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My Quantum I professor wants us to write up our homeworks using Latex.

  1. Sep 15, 2012 #1
    I am taking Quantum I this 2012 fall. The little problem I am having is that my professor wants us to write our homework on Latex. I have no problem with Latex; I love making documents on it.
    But the only thing that borders me is that having to write up my homework on Latex, take a great deal of time away from my study time. It is like I have to do my homework twice.

    And another thing is that I do not want to lose points for not showing all work. So I include everything on my homework paper on the Latex document.

    Now I want to stop writing on paper but directly doing the homework on Latex, instead of writing first on paper and then typing it on Latex. However the problem with this is that it is not natural.
    I worry that if I get use to that. On exam, I would have problems doing the exam on paper, which might then be considered a disability.

    Any advice?
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 15, 2012 #2
    First of all, I find it very odd that your professor asks you to submit your homework on Latex. I haaven't heard of this happening before!

    It takes you time to do your homework on Latex, but that's only for this one course. You don't have to do the same for other courses, do you? And this Quantum I won;t last for more than a month or two, will it? I don't see why this should be a problem, then?

    It's a good practice to be comprehensive and show everything on your answer sheet. Some of the undergraduate exam answer papers can be quite ugly and still they happen to receive high marks, but it's a good practice to be neat.

    You worry that your working won't be natural if you write on Latex the first time round. You worry that if you get used to it, you will have difficulty solving the problems in a natural way in the exam. I see! I can tell you that you will have solving problems throughout your entire academic life, so there's no way you will forget how to write naturally just because of this one course that will last a few months. Also, I hope you do revise the homework sheets for your exam (sometimes questions from the sheets appear in the exam). That way, during your revision, you will restructure the material in your head and the writing will flow naturally in the exam.

    On the whole, your problems are very silly! I'm sure most people on Physicsforums will not consider this a problem at all!
  4. Sep 15, 2012 #3


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    Expecting a student to know how to typset in LaTex is one (good) thing and that knowledge should be encouraged, but asking him to typeset his homework is a bit too much, as the professor already knows that he'd be doing all the calculations with pen and paper and then putting everything into a logical fashion especially for him. It's more than double work...

    Discuss the issue with your colleagues and kindly raise it to him, if he's (still) OK in the head, he'd understand where you're coming from.

    BTW, loose =/= lose.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  5. Sep 15, 2012 #4
    Really? So if you get accoustomed to tying you can no longer write and this is a disability? Really?

    How many people are in the class? The problem is that the professors (ha, I mean a grad student) has to grade 30 (?) papers and everyone has different hand writting; v's look like u's and r's sometimes look like v's and w's look like omegas, and I do three humps for 'm' and two for 'n' and rho's look like r's and integral signs can morph into a number of things, etc.
  6. Sep 15, 2012 #5
    I guess he meant something different. Obviously, being an adult, he is not going to think that typing will lead to disability, will he?

    Yah, for sure, but that's no justification for making the students hand out the papers in typeset.
  7. Sep 15, 2012 #6
    I don't really see the problem. When I was in undergrad, I made all homework in LaTeX and we were required to do so. It's a good practice. After a while, you can type in LaTeX really fast.
  8. Sep 15, 2012 #7
    I don't have any experience with LaTeX, but it'd probably get really easy, really fast with a little practise, just like using any new software. Maybe you can think of it as a chance to review/check as you go?
  9. Sep 15, 2012 #8
    Also, if it was me I'd still want to write answers out before typing in LaTeX no matter how easy LaTeX got. Writing will always seem more natural so you'd be minimising risk of making mistakes as you don't have to simultaneously concentrate on your type-setting.
  10. Sep 15, 2012 #9
    Quantum is not the only course I am taking. The time I spend typing on Latex, can be spent trying to understand the course material more.
  11. Sep 15, 2012 #10
    When you are doing homework on paper, that is when you pin point where you are likely to make mistakes. This is the time you notice where you are likely to make a sign error, drop constants, or do some calculations error.
    And when you notice these mistakes ahead of time, you watch out for them during an exam. Also this is the time you know how fast you have to work during the exam.
    However if you do not know about these things ahead of time, you are likely to have hard time finishing the exam. And then you might think you need accommodations or extra time, which you need to apply for disability to get.

    Yes, I understand that the number of students in a class can be a burden for the grader. Yes, neatness can help the grader out. All I am saying is that typing on Latex takes a great deal of time away from my studying time.
  12. Sep 15, 2012 #11
    And the time you will be using to get acquainted with LaTeX later in your career could be used to tackle your research problem instead. Life is a balance.
  13. Sep 15, 2012 #12
    Yes you are correct. But you have to understand I will not always have the opportunity to ask my professor questions. Questions that require you to have actually studied the course material, before you can be able to ask them.
    However I can always get acquainted with LaTex during Winter or Summer break.
  14. Sep 15, 2012 #13
    Okay, well you can always talk to the professor if you feel adamant about his.

    How many extra hours do you believe will take you for LaTeX? How many free hours do you have in a week?
  15. Sep 15, 2012 #14
    So, I've been texing my homework for several years and I solve it with pen on paper, then I tex it and, you know what I haven't had a single problem on a test because of this.

    So does whinning to a bunch of strangers on the Internet.
  16. Sep 16, 2012 #15
    Yes that is what I am currently doing.
    But to save time, since I just started using Latex, I said I would like to be doing the homework straight on LaTex, which I then thought might be a problem for me on exams.
    It is a possibility; that is why I brought it up. Everyone does not learn the same way.

    I posted a Thread. You asked me a question. I responded to your question. Now you say I am whinnying.
    From what you said above shows that you are not here to give me any advise, but to argue with me.
    Nothing you have said so far has come close to "Academic guidance"
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012
  17. Sep 16, 2012 #16
    I really have little to no free time; I am an Electrical Engineering and a Physics major.
    But by the grace of God, I will find a way to overcome it.
  18. Sep 16, 2012 #17


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    You can always just write your homework in LaTeX straight-away. It takes some getting used to, but you can more or less eliminate the need for pen and paper with a little practice.
  19. Sep 16, 2012 #18
    What kind of academic guidance do you want? If you want advice then the only thing we can say is to make your homework the way your professor wants it. Learning LaTeX is a useful skill and I pretty much agree with your professor. You need to learn how to make nice professional presentations. It's better to learn it sooner than later.

    Yes, learning LaTeX takes a bit of time. But you don't expect college to be a cakewalk without much work, do you??
  20. Sep 16, 2012 #19


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    Your classes are not only there to teach you the material, they should also be there to teach you skills useful to your trade. Typesetting in latex is a valuable skill and this amount of emphasis will make you superb at it. Being a physicist or engineer is not just puppies and rainbows and solving problems, sometimes its about doing mindless work to make things look well or being able to present things well. When your boss asks you something similar down the line, complaining on the internet wont get the task done.
  21. Sep 16, 2012 #20
    Use it as an opportunity to review the problem and think through it again as you are typing it up. I've always rewritten my final answer once I solve the problem. This lets me work on the problem the first time through without worrying about the neatness. When I copy it down neatly so that I can turn it in, I'm able to double check my work, and I've actually found small errors many times doing this. If you are decent with Latex, it shouldn't take much longer than neatly writing it by hand.

    I'd hope that the length of time it takes to type the solution in Latex is much much smaller than the time it takes to actually solve the problem, so I don't see an issue here.
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