[OS X TeX] Imposing Latex on authors of articles

Adam M. Goldstein agoldstein at iona.edu
Tue Feb 26 11:11:31 EST 2008

On Feb 26, 2008, at 9:58 AM, ludwik kowalski wrote:

> 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?
> $ \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 don't see the square brackets? It looks like a greek alpha raised to  
the second power plus x to the second power will all be under the  
square root, all integrated w/ respect to dx.

As for the rest of what you say below, I suppose room ought to be made  
for word processed submissions; but I find working in LaTeX far more  
intuitive and efficient than word processing, and in some cases,  
totally necessary, as word processors cannot produce much of the  
output I desire. I gave up on Word and other alternatives after trying  
to get its styles to work in my dissertation, as well as producing the  
contents, lists of figures, and so on. Openoffice has better style  
support, but it was still hard to say, reliably maintain a style for  
subheads or running subheads throughout the document. Can you number  
equations in Openoffice? I don't know. Moving sections was also hard  
because then everything has to be renumbered by hand. Hours are spent  
simply moving things around as the ideas change, new sections are  
added, and so on. With LaTeX, it's all automatic. As you solve one  
problem, learning new code, you can use it later for something else  
you didn't know you could even do. Others share their tricks on the  
list or in self-published manuals. As for producing output in a way  
that can be reliably transmitted from machine to machine, forget it  
with a word processor. The problem is more extreme with submissions to  
publishers. Under the best conditions, reliably transmitted  
manuscripts around for review and to the typesetters is made a  
disaster with word processors, in my experience as an author and  
editor. Figures all over the place; fonts changing here and there;  
those are the main problems, that take much effort on the part of the  
editor and author to straighten out. Student papers are even worse.  
Who knows what the output will turn up as after it is emailed, opened  
up on various computers, across windows and mac, or even different  
variants of Word? As an author, I gladly take responsibility for the  
quality of what's output in publication, because after all it's not  
the publishers ideas getting out, it's mine.

I have had similar experiences creating slide shows in Beamer versus  
Powerpoint or even Keynote, which I do like because you can place  
images easily.

If you use TeXShop or other TeX-oriented editors, you can see your  
output almost as fast as you can produce the input, anyhow.

So, this is just one person's opinion and based on my experiences.

> 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 reasonable.
> 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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Adam M. Goldstein PhD MSLIS
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Iona College
email:	agoldstein at iona.edu
web:	http://www.iona.edu/faculty/agoldstein/
tel:	(914) 637-2717
post:	Iona College
         Department of Philosophy
         715 North Avenue
         New Rochelle, NY 10801

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