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TUG 2012 - Day Three PDF Print E-mail
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LaTeX Community - Conferences
Written by David Latchman   
Sunday, 29 July 2012 11:23

July 18th 2012 was the third and final day for the TUG conference at the Omni Parker Hotel in Boston. Like the last two days, the slated talks all looked interesting. The first day's talk started at 9:00 am.

The Talks

Photo of the conference room

The first talk of the day by Pavneet Arora titled "Sleep de(p)rived typesetting" and focussed on the process of typesetting. The second talk by Bob Neveln and Bob Alps, "Adapting ProofCheck to the author's needs". ProofCheck is a program created by the two presenters to check the syntax of mathematical proofs in LaTeX documents. Mathematical proofs were checked against the syntax developed by A. P. Morse in this book A Theory of Sets. The program ProofCheck was written in Python. The authors presented recent updates to the system that are designed to make proof checking easier to users. The first break followed this presentation.

The next talk after the break was by Christina Thiele, one of the LaTeX consultants who appeared on the TeX consulting panel the previous day. Her talk, "Almost 30 years of using TeX", focused on her experiences using TeX to first typeset articles and journals in academia to the creation of her company, Carleton Production Center. Christina also highlighted the changes in TeX that took place when she first started using it almost thirty years ago as well as the changes in software and hardware she underwent in her career as a consultant.

The following talk by Will Robertson and Frank Mittelbach, "LaTeX3: From local to global-a brief history and recent developments" looked at the origin, the development and recent changes to LaTeX3. The key aspects and ideas behind LaTeX3 were developed in the early 1990s but it wasn't until recently that code was delivered that has seen widespread use by LaTeX users. The talk focused on the what LaTeX3 can currently do and plans for the future. The conference broke for lunch.

After Lunch

The next talk by Boris Veytsman and Leyla Akhmandeeva, "Towards evidence-based typography: First results" was about the results of a recent study conducted by the two presenters to see whether typographic style influenced a reader's ability to comprehend and remember contents in a passage. Leyla appeared via teleconference.

It is generally believed and the primary argument among typographers that that comprehension and reading speed is influenced by typography. To test this hypothesis, the authors gave university students on page long passages and tested their comprehension. LaTeX was used to control various typographic features from fonts, page layout and justification. This preliminary study was intended for textbook designers where comprehension of text is very important and indicated that the human brain is flexible enough to allow us to read even badly designed pages.

While this first study may indicate that typography does not have an effect, I definitely would like to see more research on the area. Short passages using bad typography may not have an effect on comprehension but perhaps typography and longer passages may affect a person's ability to understand a passage and their mood or outlook on the piece being read.

The next talk by Norbert Preining, "TeX Live 2012: Recent developments" talked about the recent changes and additions to the latest TeX Live. One of the biggest changes is the extension of the TeX Live manager to read multiple repositories, something that has been a feature of MikTeX for some time. Norbert also gave an overview of the other changes to TeX Live 2012. The DVD is available on the TUG website.

The final talk by Didier Verna, "Star TeX, the Next Generation" looked at possible modern implementations of TeX. Didier said his current project came about from a discussion he had with Donald Knuth, the creator of the TeX typesetting system. TeX was initially designed to be a simple system and the computer resources of the time meant that it couldn't be a full programming language.

Given the time that has passed, we have seen an exponential growth in computing power. So too have our skills in language design and implementation. Could this be a way to modernize TeX? Didier says it is possible and can be done using an old, but very established modern programming language - Common Lisp. Didier focused on the features of the language that made it ideally suited to the task of modernizing TeX and gave some demonstrations.

The Conclusion of TUG 2012

After Didier's talk, there was a brief Q&A session before this years proceedings ended. As a first time participant, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and learned a lot. This is something I definitely look forward to participating in the future.

Previous day: TUG 2012 - Day Two.

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