### Quick description

Substituting the same mathematical object in two different ways into the same pattern can give a quick proof of a fact.

### Prerequisites

Elementary.

### Example 1: Isosceles Triangles

Proof of Theorem 1. In the figure, assume . Then triangle is congruent to triangle since the sides and are equal (they are the same line segment!) and the adjoining angles are equal by hypothesis.□

### General discussion

The point is that although triangles ABC and ACB are the same triangle and sides BC and CB are the same line segment, the proof involves recognizing them as geometric figures in *two different ways*.

This proof is over two millenia old and is called the Pons_asinorum(bridge of donkeys). It became famous as the first theorem in Euclid's books that many students could not understand. I conjecture that the name comes from the fact that the triangle as drawn here resembles an ancient arched bridge. Usually isosceles triangles are drawn taller than they are wide.

### Example 2: Taking the inverse is an involution

**inverse**of an element if

In this situation, it is easy to see that has only one inverse.

### General discussion

In this example, we have substituted the variables and into the same equation in two different ways.

## Comments

## Courtesy plural

Wed, 22/04/2009 - 23:57 — JoseBroxInstead of saying "I am given..." and "I must show...", I would use the "courtesy plural" and say "We are given..." and "We must show..." as this is the standard rule for scientific writing, If I'm not mistaken ;-)

## Courtesy plural

Thu, 23/04/2009 - 12:59 — SixWingedSeraphI will change this, but as I understand the way a wiki works, you could have changed it yourself. The author doesn't own the article.

## Editing vs good writing

Thu, 23/04/2009 - 13:19 — JoseBroxYes, you are right; I could have done the changes myself and I usually do this kind of work in Wikis (format/grammar editing). But here we have the luck of being a small site (yet) and I had the opportunity to expose my opinion directly to you and, in case you got convinced of the correctness of the change, I would have saved myself from the need of editing

allyour articles anytime you didn't use the courtesy plural ;-)It's just the old topic of teaching how to grow wheat instead of just giving bread, if you allow me the comparison.