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Explaining the Principle of mathematical induction

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  • Essay length: 1276 words
  • Submitted: 15/12/2002
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GCSE Consecutive Numbers

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1 Explaining the Principle of mathematical induction:

Formally the principle of a proof by induction can be stated as follows:

A proposition P (n) involving a positive integer n, is true for all positive integral values of n if, P (1), and P (k) ? P (k +1) is true.

This can be explained using a staircase as a simple analogy. Image the proposition that a man can climb a given uniform staircase, to prove this statement we need to show two things. These are that the man can get onto the first step and that he is able to climb from one step to an other. Now relating this to the formal principle of induction, the staircase can be considered the general proposition P (n). The first step of the staircase is P (1), the second P (2), the third P (3), and so on. If we can show that the man can get onto the first step P (1) then we have ironically finished the first step of proving the proposition. The second step would be to prove that he can get from one step to an other formally put P (k) ?

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