Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Difference between approach for show that and prove that

  1. Mar 24, 2012 #1
    Difference between approach for show that .... and prove that ...

    Whats the difference between how you solve a problem that involves showing or proving something?

    For example what would be the difference between the solution to:

    "Show that [itex]\sin\theta(2cos\theta+sin\theta)[/itex] can be written as [itex]3tan\theta[/itex] "

    and


    "Prove that [itex]\sin\theta(2cos\theta+sin\theta) = 3tan\theta[/itex] "

    Admittedly thats a pretty poor and basic example.

    To me the solution to both of them should be the same or is there any difference?
    Thanks
    A
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2012 #2
    Re: Difference between approach for show that .... and prove that ...

    "Show" is usually a specific example, where as "prove" is general. It would be silly (as you note) to ask the second version. If there is a general difference in approach, I would say that if I see "show that" I look for specific instances. If I see "prove that" I look for general theorems. But obviously there may be exceptions to that.
     
  4. Mar 24, 2012 #3

    disregardthat

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Re: Difference between approach for show that .... and prove that ...

    Prove, show, demonstrate; all synonyms.
     
  5. Mar 24, 2012 #4

    Stephen Tashi

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Re: Difference between approach for show that .... and prove that ...

    A common situation is that course materials have one set of standards for a proof and if the materials wish to make it clear that they want something more concise and abbreviated than those standards, they say "show" instead of "prove". There is no universal interpretation for "show" vs "prove", just as there is no universal standard for how much detail that a course wants in proofs. Each textbook and instructor may do things differently.
     
  6. Mar 24, 2012 #5

    micromass

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    Re: Difference between approach for show that .... and prove that ...

    Show and prove usually mean the exact same thing.
     
  7. Mar 24, 2012 #6
    Re: Difference between approach for show that .... and prove that ...

    After agreeing with the above, I'd like to quote part of the assessment guide of the UK's Open University (your mileage *will* vary for your institution, so asking your teacher was an excellent suggestion):
     
  8. Mar 24, 2012 #7

    HallsofIvy

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Re: Difference between approach for show that .... and prove that ...

    No. To use the given example, if x= 0, it is true that [itex]sin x(cos x+ 2sin x)= 0= 3 tan x[/itex] but that does not in any sense "show" that the given statement is true for all x.

    If x= 0, sin x= 0= 1- cos x but that obviosly does NOT "show" that "sin x= 1- cos x".
     
  9. Mar 24, 2012 #8
    Re: Difference between approach for show that .... and prove that ...

    Thanks for your replies.

    For our maths exams a show that question generally involves them giving you some sort of complicated expression and you have to step by step alter it (I say alter it because sometimes the process of getting the second expression is more complicated than the original was) until you end up with the second expression they give you.

    Prove that questions tend to be based around geometry questions or sometimes they explain some of "number trick" and you have to work out an algebraic expression for it which shows it works / doesn't work.

    Thanks again
    A.
     
  10. Mar 29, 2012 #9

    epenguin

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Re: Difference between approach for show that .... and prove that ...

    'Show' is a cop-out for lazy writers of textbooks and pop science books who don't show you a damned thing but just tell you 'it can be shown'. :mad:

    Sometimes they tell you it can be proved but the cop-out is more obvious in that case so they are more inhibited for saying that and you see it less often.
     
  11. Mar 29, 2012 #10

    mathwonk

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Re: Difference between approach for show that .... and prove that ...

    I use "show" sometimes because some students are frightened by the word "prove", but to me they mean the same.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Difference between approach for show that and prove that
Loading...