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Useful Proofs

Take a break from the drudgery with some of these jokes, song parodies, anecdotes and assorted humor that has been collected from friends & from websites across the Internet. This humor is light-hearted and sometimes slightly offensive to the easily-offended, so you are forewarned. I have taken care to censor "humor" with overt sexual overtones (or undertones) and hateful tirades, so it is all workplace-safe. I have also tried to warn of any links that will result in audio clips so you can take appropriate precautions. Please send any potential candidates for this humor page to the e-mail link above.

Humor #1 | Humor #2 | Humor #3


Proof by example:
    The author gives only the case n = 2 and suggests that it contains most of the ideas
    of the general proof.


Proof by intimidation:
    "Trivial."

Proof by vigorous hand-waving:
    Works well in a classroom or seminar setting.

Proof by cumbersome notation:
    Best done with access to at least four alphabets and special symbols.

Proof by exhaustion:
    An issue or two of a journal devoted to your proof is useful.

Proof by omission:
    'The reader may easily supply the details'
    "The other 253 cases are analogous"
    "..."

Proof by obfuscation:
    A long plotless sequence of true and/or meaningless syntactically related statements.

Proof by wishful citation:
    The author cites the negation, converse, or generalization of a theorem from the
     literature to support his claims.


Proof by funding:
    How could three different government agencies be wrong?

Proof by eminent authority:
    "I saw Karp in the elevator and he said it was probably NP- complete."

Proof by personal communication:
    "Eight-dimensional colored cycle stripping is NP-complete [Karp, personal
     communication]."


Proof by reduction to the wrong problem:
    "To see that infinite-dimensional colored cycle stripping is decidable, we reduce it to
      the halting problem."


Proof by reference to inaccessible literature:
    The author cites a simple corollary of a theorem to be found in a privately circulated
    memoir of the Slovenian Philological
Society, 1883.

Proof by importance:
    A large body of useful consequences all follow from the proposition in question.

Proof by accumulated evidence:
    Long and diligent search has not revealed a counterexample.

Proof by cosmology:
    The negation of the proposition is unimaginable or meaningless. Popular for proofs of the
    existence of God.


Proof by mutual reference:
    In reference A, Theorem 5 is said to follow from Theorem 3 in reference B, which is
    shown to follow from Corollary 6.2 in
reference C, which is an easy consequence of
    Theorem 5 in reference A.


Proof by metaproof:
    A method is given to construct the desired proof. The correctness of the method is
    proved by any of these techniques.


Proof by picture:
    A more convincing form of proof by example. Combines well with proof by omission.

Proof by vehement assertion:
    It is useful to have some kind of authority relation to the audience.

Proof by ghost reference:
    Nothing even remotely resembling the cited theorem appears in the reference given.

Proof by forward reference:
    Reference is usually to a forthcoming paper of the author, which is often not as
    forthcoming as at first.


Proof by semantic shift:
    Some of the standard but inconvenient definitions are changed for the statement of
     the result.


Proof by appeal to intuition:
    Cloud-shaped drawings frequently help here.
 

The above material is by Dana Angluin and was published in Sigact News, Winter-Spring, 1983, Volume 15  #1.
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