I will begin to learn in the university next month and I would like to know what is the best way to write math except from handwriting? I am not sure if to use a mathematical software, digital pen or tablet.

My writing is unclear and unorganized, and I usually lose things like notebooks so I think it would be better if everything would be on a computer or a tablet.

i.e I need a comfortable technology that will allow easy writing of math in the university.

Please people who used such technology, reply and express how it was, and what kind of technology did you use during the time you wrote math in the university.

  • $\begingroup$ What I did in my first semester in university was: I took notes in class and then copied them neatly and thoroughly to my notebook at home. Yes, it took time...but it really helped to understand and assimilate things better. I stopped this masochist habit during second semester or so. $\endgroup$ – DonAntonio Sep 19 '13 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ As a math instructor, what's best for me is that people write clearly, linearly & in a composed, well-organized manner. That's also best for you - grade-wise, of course, but not only. As DonAntonio pointed out, making the passage from chaotic to organized writing will affect your cognition positively & help bring yourself up to university standards. Organizing your thoughts is far more important than tablet vs paper. Solutions to your Calculus problems will have a short life-span, irrespectively of whether they are typed-in or not; organized thinking will last forever :). Best of luck! $\endgroup$ – automaton 3 Sep 19 '13 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ At some point, I started the habit of submitting my exercises in TeX. That was nice and fun and helped me train TeX and helped my prof read my ideas (and as a sidenote, I think that people are more likely to miss minor errors in nicely typeset texts than in hardly legible scribbling). However, I think anything but handwriting is unsuitable during lectures (think speed) and also there is a lot of distraction from tha subject if you maybe spend more time coping with TeX than with the math. $\endgroup$ – Hagen von Eitzen Sep 19 '13 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ A bit OT I might add that one of my first year profs had invented the unified letter, as we students used to joke - that is $i,j,\iota,l,r,n,v$ all looked more or less the same on the blackboard. I think this show that everyone should train to wite reasonably legible even under speed pressure ... $\endgroup$ – Hagen von Eitzen Sep 19 '13 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ @HagenvonEitzen I guess every prof does either that, or tends to write books on the blackboard ^^ $\endgroup$ – AlexR Sep 19 '13 at 20:41

I like using the variant of $\LaTeX$ known as MathJax, which is used on this site.

For working offline, I use qute, available for Mac and Windows here: http://www.inkcode.net/qute

I have developed techniques for using qute in real-time for entering my math. Here are some of them:

If you enter an invalid formula, qute will not display it. So, when entering an expression that needs to be complete, I enter the frame first, then fill it in. For example, to enter a fraction, I first enter "\frac{}{}" and then fill in the numerator and denominator.

I work in split-screen mode, so I always see both the input and the displayed math.

Since qute formats its input one paragraph at a time, remember that Enter starts a new paragraph and shift-enter starts a new line in the current paragraph. Also remember that up and down arrow keys do not go beyond the current paragraph.

Always save your work (cmd-s on the Mac) after every moderate change. If you start a new file, whatever you have been working on will be lost if it has not been saved.

I save my work in a Dropbox directory so I can access it anywhere.

The author of qute is quite responsive to questions, so if you have any problems or questions, ask.

If I am working on a problem for this site, I create it in qute, save it, and then use the "Publish" option to copy it to the clipboard. I then paste it into the answer (or comment) box.

Feel free to ask any me questions as comments on this answer. I will do my best to answer them. You can also email me at mjcohen@acm.org, but my answers here will be seen by more people.


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