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How to Think Like a Mathematician


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Table of Contents

Preface; Part I. Study Skills For Mathematicians: 1. Sets and functions; 2. Reading mathematics; 3. Writing mathematics I; 4. Writing mathematics II; 5. How to solve problems; Part II. How To Think Logically: 6. Making a statement; 7. Implications; 8. Finer points concerning implications; 9. Converse and equivalence; 10. Quantifiers - For all and There exists; 11. Complexity and negation of quantifiers; 12. Examples and counterexamples; 13. Summary of logic; Part III. Definitions, Theorems and Proofs: 14. Definitions, theorems and proofs; 15. How to read a definition; 16. How to read a theorem; 17. Proof; 18. How to read a proof; 19. A study of Pythagoras' Theorem; Part IV. Techniques of Proof: 20. Techniques of proof I: direct method; 21. Some common mistakes; 22. Techniques of proof II: proof by cases; 23. Techniques of proof III: Contradiction; 24. Techniques of proof IV: Induction; 25. More sophisticated induction techniques; 26. Techniques of proof V: contrapositive method; Part V. Mathematics That All Good Mathematicians Need: 27. Divisors; 28. The Euclidean Algorithm; 29. Modular arithmetic; 30. Injective, surjective, bijective - and a bit about infinity; 31. Equivalence relations; Part VI. Closing Remarks: 32. Putting it all together; 33. Generalization and specialization; 34. True understanding; 35. The biggest secret; Appendices: A. Greek alphabet; B. Commonly used symbols and notation; C. How to prove that ...; Index.

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This arsenal of tips and techniques eases new students into undergraduate mathematics, unlocking the world of definitions, theorems, and proofs.

About the Author

Kevin Houston is Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Leeds.


"In this book, Houston has created a primer on the fundamental abstract ideas of mathematics; the primary emphasis is on demonstrating the many principles and tactics used in proofs. The material is explained in ways that are comprehensible, which will be a great help for people who seem to hit the wall regarding what to do when confronted with the creation of a proof... In this book, Houston takes a systematic and gentle approach to explaining the ideas of mathematics and how tactics of reasoning can be combined with those ideas to generate what would be considered a convincing proof." Charles Ashbacher, Journal of Recreational Mathematics
"The author provides concise, crisp explanations, including definitions, examples, tips, remarks, warnings, and idea-reinforcing questions. Houston expresses thoughts clearly and concisely, and includes succinct remarks to make points, clarify arguments, and reveal subleties." W.R. Lee, Choice Magazine

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