You’re expected to turn in your homeworks using LaTeX, the standard mathematical typesetting tool. LaTeX is installed on all of the lab computers; it’s easy to install on your own computer, too.

Installing LaTeX

If you run Windows or Linux, you should install TeX Live; if you run Mac OS, you should install MacTeX.

All of these tools will install appropriate command-line tools for you to generate PDFs from LaTeX documents. They’ll also install graphical editors: TeX Live will install TeXworks; MacTeX will install TeXShop.

If you prefer a web-based tool, ShareLaTeX and Overleaf are popular.

I recommend using command-line tools: it’ll be annoying at first, but it’s more powerful—and you’ll learn more.

Running LaTeX

Unlike what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) document editors, LaTeX requires that you compile your document. Interactive editors like TeXworks, TeXShop, and ShareLaTeX will automate this process for you.

I work with LaTeX directly, from the command line. If I want to compile hw03.tex, I’ll run the command:

latexmk -pdf hw03.tex

which scrolls the screen with lots of output, but finally says:

Output written on hw03.pdf (2 pages, 105762 bytes).
Transcript written on hw03.log.
Latexmk: Log file says output to 'hw03.pdf'
Latexmk: All targets (hw03.pdf) are up-to-date

There’s also a file now called hw03.pdf. If I open it, I’ll see the homework questions. There are lots of other files generated, too: hw03.log, hw03.aux, and others. If you run latexmk -C hw03.tex, the extra files will disappear.

Your general workflow should be: edit hwXX.tex file; run latexmk -pdf hwXX.tex to generate the PDF; look at the PDF to make sure you got what you wanted; repeat. I tend to ‘tile’ my desktop, so my editor is on the left half of the screen and the PDF view is on the right. My editor can be told to run the latexmk command at a keystroke, making it easy to keep my view live.

LaTeX tips

The proof HOWTO uses a bunch of different LaTeX commands; you can download its source.

Other resources is a good tutorial on writing in LaTeX. The TeX Stack Exchange is full of useful information.

While I’ve been using LaTeX for fifteen years, I still frequently have to search online to get what I want. Please do so—there are no academic honesty restrictions on LaTeX information! One word to the wise: ‘latex’ means more than one thing in English, so you should craft your search carefully.