10 steps to writing a mathematical proof

TechNews Writer
Mon Sep 09, 2019

10 Steps to completing a mathematical proof


  1. Read the proposition and immediately give up, leaving your desk.
  2. 15 minutes later return to your desk ashamed of yourself. This theorem will not defeat you. You are stronger than it.
  3. Quickly realize that the theorem is much stronger than you are.
  4. Key smash followed by the QED symbol. Beautiful.
  5. Frantically press backspace.
  6. Begin writing the proof and stop after you’ve restated the givens. A good start. That deserves a 30-minute break.
  7. Question your major briefly before realizing that you’re a third year, and it’s too late to switch now.
  8. Give up and go to bed.
  9. Wake up at 4:30 a.m., a full proof in your head.
  10. 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.
  11. (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.    



Appears in
2019-Fall-Issue 2