POSTS

# Latex math on social media

## Social media

This post is about writing math formulas in LaTeX, for use on social media web-sites such as math discussion forums. We focus on the experience users have, particularly those who've not used LaTeX before.

There's much more to social media than Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat and
LinkedIn. There's specialist sites such as forums, wikis and Q+A sites
(such as StackExchange). There's even a social media site
(recommended) for *all about apples, pears, plums, and cherries - and
orchards where they are grown* (URL is below).

Here are 3 questions for further discussion and research.

- A social media site for learning LaTeX math. Is this a good idea?
- Are there already such sites?
- How good are they, and can we improve matters?

Interested? Come to my next zoom TeX Hour (6:30 to 7:30pm UK time, Thursday 4 February).

## Quick question

This post focuses this question: **Starting from scratch, how long
should it take a well guided beginner to create their first piece math
expression or equation, using LaTeX?**

Starting with a web browser and a suitable URL, I'd say no more than 10 minutes. That's 5 minutes for watching a video or reading a guide, and 5 minutes for actually creating the math.

## Beginners

For many social media is their introduction to creating content using a computer. Teenagers post videos to TikTok. They send each other text messages and instant messages. And they do this on mobile phones.

For many potential new users of LaTeX, an existing social media website might be their starting point. And perhaps on a smart phone.

Aside: There's little use of LaTeX on Facebook. It seems that it's no longer possible in Messenger. For the TeX StackExchange group, asking about the use of LaTeX in Facebook is off-topic.

## Mathematics on Stack Exchange

There are two mathematics sites on Stack Exchange.

**Mathematics Stack Exchange** is

a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields.

**Math Overflow** is

a question and answer site for professional mathematicians.

Roughly speaking, the first is for students and the second for professors. Both allow users to create pages and comments that contain LaTeX mathematics.

## The challenge

Here's a piece of mathematics. $$ \int_1^\infty \frac{1}{x^2} = \frac{1}{3} $$

Here's its encoding in LaTeX.

`\int_1^\infty \frac{1}{x^2} = \frac{1}{3}`

Can a beginner with a web browser be taught in ten minutes how to do LaTeX math encoding tasks like this one?

I think the answer is YES, but perhaps not yet. We'll need better online resources.

## From one to infinity in 10 minutes

The best URLs known to me for this challenge are on Mathematics Stack Exchange.

- Visit https://math.stackexchange.com
- Sign up.
- In another window or tab, open MathJax basic tutorial and quick reference
- In the tutorial, find a suitable template.
- Create a new question in Math Stack Exchange.
- Paste in the template.
- Modify your input LaTeX.
- Review the rendered formula.
- Modify your input LaTeX.
- Review the rendereded formula.

This might take 10 minutes. It might take longer. I've not tested this.

Aside: Don't save the page to Math StackExchange. It's a random formula, not a question.

## From one to infinity in 5 minutes

Better would be to combine everything in a single web page. Something like this.

- Visit https://shiny-new-website.org (a site that doesn't exist yet).
- It gives four panes - LaTeX input, typeset formula, errors and help.
- In Help, type
*integral*. - Click on one of the offerings to copy into the LaTeX input.
- Modify and review, in a continuous cycle.
- In Help, type
*fraction*. - Repeat until happy.
- Optional: Sign up / sign in to save the formula.

This might take 5 minutes. I've not tested this (or even prototyped shiny-new-website.org).

## Next steps

I'll repeat the 3 questions for further discussion and research.

- A social media site for learning LaTeX math. Is this a good idea?
- Are there already such sites?
- How good are they, and can we improve matters?

Interested? Come to my next zoom TeX Hour (6:30 to 7:30pm UK time, Thursday 4 February). Or contact me.

## URLs

### Mathematics on StackExchange

- Mathematics Stack Exchange
- Math Overflow
- MathJax basic tutorial and quick reference
- Social reading platform for math

### Some STEM social media sites

- The arXiv: preprint server for many STEM fields
- The medRxiv: preprint server for health sciences
- The bioRxiv: preprint server for biology
- GitHub: sharing software source code
- GitLab: sharing software source code
- nLab: wiki for higher category theory
- Research Seminars: global listing of online events
- Research Seminars: source code

### LaTeX and instant messaging

### LaTeX on Facebook

- Can you use LaTeX on Facebook? (tex.stackexchange, 2016)
- Facebook Messenger renders LaTeX math (reddit, 2017)
- Facebook Messenger no longer renders LaTeX math (reddit, 2020)

### Discussion

- Social media (wikipedia)
- Orange pippin: all about apples (and other fruits) and their orchards
- Craft beautiful equations in Word with LaTeX (Nature: toolbox), (2019)
- LaTeX for and against (Daniel Allington), (2016)
- MathJax in DisQus? (stackoverflow), (2013)

## Changes

[5 Feb 2021: Add links to bioRxiv, Research Seminars. Fix typo.]