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Elvis Chidera

[WIP] Mathematics for Computer Science - Notes

notes2 min read

Chapter 1: What is a proof


  1. A proposition is a statement (communication) that is either true or false.
  2. The symbol ":=" is defined to read "equal by definition", and is used to define letters or symbols used to refer to commonly occurring objects. Statements involving the symbol ":=" are always assumed to be true. There is a subtle, but important difference between the symbols ":=" and "=". For example, we may first write "a:=4". This defines the symbol 'a' to equal 4, which is then assumed to be true. Then "a=5" and "a=4" are statements, the first of which is false and the second true.
  3. In general, you can’t check a claim about an infinite set by checking a finite sample of its elements, no matter how large the sample.
  4. nN.  p(n)  is  prime\forall n \in ℕ. \; p(n) \; is \; prime Here the symbol \forall is read “for all.” The symbol stands for the set of nonnegative integers. The symbol \in is read as “is a member of". The period after the is just a separator between phrases.
  5. Euler (pronounced “oiler”)
  6. A conjecture is a conclusion or a proposition which is suspected to be true due to preliminary supporting evidence, but for which no proof or disproof has yet been found.
  7.   a,  b,  ,c,  dZ+.  a4+b4+c4=d4\forall \; a, \; b, \;, c, \; d \in \mathbb{Z}^+ . \; a^4 + b^4 + c^4 = d^4 Here, Z+\mathbb{Z}^+ is a symbol for the positive integers.


  1. A Predicate is a proposition that may be true or false depending on the values of its variables.
  2. Eg: “n is a perfect square” describes a predicate, since it is either true or false depending on the value of n.
  3. Predicates are named with letters, often with function notation. Eg: p(n) ::= "n is a perfect square" The output is either true or false. This is in contrast to ordinary functions where the output is a numerical value.

The Axiomatic Method

  1. An axiom or postulate is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments.

  2. A proof is a sequence of logical deductions from axioms and previously proved statements that concludes with the proposition in question.

  3. There are several common terms for a proposition that has been proved. The different terms hint at the role of the proposition within a larger body of work:

    i. Important true propositions are called theorems. ii. A lemma is a preliminary proposition useful for proving later propositions. iii. A corollary is a proposition that follows in just a few logical steps from a theorem.

  4. Euclid’s axiom-and-proof approach, now called the axiomatic method.

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