In mathematics, a proof without words is a proof of an identity or mathematical statement which can be demonstrated as self-evident by a diagram without any accompanying explanatory text. Such proofs can be considered more elegant than more formal and mathematically rigorous proofs due to their self-evident nature. When the diagram demonstrates a particular case of a general statement, to be a proof, it must be able to be generalised.

### Sum of odd numbers

The statement that the sum of all positive odd numbers up to 2

*n*− 1 is a perfect square—more specifically, the perfect square*n*^{2}—can be demonstrated by a proof without words, as shown below. The first square is formed by 1 block; 1 is the first square. The next strip, made of white squares, shows how adding 3 more blocks makes another square: four. The next strip, made of black squares, shows how adding 5 more blocks makes the next square. This process can continue indefinitely.