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Proof by induction

  1. Sep 8, 2005 #1
    Ok so I have found a formula for d^n/dx^n 1/x^2
    = (-1)^n * (1+n)! * x^-(n+2)

    So I have to do d/dx [(-1)^n * (1+n)! * x^-(n+2)] and see what I end up with. But how do I do that.

    My book gives an example: (from d/dx (1+x)^-1)
    d/dx [(-1)^k * k!(1+x)^(-k-1)] = (-1)^k * k!(-k-1)(1+x)^(-k-2)=...

    What on earth is going on?! My book just drops explaning _how_ . Where does (-k-1) come from? I'm stuck...

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2005 #2

    the essence of proof by induction is to show that

    a) there is a minimum case where what you want to prove is true
    b) that if n=k is true, it follows automatically (after some manipulation) that n=k+1 is true.

    there is a theorem that says that if these conditions are satisfied, the statement in question is true.

    so the authors are trying to show that n=k implies that n=k+1.
  4. Sep 8, 2005 #3
    Yes I get _that_ :)

    But how do I do the derivative of that expression???
  5. Sep 8, 2005 #4
    Reread the chapter on derivatives. (d/dx)(x^n) = n*x^(n-1).
  6. Sep 9, 2005 #5
    Nevermind, it was how to get from (-1)^k to (-1)^k+1 and the faculty thing I didnt get.
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