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Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Chris Rowley <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 24 Nov 1998 15:19:04 +0100
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
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Sebastian does seem a little less comprehensible than usual these
days: maybe XML/XSL has this affect on people?

I guess that I, above all, must comment on his concerns since I am
both a major beneficiary of his, no doubt, enormous contributions to
the collection plate at St Albion's, and also a major sinner according
to his fundamentalist theological stance (an opinion which he has
recently stated far more forcefully and personally in another

> i do have one last (trite) remark - why are you (the academic authors
> reading this) spending so much time on arguing about typesetting and
> publishing? why don't you spend my tax money on doing research into
> your subject......?

There has always (I suspect) been, and continues to be, a very close
relationship between the producers of complex mathematical
manu/compuscripts and the providers of the technology to make it
easily available to others.

I can (not quite from memory:-) trace this back at least 40 years to
when very famous, high-quality, publicly-funded UK mathematicians
worked closely with Monotype and CUP in developing the 5-line math
system, and the fonts to go with it.  I am sure that something similar
happened in the US.

Knuth's efforts were to a large extent motivated by his interest in
maths (he has a very high reputation as a research mathematician).

The recent large amount of activity in the math fonts area has also been
driven largely by concerned mathematicians, either directly or via
learned societies such as the AMS.

I could go on ...

I hope that it is clear why we research mathematicians feel it is
necessary and useful to spend time on this.  If not, I shall explain
in detail.  I have one illustration of this in the front of my mind
since in the last two weeks I have spent a large amount of time
instructing the copy-editor of a research maths book with my name on
it.  The publisher, who, as is always the case with things produced by
me and my colleagues, is also the typesetter, is small but has a very
high reputation in modern mathematics publishing.

The copy-editor was, however, new to the company and the subject; he
therfore turned the very literate mathematics of myself and co-authors
into even more literate prose in which the mathematical meaning was
lost or, in some case, completely altered.

This is not quite on the level of typesetting technology but the
principle is the same: the tradition of knowing what is needed resides
almost entirely within the mathematical community, so we must be involved
whatever the tax-payers think.


PS: And I shall arrange a small personal refund to Sebastian to cover
the minute proportion of my time that I spend on this kind of thing.