Mon Sep 09, 2019
10 Steps to completing a mathematical proof
- Read the proposition and immediately give up, leaving your desk.
- 15 minutes later return to your desk ashamed of yourself. This theorem will not defeat you. You are stronger than it.
- Quickly realize that the theorem is much stronger than you are.
- Key smash followed by the QED symbol. Beautiful.
- Frantically press backspace.
- Begin writing the proof and stop after you’ve restated the givens. A good start. That deserves a 30-minute break.
- Question your major briefly before realizing that you’re a third year, and it’s too late to switch now.
- Give up and go to bed.
- Wake up at 4:30 a.m., a full proof in your head.
- Forget the whole proof by the time you reach your keyboard, unsure if you're smart only in your dreams, and repeat steps (1)-(7) the following morning.
- (Optional) Write something, anything—a quick “I’m sorry” is better than nothing—three minutes before your class starts, just so you’re not the disappointment who turned nothing in.