dnl $Id: gratzer.m4 252 2009-05-13 16:52:24Z dwalden $
define([[_date]],[[2005-04-13]])dnl
define([[_intervieweename]],[[George _Gratzer]])dnl
define([[_intervieweeinitials]],[[GG]])dnl
_header(gratzer.jpg, [[George _Gratzer is a mathematician who has
written books on _TeX and _LaTeX and edits a journal prepared in _LaTeX.]])
_question1([[Please tell me a bit about your personal history
independent of _TeX.]])
_answer1 I am a mathematician, born and educated in Hungary. I came to
North America in 1963 (first to the _USA, then in 1966 to Canada). If
you are interested in my mathematical papers, they are all posted on my
_link(http://www.umanitoba.ca/science/gratzer, web site).
_par You will find there a listing of my books in three categories:
mathematical, _LaTeX, and others. Just last week, I submitted to my
publisher my latest mathematical book: _title(Congruence Lattices of
Finite Lattices). It should appear late fall. Do not ask me what it is
about.
_par I also founded an international mathematical journal,
_title(Algebra Universalis), which can be accessed via my website.
_par
I am a member of various academies of sciences, have lots of degrees,
one honorary.
_par I have a wife, two children, and three grandchildren.
_question([[When and how did you first get
involved with _TeX and its friends?]])
_answer In 1986, a short paper of mine, written in Word, was accepted in
the Proc._wordspace Amer._wordspace Math._wordspace Soc._sentencespace
The letter of acceptance
stated that the paper will be published in 48 weeks, however, if I
submit it in _AMSTeX, then they publish it in 20 weeks. I did not know
what _AMSTeX was, but a colleague of mine had a _TeX with _AMSTeX, and
offered to loan it to me. Over the weekend, I rewrote the short paper in
_AMSTeX and submitted it. The paper was short and had simple formulas,
so the transition was easy. (Unfortunately, the _AMS twice misplaced the
paper, and it was published much later[[]]_Dash()in 1988.) From 1986 to
1990, I wrote all my papers in _AMSTeX. Sometime, this was very
frustrating. For instance, my paper _numbersign()146 was a survey paper
containing 30 theorems and 29 problems scattered into dozens of
subsections. The constant reorganization of the paper was very
complicated: _AMSTeX could not number! Of course, I could have switched
to _LaTeX, but I found _LaTeX's ability to typeset math very limited
compared to _AMSTeX.
_question([[Many people use _TeX. Not so many write books and papers
_emph(on) it. How did you come to write these books for the _TeX
community?]])
_answer In 1990, at the Kyoto meeting of the International Mathematical
Union, the _AMS released _AMSLaTeX. It was an answer to my dearest
hopes: it married the mathematical abilities of _AMSTeX with the
housekeeping abilities of _LaTeX. There was only one problem: who could
understand it?
_par
The documentation instructed us to read a book on _LaTeX, one on
_AMSTeX, and then the 100 pages or so of explanations that followed
pointed out how _AMSLaTeX compares to _LaTeX and _AMSTeX. I said to
myself: there must be a better way. So I started to struggle with
_AMSLaTeX and kept notes on what worked and what did not. Eventually, I
decided to turn my notes into a book, so people will not have to go
through the same struggle as I did.
_par
I also had a dream: my journal will receive all the contributions in
_AMSLaTeX and we will not have the huge expense of having to typeset
it. Today, 15 years later, this dream has come true.
_par
I am not a _LaTeX expert, I do not understand the _TeX language, I am
just a user. I tried to turn this to my advantage. Since I have a
difficult time (discovering and) understanding so many rules, I do
two things differently. First, I write an introductory part to my
book for beginners, so they do not have to go to page 240 to
understand what every beginner has to know. Then in the reference
part of the book I repeat what is in the introductory part, so the
reader will not have to guess where to go for what information.
Everything is in one place. Second, I explain all the rules with
examples, lots of them; after all, most of my readers are
mathematicians; they easily recognize a pattern when they see the
examples. Formal rules come last.
_par
It was very rewarding that some 50,000 people chose to learn _LaTeX
with the _AMS packages from my books and that the Mathematics Editor
of Amazon.com selected my _title(Math into _LaTeX) as one of the ten best
books of the year 2000.
_question([[You mentioned your dream being achieved of not having to
typeset your _reversetitle(AU) journal. That leads me to ask about how
well you are satisfied with _LaTeX and your class for the needs of your
journal, or if and how you think _TeX and _LaTeX have to evolve to
continue to be useful to mathematicians.]])
_answer _LaTeX and the au class (which is a slightly modified amsart) does
the job for the journal.
_par
The major problem with _TeX and _LaTeX is that it is so badly coded. It
seems to me that _TeX is calling subroutines without storing the info
where it is calling from; as a result, when something blows up in the
subroutine, _TeX does not know what went wrong, so the error messages
are misleading or plain inappropriate. If you do everything right,
_TeX does a perfect job 99% of the time. If all users were perfect, this
would be a nice work environment. But we are not. So we have to develop
very defensive work habits.
_par Recoding _TeX would be nice, but I do not see it happening. _LaTeX
probably will develop but not the way it would be useful for us users,
but probably to better serve the needs of large
organizations[[]]_Dash()the _AMS, the publishers.
_par
Now that a click or two produces pdf files from _TeX, we can communicate
with everybody[[]]_Dash()and electronically; this is very useful. My journal
does not pay anything for postage any more, and communication is very
fast.
_par
The next big thing in mathematical publishing will be color. In a few
years, color printing will be cheap. This will be a very big problem
for the mathematical community. Centuries of typesetting tradition
tells us how to typeset mathematics in black and white. What happens
when color comes in? Shall we do theorems in blue, problems in red? Who
will develop the new standards?
_question([[You have contributed to the _TeX community through your books that
help people learn to use it. Are there parts of the world wide _TeX
community and infrastructure that you also draw on? Is there any sort
of formal or informal community of users for specifically mathematical
_TeX and _LaTeX users?]])
_answer I got very generous help from the mathematical _TeX community in
the form of dozens of volunteers to read and criticize my manuscripts.
Members of the _LaTeX3 team and mathematicians from all over the world
gave their time generously. Also, _tt(comp.text.tex) is very useful;
lots of experts give good advice.
_question([[I greatly appreciate your
giving your time to participate in this interview, and I am ordering a copy
of your _title(Math into _LaTeX) today.]])