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English term or phrase: assume vs. suppose  Here are two examples:
Assume that A is equal to B.
Suppose A=B.
My colleague said that there was a subtle difference between the two statements from the mathematical standpoint. Is he right? 
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  Local time: 23:41

 English translation:regardless of subject area  Explanation: Not an expert in maths, but I'd say "assume" implies taking something for granted (as in LET a=4), while "suppose" could be an intro to presenting one of the possible scenarios.
If you ask someone to assume that A=B, you're telling them not to question that, while saying "suppose A=B" goes more along the lines of "let's see where it gets us if we say that A=B" 
 Selected response from: Pike Croatia Local time: 22:41
 Grading comment Though I'm still not sure whether there is a difference, the way you were reasoning in attemp to explain it was quite instructive. Thank you for that!! 4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer 
 
Discussion entries: 0 

Automatic update in 00:

6 mins confidence: peer agreement (net): +3
6 mins confidence: peer agreement (net): +3 certain v possible
Explanation: I am not mathematician, but I "suppose" the difference between the two is the degree of certainty. An assumption entails a greater degree of certainty than a supposition. Let's see what the colleagues have to offer.
  
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3 hrs confidence: peer agreement (net): +2 assumption vs. supposition assumption is the term used in mathematical proofs
Explanation: if you look at fundamental mathematical sites (like university math departments, see MIT link below) showing proofs, you will see this.
Since the answer is unknown, neither nor is in the mind of the mathematician. Therefore, according to the constructivists, the disjunction is not a legitimate mathematical assumption. Thus Aristotle's eitheror principle (see 1.1.1 and 1.2.3 above) must be abandoned.
CILT  Mathematics Standards Glossary
... Mathematics  Glossary. Absolute Value, ... x. Axiom, A basic assumption about a mathematical system from which theorems can be deduced. For ...
164.64.166.11/cilt/standards/math/glossary.html
 Note added at 9 hrs 34 mins (20040711 22:03:14 GMT) 
Math is black or white except in hypothetical cases, when substituting different values for a variable.
In the asker\'s example we are dealing with a hypothetical, so both terms can be used. I added my entry because I thought it might be helpful to the asker in general.
In Pike\'s example below :
Given formula a = G*c
if variable c = 1, then.....
if varable c = 2, then
this type of hypothetical phrasing (given x = 1 + y) If y = 1, then x = blahblah
If y = 2, then
the same type of hypothetical phrase is used in regular everyday English: if I use 2 eggs instead of 1, I will need 3 cups of flour.
 Note added at 9 hrs 38 mins (20040711 22:06:52 GMT) 
this type of hypothetical reasoning is really an exercise in deductive logic
Reference: http://www.math.psu.edu/simpson/papers/philmath/node20.html Reference: http://www.ai.mit.edu/courses/6.892/lect16html/sld016.htm
 RHELLER United States Local time: 14:41 Native speaker of: English PRO pts in category: 4

 
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