Proof Techniques

proof by example

The author gives only the case n = 2 and suggests that it
contains most of the ideas of the general proof.
 proof by intimidation

'Trivial'.
 proof by vigorous handwaving

Works well in a classroom or seminar setting.
 proof by cumbersome notation

Best done with access to at least four alphabets and special symbols.
 proof by exhaustion

An issue or two of a journal devoted to your proof is useful.
 proof by omission

``The reader may easily supply the details''
``The other 253 cases are analogous''
``...''
 proof by obfuscation

A long plotless sequence of true and/or meaningless
syntactically related statements.
 proof by wishful citation

The author cites the negation, converse, or generalization of
a theorem from the literature to support his claims.
 proof by funding

How could three different government agencies be wrong?
 proof by eminent authority

``I saw Karp in the elevator and he said it was probably NPcomplete.''
 proof by personal communication

``Eightdimensional colored cycle stripping is NPcomplete
[Karp, personal communication].''
 proof by reduction to the wrong problem

``To see that infinitedimensional colored cycle stripping is
decidable, we reduce it to the halting problem.''
 proof by reference to inaccessible literature

The author cites a simple corollary of a theorem to be found in a
privately circulated memoir of the Slovenian Philological Society, 1883.
 proof by importance

A large body of useful consequences all follow from the
proposition in question.
 proof by accumulated evidence

Long and diligent search has not revealed a counterexample.
 proof by cosmology

The negation of the proposition is unimaginable or
meaningless. Popular for proofs of the existence of God.
 proof by mutual reference

In reference A, Theorem 5 is said to follow from Theorem 3 in
reference B, which is shown to follow from Corollary 6.2 in
reference C, which is an easy consequence of Theorem 5 in reference A.
 proof by metaproof

A method is given to construct the desired proof. The
correctness of the method is proved by any of these techniques.
 proof by picture

A more convincing form of proof by example. Combines well
with proof by omission.
 proof by assertion

This is correct.
 proof by vehement assertion

It is useful to have some kind of authority relation to the audience.
 proof by ghost reference

Nothing even remotely resembling the cited theorem appears in
the reference given.
 proof by forward reference

Reference is usually to a forthcoming paper of the author,
which is often not as forthcoming as at first.
 proof by semantic shift

Some of the standard but inconvenient definitions are changed
for the statement of the result.
 proof by appeal to intuition

Cloudshaped drawings frequently help here.
 proof by elimination of the counterexample
 Assume for the moment
that the hypothesis is true. Now let's suppose we find a
counterexample. So what? QED.
 proof by assumption
 ``For the last century no one acquainted with the
facts has disputed...'' an equivalent statement is, ``I did not look up
the actual facts but since most people I know think this way, it follows
that everyone else does too.''
 proof by interruption

Keep interrupting until your opponent gives up.
 proof by misconception

An example of this is the Freshman's Conception of the Limit Process: ``2 equals 3 for large values of 2.'' Once introduced, any conclusion is reachable.
This document was translated from L^{A}T_{E}X by
H^{E}V^{E}A.