[OS X TeX] Imposing Latex on authors of articles

Herbert Schulz herbs at wideopenwest.com
Tue Feb 26 23:06:10 CET 2008

On Feb 26, 2008, at 8:58 AM, ludwik kowalski wrote:

> 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.


I think you mean braces not square brackets.

> 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.

You quickly get used to the representation of mathematical symbols in  
TeX. The typesetting of mathematics is of much higher quality than any  
equation editor I've seen; spacing rules, etc., are better.

> 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 reasonable.

Maybe they should be accepted, but I've seen Word documents that get  
reformatted depending upon the printer chosen and even which computer  
(and I DON'T mean Mac vs Windows) is used to display the paper. I've  
had documents change formatting the next time I opened them. Etc.,  
etc., etc.

> 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.

I don't think so. You also have fine control over how the equation  
appears so it says exactly what it should. I remember when a thesis  
had to be typed by someone on a list and typing pages were $0.50 each  
and the multiple times I had to have a page retyped to get the  
equation correct.

Good Luck,

Herb Schulz
(herbs at wideopenwest.com)

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