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Math Help - Sqrt of 4 is irrational

  1. #1
    Senior Member Mukilab's Avatar
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    Sqrt of 4 is irrational

    Hello please could you tell me if my proof that the sqrt of 4 is irrational is correct.

    \sqrt{4}=\frac{a}{b} therefore 4=(\frac{a}{b})^{2} so 4b^2=a^2....1.1

    This implies that a is greater than b and that a is even.

    a is even so a=2k

    put into 1.1 4b^2=4k^2

    cancel by 4 b^2=k^2

    this can be written as (\frac{2k}{2})^{2}=b^2 this implies that (\frac{a}{2})^{2}=b^2 which implies that a^2=2b^2....1.2

    Equation 1.2 contradicts equation 1.1. This shows that a and b cannot be whole positive integers.
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  2. #2
    A Plied Mathematician
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    Going from (a/2)^{2}=b^{2} to a^{2}=2b^{2} is incorrect. You forgot to square the 2.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Mukilab's Avatar
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    oh. Thanks for that, I didn't realise it. Please can nobody post a solution until I ask for it, I want to solve it on my own
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Mukilab's Avatar
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    I think I've proved it is rational.

    a^2=4b^2 = 2b=a

    Because we have proved a is an even number, b also must be even

    Because a is greater than b and they are both integers we know it cannot be a decimal and we know that if a number can be written as a fraction then it is rational. Because they are both even it can be written as a fraction.

    Q.E.D
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  5. #5
    MHF Contributor undefined's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mukilab View Post
    I think I've proved it is rational.

    a^2=4b^2 = 2b=a

    Because we have proved a is an even number, b also must be even

    Because a is greater than b and they are both integers we know it cannot be a decimal and we know that if a number can be written as a fraction then it is rational. Because they are both even it can be written as a fraction.

    Q.E.D
    4 is a perfect square, and \sqrt{4}=2 which is rational. No need for fancy proof.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Mukilab's Avatar
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    you need to prove that it is a rational number. I know it's a perfect square... that was never the point
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  7. #7
    A Plied Mathematician
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    Here's my proof: (\pm 2)^{2}=4, therefore, by the definition of square root, \sqrt{4}=\pm 2. Now, -2=\frac{-2}{1}, and 2=\frac{2}{1}. In either case, by the definition of rational number, we have a rational number. Therefore, \sqrt{4} is rational.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Mukilab's Avatar
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    much simpler
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  9. #9
    MHF Contributor undefined's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ackbeet View Post
    Here's my proof: (\pm 2)^{2}=4, therefore, by the definition of square root, \sqrt{4}=\pm 2. Now, -2=\frac{-2}{1}, and 2=\frac{2}{1}. In either case, by the definition of rational number, we have a rational number. Therefore, \sqrt{4} is rational.
    This is actually not correct. The \sqrt{} sign is defined as nonnegative (for reals).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mukilab View Post
    you need to prove that it is a rational number. I know it's a perfect square... that was never the point
    Writing \sqrt{4}=2 \in \mathbb{Q} \therefore \sqrt{4}\ \text{is rational.} is a valid proof.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Mukilab's Avatar
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    Your proof feels like cheating
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  11. #11
    MHF Contributor undefined's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mukilab View Post
    Your proof feels like cheating
    But it's not. Prove that 6 is composite. 6=2\cdot3\therefore6\ \text{is composite}.
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  12. #12
    A Plied Mathematician
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    I knew someone was going to flag me on that one. Just interpret it to mean this: either \sqrt{4}=2 or \sqrt{4}=-2, which is certainly a true statement. I should have written it out in more fullness.
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  13. #13
    MHF Contributor undefined's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ackbeet View Post
    I knew someone was going to flag me on that one. Just interpret it to mean this: either \sqrt{4}=2 or \sqrt{4}=-2, which is certainly a true statement. I should have written it out in more fullness.
    Ah, you're right, didn't think of that. In fact it's true that \forall x\in\mathbb{R}:x=\pm x. Misinterpretation on my part.

    Edit: Actually, I'm wondering whether this is normal syntax for the "=" sign, or for equations containing an unknown.

    Edit 2: I think the syntax is perfectly valid, after a little thought. I don't think anyone would have a problem with this statement:

    5=\pm5

    Then in the context of solving equations, we have, for example

    <br />
\forall x,y\in\mathbb{R}:x=y \Rightarrow x=\pm y

    Contrasted with

    <br />
\forall x,y\in\mathbb{R},y\ge0:x^2=y \Leftrightarrow x=\pm \sqrt{y}
    Last edited by undefined; June 24th 2010 at 10:36 AM.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Mukilab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by undefined View Post
    But it's not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mukilab View Post
    feels like
    .
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  15. #15
    A Plied Mathematician
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    Well, more than that, I was just trying to get at all numbers that square to equal 4. Perhaps that's more even than is called for.
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