Skip to main content
### Number and algebra

### Geometry and measure

### Probability and statistics

### Working mathematically

### For younger learners

### Advanced mathematics

# Proof Sorter - the Square Root of 2 Is Irrational

## You may also like

### Good Approximations

### Rational Roots

Links to the University of Cambridge website
Links to the NRICH website Home page

Nurturing young mathematicians: teacher webinars

30 April (Primary), 1 May (Secondary)

30 April (Primary), 1 May (Secondary)

Or search by topic

Age 16 to 18

Challenge Level

- Interactive environment

Perhaps you might like to try generalising this proof to prove that $\sqrt n$ is irrational when $n$ is not a square number.

Now $(1.4)^2=1.96$, so the number $\sqrt 2$ is roughly $1.4$. To get a better approximation divide $2$ by $1.4$ giving about $1.428$, and take the average of $1.4$ and $1.428$ to get $1.414$. Repeating this process, $2\div 1.414 \approx 1.41443$ so $2\approx 1.414 \times 1.41443$, and the average of these gives the next approximation $1.414215$. We can continue this process indefinitely,
getting better approximations, but never finding the square root exactly.

If $\sqrt 2$ were a rational number, that is if it could be written as a fraction $p/q$ where $p$ and $q$ are integers, then we could find the exact value. The proof sorter shows that this number is IRRATIONAL so we cannot find an exact value.

Solve quadratic equations and use continued fractions to find rational approximations to irrational numbers.

Given that a, b and c are natural numbers show that if sqrt a+sqrt b is rational then it is a natural number. Extend this to 3 variables.