Questions tagged [proofs]

For questions about mathematical proofs in an educational context.

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6
votes
3answers
278 views

Should one justify formulae in middle school?

Consider two possible lesson outlines: Check homework. Show a visual demonstration for the area of a circle, e.g. https://tube.geogebra.org/student/m279 Calculate the area of a circle as an example. ...
6
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3answers
297 views

Is induction or recursion easier to understand?

This is not really a new question, more a revisiting of @vonbrand's "Any suggestions on how to approach recursion and induction?" In an introductory programming class this past year, I asked the ...
6
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4answers
382 views

Intuition behind $\zeta(2) = \frac{\pi^2}{6}$

The result $$\zeta(2) = \frac{\pi^2}{6},$$ tends to amaze young students because of its beauty. However, although in literature there are many proofs of this result, I find that none is suitable for ...
6
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5answers
278 views

Different approaches to proofs that “are the same”?

This question (and answers) on MSE got me thinking on simple examples of different ways of proving the same (hopefully somewhat interesting) result, as examples to be discussed on difference in ...
6
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2answers
267 views

A question from a young student to mathematicians

I'm a young math student. And I live with the effort of always wanting to understand everything I study, in mathematics. This means that for every thing I face I must always understand every single ...
6
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5answers
653 views

Is it a problem if a senior student majoring in mathematics could not prove the quadratic formula?

According to a recent experiment conducted by user Steven Gubkin, nearly one half of his students in a senior level Real Analysis course do not have any idea how to prove the quadratic formula. Is ...
6
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2answers
242 views

Are there automatic solution checkers?

Suppose I would like to make a maths test that one can do by computer and that can be automatically checked by computer. Question: Is there some automatic theorem prover that can check the proofs ...
6
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0answers
106 views

Questions similar to Wason Selection Task

The Wason Selection Task (described by Pete Clark here) is a great problem for getting students to grapple with all of the intricacies of logical implication. I will be teaching a discrete ...
5
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3answers
889 views

Why is this type of reductio ad absurdum not taught more?

I recently read in a book about a proof that Archimedes did. I don't remember the exact details and I don't have the book on me right now, but it involved proving an equality. So let's say proving ...
5
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2answers
202 views

What is “mastery” in a mathematical topic?

This question was prompted by looking at Khan Academy's website to see how a comprehensive lecture series could be done and often I see the word, "mastery". To me, I'd think mastery is ...
5
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2answers
218 views

Are there mathematical proof info-graphics?

I am teaching mathematical proof to kids (10th grade) and am of the opinion that proofs of theorems are a good place to start, where almost all of mathematics' important players come together. On ...
5
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1answer
171 views

Tutoring Discrete Mathematics

A few weeks ago, I started tutoring a student in Discrete Mathematics (a subject I took a year ago). I have previously tutored both pre-calculus and calculus, but never a proof based class. I have ...
5
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2answers
210 views

On problems which can be proved easier if we use a different induction step

Say we have a property $P$ defined on the natural nubers. Usually students are taught that to pove $P(n)$ is true for all $n\in\mathbb N$ you have to do the following: make a basis and use either ...
5
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1answer
101 views

How to teach application of pumping lemma (automata theory)?

The pumping lemmata (for regular languages and for context free languages) are used to prove languages non-regular/non-context free by contradiction. But such proofs are often horribly botched by ...
5
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0answers
169 views

Catalog of undergraduate's misconceptions / problems while proving

Selden & Selden (2011) listed 41 difficulties their students had in an experimental proving course into 9 categories. Unfortunately I haven't found similar work. Thus, my question is: Is there ...
4
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5answers
314 views

Patterns that unexpectedly fall apart at large $n$

I am constructing a learning sequence for middle grade students designed to convince them that empirical arguments (arguments by example) are not sufficient in mathematics. To motivate this, I am ...
4
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2answers
218 views

If you do not 'read A to Z', then how can you discover the idea? [closed]

The following is from an article in The New Yorker on Y. Zhang and his proof on gaps between primes: Rutgers University Professor [Henryk] Iwaniec and his friend, John Friedlander, a professor at ...
4
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2answers
506 views

Good exercises in proof by induction, very early in freshman calculus?

At some point very early on in a freshman calc course, we use proof by induction to show that the derivative of $x^n$ is $nx^{n-1}$ if $n$ is a natural number. For the small minority of our students ...
4
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2answers
415 views

Euclid Book 1 Proposition 4 [closed]

In Euclid's The Elements, Book 1, Proposition 4, he makes the assumption that one can create an angle between two lines and then construct the same angle from two different lines. I do not see ...
4
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2answers
186 views

What would you recommend for the math thinking course for school?

