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Next: The Pumping Lemma

New proofs of old theorems

Martin Cohn
Harry Mairson
Computer Science Department
Brandeis University
Waltham, Massachusetts 02254


Quite often, we've found, teaching theory,
Undergrads are bored, puzzled and weary.
``Sterile proofs are from Hell--
Teach us HTML!''
They don't get it--in turn, we're left teary.

But good theorems don't formally hide
The human emotion supplied
In their proofs' demonstration.
Scientific elation
Belongs not in formaldehyde.

Rigor without mortis, our goal,
Is for sure a negotiable shoal--
We need not run aground.
In our teaching, we've found
A proof's spirit, in verse, is made whole.

Formal methods are meant to elide
Ideas we aspire to confide.
So to ``lemma,'' ``parameter,''
Add ``iambic pentameter.''
This should help students' ennui subside.

Pedagogy's best shown by example.
Ensuite, you are offered a sample
In the hope you're not wincing.
Find our thesis convincing--
We expect explanations are ample.

Harry Mairson
Thu Oct 9 11:06:29 EDT 1997