A couple of years ago, I studied Computer Science at UNISA. They allow you to submit assignments online (in PDF format), so I was looking for a way to enter mathematical notation into the computer.

What I found was LaTeX - a system so elegant and powerful, that our prescribed textbooks are typeset using it. (Note that the X in LaTeX is pronounced like the ch in Loch.)

This page contains my collection of LaTeX links, and some of the LaTeX code I use in my assignments. The most important part of these is the AMS-LaTeX notation, which not only allows mathematical symbols to be beautifully typeset, but also provides an unambiguous ASCII notation for mathematics.

LaTeX is available by default on most Linux systems, but Windows users can use MiKTeX which is an up-to-date LaTeX implementation for Windows. The only drawback is that the basic installation package is 80MB. After installation, a .tex file can be converted to PDF by entering:

pdflatex file.tex

TeX Blog

Some LaTeX and AMS-LaTeX primers:
Getting Started With Writing Documents in LaTeX
The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2e
A beginner’s introduction to typesetting with LaTeX
Math Into LaTeX
Short Math Guide for LaTeX
LaTeX Wikibook
TeX Tips and Resources

LaTeX tips and tricks:
Tips for putting images next to each other.

How to figure out what LaTeX symbol you need:

A really basic .tex file (suitable for experimentation) would look like this:

x = y + 15

The format requirements for UNISA assignments are:
* Use A4 pages
* Use black text only
* Use only common fonts like Times Roman, Arial, etc.
* Limit your font size to max. 16 for headings and max. 12 for normal text.
* Use a margin of 5cm on the right side (specified in services and procedures)

An example .tex file satisfying the above requirements would look like this:

\documentclass[a4paper,11pt]{article} % A4 page, base font of 11pts
\renewcommand{\rmdefault}{ptm} % Set font to Times New Roman
\usepackage{amsmath} % Use mathematics package
\setlength{\baselineskip}{1.6\baselineskip} % Double space lines
\addtolength{\oddsidemargin}{-1in} % Set 5cm margin on right
\addtolength{\evensidemargin}{-1in} % Set 5cm margin on right
% define the title block
\author{John Doe (99999999)} % set the author (and student number)
\title{COS101 Assignment 1} % set the title
\date{Jan 1, 2008} % set the date
\maketitle % show the title
\section*{Question 1} % start a new section, without numbering
a_n = 5n - 2