How to do Proof by Deduction

Proof by deduction is a process in maths where we show that a statement is true using well-known mathematical principles. With this in mind, try not to confuse it with Proof by Induction or Proof by Exhaustion. The word deduce means to establish facts through reasoning or make conclusions about a particular instance by referring to a general rule or principle. Furthermore, deduction is the noun associated with the verb deduce. It follows that proof by deduction is the demonstration that something is true by showing that it must be true for all instances that could possibly be considered. Hence, it is not sufficient to check that a statement is true for a few example numbers – this is a mistake that is often made.

In maths, proof by deduction usually requires the use of algebraic symbols to represent certain numbers. For this reason, the following are very useful to know when trying to prove a statement by deduction:

  • Use $n$ to represent any integer. Use $n$ and $m$ to represent any two integers.
  • Consequently, use $n$, $n+1$ and $n+2$  to represent 3 consecutive integers.
  • In addition, if $n$ represents any integer, then $2n$ represents any even integer and $2n+1$ represents any odd integer.
  • It follows that …
  • Take the Proof course.

Note that a certain amount of algebra is required when completing proofs. For example, expanding $(n+1)^2$ as $(n+1)(n+1)=n^2+2n+1$. Take the AS Maths Proof course to see examples, videos and practise exam-style questions.