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In mathematics, a proof is an inferential argument for a mathematical statement. In the argument, other previously established statements, such as theorems, can be used. In principle, a proof can be traced back to self-evident or assumed statements, known as axioms, along with accepted rules of inference. Axioms may be treated as conditions that must be met before the statement applies. Proofs are examples of exhaustive deductive reasoning or inductive reasoning and are distinguished from empirical arguments or non-exhaustive inductive reasoning. A proof must demonstrate that a statement is always true, rather than enumerate many confirmatory cases. An unproved proposition that is believed to be true is known as a conjecture.

### History and etymology

### Nature and purpose

### Methods

### Undecidable statements

### Heuristic mathematics and experimental mathematics

### Related concepts

### Ending a proof