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Q.E.D. (also written QED and in italics: QED) is an initialism of the Latin phrase "quod erat demonstrandum" meaning "what was to be demonstrated" or "what was to be shown."[1] Some may also use a less direct translation instead: "thus it has been demonstrated." Traditionally, the phrase is placed in its abbreviated form at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument when the original proposition has been restated exactly, as the conclusion of the demonstration or completion of the proof.[2]

Etymology and early use[edit]

The phrase, quod erat demonstrandum, is a translation into Latin from the Greek ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι (hoper edei deixai; abbreviated as ΟΕΔ). Translating from the Latin into English yields, "what was to be demonstrated", however, translating the Greek phrase ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι produces a slightly different meaning. Since the verb "δείκνυμι" also means to show or to prove,[3] a better translation from the Greek would read, "The very thing it was required to have shown."[2]

The Greek phrase was used by many early Greek mathematicians, including Euclid[4] and Archimedes.

Modern philosophy[edit]

Philippe van Lansberge's 1604 Triangulorum Geometriæ used quod erat demonstrandum to conclude some proofs; others ended with phrases such as sigillatim deinceps demonstrabitur, magnitudo demonstranda est, and other variants.[5]

During the European Renaissance, scholars often wrote in Latin, and phrases such as Q.E.D. were often used to conclude proofs.

Spinoza's original text of Ethics, Part 1, Q.E.D. is used at the end of Demonstratio of Propositio III on the right hand page

Perhaps the most famous use of Q.E.D. in a philosophical argument is found in the Ethics of Baruch Spinoza, published posthumously in 1677. Written in Latin, it is considered by many to be Spinoza's magnum opus. The style and system of the book are, as Spinoza says, "demonstrated in geometrical order", with axioms and definitions followed by propositions. For Spinoza, this is a considerable improvement over René Descartes's writing style in the Meditations, which follows the form of a diary.[6]

Difference from Q.E.F.[edit]

There is another Latin phrase with a slightly different meaning, usually shortened similarly, but being less common in use. Quod erat faciendum, originating from the Greek geometers' closing ὅπερ ἔδει ποιῆσαι (hoper edei poiēsai), meaning "which had to be done". Because of the difference in meaning, the two phrases should not be confused.

Euclid used the phrase, Quod Erat Faciendum (Q.E.F.), to close propositions that were not proofs of theorems, but constructions. For example, Euclid's first proposition showing how to construct an equilateral triangle, given one side, is concluded this way.

Equivalents in other languages[edit]

Q.E.D. has acquired many translations in various languages, including:

Language Abbreviations Stands for...
Albanian Ç.D.V. Çfarë deshëm të vërtetonim
Arabic هـ.ط.ث وهو المطلوب إثباته
Armenian Ի.Պ.Ա. (rarely abbreviated) ինչը և պահանջվում էր ապացուցել
Bengali অ. সি. অতঃ সিদ্ধ
Chinese 证毕 / 證畢
证讫 / 證訖
证明完毕 / 證明完畢
证讫 / 證訖
Czech C.B.D. což bylo dokázati
Danish H.S.B. hvilket skulle bevises
Dutch w.m.b.w.
wat moest bewezen worden
wat te bewijzen was
Esperanto K.E.P. kio estis pruvenda
Estonian M.O.T.T. mida oligi tarvis tõestada
Finnish M.O.T. mikä oli todistettava
French C.Q.F.D. ce qu'il fallait démontrer
Catalan C.V.D. com volíem demostrar
Galician C.Q.D. como queríamos demonstrar
Georgian რ.დ.გ რისი დამტკიცებაც გვსურდა
German w.z.b.w. was zu beweisen war
Greek Ο.Ε.Δ. όπερ έδει δείξαι
Hebrew מש"ל מה שהיה צריך להוכיח
Hindi इति सिद्धम यही सिद्ध करना था
Hungarian E.K.B. (rarely abbreviated) Ezt kellett bizonyítani
Icelandic Þ.s.s.á. Það sem sanna átti
Italian C.V.D. come volevasi dimostrare
Latvian k.b.j. kas bija jāpierāda
Norwegian H.S.V. Hvilket skulle vises.
Polish c.b.d.u.
co było do udowodnienia
co było do okazania
czego należało dowieść
co kończy dowód
Portuguese C.Q.D. como queríamos demonstrar
Romanian c.c.t.d. ceea ce trebuia demonstrat
Russian ч.т.д. что и требовалось доказать
Sanskrit इ.सि. इति सिद्धम्
Serbo-Croatian ш.т.д.
што је требало доказати
što je trebalo dokazati
Slovak č.b.t.d. čo bolo treba dokázať
Slovenian k.e.d. konec enega dokaza
Spanish C.Q.D.
como queríamos demostrar
queda entonces demostrado
lo que queríamos demostrar
Swedish V.S.B.
vilket skulle bevisas
vilket skulle visas
Tamil நி.வே. நிரூபிக்கப்படவேண்டியது
Thai ซ.ต.พ. ซึ่งต้องพิสูจน์
Turkish G.İ.B. Gösterilmek istenen şey de buydu
Ukrainian щ.с.б.д.
що й слід було довести
що і треба було довести
Vietnamese đpcm. Điều phải chứng minh

There is no common formal English equivalent, although the end of a proof may be announced with a simple statement such as "this completes the proof", "as required", "hence proved", "ergo", or by using a similar locution. WWWWW or W5 - an abbreviation of "Which Was What Was Wanted" - has been used similarly. Often this is considered to be more tongue-in-cheek than the usual Halmos symbol (see below) or Q.E.D.

