Latex & stuff


Latex is the international standard for typesetting mathematics. Text processors like MS Word or Open office have equation editors, but almost every time you try and transport a document containing equations from a computer to another one, you’ll be surprised to see that the other computer may interpret wrong the given equations, may require additional packages for viewing them, or your initial formatting might look really bad. Writing in latex is not WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), and this might cause some troubles in the beginning. The idea is that you have to write some commands in a tex editor (somewhat like programming) and then compile the file to get the desired result. Although, when you get used to Latex, it becomes a great help, whenever you need to write something including mathematical equations in a document on your computer, on a math forum or on WordPress.com. The advantage is that the program produces the same result on every computer, result which can be saved as pdf or dvi and can be viewed properly on any operating system. The formulas and fonts are nice and clean, there are many spacing, formatting, numbering, aligning options that can produce a top quality math article. Latex is considered as a standard among mathematicians, and if you consider becoming one, you definitely need to learn this.  I will not present here a tutorial for using Latex, since there are many other places where you can find such tutorials (try Google first):

For using Latex on WordPress in posts or comments, you have to put latex formulas between the signs $latex and $, for example:

$latex \displaystyle \int_0^\infty e^{-x^2}dx $ will show like \displaystyle \int_0^\infty e^{-x^2}dx

There are some bugs you can encounter when writing latex formulas on WordPress. A quite comprehensive list can be found on Terrence Tao’s blog, at http://terrytao.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/wordpress-latex-bug-collection-drive/

For building exact and complicated mathematics/physics diagrams, you can use MetaPost. This is similar to Latex, because you need to program the figure and then compile it, but the results are awesome, and I consider this much easier to learn than other Illustrating programs. I am quite new at this, but my first few drawings turned out very nice. A short tutorial can be found here and an online MetaPost compiler can be found here.

You can draw figures for geometry problems using Geogebra. It is a free software, with great capabilities of drawing all sorts of geometrical figures, angles, lines circles, regular polygons, performs rotations, inversions, translations, etc. You can find it at the Geogebra website: http://www.geogebra.org/cms/

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