Tag Archives: LaTeX

Gradle for LaTeX PDF Generation

Last night, I was Minecrafting with my daughter, and one of “those” thoughts smacked me between the eyes.

“I wonder if anyone has ever tried cooking a LaTeX document with gradle?” bubbled up from some nether-region that is obviously still obsessing over my recent gradle play.
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Storing my Résumé Source with GitHub

Off the back of a recent hard-drive death, I was forced to reinstall LaTeX on a shiny new version of Ubuntu. Whilst doing it, I got interested in the chatter happening in Google+ around LaTeX. I saw a few posts discussing the idea of hosting collaborative efforts in research paper production via GitHub, which struck me as a very clever thing to do.

Since my PhD efforts in the early 2000s, I’ve religiously stored my LaTeX documents in a local Subversion, and more recently in Git repositories. My LaTeX documents also include my résumé. It struck me that I could just upload the resume production scripts and source to GitHub. Then, I’ll (theoretically) never have to worry about a hard drive failure ever seriously threatening my resume history ever again.

So there you have it. If you’re interested in seeing what a LaTeX PDF resume production environment driven by simple perl scripts looks like, here’s mine.

One N-dimensional array, Two Vectors

Backstory: My supervisor tends to capture complex relationships that drive environmental models in .NET DataTable instances. With the right GUI toolkit, it’s (now) trivial to stick the DataTable into a GUI somewhere and allow a callibrator to tweak parameters until the model starts acting like the real-world.

However, DataTables limit us to describing only two-dimensional relationships. My supervisor has semi-seriously threatened me that we might need to store relationships of arbitrary dimensionality. We’d need some kind of “generic” structure that could store and retrieve the data, but that structure should not be limited to any particular number of dimensions. What’s he’s asked of me isn’t as unwholesome as the tile of this blog post insinuates, but the man is forcing me to use grey-matter damn-it!!!

In chewing over just how exotic this can all get, I was pointed at the R project. Our discussion very much reminded my Supervisor of things he’d seen using R. So, I first poured over some user documentation, and reverse-engineered a class diagram of R’s data structures (don’t hold me to perfect accuracy, disambiguation of natural language can be tricky at the best of times , and I wasn’t looking to supply a definitive model):

A UML class diagram of data structures in the R language.

Data Structures in the R language

This exercise really delivered for me. Arrays of any dimension within R seem to be defined as two vectors, one containing the data, another containing dimension information (a sequence of positive intiegers). With only these two “data” and “dimension” vectors, they have enough information to make that “data” vector act like an array of however many dimensions as needed. What was missing in my understanding is how they mapped from array coordinates and dimensions (an n-tuple, where n is the number of dimensions) to a single coordinate, identifying the equivalent cell in the “data” vector.

A little more formally, if I have an n-dimensional array An, I can also have a value-for-value equivalent vector Vn, so when I reference a “value” in An, via say a(c1, …, cn), I can also reference the same value in Vn, via say v(cv). I essentially need a mapping function , taking the array coordinates (c1, …, cn) and dimension details (d1, …, dn) as input, and returning the vector coordinate (cv) as output.

Getting the easy stuff out of the way first, I needed a vector the same size as an array of n dimensions. The size of each dimension matters, I’ll express thusly: d1, …, dn. Each dimension size is drawn from the set of positive integers (each dimension must be an integer > 0). A “data” vector to hold the same amount of information as the array is obtained by simply multiplying the dimensions together (apologies to the maths nerds in advance, I took a whirlwind refresher-course on math constructs this morning after a hiatus of at least 10 years, it may not be entirely “legit”):

A(d_1, \ldots , d_n) = V(\prod\limits_{i=1}^n d_i)

Next, I played with 2-dimensional arrays until I had a formula that would work in converting coordinates a(c1, c2) into cv. Turns out it looks like this (so long as I index any given coordinate from 0, which is fine given how programming languages typically allow you to index their abstract data types):

c_V = c_1 + c_2 \times d_1

Makes sense. I can visualise the array flattening out into a vector as a string of sausages. Initially the sausages are laid out such that each row of the array is one sausage. Each sausage must be as long as c1, and there must be c2 sausages. Extra dimensions got much harder to visualise, so I just spent time punching numbers around until I ended up with a formula that works in the general case:

c_V = c_1 + \sum\limits_{i = 2}^n  (c_i \times \prod\limits_{j = 1}^{i - 1}  d_j)

We can re-express that formula in some psuedo-code:

vectorCoordinate = 0
dimensionOffset = 1
for index = 0 to (dimensions.Count - 1)
  if index = 0 then
    vectorCoordinate = arrayCoordinate(index)
    dimensionOffset = dimensionOffset * dimensions(index - 1)
    vectorCoordinate = vectorCoordinate + arrayCoordinate(index) * dimensionOffset
  end if
 end for

And done! I now get how I can make two vectors act as if they were really an n-dimensional array.  You know, I bet this is already all well documented somewhere.  I wonder if Knuth has already covered this ground?

One final thing. The formulas were made pretty via WordPress.com’s native support for LaTeX.

Ressurection of the LaTeX Résumé

>Sshh! We’re hunting jobs!

First, we’re going to need bait. I have some bait, but it is years old and getting very smelly. It’s time to follow the same recipe and cook up a new enticing dish for those willing to give me money for my services.

This recipe calls for a very special cooking pot called LaTeX. I love LaTeX, and that’s all the justification I care to give you. Keep using Word (or whatever else you care to), but keep off my LaTeX love-in lawn. LaTeX is my bag baby! Yeah!

Now… first, and foremost, the fundamental reason for this post is a reminder of what LaTeX packages I need under Ubuntu 10.04 to get my résumé factory cranking out shiny new, highly addictive PDFs capturing all the crazy, zany things I’ve done professionally to date.

  • TexLive: Essential programs and files
  • TexLive: LaTeX Basic Packages
  • TexLive: LaTeX Recommended Packages
  • TexLive: LaTeX Supplementary Packages
  • TexLive: LaTeX Auxiliary Packages
  • TexLive: MetaPost (and MetaFont) Drawing Packages
  • TexLive: Extra Fonts

Ok.. so.. I don’t need all of the above for just the résumé, but with them, I can also re-cook the PhD thesis from is raw LaTeX source. As it’s the most complex thing I’ve ever done with LaTeX, I can guarantee with the above packages, that everything I could ever do with LaTeX I could do again if the mood suits me.

Two final things…

Firstly, I have a thing for fonts. Sexy, proportional fonts, laid out in a professionally typeset manner (oops.. I promised not to get all evangelical). Finding out what fonts are available, and what they look like is a bit like choosing which herbs to sprinkle about the dish. Mmmmm. Nummy!

Finally, here’s the current draft of the résumé, JIC you care to know why I went to all this effort.

Typeset long, and prosper!