Typographical forms used symbolically[edit]

Due to the paramount importance of proofs in mathematics, mathematicians since the time of Euclid have developed conventions to demarcate the beginning and end of proofs. In printed English language texts, the formal statements of theorems, lemmas, and propositions are set in italics by tradition. The beginning of a proof usually follows immediately thereafter, and is indicated by the word "proof" in boldface or italics. On the other hand, several symbolic conventions exist to indicate the end of a proof.

While some authors still use the classical abbreviation, Q.E.D., this practice is increasingly viewed as archaic or even pretentious.[citation needed] Paul Halmos pioneered the use of a solid black square at the end of a proof as a Q.E.D symbol, a practice which has become standard, although not universal. Halmos adopted this use of a symbol from magazine typography customs in which simple geometric shapes had been used to indicate the end of an article. This symbol was later called the tombstone or Halmos symbol or even a halmos by mathematicians. Often the Halmos symbol is drawn on chalkboard to signal the end of a proof during a lecture, although this practice is not so common as its use in printed text.

The tombstone symbol appears in TeX as the character (filled square, \blacksquare) and sometimes, as a (hollow square, \square). In the AMS Theorem Environment for LaTeX, the hollow square is the default end-of-proof symbol. Unicode explicitly provides the "End of proof" character, U+220E (∎). Some authors use other Unicode symbols to note the end of a proof, including, ▮ (U+25AE, a black vertical rectangle), and ‣ (U+2023, a triangular bullet). Other authors have adopted two forward slashes (//) or four forward slashes (////).[7] In other cases, authors have elected to segregate proofs typographically by displaying them as indented blocks.[8]

Modern humorous use[edit]

In Joseph Heller's book Catch-22, the Chaplain, having been told to examine a forged letter allegedly signed by him (which he knew he didn't sign), verified that his name was in fact there. His investigator replied, "Then you wrote it. Q.E.D." The chaplain said he didn't write it and that it wasn't his handwriting, to which the investigator replied, "Then you signed your name in somebody else's handwriting again."[9]

In the 1978 science-fiction radio comedy, and later in the television and novel adaptations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "Q.E.D." is referred to in the Guide's entry for the babel fish, when it is claimed that the babel fish - which serves the "mind-bogglingly" useful purpose of being able to translate any spoken language when inserted into a person's ear - is used as evidence for existence and non-existence of God. The exchange from the novel is as follows: "'I refuse to prove I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.' 'But,' says Man, 'The babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.' 'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic."[10]

In Neal Stephenson's 1999 novel Cryptonomicon, Q.E.D. is used as a punchline to several humorous anecdotes in which characters go to great lengths to prove something non-mathematical.[11]

Singer-songwriter Thomas Dolby's 1988 song "Airhead" includes the lyric, "Quod erat demonstrandum, baby," referring to the self-evident vacuousness of the eponymous subject; and in response, a female voice squeals, delightedly, "Oooh... you speak French!" [12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Definition of QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2017-09-03. 
  2. ^ a b Euclid's Elements translated from Greek by Thomas L. Heath. 2003 Green Lion Press pg. xxiv
  3. ^ Entry δείκνυμι at LSJ.
  4. ^ Elements 2.5 by Euclid (ed. J. L. Heiberg), retrieved 16 July 2005
  5. ^ Philippe van Lansberge (1604). Triangulorum Geometriæ. Apud Zachariam Roman. pp. 1–5. 
  6. ^ The Chief Works of Benedict De Spinoza, translated by R. H. M. Elwes, 1951. ISBN 0-486-20250-X.
  7. ^ Rudin, Walter (1987). Real and Complex Analysis. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-100276-6. 
  8. ^ Rudin, Walter (1976). Principles of Mathematical Analysis. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 007054235X. 
  9. ^ Heller, Joseph (1971). Catch-22. ISBN 9780573606854. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  10. ^ Adams, Douglas (2005). The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Film tie-in ed.). Basingstoke and Oxford: Pan Macmillan. pp. 62–64. ISBN 0-330-43798-4. 
  11. ^ Stephenson, Neal (1999). Cryptonomicon. New York, NY: Avon Books. ISBN 978-0-06-051280-4. 
  12. ^ "Airhead - Thomas Dolby". play.google.com. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 

External links[edit]