We're going to make a new math course for kids as intermediary between middle and high school with math profile (for preparation to entrance exams to high school), and before the main part (arithmetic,...
4
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2answers
914 views

Teaching fractions: the generalization problem

I've been thinking about how you would go about teaching fractions, and there seems to be a problem in that every basic fact needs to be proven/explained twice, using two different layers of ...
4
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1answer
76 views

What are ideas and strategies on improving at discovering counterexamples? [closed]

What are ideas and strategies on improving at discovering counterexamples? I originally posed this as an Example Question.
4
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0answers
176 views

How to promote more elegant and beautiful proofs by students?

Following the premise that mathematics is an art as well as a science, I want to encourage students to produce not only correct proofs but also to try to find a particular beautiful/elegant proof. ...
3
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2answers
413 views

Why are proofs written in flowery language incomprehensible?

Let's take an example in Wu-Ki Tung, Group theory in physics: Theorem 3.4: Irreducible representations of any abelian group must be of dimension one. Proof: Let $U(G)$ be an irreducible ...
3
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2answers
243 views

Is the Nomenclature of Triangle Congruency Proofs Consistent?

My Geometry class is doing triangle congruency proofs these days. In general, we find three pairs of congruent parts (sides or angles) in two triangles; we show that these congruencies reveal that the ...
3
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2answers
146 views

Ideas for high-school proof class?

I have a math degree and have been hired to teach a proof class at a summer program. Our goal is to help the students learn the material they need for school (they take an algebra class separately) ...
3
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2answers
339 views

How is it correct for a lecturer to prove and “explain” a proof while explicitly knowing students are not familiar with logic itself?

I often see a situation when professors use words "logic", "mathematical proof" and even prove logically while actually knowing that students are not even familiar with logic itself, i.e. no formal ...
2
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3answers
418 views

When two equivalent algebraic statements have two “different” meanings

Suppose I want to prove $\sqrt{7}$ is not a rational number. I suppose it is and it brings me to a contradiction. Here how it goes line be line: First line. $\sqrt{7}=\frac{m}{n}$ Second line (...
2
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6answers
436 views

Undergraduate Math Seminar topic

** Edit Thanks everyone for some great suggestions. I should have been more clear though. I am actually looking for a college level proof that pertains to algebra or leads to algebra in some form. ...
2
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1answer
321 views

What is the correct symbol to use for ending a counterexample?

I am familiar with the tombstone symbol, "$\blacksquare$", that is used to signify the end of a proof. However, it is my understanding that an example isn't technically a proof. For instance, one can'...
2
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2answers
558 views

Nice examples of proof by contradiction? [duplicate]

The setting is undergraduate students in Computer Science, a course in Discrete Mathematics (first proof-oriented course they take, they had a mostly computation oriented first course in calculus). ...
2
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2answers
221 views

Learning proofs in introductory analysis courses

I have browsed the website a lot and I encountered many similar questions but not a question that asks the same question as I intend to. In introductory undergraduate classes in Analysis, usually, ...
2
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0answers
109 views

Strategies for learning proofs

What are the best methods for learning proofs? I'm tasked with learning two dozen proofs about the properties of continuous functions and real numbers in a week well enough to be able to present them. ...
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1answer
163 views

How to improve mathematical skills(University level)?

I am doing Ph.D in Mathematics, I feel I lack few of the skills, if I can improve those skills I think I can do better as a Math scholar. I need some suggestion on these following(below I am talking ...
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1answer
94 views

Does studying elementary number theory improve one's proof skills and ability to understand algebra and analysis? [closed]

I'm taking a number theory course and don't know whether it's worth it. I currently can't understand algebra and real analysis and decided to take # theory to see whether this would help me prove and ...
0
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2answers
279 views

Is it possible to have taken intro to proofs, calculus 3 and differential equations and still lack the ability to do proofs?

Ideal Undergraduate Sequence Main question: I looked above and what I'm interpreting out of it is that one should be able to do proofs after studying some intro to proofs class, calculus ...
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1answer
240 views

Proving basic Theorems and properties in high school [closed]

Why high school teachers do not emphasize knowing the proofs of properties and theorems in math. In my 40 years of teaching prospective high school teachers, I rarely found students who can derive ...
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2answers
225 views

Missing Step in Most Proofs of the Irrationality of $\sqrt{2}$ [closed]

Numerous online resources parrot the usual proof by contradiction of the irrationality of $\sqrt{2}$. These all rely upon the assumption that the rational form (say, $a/b$) is in its simplest ...

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