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Proofs

A classic problem
Show that 2 is irrational.













A problem from the Oxford MAT

Suppose a, b, c are integers such that

a 2 b c 3 .

By squaring both sides of the equation, show that a b c 0.
[You may assume that 2 , 3 and 2 3 are all irrational numbers.]


A twisted argument

Disprove that an irrational number to the power of an irrational number cannot
be rational.



A rich question

Prove that if x, y, z are non-zero integers such that x
2
y
2
z
2
then xyz is
divisible by 60.
STEP I 2006 Question 1

Find the integer, n , that satisfies n
2
33127 (n 1)
2
. Find also a small integer
m such that (n m)
2
33127 is a perfect square. Hence express 33127 in the
form pq, where p and q are integers greater than 1.

By considering the possible factorisations of 33127, show that there are exactly
two values of m for which (n m)
2
33127 is a perfect square, and find the
other value.



STEP II 2002 Question 3

The nth Fermat number, F
n
, is defined by

F
n
2
2
n
1, n 0, 1, 2, K ,

where 2
2
n
means 2 raised to the power of 2
n
. Calculate F
0
, F
1
, F
2
, and F
3
.
Show that, for k 1, k 2 and k 3,

F
0
F
1
K F
k1
F
k
2 ()

Prove, by induction, or otherwise, that () holds for all k 1. Deduce that no
two Fermat numbers have a common factor greater than 1.

Hence show that there are infinitely many prime numbers.



STEP III 1997 Question 7

For each positive integer n , let

a
n

1
n 1

1
(n 1)(n 2)

1
(n 1)(n 2)(n 3)
L ;
b
n

1
n 1

1
(n 1)
2

1
(n 1)
3
L .


(i) Evaluate b
n
.
(ii) Show that 0 a
n
1 n.
(iii) Deduce that a
n
n!e n!e (where x is the integer part of x).
Hence show that e is irrational.