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Does anyone know of any open source abstract algebra textbooks other than Judson's? I am about to write a small program for a friend that will generate a random algebra problem (for preparing for quals) and my idea is to go through judson (and hopefully some other open source algebra textbooks) and get the exercises, put them in a database and pick them randomly and then show it to them using MathJax or something. But I'm having trouble finding a list of open source abstract algebra textbooks that have the .tex files.

I would be content with finding online lists of abstract algebra problems with latex code that is easily parseable?


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Your friend might use some surfing MSE, this site is full of problems and solutions (usually!). He might also want to go to a library and pick some good book, or get electronic copies. –  Pedro Tamaroff May 25 '14 at 2:14

3 Answers 3

If you are looking for problems, it would be easier to strip mine MSE, collect old exams/homework (many schools have them on line). But I think selecting the problems, classifying them, retyping, and the other tasks attendant to this make this a huge undertaking for any non-trivial number of problems.

You might want to ask a moderator to move this question to MESE (math educators).

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That's the thing. I'm not going to retype anything. The whole point of this is to have access to the .tex files and write a quick parser that will look for some exercise environment and get the contained latex code. I will just put all of those in some database and generate pick one at random. I don't care about classifying or anything, if it's not of interest, the just skip it (or I can add a delete button or something along those lines to clean up the database after it's live). –  Robert Cardona May 25 '14 at 1:09
I posted here because I made the (maybe incorrect) assumption that most professors use the main set of graduate textbooks in algebra: Dummit/Foote, Rotman, Aluffi, Hungerford, Herstein and maybe Lang, none of which are open source and have latex code accessible, and so posting on MESE may not be beneficial to me. But students (who would go on here) may come across some references in their studies which may be useful to me. I defer to any moderators judgement as to whether it should be moved or not. –  Robert Cardona May 25 '14 at 1:15
I understand your comment about nonstandard environments. I agree completely. But once I've written a basic parser for one, I just have to choose what I'm looking for in each. It would have to be custom per latex source, but I think it's better that rewriting hundreds of exercises by hand. Which could take days :'( –  Robert Cardona May 25 '14 at 1:29
@Robert, if it is a one-shot think, just point them to problems –  vonbrand May 26 '14 at 10:41

@Robert, that presumes a few standardized environments for exercises. In my (limited) exposure to more substantial LaTeX documents, it often turns out hard to even read the tangle of local macros used. I recently saw a webpage proposing a set of standard definitions for open source math texts, but I'm sure skeptical something like that will get any traction. It won't help you, anyway.

Sorry, retyping is probably much faster.

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In the case of quals, there are normally old quals available (either from your department or other departments) and possibly old websites containing problem sets for graduate level algebra - it would be better to study those instead of random problems from an algebra book (especially a non-common graduate level book, since the likelihood of getting a useful problem for preparation is not high when selecting problems normally).

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Don't be so sure... Once I studied for an exam from an unknown book. I skipped a few problems as too similar to ones I'd done/too easy; of the four questions in the exam, three came out of the book. Obviously just ones I did not do... –  vonbrand May 26 '14 at 10:45

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