At the REU I’m at, we listen to daily lectures. The current topic is “geometry of polynomials,” by Sergei Tabachnikov; it will continue for two weeks. I’ve been live-TeXing notes in class.

It’s not something I anticipated doing—after all, typing is slower, right? I find that’s not really the case. First, out of concerns of laziness efficiency, I always predefine macros (e.g. \e = \mathbb) in my source files that reduce the amount of typing.  Second, since this is a talk, there are pauses in the mathematical exposition that allow one to catch up. (I actually fall behind very rarely–even though I run pdflatex and scan the output every now and then.*)  The most serious problem is that this is a geometry course. I may try whipping out an image editor and trying to copy down the various diagrams (and insert them as figures into the document later).  But it’d be hard to keep up when there are so many figures, as seems to be the case in this course—and it’ll likely be even harder in the next course (“fractal geometry and dynamics”).

But, on balance, I think I’m pretty sold on live-TeXing.  Mostly because my handwriting is awful, and I’m really bad at keeping organized sheaves of papers.  By contrast, LaTeX output is pretty and computer files don’t (usually) vanish.  I recommend it to others, as well as this post of Chris Schommer-Pries.

So, without further pontification, here are my notes from the past two days.

*On the subject, I definitely recommend using evince as a PDF viewer–it has the nice property of being able to update the document automatically without your having to close and reopen it.