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A place to come and discuss the features of this site, as well as suggest/request additions and modifications. Oh yeah, and Bug reports too.
FrankM
2008-01-18 06:35:38
Could we have LATEX, please?

I was just speculating about how great it would be if the site could accomodate postings in LATEX. (For those that don't know, LATEX is a text based language especially adapted for presenting mathematics.) Currently even simple problems (and, especially solutions) are awkward to present in a pure text based format.

Unfortunately, I have a hunch that the site management has a firm opinion against moving in this direction and instead rely exclusively on ASCII text to limit participants (some of whom might otherwise get carried away) to present problems and solutions which can be easily formulated in words. One reason for my suspicion is that the text box used to enter new problems is about the size of a 3 cent stamp!

Be that as it may, I for one would like to see LATEX accomodated. Perhaps other readers will be inspired by my comment to express their own opinion on the subject.

brianjn
2008-01-18 08:01:22
Re: Could we have LATEX, please?

FrankM,
I have a concept to which you refer but this site was set up as a hobby by levik.


This began as a community which probably only he could describe in its growth.


Without his qualified affirmation I'd suggest that the site attempts to use protocols whereby there is either:

limited problems for hacking (yes, we get them) via maliciously or faulty written code,


or

where he, or his delegates might be exposed to limited troubleshooting.


Troubleshooting still comes up. And for that matter, we can accommodate many things with an HTML foundation (XHTML grids) - beyond that I'm afraid that you just might have to offer levik $$$'s for your requirement. Levik? Our director, owner of the site. Just above the Chatterbox there is a link, "Petition Director". To take it up further go there, nobody, and I mean nobody, can address this issue other than him, my apologies.

FrankM
2008-01-23 10:09:49
Re: Could we have LATEX, please?

Thanks for pointing out the the site is run on an amateur basis! I'm sorry about the direction of my original remark. Maybe it was inappropriate to suggest that the site manager take up a specific solution. Rather than that, I'd like to stimulate discussion on a common difficulty: namely, how to present mathematical concepts within the constraints of the inputs accepted by the site.

One possible response could be: "the constraints are deliberate. The site is a forum for brainteasers, not a convention of mathematicians. Limiting the site to ASCII plus is a one way to constrain the range of problems to the philosophy of the site."

That would be a valid answer imo. I am new to the site and one purpose of this thread was to seek clarification on that question.

However, it is also possible that there is a popular wish to expand the range of problems beyond what can be formulated and solved with the currently available text input tools. My suggestion (or, example) was to support LATEX. Generally, the final output from LATEX is a pdf file, so what I suggesting amounts to allowing users to upload and store pdf files on Perplexus: not a big change for the site manager, but it may require some upgrade of the site parameters (storage space, etc.)

An easy alternative would be for Perplexians to post the pdf files to their own site (e.g. a geocities account) and then simply to include a link to that site when listing a problem or solution. One disadvantage here is that there may be a large number of off site materials, with the usual difficulties related to configuration control (dead links, etc.) Also, we lose the chance to implement associated functionality (and the site manager misses out on revenue from advertisements on the site).

Which do you think would be the better approach?

Dej Mar
2008-01-23 10:47:43
Re: Could we have LATEX, please?

Can I make a comment on that, FrankM? Personally, I dislike the pdf format.

brianjn
2008-01-23 19:45:49
Re: Could we have LATEX, please?

The Welcome paragraph on the home page really suggests the prime purpose of Perplexus. Areas set aside in the forums can be, and have been, areas for in depth discussions, but possibly not to the degree that you envisage.


It is my preference that everything pertaining to a problem is housed on the Perplexus server, ie, the body text and any graphics. My reason is that a link to an external server may be invalidated for any number of reasons and thus the problem loses its value. That said, I have no objection to a problem offering an external link for a definition where it would save the reader time in locating a suitable reference.


I'm sure others would be happy to address this further.

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