Visual proof Although not a formal proof, a visual demonstration of a mathematical theorem is sometimes called a "proof without words". The left-hand picture below is an example of a historic visual proof of the Pythagorean theorem in the case of the (3,4,5) triangle. Visual proof for the (3, 4, 5) triangle as in the Chou Pei Suan Ching 500–200 BC. Animated visual proof for the Pythagorean theorem by rearrangement. A second animated proof of the Pythagorean theorem. Some illusory visual proofs, such as the missing square puzzle, can be constructed in a way which appear to prove a supposed mathematical fact but only do so under the presence of tiny errors (for example, supposedly straight lines which actually bend slightly) which are unnoticeable until the entire picture is closely examined, with lengths and angles precisely measured or calculated. Elementary proof Main article: Elementary proof An elementary proof is a proof which only uses basic techniques. More specifically, the term is used in number theory to refer to proofs that make no use of complex analysis. For some time it was thought that certain theorems, like the prime number theorem, could only be proved using "higher" mathematics. However, over time, many of these results have been reproved using only elementary techniques. Two-column proof A two-column proof published in 1913 A particular way of organising a proof using two parallel columns is often used in elementary geometry classes in the United States.[24] The proof is written as a series of lines in two columns. In each line, the left-hand column contains a proposition, while the right-hand column contains a brief explanation of how the corresponding proposition in the left-hand column is either an axiom, a hypothesis, or can be logically derived from previous propositions. The left-hand column is typically headed "Statements" and the right-hand column is typically headed "Reasons".[25] Colloquial use of "mathematical proof" The expression "mathematical proof" is used by lay people to refer to using mathematical methods or arguing with mathematical objects, such as numbers, to demonstrate something about everyday life, or when data used in an argument is numerical. It is sometimes also used to mean a "statistical proof" (below), especially when used to argue from data. Statistical proof using data Main article: Statistical proof "Statistical proof" from data refers to the application of statistics, data analysis, or Bayesian analysis to infer propositions regarding the probability of data. While using mathematical proof to establish theorems in statistics, it is usually not a mathematical proof in that the assumptions from which probability statements are derived require empirical evidence from outside mathematics to verify. In physics, in addition to statistical methods, "statistical proof" can refer to the specialized mathematical methods of physics applied to analyze data in a particle physics experiment or observational study in cosmology. "Statistical proof" may also refer to raw data or a convincing diagram involving data, such as scatter plots, when the data or diagram is adequately convincing without further analysis. Inductive logic proofs and Bayesian analysis Main articles: Inductive logic and Bayesian analysis Proofs using inductive logic, while considered mathematical in nature, seek to establish propositions with a degree of certainty, which acts in a similar manner to probability, and may be less than one certainty. Bayesian analysis establishes assertions as to the degree of a person's subjective belief. Inductive logic should not be confused with mathematical induction. Proofs as mental objects Main articles: Psychologism and Language of thought Psychologism views mathematical proofs as psychological or mental objects. Mathematician philosophers, such as Leibniz, Frege, and Carnap, have attempted to develop a semantics for what they considered to be the language of thought, whereby standards of mathematical proof might be applied to empirical science. Influence of mathematical proof methods outside mathematics Philosopher-mathematicians such as Spinoza have attempted to formulate philosophical arguments in an axiomatic manner, whereby mathematical proof standards could be applied to argumentation in general philosophy. Other mathematician-philosophers have tried to use standards of mathematical proof and reason, without empiricism, to arrive at statements outside of mathematics, but having the certainty of propositions deduced in a mathematical proof, such as Descarte's cogito argument. |

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