Gregory V. Bard

Associate Professor of Mathematics
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A Cryptologist's Guide to Discovering LaTeX

This page is designed for students who need to learn LaTeX quickly and painlessly. Once LaTeX is known, it is a very powerful and easy tool that does a lot. It is, however, hard to explain. It is a tool, in fact a language, for typesetting mathematical formulas and papers. The LaTeX language is not unlike HTML in its purposes and world-view, though the syntax is extremely different. LaTeX is billions times easier than using Microsoft Equation editor or MS-Word, once you get used to its quirks.

Since LaTeX is hard to explain, I present you with two files. One is a LaTeX file, and the other is the pdf file that it produces. Look at one, and look at the other. Look back and forth. Compare them. In this way, you'll figure out what all the commands do.

By the way, this general method is how unemployed French military cryptologists deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphics. They had a stone, called the Rosetta Stone, that had Greek on it, which they knew, and hieroglyphics, which they did not. They figured it all out by comparisons, which was slow but fun and exciting.

It is time for you to begin now. Here is the tex file, and here is the pdf file that it produces.

Good luck!

Last updated March 20, 2013.