Why We Prove

When one talks to non-math people about mathematics classes one of the most common complaints is about proofs. Well I was researching a bit for my interview with Josua Cooper from University of South Carolina, look for the episode later this week, and I stumbled on this paper he wrote on why proofs are necessary in math classes that I think really does get right to heart of the usefulness that proofs have. From the paper:

That’s right. You are going to have to endure proofs. Like many of my students, perhaps you are asking yourself (or me), why do I have to learn proofs? Aren’t they just some esoteric, jargon-filled, technical writing that only a professional mathematician would care about?

Well, no. And I’d like to offer a short justification of this claim. My argument is three-fold: (1) proofs are all around you, (2) it’s quite possible to get better at them by practice and by benefiting from the accumulated knowledge of two thousand years of mathematicians, and (3) this will really help you in “real life,” whether you go into mathematics, carpentry, or child-rearing. (Rest of the Paper)

Really go and read the rest of the paper which is fantastic and get properly excited and worked up to hear my interview with Joshua Cooper which should hit the feed on Wednesday.


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