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Mathematical Language

ncbauers@ndsuvax.UUCP (Michael Bauers)
North Dakota State University Fargo, ND
(heard it, chuckle)

Note: This entry was inspired by something I once read in NUTWORKS (The Computer Humor Magazine.)

This is a guide to translating the language of math textbooks and professors.

1) It can be proven...

This may take upwards of a year, and no shorter than four hours, and may require something like 5 reams of scratch paper, 100 pencils, or 100 refills (For those who use machanical pencils). If you are only an undergraduate, you need not bother attempting the proof as it will be impossible for you.

2) It can be shown...

Usually this would take the teacher about one hour of blackboard work, so he/she avoids doing it. Another possibility of course is that the instructor doesn't understand the proof himself/herself.

3) It is obvious...

Only to PhD's who specialize in that field, or to instructors who have taught the course 100 times.

4) It is easily derived...

Meaning that the teacher figures that even the student could derive it. The dedicated student who wishes to do this will waste the next weekend in the attempt. Also possible that the teacher read this somewhere, and wants to sound like he/she really has it together.

5) It is obvious...

Only to the Author of the textbook, or Carl Gauss. More likely only Carl Gauss. Last time I saw this was as a step in a proof of Fermat's last theorem.

6) The proof is beyond the scope of this text.

Obviously this is a plot. The reader will never find any text with the proof in it. The Proof doesn't exist. The theorem just turned out to be usefull to the author.

7) The proof is left up to the reader.

...sure let us do all the work. Does the author think that we have nothing better to do than sit around with THEIR textbook, and do the work that THEY should have done?

8) Sample Proof: .



4.7 At this point we assume that x is an element of the set S, and therefore...We know this according to L. Krueger[pg. 71]

Question...has anyone ever bothered to see if these type of references exist. Come on...we all know what happens when we are writing a fresh- man english composition and run out of better to prove your thesis with a little blurb from some obscure, and nonexistant source

Michael J. Bauers

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