Linked Questions

318
votes
14answers
19k views

Can every proof by contradiction also be shown without contradiction?

Are there some proofs that can only be shown by contradiction or can everything that can be shown by contradiction also be shown without contradiction? What are the advantage/disadvantages of proving ...
155
votes
25answers
12k views

Proving the identity $\sum_{k=1}^n {k^3} = \big(\sum_{k=1}^n k\big)^2$ without induction

I recently proved that $$\sum_{k=1}^n k^3 = \left(\sum_{k=1}^n k \right)^2$$ using mathematical induction. I'm interested if there's an intuitive explanation, or even a combinatorial interpretation ...
104
votes
8answers
9k views

Are the “proofs by contradiction” weaker than other proofs?

I remember hearing several times the advice that, we should avoid using a proof by contradiction, if it is simple to convert to a direct proof or a proof by contrapositive. Could you explain the ...
56
votes
7answers
4k views

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 ...
19
votes
16answers
3k views

Beautiful, simple proofs worthy of writing on this beautiful glass door [closed]

What are some of the more beautiful proofs you know? I am measuring beauty in two dimensions -- first, how conceptually elegant is it and second, how aesthetically pleasing is it. Context: I work ...
7
votes
6answers
3k views

Why some people don't like proofs by contradiction [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are the “proofs by contradiction” weaker than other proofs? I have been active on this site for two months and on a few occasions I noticed that some people judge ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Construction of a regular pentagon

In Robert Dixon's Mathographics, a regular pentagon is constructed with straightedge and compass only. It is the pentagon $ABCDE$ pictured below. I am having trouble seeing why the central angles ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

$1^3 + \dotsb + n^3 = (1 + \dotsb + n)^2$: reason? [duplicate]

We have $$ 1^3 + \dotsb + n^3 = (1 + \dotsb + n)^2 $$ as we can establish by induction. But why does this hold? Can we connect it to something else?
5
votes
3answers
324 views

When asked to show that $X=Y$, is it reasonable to manipulate $X$ without thinking about $Y$?

When I'm asked something like "show X is equal to Y", I first try to manipulate what I know (X) into the result (Y). A lot of the time, I do not investigate the result I'm trying to conclude with. I ...
1
vote
2answers
204 views

Examples of non-trivial proofs in deductive systems

I want to get a better grasp of what a rigorous formal proof is. So I was hoping to find proofs of interesting results using natural deduction or Hilbert system or similar. The "interesting result" ...
0
votes
0answers
39 views

Geometrical intuition for sum of first n cubes [duplicate]

The relation $$ \sum_{k=1}^n k^3 = \left(\sum_{k=1}^n k\right)^2 $$ baffled me when I first found out (i.e. yesterday on a train trip). Writing an inductive proof is easy and I know that there is a ...