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How to Read and Do Proofs: An Introduction to Mathematical Thought Processes, 5th Edition

December 2009, ©2009
How to Read and Do Proofs: An Introduction to Mathematical Thought Processes, 5th Edition (EHEP000264) cover image


How to Read and Do Proofs has been teaching students how to do proofs for over 20 years! 

This text provides a systematic approach for teaching undergraduate and graduate students how to read, understand, think about, and do proofs. The approach is to catagorize, identify, and explain (at the student's level) the various techniques that are used repeatedly in all proofs, regardless of the subject in which the proofs arise. How to Read and Do Proofs  also explains when each technique is likely to be used, based on certain key words that appear in the problem under consideration. Doing so enables students to choose a technique consciously, based on the form of the problem. Students are taught how to read proofs that arise in textbooks and other mathematical literature by understanding which techniques are used and how they are applied. It shows how any proof can be understood as a sequence of the individual techniques.  The goal is to enable students to learn advanced mathematics on their own. This book is suitable as: (1) a text for a transition-to-advanced-math course, (2) a supplement to any course involving proofs, and (3) self-guided teaching.

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Table of Contents

1. The Truth of It All.

2. The Forward-Backward Method

3. On Definitions and Mathematical Terminology.

4. Quantifiers I: The Construction Method.

5. Quantifiers II: The Choose Method.

6. Quantifiers III: Specialization.

7. Quantifiers IV: Nested Quantifiers.

8. Nots of Nots Lead to Knots.

9. The Contradiction Method.

10. The Contrapositive Method.

11. The Uniqueness Methods

12. Induction.

13. The Either/Or Methods.

14. The Max/Min Methods.

15. Summary.

Appendix A: Examples of Proofs from Discrete Mathematics.

Appendix B: Examples of Proofs from Linear Algebra.

Appendix C: Examples of Proofs from Modern Algebra.

Appendix D: Examples of Proofs from Real Analysis.

Solutions to Selected Exercises.




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New To This Edition


What’s New in the Fifth Edition

The main change in the fifth edition is a complete revision and expansion of

the exercises in the main body of the text. This book now contains exercises

that are appropriate for all levels of undergraduate students. As in the fourth

edition, all exercises marked with a B have completely worked-out solutions

in the back of the book; those marked with a W have complete solutions on

the web at http://www.wiley.com/college/solow/; and the rest have solutions

provided in the accompanying Solutions Manual that only instructors can

obtain from the foregoing web site. Exercises marked with a * symbol and

whose solution is not available to students are considered relatively more

challenging or time-consuming.

Other changes in this edition include the following:

1. A discussion in Chapter 1 of the need to identify the hypothesis and

conclusion when the proposition is not stated in the standard form,

“If A, then B.” Several examples are given to illustrate how this is done

and appropriate exercises are included.

2. An extended and more complete discussion in Chapter 3 of how to use

a previously-proved proposition in both the forward and backward processes.

3. A discussion in Chapter 5 of the equivalence of the statements, “For all

objects X with a certain property, something happens” and “If X is

an object with a certain property, then X satisfies the something that


4. Replacing the previous Chapters 11 and 12 with new Chapters 11 - 14

so as to devote a separate self-contained chapter with exercises to each of

the following techniques: uniqueness, induction, either/or, and max/min


5. The inclusion of several final examples of how to read and do proofs in

the summary Chapter 15 that serve to unify the student’s knowledge of

the various proof techniques.

Although these changes seem to make it even easier for students to understand

proofs, I have still found no substitute for actively teaching the material

in class instead of having the students read the material on their own. This

active interaction has proved eminently beneficial to both student and teacher,

in my case.

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The Wiley Advantage

The inclusion in practically every chapter of new material on how to read and understand proofs as they are typically presented in class lectures, textbooks, and other mathematical literature. The goal is to provide sufficient examples (and exercises) to give students the ability to learn mathematics on their own.
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Instructors Resources
Wiley Instructor Companion Site
Online Instructor’s Solutions Manual
The Instructor's Solutions Manual contains the solutions to all of the exercises and is available as a download from the websiteon the Instructor Book Companion Site. Not only short answers, these solutions are often given in detail, with a full explanation of the thinking process that goes into the solution.
Digital evaluation copy available for this title
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Students Resources
Wiley Student Companion Site
On line access to student solutions manual
Solutions to exercises that are marked with a W are provided on the text's website at www.wiley.com/college/solow.
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Purchase Options
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How to Read and Do Proofs: An Introduction to Mathematical Thought Processes, 5th Edition
ISBN : 978-0-470-57437-9
July 2010, ©2009
$31.00   BUY

How to Read and Do Proofs: An Introduction to Mathematical Thought Processes, 5th Edition
ISBN : 978-0-470-39216-4
320 pages
December 2009, ©2009
$83.95   BUY

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