Diagrammatic Reasoning: Analysis of an Example

Patrick J. Hayes, Geoffrey L. LaForte

We argue that a purely diagrammatic proof of a nontrivial mathematical theorem is impossible, because a diagram cannot indicate how it should be generalized. The case is made by subjecting a famous diagrammatic demonstration of Pythagoras' theorem to a close examination, showing that it can be seen to be a demonstration of several different theorems.


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