Logic

More Handshake Problems

Last week we looked at problems about counting diagonals in a polygon, and the very similar problem of counting handshakes when everyone in a group shakes with everyone else. In the course of searching for those problems, I also found some very different problems that are also about handshakes. We’ll look at those here, just …

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Why Do We Need Proofs?

One aspect of mathematics that students often struggle with, particularly in geometry (which traditionally has been where proof is introduced), is writing proofs. Why do we need to learn about proofs? Why are proofs needed in the first place? Here are a few answers we’ve given to these questions. Why does math need proofs? First, …

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Patterns of Logical Argument

We’ve looked at various aspects of turning English sentences into logical statements, and modifying them by negation, converse, and so on. Let’s finish by looking at some questions about standard rules of inference, such as Modus Ponens and the Law of Syllogism. Four ways to argue We can start with a question about the basics, …

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Complicating the Converse

(An archive question of the week) Usually when we discuss converses (and inverses and contrapositives) we use clear, idealized examples. But statements in real life — even in real math — are not quite so straightforward. The difficulty is not merely in the language, but in the complexity of our statements. A question in the …

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