What the HeX is LaTeX?

Have you ever wondered how the equations and symbols you see in math textbooks, articles, and exams are produced?  \LaTeX (usually pronounced ending with a ‘k’ sound rather than a ‘ks’ sound) is a typesetting program which allows for extremely precise and well-formatted documents which may contain a variety of non-alphanumeric symbols.  It is used by mathematicians, scientists, engineers, economists, philosophers, and anybody else who uses specialized symbols and formats in their work.

Here are some examples:

e^{i\pi}=-1   is produced with the code $e^{i\pi}=-1$

\displaystyle \sum_{k=0}^{\infty} \frac{1}{2^k} = 2 is produced by $\sum_{k=0}^{\infty} \frac{1}{2^k} = 2$

Before \LaTeX, mathematicians had to hand-write symbols, and manually shift their typewriters to insert subscripts and superscripts.

Using \LaTeX is a skill every mathematician needs.  Here’s your chance to get started!  If you are a math major, or are thinking of becoming a math major, you are invited to come to a special session of the graduate student seminar (a.k.a. the Pizza Seminar) which will give an introduction to \LaTeX  typesetting.  The seminar is Monday, December 8 in PHSC 1105 at 5:00 p.m. and, as the nickname implies, free pizza will be provided.

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3 thoughts on “What the HeX is LaTeX?

  1. I love Latex and I use it for my programming assignments, but the one thing I think is so unprecise is placing images. They always appear to randomly popup somewhere.

    Any tips/info on that?

    (ps. I’m not one of your students, I was just browsing, I’m a CS student from the Netherlands)

  2. Hi royalexander –
    Welcome! I don’t make any claims to expertise, but I do know there are placement options for figures:

    \begin{figure}[placement option]

    where the placement options are combinations of the letters hbtp, h=here, t=top of page, b=bottom of page, p=its own page. I just read somewhere else that the default is tbp in article and report styles. I generally put in htbp, so it will try to keep the figure in place.

    Anyone else have any tips?

  3. Using LaTex in a website in running in dedicated server is straightforward. The problem arises when you run it in shared hosting. Most shared server has no Latex installed and you have no access to its root directory. I wrote a blog to enable anybody in shared hosting to run LaTex in their site. Below is the link to my blog

    http://www.mathalino.com/blog/rtfverterra/how-did-i-enable-latex-in-my-shared-hosting-server

    I hope it will become useful to someone looking for ways to enable LaTex to their site.

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