My example is the classical proof that sqrt(2) is irrational.

More generally, many proofs that proceed by showing that there are no minimal counterexamples exemplify your phenomenon. The method of no-minimal-counterexamples is exactly the same as strong induction, but where one proves the required implication by contradiction. In many applications of this method, it is often clear that the smallest numbers are not counterexamples, and this would not ordinarily regarded as a separate base "case".

In the classical proof that sqrt(2) is irrational, for example, we suppose sqrt(2) = p/q, where p is minimal. Now, square both sides and proceed with the usual argument, to arrive at a smaller counterexample. Contradiction! This amounts to a proof by strong induction that no rational number squares to 2, and there seems to be no separate base case here.

People often carry out the classical argument by assuming p/q is in lowest terms, but the argument I just described does not need this extra complication. Also, in any case, the proof that every rational number can be put into lowest terms is itself another instance of the phenomenon. Namely, if p/q is a counterexample with p minimal, then divide by any common factor and apply induction. There seems to be no separate base case here where it is already in lowest terms, since we were considering a minimal *counterexample*. Perhaps someone objects that there is no induction here at all, since one can just divide by the gcd(p,q). But the usual proof that any two numbers have a gcd is, of course, also inductive: considering the least linear combination xq+yp amounts to strong induction, again with no separate base case.

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