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Mathematical Notation

If you want to include mathematical notation in your message, the first thing you need to do is check the Process Math box on the form. This tells the system to scan your message for things that look like mathematics and produce images from these that display the equations more accurately than can be done by just using text in your browser.

Mathematics is entered using standard LaTeX commands. In fact, the system actually uses LaTeX to process the mathematics you specify, so you should be able to do just about anything you normally do in your own TeX files.

Just as in LaTeX, you use \( and \) around your equations. For example,

\(\sqrt{x}+\cos(2x)\)   produces   .

Similarly, use \[ and \] to indicate displayed mathematics. These equations will be centered on a separate line, and will be allowed to take more vertical space than in-line mathematics.

The \( \) and \[ \] delimiters should be familiar to you from standard LaTeX. If you are more comfortable with plain TeX, however, you may be used to using $ and $$ to delimit in-line and displayed mathematics. The bulletin-board system also recognizes these, so you can use

... the variable $x$ is ...   to get   ... the variable is ...

Since the dollar sign has this special meaning, if you want to include an actual dollar sign as part of your message, you need to use \$ instead (or not check Process Math).

You can use any LaTeX environment that is available in math mode, for example, the array environment. You can also use plain TeX commands like \halign, but you may need to put a \vbox around such commands, since you are entering these in math mode. (If you don't know what this means, then you probably shouldn't be trying anything fancy.) The amsmath and amssymb packages are loaded automatically, so you can call on their environments and definitions as well.

It is easy to make typing mistakes in your mathematics, and sometimes latex will produce error messages because of this. If latex can't process the mathematics you typed in your message, the system will show you what it thinks is the pertinent section of the log file to help you diagnose the problem. (It does the best it can.) The error message should include one of the equations that you typed. Note, however, that the system converts the $ and $$ notation into \( \) and \[ \] before processing it, so the equations might look slightly different in the log file.

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Created: 21 Sep 2003
Last modified: Sep 22, 2003 7:27:20 AM
Comments to: dpvc@union.edu
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