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Intro to proofs

  1. Sep 17, 2013 #1
    I'm a junior in high school taking calculus 1 at a local junior college, and I am getting quite bored with how very simplistic calculus seems to be in calculus 1. To me it just feels like an expansion upon algebra and trig with a few new twists, but nothing that actually requires me to use my brain.

    So what I wanted to do was get a head start doing some more thought provoking math, like proofs, since I want to take real analysis before I graduate high school anyway. I really am a beginner when it comes to proofs and similar mathematics, I honestly don't really know the first thing about how to do a proof. So I was wondering if any of you could tell me me some good videos or reading material to get me started as a beginner?

    You help would be greatly appreciated. :)
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2013 #2


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  4. Sep 17, 2013 #3
    Reading The Art of Problem Solving (there are two volumes) and doing the problems is a pretty good way to learn about proofs.
  5. Sep 17, 2013 #4


    Staff: Mentor

  6. Sep 18, 2013 #5
    Thank you guys for all the great replies! I will definitely read these :)
  7. Sep 23, 2013 #6

    my first attempts at proving theorems were really fruitful and engaging so I definitely think this is a good idea. I worked through the Dover book "Number Theory" by G.E Andrews. It starts off with some basic proofs by induction for how to sum different series of numbers. Basis representation, fundamental theorems of arithmetic and algebra, computational number theory etc etc.

    I found it got quite hard very quickly, but the sense of reward was worth the effort :)
  8. Sep 23, 2013 #7
    Yay, juniors! :tongue:

    To start out, read a mix of elegant and difficult proofs. Learn to anticipate what the writer of the proof will do, and begin to ponder what approach you might take to proving theorems before you read their proofs. Since you're just starting calculus, you might want to try some basic epsilon-delta proofs to get you started.

    When you feel confident/comfortable with the math, try a proof or two. To start, do proofs that are probably easy. By probably easy, I mean that it's best to not start with the Riemann Hypothesis right at the start.

    When you think you're ready to go further, reserve a weekend for yourself. Lock yourself in your room (Please do this within reason. If you feel hungry or your house is burning down, it is, in fact, okay to leave your room.) and proceed to prove something that is decently difficult. What I've done in the past is find a "pen pal" mathematician on the internet and challenge them to a "game" where we take turns trying to stump each other with intricate proofs. This, I think, is the BEST way to learn proofs.
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