# Can I ask about a basic solving strategy for specific kinds of math tasks?

well the title already says it, I want to know what is a good strategy to solve a specific kind of exercise.

So my Question would be like

"How do I usually cope with a task like ... ?"

"What is a good strategy to go on tasks like...?"

Would that be a question that can be answered not discussed? I mean it wouldn't be very precise, I agree.

P.S: I thought somebody would have asked it before. But I could not find a similar thread.

And if I can ask it, under which tag ?

• I think that (at least for some question of this type) (problem-solving) or proof-strategy tag could be appropriate. See the tag-info for problem-solving and proof-strategy. And also another post on meta and this discussion in chat about the (proof-strategy) tag. Nov 14, 2014 at 8:23
• Since this was posted, the tag (proof-strategy) has been removed, see here and here. But (problem-solving) tag still exists and based on the tag-info it seems to fit this type of questions: "Use this tag when you want to determine the thinking that is needed to solve a certain type of problem, as opposed to looking for a specific answer to a question." May 19, 2016 at 4:29

In my opinion, this would largely depend on how broad your task is. Something like,

What are strategies for calculating integrals?

probably should be closed as being too broad (aren't most calculus texts an attempt to answer this question?). On the other hand, something like,

What are strategies for calculating integrals of the form $\int \sin (ax) \cos (bx)\,dx$?

could be quite useful. (The above are, of course, just examples.)

• I would probably strike out the "probably" after the first example question. Nov 14, 2014 at 20:54

I can't speak much for graduate studies (I'm not there yet), but I've found a lot of similarities amongst proofs in introductory courses at an undergraduate level. For example, consider a question that states:

Prove that (fill in here) is unique.

Most of the time, there's a "proof by contradiction" strategy which requires one to assume that whatever is in the parenthesis is not unique, and that by assuming two distinct items within the parenthesis, one could find a contradiction. I believe informing users of this strategy would be both specific and relevant to the OP.

The same goes with proof by induction, combinatorial arguments, and so forth. You can find "classes" of questions that fall under similar umbrellas of proof strategy, and I believe such a thread or question would garner lots of attention and participation.

• A similar one I saw often was "Prove that A is a B". For example, "Prove that the set A with operation f is a group". The general solution is to look of the definition of a B and verify each part. It was a good type of question to check your understanding of a definition. Nov 16, 2014 at 22:27