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An Introduction to LaTeX

Simon Hood

Research Infrastructure Coordinator, IT Services


ITS Research Support

Research Support in IT Services


  • IT Services for Teaching and Learning
  • and Uni Business Systems

Research Support in IT Services

IT Services for Research 1/2

  • Specialist part of IT Services
  • Comprises members of each Faculty IT team. . .
  • . . .plus the Research Infrastructure (RI) Team and Research Applications (RAC) teams in the centre.

Email contact details:
  • RI:
  • Faculty IT teams:
  • RAC — to be advertised

Research Support in IT Services

IT Services for Research 2/2

We support computationally-intensive research:

Offer help with and advice on:

  • running complex simulations on a computer (including parallel);
  • performing vast parameter searches;
  • handling large data sets;
  • computer programming, LaTeX. . .

Research Support in IT Services

Research Computing Examples

High Throughput Computing (HTC)
  • Large amounts of comp. power over a "long" time:
    • Running long jobs!
    • Running the same experiment many (1000s) times, with different inputs.
High Performance Computing (HPC)
  • Large amounts of comp. power over a "short" time:
    • many CPUs simultaneously to run complex models quicker.
  • Many compute-nodes' RAM simultaneously to handle very big jobs.
Data Analysis and Visualization
  • Getting the information out of the vast quantities of data.

Research Support in IT Services

How can we help you? (1/2)

Provision of Research Infrastructure:
  • Computational Shared Facility (CSF, aka Danzek),
    • iCSF (aka Incline), Redqueen, Zrek. . .
  • Condor pools
  • The Research Data Service
Support and Training:
  • Documentation — Web and Wiki.
  • Courses!
  • Usage of HPC/HTC (inc. Condor) clusters,
  • application support.

Research Support in IT Services

How can we help you? (2/2)

Advice and in-depth support:
  • optimisation of models/code — speed up!
  • parallelisation of code, or
  • advanced use of HTC (inc. Condor).

Research Support in IT Services

Other Related Courses

Using computational facilities:
  • HTC and Condor
  • Using the CSF (and Redqueen. . .)
  • Linux
  • Matlab
  • Fortran 95
  • Parallel programming (e.g., OpenMP and MPI, OpenCL)


Today's Course

This Course


Course Overview

One day
A one day course, 10:00 – 16:00:
  • four "lectures";
  • three practical/hands-on sessions;
  • the middle hands-on session will be combined with lunch.
Linux plus GUI, Linux plus commandline, or laptop
  • Desktop machines here dual-boot but LaTeX available on only Linux;
  • use Kile LaTeX GUI — or favourite editor plus commandline;
  • use your own laptop if you wish.


What is LaTeX?

So, what is LaTeX?


What is TeX?

A typesetting system — not a word-processor:
  • a special purpose programming language;
  • a very powerful systemsuperficially more complex than word-processors.
Both harder and easier:
  • Steep learning curve — but LaTeX allows you to ignore the tech details 99% of the time
  • Harder to do easy things but easier to do hard things!


Why use LaTeX?

High Quality and Flexibility

  • Produces truly high-quality technical manuscripts.
  • Almost zero chance of corrupt document.
    • LaTeX is stored as ASCII text, not binary.
  • Lets you work the way you want to work:
    • on your favourite platform/OS;
    • with a choice of GUIs —
    • or with your favourite editor and the CLI.



Why use LaTeX? Compatibility

The formatting is messed up. . .

  • Enforced, costly upgrades (.doc to .docx).
  • MS Word and Powerpoint are infamous for compatibility/formatting problems
    • different versions; different platforms/OS.
    • proprietory format — OpenOffice does its best, but. . .
  • Leads to problems:
    • Two or three people working on a journal article/paper;
    • presentation nightmares!
  • LaTeX produces identical results on MS Windowz, Linux and OS-X.


Why use LaTeX? Mathematics

Second to None for Typesetting Mathematics

  • MS Word:
    • difficult and time-consuming to construction non-trivial equations and formulae;
    • poor quality output — not publication-quality.
  • [La]TeX:
    • state-of-the-art;
    • easy!

True Publication Quality

  • Many journals use (La)TeX
  • J. Phys. A: Math. Gen., 32, 3255 – 3269: PDF (Postscript).


Why use LaTeX? FOSS

LaTeX is Free and Open Source (GPL)

As a consequence:

  • free (as in beer) to download and install;
  • many extensions: ChemTeX, MusicTeX, graphics. . .
  • available on all platforms/OS: MS Windows (MiKTeX), Unix/Linux (TeX Live), Apple/OS-X (MacTeX), Solaris. . .
  • guaranteed to be available everywhere: home, work, other institutions. . .



In this module we describe:

  • LaTeX source files
  • The edit, compile, view cycle
  • GUIs
  • Commandline LaTeX
  • Warnings and Errors


The LaTeX Language

In this module we describe:

  • Special characters.
  • The structure of a LaTeX document.
  • Document classes (stylesheets/templates).
  • LaTeX environments (lists, tables. . .).
  • Sections, subsectionsAccents and special symbols.



In this module we describe:

  • Inline and displayed mathematics
  • Equation arrays
  • Labelling and Referencing Equations
  • Where to find more examples

This is where LaTeX really shines!


Including Graphics in TeX

In this module we describe:

  • How to include images (JPEG, PNG, TIFF. . .) in LaTeX documents.
  • Where to find out more.



In this module we describe:

  • The BibTeX database.
  • Using a BibTeX database — citations.
  • Compiling with BibTeX.
  • BibTeX styles.
  • BibTeX and Endnote.



In this module we describe:

  • Basic document structure;
  • revealing things incrementally;
  • creating accompanying notes.


Support and Documentation

In this module we describe:

  • IT Services;
  • Faculty IS teams.
  • Freely-downloadable distributions;
  • books;
  • on-line documentation;
  • user-groups;
  • UoM email list.


Odds and Ends