Unexpectedly Intriguing!
November 3, 2005

It's a well-known problem in the education community that many of today's students express anxiety when it comes to learning math and understanding what it means. In the interest of generating better understanding of mathematical concepts, Political Calculations is proud to present the following definitions of terms commonly used in the solution of math problems:

CLEARLY: I don't want to write down all the in-between steps.

TRIVIAL: If I have to show you how to do this, you're in the wrong class.

OBVIOUSLY: I hope you weren't sleeping when we discussed this earlier, because I refuse to repeat it.

RECALL: I shouldn't have to tell you this, but for those of you who erase your memory tapes after every test, here it is again.

WITHOUT LOSS OF GENERALITY: I'm not about to do all the possible cases, so I'll do one and let you figure out the rest.

ONE MAY SHOW: One did, his name was Gauss.

IT IS WELL KNOWN: See "Mathematische Zeitschrift'', vol XXXVI, 1892.

CHECK FOR YOURSELF: This is the boring part of the proof, so you can do it on your own time.

SKETCH OF A PROOF: I couldn't verify the details, so I'll break it down into parts I couldn't prove.

HINT: The hardest of several possible ways to do a proof.

BRUTE FORCE: Four special cases, three counting arguments, two long inductions, and a partridge in a pair tree.

SOFT PROOF: One third less filling (of the page) than your regular proof, but it requires two extra years of course work just to understand the terms.

ELEGANT PROOF: Requires no previous knowledge of the subject, and is less than ten lines long.

SIMILARLY: At least one line of the proof of this case is the same as before.

CANONICAL FORM: 4 out of 5 mathematicians surveyed recommended this as the final form for the answer.

THE FOLLOWING ARE EQUIVALENT: If I say this it means that, and if I say that it means the other thing, and if I say the other thing...

BY A PREVIOUS THEOREM: I don't remember how it goes (come to think of it, I'm not really sure we did this at all), but if I stated it right, then the rest of this follows.

TWO LINE PROOF: I'll leave out everything but the conclusion.

BRIEFLY: I'm running out of time, so I'll just write and talk faster.

LET'S TALK THROUGH IT: I don't want to write it on the board because I'll make a mistake.

PROCEED FORMALLY: Manipulate symbols by the rules without any hint of their true meaning.

QUANTIFY: I can't find anything wrong with your proof except that it won't work if x is 0.

FINALLY: Only ten more steps to go...

Q.E.D.: T.G.I.F.

PROOF OMITTED: Trust me, it's true.

is good for you

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

ironman at politicalcalculations.com

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