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Writing proofs in advanced math courses • A proof is like an essay whose purpose is to convince people who read your proof. In this sense, a proof is not either “correct or incorrect” unlike a computational problem in calculus, but rather it is either “convincing or unconvincing”. Hence even if you do not make any false assertion in your proof, your proof could be considered as not so convincing and might not receive the full credit, if, for example, your proof contains unclarity or a logical or mathematical gap. Of course in your proof, if you make a false assertion, that will make your proof signiﬁcantly unconvincing. • A proof always has to consist of grammatically correct English sentences. A grammatically correct English sentence always starts with a capital letter and ends with a period. In a composition class, everyone obeys this rule, but for some reason in a math class, students tend to forget about it. • Each mathematical symbols like those for variables, matrices, functions, sets, etc, are parts of a sentence. They are treated as nouns. • When you introduce a new symbol, deﬁne it by using a sentence like “Let x be · · · .” Do not assume that your grader can understand what your symbol means unless it is already deﬁned in the problem or it is a commonly accepted symbols like R or C. Your grader cannot read your mind! • Do not use abbreviations in your submitted proof like “v.s.” for “vector space” or “l.i” for “linearly independent”, although the instructor occasionally uses such abbreviations in class for the sake of not slowing down the natural ﬂow of the lecture. • Do not use ⇒ for denoting an implication. Namely if you would like to write a statement “A implies B”, just write “A implies B” or “If A, then B”, instead of “A ⇒ B”. (However once again the instructor might use it for the sake of exposition in the lecture.) • Avoid the symbols ∴ and for “therefore” and “because”, even though they are sometimes used in class, but again that is simply for the sake of exposition.

• Try to avoid the quantiﬁers ∀ and ∃ but rather just write “for all” and ”there exists”. . Just write proofs in the way the textbook does. • Always keep in mind that a proof is not just a listing of mathematical facts. but it is an essay that conveys your ideas to other people. unless to use them would signiﬁcantly improve readability. Readability is important. • The best model for writing proofs is your textbook.

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