Can you explain mathematical induction?

Expert Answers
jeew-m eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mathematical induction is a very important tool in maths. By this we can mathematically prove a statement. But there are certain limits in mathematical induction. This can only be used in positive integers. By proving the parts of statement one by one in a sequence we can prove the whole statement mathematically.

There are three important stages in mathematical induction.

  1. Prove the statement for n=1
  2. Assume at n=p (where p is a positive integer) the statement is true.
  3. Using this assumption prove that for n=p+1 the statement is true.

If p=2 then p+1 = 3 or if n=3 then p+1 =4

So like this we can produce the sequence of the statement is true.

So this sequence yields for all positive `n in Z` the statement is true.


Note that some special occasions are there that the starting point is not n=1. There may be some other point. But still the mathematical induction can be done for that starting value. Same thing can be found in n=p and n=p+1 terms. Some time when n=p the next point will be n=p+2 according to the requirements of the statement.


Show that f(n) is divisible by 5 when n is even.

So we can not take n=1 as starting value here because 1 is not even. So we have to prove the statement for n=2 first.


So if n=p where p is even for above example we cannot prove the result for n=p+1 because it is a odd number. So we have to go to n=p+2