# [texhax] Obsolete \centerline command used in amsbook class (Uwe L?ck)

Pierre MacKay pierre.mackay at comcast.net
Mon Sep 24 21:09:41 CEST 2012

On 9/24/2012 1:25 PM, Michael Barr wrote:
> I couldn't agree more.  I suppose that, for some values of "undefine",
> amslatex doesn't undefine \over.  I mistakenly thought it did since I
> got the error: \over undefined control sequence.  Eventually, by
> tracking down the definition of \frac, I did find \@@over.  Yes, it
> never occurred to me to first let \let\OVER\over before loading the
> file and then \let\over\OVER after.  It is a useful suggestion actually.
>
> If Latex3 really disallows things it doesn't like, I am afraid the tex
> community will fork and one branch (perhaps a very small branch) will
> not adopt it.  Is that what the implementers want.  I get intimations
> that they are seriously thinking of disallowing \def and \let.
>
Michael is making a very significant point here. and if the Latex3
branch were actually to redefine or disable such primitives I suspect
that Don Knuth's particular interest in archival stability might end up
disappearing too.

The argument is accepted in this thread that LaTeX in its most extreme
forms is "more sophisticated," but I am not sure that it is.  The LaTeX
interest always corrects me when I suggest that LaTeX's penchant for
making simple things difficult makes some things virtually impossible.
Michael,  however, has given a good example of this failing.  I suppose,
but am not absolutely sure, that most of the things I need could be done
with \newcommands and a level of nested parameters that would make even
a C++ programmer blench, but why should I bother.  I hardly use math
mode at all, and I find, quite frankly, that a great deal of what I can
identify as LaTeX formatting in journals that presumably impose fairly
rigid limits on what a contributing author can get away with, is rather
slovenly in some regards.  Scientific articles may require speed even
more than the sort of things I do typesetting for, but there is pressure
even in humanities publishing for on time delivery.  There is also a
strong requirement that a design specification dating from many years
earlier (lead type) be respected except in rare instances.  Some of the
most desirable features I have not even yet managed to make function
really correctly, but I am working on them.  Considering the trouble I
have had with a simple invoice letter, which is one of the only places I
actually use LaTeX, I am left to doubt whether I could ever hope to get
such sophistications into shape in a syntax that hides from me almost
all the values I need to track.

By all means advocate LaTeX in production environments where it is
appropriate, but please be kind enough not to exile those of us who have
different requirements for different kinds of beautiful books.

Pierre MacKay