How to prove it
arensb%cvl%cvl@uunet.UUCP (Andrew Arensburger)
(heard it, chuckle)
( This is/was posted on someone's door, whence I copied it. I don't have the
source handy )
HOW TO PROVE IT
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 NP-
complete."
proof by personal communication:
"Eight-dimensional colored cycle stripping is NP-complete
[Karp, personal communication]."
proof by reduction to the wrong problem:
"To see that infinite-dimensional 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 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:
Cloud-shaped drawings frequently help here.