int_1^\infty\dfrac{dx}{1+2^x+3^x}$$ be given in closed form? This question arises naturally when I considered doing integrals. What makes an integral hard? Well, the integrand, of ...
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### Prove that function is constant

Prove that a function $f:\mathbb{R}\to\mathbb{R}$ which satisfies $$f\left({\frac{x+y}3}\right)=\frac{f(x)+f(y)}2$$ is a constant function. This is my solution: constant function have derivative $0$ ...
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### Show that $x^{35}+\dfrac{20205}{2+x^{17}+\cos^2x}=100$ has no root $x\in \mathbb{R}$

Show that $x^{35}+\dfrac{20205}{2+x^{17}+\cos^2x}=100$ has no root $x\in \mathbb{R}$. By plotting graph I have seen that there are no roots for $x$. Can somebody prove it theoretically?
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### How are long proofs “planned”?

I just graduated with my bachelors in mathematics last year, so I have little experience in writing huge, very involved proofs. The longest proof I've ever written was about 10 pages, but it wasn't ...
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### How to prove that either $2^{500} + 15$ or $2^{500} + 16$ isn't a perfect square?

How would I prove that either $2^{500} + 15$ or $2^{500} + 16$ isn't a perfect square?
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### $\epsilon$-$\delta$ proof that $\lim\limits_{x \to 1} \frac{1}{x} = 1$.

I'm starting Spivak's Calculus and finally decided to learn how to write epsilon-delta proofs. I have been working on chapter 5, number 3(ii). The problem, in essence, asks to prove that ...
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### “Too simple to be true”

As indicates the title, this question is about "proofs" of true statements which are short and/or look elegant but are wrong. I mean example like Cayley-Hamilton's theorem, which states that for a ...
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### When do I use “arbitrary” and/or “fixed” in a proof?

In many proofs I see that some variable is "fixed" and/or "arbitrary". Sometimes I see only one of them and I miss a clear guideline for it. Could somebody point me to a reliable source (best a ...
### How to prove $\lim_{n \to \infty} e^n \cdot \left( \sum_{k=0}^{n-1} ({k-n \over e})^k/k! \right)- 2 \cdot n = \frac 23$?
I observed for the function $$f(n)= e^n \sum_{k=0}^{n-1}\left(\dfrac{k - n}{e}\right)^k \cdot \dfrac{1}{k!} \tag 1$$ with small $n$ that ...