• Nonexistence theorems can not be demonstrated with numerical evidence. For example, the impossibility of classical geometric construction problems (trisecting the angle, doubling the cube) could only be shown with a proof that the efforts in the positive direction were futile. Or consider the equation $x^n + y^n = z^n$ with $n > 2$. [EDIT: Strictly speaking my first sentence is not true. For example, the primality of a number is a kind of nonexistence theorem -- this number has no nontrivial factorization -- and one could prove the primality of a specific number by just trying out all the finitely many numerical possibilities, whether by naive trial division or a more efficient rigorous primality test.Probabilistic primality tests, such as the Solovay--Strassen or Miller--Rabin tests, allow one to present a short amount of compelling numerical evidence, without a proof, that a number is quite likely to be prime. What I should have written is that nonexistence theorems are usually not (or at least some of them are not) demonstrable by numerical evidence, and the geometric impossibility theorems which I mentioned illustrate that. I don't see how one can give real evidence short for those theorems other than by a proof. Lack of success in making the constructions is not convincing: the Greeks couldn't construct a regular 17-gon by their rules, but Gauss showed much later that it can be done.]
1. Nonexistence theorems can not be demonstrated with numerical evidence. For example, the impossibility of classical geometric construction problems (trisecting the angle, doubling the cube) could only be shown with a proof that the efforts in the positive direction were futile. Or consider the equation $x^n + y^n = z^n$ with $n > 2$.