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How to Think Like a Mathematician by Kevin Houston

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CHAPTER 18

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How to read a proof

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Nullius in verba.

Translation: Take nobody’s word for it.

Latin proverb

As we have stated, proof is central to mathematics; without proof mathematics loses its power. In this section we show how to approach a proof and break it down to manageable, understandable pieces. Important clues and helpful hints as to why a theorem is true are often removed in the final written version of a proof. The construction lines are erased, and, unfortunately, it is up to the reader to reconstruct them. Think of the proof as being ...

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