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Posts Tagged ‘LaTeX’

I came across a really neat web demo of a mathematics equation hand-writing recognition tool called Web Equation. It can be used to recognize a hand-written mathematical expression (using your computer mouse or track-pad), and then convert it to the corresponding LaTeX or MathML code fragment. A few moments after the user has ‘drawn’ the formula, the code-fragment appears in a small box and can then be copy-and-pasted into your document editor.

When creating technical documents using the LaTeX document markup language, mathematical equations can get complicated enough to require frequent visits to the corresponding reference manuals. This tool is apparently written using JavaScript and simplifies the process of creating equations through an intuitive interface and a simple cut-and-paste operation.

It does pretty well with my track-pad written Discrete Fourier Transform:

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Ever since the Apple Mac operating system switched to its Unix-based underpinnings with Mac OS X, one of the most useful tools for Mac users has been the Fink Project. Their stated aims to “bring the full world of Unix open source software to Darwin and Mac OS X” has been wildly successful for those of us still reliant on Unix tools despite having guiltily moved on to one of the major commercial operating systems.

Some of the software tools available through Fink include Gnu/Emacs (which I had admittedly already installed on my powerbook from source), the Xfig drawing program, and the teTeX distribution of the TeX document preparation system invented by Donald Knuth. The totality of these three tools comprise all that I need in order to write and publish papers in my preferred format of TeX.

The Fink Project homepage has a link to a binary installer for the PowerPC version of Mac OS (as well as the newer Intel architecture). Once Fink has been installed, the shell paths need to be updated to use the specific fink directory paths. The Fink Project decided to use entirely separate Unix System Resources (/usr/) and binary (/bin/) locations as the main Unix installation by Mac OS. These are located in the seemingly arbitrarily named directory of /sw/. I agree with this setup decision because it minimizes the potential for interference between the Mac system Unix installation and the Fink project installation, especially during future updates.

Based on the Debian package management system (apt-get, etc), fink keeps a list of package dependencies in order to maintain all software within its purview. This tree of dependencies is used to ensure that all software libraries are installed or updated before any dependent updates take place. In this way, your open source software always remains in full working order without the problems that accompany out-of-date libraries.

Not all packages are available in binary format, and need to be built from source. This can be done by first installing the Apple Xcode developer tools (available from http://developer.apple.com/), which includes versions of the Gnu Compiler Collection (gcc). Finally, many older graphics-oriented tools such as xv and tgif require the X window system, or X11. Although X11 is available through Fink, there is also a version available directly from Apple. Fink allows either to be in use by its applications, and this can easily be configured.

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