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Writing Beautiful Mathematics

As part of our MSc Mathematics course, students learn (if they don't already know) how to use the wonderful mathematical typesetting package LaTeX to produce beautifully typeset mathematics, and we require all mathematics dissertations to be created using this package. We don't insist that undergraduates learn LaTeX, but if you have a couple of days to devote to it, it's well worth that investment. If you'd like to learn LaTeX, here are some resources from the module on LaTeX that I created for Birkbeck MSc Maths students.The first thing you'll need is to install the (free) software - I recommend an editor called TeXstudio, along with the actual software to produce pdf outputs of your documents. You should download ProTeXt, which includes the TeXstudio editor, from the following link and install it on your own machine (very easy to do).

The course materials aim to guide you through the process of learning LaTeX. For further resources, there is a wealth of information and support at ctan.org. Apart from the module notes, here are three other books you may consider getting.

  •  A Not So Short Introduction To LaTeX, by Tobias Oetiker Hubert Partl, Irene Hyna and Elisabeth Schlegl. The authors have kindly made this available (free) online. The instructions about setting things up in the first chapter are not particularly relevant to us because they are under the impression that most people use (and like) UNIX, which is not necessarily the case! But after that it's pretty good, with lots of examples. More detail than you need in places (though it's great that there is a way to produce documents in Mongolian, you may not feel you need to know that at this stage).
  • Learning LaTeX, by David F. Griffiths and Desmond J. Higham. SIAM, 1997. ISBN-10:0898713838, ISBN-13: 978-0898713831. This is an excellent beginners guide, covering most of what you need to know without any extraneous (and possibly confusing) information. It does have some omissions, for example it doesn't cover the Beamer package for producing presentations, and its treatment of how to turn a .tex file into something readable is a little dated. But as a concise and readable guide this does the job.
  • The┬áLaTeX Companion, by Michel Goossens and Frank Mittelbach. Addison-Wesley 2004. ISBN-10: 0201362996 ISBN-13: 978-0201362992. This book is over 1000 pages long! It is a comprehensive guide, going far further into the gory details than is necessary for this course. However some of you may like going into gory details, in which case this book is for you.

Contact details

Phone: +44 (0) 20 7631 6437
Email: s.hart@bbk.ac.uk
Room: 753
Office Hours:Fridays 4:30 - 5:45

Professor Hart's inaugural lecture