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The Principle of Mathematical Induction and the Well Ordering Principle In dealing with the natural numbers N we must postulate some form of the principle of mathematical induction or the well ordering principle. We state two forms of the principle of mathematical induction and then state the well ordering principle and prove that all three are equivalent. Postulate 1 (The Principle of Mathematical Induction, MI 1 ). Let S N. Suppose 1S (1) and n + 1 S whenever n S. Then S = N. Postulate 2 (The Principle of Mathematical Induction, MI 2 ). Let S N. Suppose 1S (3) and n + 1 S whenever 1, 2, . . . , n S. Then S = N. Postulate 3 (The Well Ordering Principle, W). Suppose S is a nonempty subset of N. Then S contains a smallest element. We show that these three postulates are equivalent by establishing the chain of implications, MI1 MI2 W MI1 . MI1 MI2 We assume MI1 and must prove MI2 . Let S be any set of positive integers satisfying the hypotheses (3) and (4). We must show that S = N using MI1 . Consider the statement P (n) : The integers 1 to n are in S . Let S = {n N|P (n) is true.} (4) (2)

P (1) is true by hypothesis, so 1 S . Assume P (k ) is true where k is a xed but arbitrary positive integer. That is assume k S , i.e. 1 to k inclusive are in S . Hence by (4), we have k + 1 S . That is to say we have 1 to k + 1 inclusive are in S . So P (k + 1) is true which means k + 1 S . Now we have 1 S and k + 1 S whenever k S so that (1) and (2) are satised with S replaced by S . MI1 gives S = N. But this means that S = N which is what we had to prove. MI2 W Let S be a nonempty subset of N. We must show that S has a smallest element. Assume that S has no least element and consider the statement P (n) : n is not an element of S . Now P (1) is true, because 1 is the smallest element of N so that if 1 S then S would have a smallest element contradicting our assumption. Assume that P (1), P (2),. . . ,P (k ) are all true. But now we see that P (k + 1) is true, otherwise k + 1 is the smallest element of S and S , by hypothesis, has no smallest element. MI 2 now implies that P (n) is true for all n N. But this means that S = . This contradiction yields the desired result. W MI1 Let S be a set of positive integers satisfying (1) and (2). Assuming W, we must show that S = N. Suppose that S = N. Then W shows that S c has a smallest element. Clearly, this smallest element cannot be less than 1 and, since, by hypothesis, 1 S , nor can this smallest element be 1. Thus this smallest element has the form k + 1 where k is a positive integer. Now this means that k S but k + 1 / S . This c contradicts the (2). Thus S = . Hence S = N.

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