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"As I was walking among the fires of Hell, delighted with the enjoyments of
Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity. I collected some of
their Proverbs..." - Blake, "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"
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HOW TO PROVE IT, PART 1
proof by example:
The author gives only the case n = 2 and suggests that it
contains most of the ideas of the general proof.
proof by intimidation:
proof by vigorous handwaving:
Works well in a classroom or seminar setting.
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HOW TO PROVE IT, PART 2
proof by cumbersome notation:
Best done with access to at least four alphabets and special
proof by exhaustion:
An issue or two of a journal devoted to your proof is useful.
proof by omission:
'The reader may easily supply the details'
'The other 253 cases are analogous'
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HOW TO PROVE IT, PART 3
proof by obfuscation:
A long plotless sequence of true and/or meaningless
syntactically related statements.
proof by wishful citation:
The author cites the negation, converse, or generalization of
a theorem from the literature to support his claims.
proof by funding:
How could three different government agencies be wrong?
proof by eminent authority:
'I saw Karp in the elevator and he said it was probably NP-
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HOW TO PROVE IT, PART 4
proof by personal communication:
'Eight-dimensional colored cycle stripping is NP-complete
[Karp, personal communication].'
proof by reduction to the wrong problem:
'To see that infinite-dimensional colored cycle stripping is
decidable, we reduce it to the halting problem.'
proof by reference to inaccessible literature:
The author cites a simple corollary of a theorem to be found
in a privately circulated memoir of the Slovenian
Philological Society, 1883.
proof by importance:
A large body of useful consequences all follow from the
proposition in question.
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HOW TO PROVE IT, PART 5
proof by accumulated evidence:
Long and diligent search has not revealed a counterexample.
proof by cosmology:
The negation of the proposition is unimaginable or
meaningless. Popular for proofs of the existence of God.
proof by mutual reference:
In reference A, Theorem 5 is said to follow from Theorem 3 in
reference B, which is shown to follow from Corollary 6.2 in
reference C, which is an easy consequence of Theorem 5 in
proof by metaproof:
A method is given to construct the desired proof. The
correctness of the method is proved by any of these
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HOW TO PROVE IT, PART 6
proof by picture:
A more convincing form of proof by example. Combines well
with proof by omission.
proof by vehement assertion:
It is useful to have some kind of authority relation to the
proof by ghost reference:
Nothing even remotely resembling the cited theorem appears in
the reference given.
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HOW TO PROVE IT, PART 7
proof by forward reference:
Reference is usually to a forthcoming paper of the author,
which is often not as forthcoming as at first.
proof by semantic shift:
Some of the standard but inconvenient definitions are changed
for the statement of the result.
proof by appeal to intuition:
Cloud-shaped drawings frequently help here.
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[May one] doubt whether, in cheese and timber, worms are generated,
or, if beetles and wasps, in cow-dung, or if butterflies, locusts,
shellfish, snails, eels, and such life be procreated of putrefied
matter, which is to receive the form of that creature to which it
is by formative power disposed[?] To question this is to question
reason, sense, and experience. If he doubts this, let him go to
Egypt, and there he will find the fields swarming with mice begot
of the mud of the Nylus, to the great calamity of the inhabitants.
A seventeenth century opinion quoted by L. L. Woodruff,
in *The Evolution of Earth and Man*, 1929
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Seen on a button at an SF Convention:
Veteran of the Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force. 1990-1951.
-- uunet!sugar!karl | "We've been following your progress with considerable
-- firstname.lastname@example.org | interest, not to say contempt." -- Zaphod Beeblebrox IV
-- Usenet BBS (713) 438-5018
From email@example.com Sat Apr 29 10:46:20 1989
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Karl Lehenbauer)
Subject: Fortune cookie file, part 07 of 06
Below is the latest addition to my fortune cookie file, 40212 bytes of mirth
This file contains a lot of quotes from peoples' postings on Usenet. After I
had been doing this a while, I began including their net addresses as well.
Enjoy, or hit 'n'...
-------------------- cut it here, dude ------------------------------