n Learning and Teaching Mathematics - Problem-solving and proving via generalization

Volume 2007, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 1990-6811


A very useful problem solving strategy often emphasised at school and regularly tested in Mathematical Olympiads and Challenges is to consider special cases of a problem. Not only are the special cases usually easier to solve, but they often allow one to identify a pattern or give some clue towards a general solution or proof. Less well known (or utilised) appears to be the opposite strategy, namely, to consider a more general case than the given problem. Contrary to what one might expect, the general case is sometimes much easier to solve than the special case.

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