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September 8, 2010

I’ve been maintaining a site with Posterous for some time now, and while I like many features of it’s design (certain elements of simplicity in general), there are some things that I don’t care for about it. One of the biggest is that there is no way to simply embed beautifully typeset \LaTeX equations and mathematical expressions. This is a serious let down to me being that mathematics is a huge part of what I want to write online about, especially as I start thinking towards graduate school and getting back into studying mathematics.

Looking around for an alternative to Posterous, I found that WordPress offers some very excellent \LaTeX rendering, and so I’m going to be trying this out here for a while. An example nugget of beauty, both in content and typesetting bliss –

e^{i\pi} - 1 = 0

Ahh… And best yet, it’s as simple as \pi to use as well. The above was created by entering the latex code e^{i\pi} - 1 = 0 inside of “$” marks with “latex” appended to the first (I would show you in code what I mean, but it keeps rendering it and I’m not sure how to get it to stop – any suggestions?). Cake huh? Basically the exact same syntax as you would use to enter into equation mode when working with actual \LaTeX, only you add “latex” after the first “$”. Couldn’t be happier with that part.

The only problem I have with this at the moment is that I would rather that the rendering be done with MathJAX, a javascript library which I have just discovered. It has a lot of advantages over whatever rendering system WordPress currently has set up. This plugin gives the reader the ability to view the rendered content in either HTML and CSS (think infinitely re-sizable vectors and perfect contours) or MathML (think standards) and also gives the user the ability to do all sorts of little things, like scale all of the equations, zoom in on one equation, view the source LaTex (or MathML – WordPress shares this feature though). From their website, you can “copy equations from your web pages into Word and LaTeX documents, science blogs, research wikis, calculation software like Maple, Mathematica and more.” It is also compatible with screen readers for people with disabilities. All really great stuff.

My hat goes off to WordPress for making their software so math friendly. However, it could be made better still. I hope that at some point they take up the challenge of doing this. If they don’t I may eventually take the initiative to create a math forums with all of the bells and whistles I want. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing anyway. Aside from math blogging, I would really like to see more in the way of online mathematics communities taking the exploration of mathematics into a more open sphere. There is currently a beta application called Equalis that is attempting to establish something along these lines, but so far I’m not very pleased at all. It’s extremely clunky and I don’t think that it is really aiming at creating the same kind of community I’m wanting to see more of. They seem to be looking for professional development, I’m looking for freedom of exploration and openness of ideas.

We’ll see, for now, there is a good chance that I’ll be using this for my blogging for a while.

Hope you enjoy.


From → Math

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