[OS X TeX] Imposing Latex on authors of articles

ludwik kowalski kowalskil at mail.montclair.edu
Tue Feb 26 15:58:59 CET 2008

I am a new subscriber. About a week ago I successfully downloaded and  
installed Latex software on my new iMac.  Then I started to learn how  
to program in Latex language. So far I complied only several short  
input files. What follows is an extract from notes I am composing for  
myself. Do you agree with my observations? If not then why not?

Thanks in advance,

= = = = = = = = = = = =
Item 15

  $ \int \sqrt{\alpha^{2} + x^{2}}\,dx $

The above command will produce the integral sign followed by the  
square root and the dx. The expression between the square brackets  
will be changed and placed under the square root.

1) Typing something without seeing the representation at the same time  
(as in writing by hand or with a word processor) seems unnatural to  
me. Writing usually goes along with thinking; we often think better  
when we write. There is nothing wrong with this. It would probably be  
better not to merge the process of typesetting with the process of  
mathematical thinking. Mental energy of users of mathematics should be  
used on mathematics itself, not on nitty-gritty rules, commands, and  
error messages. By learning Latex language one does not become a  
better mathematician, physicist or engineer.

2) In my opinion dissertations written with word processors should be  
accepted by universities. Likewise, papers written with word  
processors should be accepted by editors of scientific journals.  
Neatly handwritten formulas, or formulas composed with tools available  
in word processors, are usually sufficient to communicate mathematical  
ideas. They can be shown as illustrations, or turned into final form  
by professional typesetters, either manually (as it used to be), or  
with tools like Latex. Shifting the burden on authors does not seem  

3) Creating Latex input files with formulas is very demanding and  
error-prone. Promoters of Latex often write that it allows  
mathematicians to concentrate on mathematics while formatting is  
performed by computers. Yes, formatting is performed by computers but  
computers must be instructed by humans. Instructing computers is  
demanding and error-prone. Composing Latex files does not help me to  
think about mathematics, or about anything else described in a  
document I am creating. On the contrary, it prevents me from thinking  
about the content.

Ludwik Kowalski, a retired physisist
5 Horizon Road, apt.2702, Fort Lee, NJ, 07024, USA
Also an amateur journalist at http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/cf/

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