## Why Proof Matters: Polynomial Zeros and Turning Points

A recent question from a student demonstrates that not everything on the Internet should be taken at face value – and that it’s easy to think you are right when you are not.

A recent question from a student demonstrates that not everything on the Internet should be taken at face value – and that it’s easy to think you are right when you are not.

(A new question of the week) Last week we looked at how the adjugate matrix can be used to find an inverse. (This was formerly called the [classical] adjoint, a term that is avoided because it conflicts with another use of the word, but is still used in many sources.) I posted that as background …

(A new question of the week) I find it interesting to observe the process of problem-solving, particularly for proofs: how we discover a solution initially, and then how we turn that into a final answer. Sometimes we can see the main idea in a flash, but the process of writing it as a formal proof …

A new question of the week A simple question about the Basic Proportionality Theorem (which goes by several other names, including Thales’ Theorem) and its relationship to similar triangles leads to some helpful ideas about how to choose a suitable manipulation at each step in a proof, a skill central to good problem solving. In …

(A new question of the week) Proving a trigonometric identity can be a challenge; sometimes even when we read someone else’s proof, we can fail to see how they came up with a seemingly magical step. We’ll look at two such identities here, and consider how to bridge a gap when we are stuck.

(A new question of the week) Two weeks ago, in Proving Certain Polynomials Form a Group, we joined a beginner in learning about groups. Here we will pick up where that left off, learning how to prove that the group we saw there, a subset of polynomials, is isomorphic to a group of matrices. As …

Last week’s exploration of a problem involving the Fibonacci sequence, has led me to delve into that and related concepts. In order to say much about the Fibonacci numbers, we have to first explore the concept of proof by mathematical induction. We’ll introduce it here, and then dig deeper next time.

We’ve been looking at dissection puzzles, where we cut an object into pieces, and rearrange them. Here we’ll examine a mystery posed by two different puzzles, each of which seems to change the area by rearranging the pieces. The answer combines the marvelous Fibonacci numbers and [spoiler alert!] how easily we misjudge areas.

(A new question of the week) A question from last month provides an opportunity to show how to develop an algebraic proof of a combinatorial identity involving factorials. We’ll be looking over Doctor Rick’s shoulder as he guides a student through the maze. I’ll also add in a previously published version of the same proof …

One thing we enjoy doing is guiding a student through the process of problem-solving. Here is a problem from August that illustrates how to think through a complicated geometrical proof. In particular, this uses some circle theorems involving chords, secants, and tangents, together with a bit of algebra.