Register to reply 
Natural Numbers Proof? 
Share this thread: 
#1
Apr612, 01:51 PM

P: 783

If 'n' is a natural number such that n>1, prove that there exists a natural number k such that nk=1.
It raises the question: What is the definition of a natural number? Could you say that because n is natural, n1 must be natural so that if k = n1, nk = 1? BiP 


#2
Apr612, 02:09 PM

P: 828

That seems like a good argument, just mention that n1 > 0 since n > 1.
As for the definition of "natural number", they simply the positive integers. So, n1 is natural because a)n is natural so n1 is an integer and b)b>1 so n1 >0 


#3
Apr612, 02:24 PM

Mentor
P: 18,063

This is actually a surprisingly difficult question. Of course, it's very easy on the first glance. But if you want to work it out fully from the very definition of natural numbers, then it can be difficult.
There are two common definitions of natural numbers. 1) The Peanoaxioms. Natural numbers are a triple (N,s,0) with N a set,[itex]s:N\rightarrow N[/itex] a function (intuitively s(n)=n+1) and 0 an element of N such that  there exists no x in N such that s(x)=0  if s(x)=s(y) then x=y  induction: if [itex]A\subseteq N[/itex] is a set such that [itex]0\in A[/itex] and such that if [itex]x\in A[/itex] than [itex]s(x)\in A[/itex], then A=N From these axioms, you can reconstruct the theory of natural numbers. In particular you can prove the question in the OP. It is not that easy, however. 2) The settheoretic definition. We define [itex]0=\emptyset[/itex] [itex]1=\{0\}[/itex] [itex]2=\{0,1\}[/itex] [itex]3=\{0,1,2\}[/itex] [itex]4=\{0,1,2,3\}[/itex] and so on. (this needs to be made rigorous) The set of all such sets is called the natural numbers. This satisfied the Peanoaxioms with [itex]s(n)=n\cup \{n\}[/itex]. The advantage here is that there is a unique set of natural numbers. In the first approach, there could be many such sets (which are homeomorphic). Another advantage is that induction is no longer an axiom, but can be proven from the set theoretic axioms. This might be preferable as induction might not be so intuitive to be taken an axiom. 


#4
Apr612, 02:36 PM

Math
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
Thanks
PF Gold
P: 39,352

Natural Numbers Proof?
If you want a proof from basic definitions, that's a long proof!
One way to define the "natural numbers" is to use the Peano axioms: The natural numbers consist of a set N, together with a function, s (called the "successor function") from N to N such that 1) There exist a unique member of N, called "1" such that s is a onetoone function from N to N{1}. (In other words, every natural number has a successor, every natural number except 1 is the successor of some natural number.) 2) If X is a set of natural numbers such that 1 is in X and, whenever n is in X so is s(n), then X is the set of all natural numbers. (This is the "induction axiom.) We can define ">" by "m> n if and only if there exist a natural number x such that x+ n= m. From there we can define "m+ n", for m and n natural numbers, by 1) 1+ n= s(n). 2) if [itex]m\ne 1[/itex], then there exist x such that m= s(x) and we define m+ n= s(x+ n). One needs to show that is "well defined". That is, that given any m,n in N, there exist a unique member of N equal to m+n. Once we have that, we can define n m as the unique number, x, such that m+ x= n. Now, if n> 1, by definition of ">", there exist k such that k+1= n and therefore, n k= 1. (micromass got in ahead of me again!) 


#5
Apr712, 08:00 AM

P: 320




#6
Apr712, 08:09 AM

P: 606

What "set theoretic axioms"?? The Principle of Induction is equivalent, under the usual axioms of arithmetic, to the well (natural) ordering of the set of the natural numbers...is this what you meant? DonAntonio 


Register to reply 
Related Discussions  
Proof: Applications of the Universal Property of Natural Numbers  Calculus & Beyond Homework  4  
Proof with natural numbers and sequences of functions  Calculus & Beyond Homework  4  
Cardinality of Natural even numbers and Natural numbers  Set Theory, Logic, Probability, Statistics  19  
Natural numbers proof help  Calculus & Beyond Homework  2  
Proof for k natural numbers  Set Theory, Logic, Probability, Statistics  22 