Computers and information


Here there follow some comments about my intertwining with computers.

TeX

TeX is an outstanding language, devised to produce high quality typesetting, including mathematical text.  I entered Donald Knuth's wonderlang in 1987 through the LaTeX door (writing my degree thesis using a popular wysiwig program had been an unfortunate experience).  Useful information about TeX can be retrieved from the TeX Users Group home page; see also the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network.

LaTeX is a wide and popular set of TeX macros. Since it is a bit tight, one of my first tasks was to give some flexibility to the "document styles", which at the beginning did not allow some elementary features as chosing if you want your references to be called "Bibliography", or "Bibliografia"...   A later version of LaTeX has included most of this flexibility, mainly due to the Babel project.

I also wrote a file containing hyphenation patterns for Catalan.   Since other people have written similar files, some day we should unify them, but for the time being you can get it at the home page of the Catalan TeX Users Group, Tirant lo TeX.

Another problem I worked on is the Catalan double ell ("ela geminada"), that appears in words like xarel·lo.   I wrote macros for producing a typographically pleasant middle dot; perhaps they should be slightly improved, but you can find them here (it is only 15 lines of TeX code).

I also wrote some macros to draw commutative diagrams, to deal with derivatives, to number equations in special ways, ..., and many more, but nowadays there are better solutions somewhere in the web.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia has become one of my favourite sources of information (together with Google). I have written and edited several pages, mainly for the Catalan Wikipedia.

Maple

Maple is a program for performing symbolic mathematical computation, designed at the University of Waterloo some years ago. 
The mathematics courses at Telecommunications include since 1992 laboratory sessions with Maple.  I have been largely involved with them; I even dared to produce a booklet (1998) about Maple for the course on Vector Analysis.  Maple can also be useful to compute Lie brackets in 8-dimensional spaces...

HTML

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the language used to compose pages for the World Wide Web (WWW) --as this one.   This language and the web as we know it were devised at the CERN in late 1990 --look at here.
I learned some HTML in order to create the home page of my research group in 1997.   Of course, writing raw HTML is not especially difficult if you know TeX previously.

PostScript

PostScript is a page description language invented by Adobe some years ago.
Though PostScript is not intended for humans, learning something about it may be fun and interesting.   I devised some simple macros to draw circuits that were useful for some colleagues.   Some years ago I found PostScript useful also to solve some serious printing problems...
You can find some information about PostScript at the home page of Ghostscript; you can also look at A First Guide to PostScript or these pages.

Perl

Perl, sometimes dubbed as pathologically eclectic rubbish lister, is a postmodern programming language, developed by Larry Wall.
I learned some about Perl, and the CGI library (created by L. Stein), to program some forms for the web page of the year 2000 session of the Fall Workshop on Geometry and Physics, as well as to publish its proceedings.
Some resources are perl.com and the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network.

Linux

Linux is an operating system (a free clone of Unix).   It was originally created by Linus Torvalds in 1991, and is being developed with the collective effort of many volonteers around the world.
I strongly adhere to this philosophy!  


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Last update: 13 May 2009