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Proof vs. Poof

At a conference, someone taught me the difference between a Proof and a Poof.

That is, a Poof is a Proof with the R removed along with the Rigor!

The University of Toronto Math Department offers somewhat different interpretations, where a Poof is:

  1. A proof that sneaks up on you and hits you like an uncountable number of bricks, then gets erased off the board before it can be understood
  2. A highly improbable construction, usually non-constructive, that produces the desired result by magically pulling a rabbit out of a hat
  3. Something which students produce, especially on exams, when asked to give a proof...and such students usually do not major in mathematics
QED....for Question Every Detail!

Source: Joel Chan's "As Easy as Pi," Math Horizons, Winter 1993, p. 19