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Is LaTeX Considered a Useful Skill?

  1. Jul 13, 2011 #1


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    I didn't know where else to post this so I thought I would post this here.

    I don't know a huge amount of LaTeX but I find it generally quite easy to use. However, if I were to write a CV, do you think it would be worth putting down that I am able to program in LaTeX? Would it be unnecessary to write this? Would that knowledge simply be assumed if I had a maths degree?

    Furthermore, is it really considered a skill to be able to use it? I say this because I found it relatively easy to pick up just by looking at what other members did when they used it, before learning about other functions.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2011 #2


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    Honestly I think it's pretty much assumed. It is very useful.
  4. Jul 13, 2011 #3

    Ben Niehoff

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    It is a useful skill, but I wouldn't call it "programming". Most of what you do in LaTeX is just text markup, so it's more akin to HTML, not a programming language.

    However, TeX is Turing-complete, so it is possible to program in it...however, I very much doubt you know how to do that.
  5. Jul 13, 2011 #4

    D H

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    Regarding the OP:
    As a starter, write your resume in LaTeX. People who know LaTeX will see that your resume was written in it. People who don't know what LaTeX is won't care / won't know. Consider it a hidden form of advertising.

    I suspect you have seen the following. Note that the following is plain TeX, not than LaTeX.

    Code (Text):
    Fjfi71PAVVFjbigskipRPWGAUU71727374 75,76Fjpar71727375Djifx
    RrhC?yLRurtKFeLPFovPgaTLtReRomL;PABB71 72,73:Fjif.73.jelse
    B73:jfiXF71PU71 72,73:PWs;AMM71F71diPAJJFRdriPAQQFRsreLPAI
    I71Fo71dPA!!FRgiePBt'el@ lTLqdrYmu.Q.,Ke;vz vzLqpip.Q.,tz;
    ;Lql.IrsZ.eap,qn.i. i.eLlMaesLdRcna,;!;h htLqm.MRasZ.ilk,%
    s$;z zLqs'.ansZ.Ymi,/sx ;LYegseZRyal,@i;@ TLRlogdLrDsW,@;G
    LcYlaDLbJsW,SWXJW ree @rzchLhzsW,;WERcesInW qt.'oL.Rtrul;e
    doTsW,Wk;Rri@stW aHAHHFndZPpqar.tridgeLinZpe.LtYer.W,:jbye

    For those of you who have TeXShop and are curious about the above but can't make heads or tails of it, do the following:
    1. Select and copy the text from the above code window.
    2. Bring up TeXShop. A blank window labeled "Untitled" should appear. (If TeXShop is already running, select "New" from the "File" menu.)
    3. Past the copied text into that window.
    4. At the top of that "Untitled" window you should see a button labeled "Typeset", a selector named "LaTeX", and some more buttons, and such. Click on the "LaTeX" selector and select "Plain TeX".
    5. Click the "Typeset" button. The program will prompt you for a file name. This is just the file in which that pasted text will be stored. You can just leave it as "Untitled". Or you might want to give it another name such as xii.
    6. The explanation for why this is called xii.tex will soon become obvious.
    7. If you can understand how it works you are a true TeXnician.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  6. Jul 13, 2011 #5
    Yeah. Knowing LaTeX is never viewed as being a waste of time, so you lose nothing by noting it in your CV.

    When I applied to grad school, I mentioned knowing LaTeX, along with some programming languages. I also inserted the LaTeX logo at the end of my CV (which was, obviously, created with LaTeX).
  7. Jul 20, 2011 #6


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    Thank you for your responses. Writing my CV in LaTeX seems like a great idea. I was looking at some threads people posted and did some research and it turns out a lot of mathematicians/physicists are very good programmers too. When I was about 9-ish I learned HTML and a couple years later did work in PHP (I made a scientific calculator) and started C++ but the furthest I got was writing a program to see if a number was prime, so my programming experience is relatively poor. As of right now I barely remember anything about programming unfortunately, because I have not used it for many years and it has been a long time since I designed forms for webpages and so forth. I wanted to learn a programming language in the next 7-8 weeks or so devoting about an hour each day to it. From what I remember C++ takes a long time to get the hang of and PHP is quite hardcore (but doesn't take as long to learn as C++). What do you suggest? I have heard people say that Python is useful but I know nothing about that.
  8. Jul 20, 2011 #7

    D H

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    Learning how to program a computer is a vital technical skill nowadays. You aren't going to learn how to program in 7-8 weeks at one hour / day. You might learn some very basic concepts. Think of it this way: Imagine you don't know beans about calculus; all you have on hand is the algebra you learned in high school. Could you really learn calculus in 7-8 weeks at one hour per day? While you might learn some of the basic concepts, you really won't learn much. To learn calculus properly you need a couple of semesters at 3 hours per week lectures plus another 3-6 or so for homework. (And programming homework is a lot more time consuming than is calculus. Math students party. Computer science majors don't.)

    With that limited amount of time you need a simple language. Python is simple and has the added benefit of being quite useful for physicists. PHP is not so much hard core as it is obtuse. It also isn't all that practical for a physicist. C++ is useful but it is a huge, huge language; it takes a good long time to learn C++, and that is assuming that you already know how to program.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011
  9. Aug 1, 2011 #8
    There are masses of good tutorials and examples for python all over the web, once you've got a little grasp of whats going on, you should sign up give this a go: http://projecteuler.net/

    Also I'd echo what everyone else has said here, latex is a very useful thing to know, especially when it comes to university lab reports :D. (Almost guarantees you full marks on presentation) Put it on the CV for sure.
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