# Proof

## Different Ways to Prove a Trigonometric Identity

Proving trigonometric identities can be a major challenge for students, as it is often very different from anything they have previously done. Often they confuse this concept with solving an equation. But also, they may be give overly rigorous standards to comply with. Here, I will look at several discussions we have had about different …

## Is Area of a Square a Circular Argument?

(New Question of the Week) I love it when students want to know why something has to be the way it is, and are not satisfied just being told to use a formula. Last month, Shunya asked this kind of question, which gave me a chance to refer to our archive and go beyond it.

## What Role Should a Figure Play in a Proof?

Questions about geometric proofs have often been handicapped by the inability to show us the associated figure (until we made that easier to do on this new site). In principle, that should not be a problem, because the statement to be proved should contain all the necessary information. It should never be necessary to refer …

## Arrhenius Equation: Which Graph is Right?

(New Question of the Week) Occasionally we get questions challenging the correctness of a textbook problem, or of a test grade. And sometimes we get questions about mathematics used in sciences like physics or chemistry, which lead us to explore unfamiliar fields. The most interesting question this week is one of these. It is one …

## WHY Do We Add or Multiply in Probability?

Last time, we discussed how you know whether to add or multiply (or something else) in compound probability problems (like finding the probability that you will flip heads and roll an even number). But as I’ve said before, it’s often easier to remember a formula if you know why it is what it is. I’ll …

## How Can I Remember Area Formulas?

Students often ask about formulas for areas or volumes. Sometimes they are just overwhelmed by the number of formulas they need to know; other times they are curious about how we know they are true. The answer to both questions is, in part, the same: if you know at least something of where they come …

## How to Write a Proof: The Big Picture

Early in our history, we answered many questions about geometric proofs, particularly the “two-column” variety. Many of these were collected into a FAQ page. I want to briefly survey just some of what we have said about the big picture – an overall view of how to approach a proof, and how to work your …