The real reason for requiring LaTeX submissions in academia?

Maybe it is because LaTeX is used as a filter to discourage non-serious submissions to conferences and journals?

If this is the real reason, then the fact that TeXmacs is easier to learn and more pleasant to use is actually a problem.

Is this the real reason for not accepting TeXmacs submissions (i.e., without exporting to LaTeX)?

I suppose that it is a political problem. If they start to accept submissions in TeXmacs (provided they are even aware it exists), there are no reasons to also allow submission in

Why then LaTeX? I think just because it is the de-facto standard for math typesetting. Journals which do not require much math accepts also MS Word :slight_smile:

My personal point of view is that is not the researcher job to typeset a journal paper. It is the editor job. The fact that we are required to submit ready-to-print papers (or almost) is just a way for the editor to subsidise they expenses to our free labour. It was not like this in the past. Hopefully will change in the future. LaTeX is a problem for editors too: too difficult to postprocess. Maybe XML could be a better format for submissions.

Why LaTeX? Because LaTeX requires effort to learn and is not particularly pleasant to use.

It’s like the way natural languages are used to discourage immigration. At the very least, people should learn the language, and in the process, also the culture before immigrating.

I think you are making up a “big thing” of a technological and historical problem. You can ask the same question about why Fortran has remained for long time the de-facto standard for scientific computing. A part of the problem is the technological lockdown. Another is that there are right now no real alternative to TeX to encode mathematical formulas. MathML is not really a format you can read/compose with an ASCII editor.

To become a mathematicians or a physicist learning LaTeX is really a very minor intellectual endeavour. I would guess this applies to other sciences too. If you are not a scientist then you do not really need LaTeX. Even as a scientist nowadays many people are discovering workflows which use markdown and then a converted as pandoc to get away from LaTeX.

TeX/LaTeX is used as part of the peer review process. See item # 1 here:

It is not, not always at least. See, e.g. the requirements for Trans. Am. Math. Soc:

only PDF is needed. Also arXiv allow submissions to be in PDF or Word.

What the author of that blog is meaning (in his ignorance of valid alternative to LaTeX) is that if he see a math paper composed in Word (and you can indeed recognise it, at least before Word 2007), then you have the impression that the author is a math illetterate (since LaTeX-style typesetting is a must in any math degree). I have also the same impression. You can check on the arXiv the number of preprints in Word which claim that either: the foundations of math are unsound or that they proved the Riemman hypothesis.

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See e.g.

written in Word. Which in the meanwhile has been converted to LaTeX:

in the 13th version, maybe to respond to this kind of critiques. The paper is surely not much better. It took me 3min to find it on arXiv. This give you a sense of how many crappy papers are around, many of them written in Word, much more written in LaTeX.

I receive at least 1/2 a year private email with similar claims.

How would you convince academics that the WYSIWYG TeXmacs won’t become the new Word in this respect?

Why you think this is a real problem? It is your impression or you have some fact/observations which make you think that?

Why else would theoretical computer scientists be so against TeXmacs? Reviewing papers full of math is hard work and they don’t want to waste their time reviewing incorrect papers.

This is your opinion. I would like to see it corroborated by some facts, even some personal anecdotes, it is difficult for me to appreciate what is the target of your critique. Why you say that they are against TeXmacs? Are they also against LyX or Scientific Workplace?

Are they against Markdown+Pandoc? (it seems hard to me to believe). Actually there are theoretical computer scientists which compose their documents in Racket:

In this thread I gave you a lot of references which disprove or at least challenge your claims. You gave only that reference to a blog, and I provided a reasonable explanation for that claim which indeed in part I share. In particular I do not see it as a direct critique to TeXmacs or to any other similar alternative. If you think so, then maybe you should explain to me why, because for me it is hard to understand.

Can we base our discussion more on facts? I would be eager to see some, so that we have matter for discussion and progress.

Take a look at the comments on the blog post.

From Scott (the author of the blog post):

NER: All I claim is that empirically, it’s a very successful heuristic.

As for why this is so, one might speculate as follows: those who can’t be bothered to learn the tools, notation, conventions, etc. of whatever subject they’re writing about, are highly correlated (though not identical) with those who can’t be bothered to learn the subject itself.

From a comment by asdf:

What can I say; if a paper is full of spelling errors, that doesn’t necessarily mean the mathematical content is wrong, but it’s not a good sign. TeX is part of mathematical culture and using anything else might be similar to using an unconventional notation for a familiar math concept. Again, not conclusive, but not a good sign. Nothing short of actually reading a paper (or at least reading enough to find a definite error) is enough to form a conclusive judgement of its content. But lots of things, like the presence or absence of spelling errors and weird notation and typography, can raise or lower expectations at the outset. That I think is what Scott was trying to get at.

From an anonymous comment:

Nobody’s saying the use of TeX is a fully reliable test for whether a paper is good, but here’s an analogy:

Suppose someone handwrites a paper in crayon. Logically, this tells us nothing about the content of the paper, but in practice, it tells us a lot about the author. Very few people who write in crayon have anything interesting or worthwhile to say. It’s not a logical guarantee, but if you see a research paper written in crayon, it’s perfectly reasonable not to take it seriously (since it almost certainly isn’t serious).

Not using TeX in a math/CS paper is not nearly as extreme as writing in crayon, but it is similar in spirit. There are a handful of older or eccentric researchers who have never learned TeX. Other than that, anybody in math or theoretical CS who doesn’t use TeX looks like a rube. This may not be fair, but it’s a true statement about appearances within the community.

Still, my interpretation is not challenged by these comments. This blog post is from ~2008, it mostly refer to Word-written papers, unless somebody say the opposite, since as I told you, no normal researcher can make the difference between TeXmacs and LaTeX-generated PDF. I think the only way you have to find out is to ask explicitly the author of the blog post if it was mentioning all the other softwares. He is just ignorant there are other possibilities. And again you attach too much importance to a single instance which do not address specifically the question of TeXmacs. What if one uses Lout? Is better or worser than using LaTeX? Given that Lout is more “niche” I would guess that mathematicians using Lout are more knowledgeable than those using LaTeX. So the opposite deduction is true: if you use Lout you are better than using LaTeX because it identifies you as a more knowledgeable person which does not just follow the behaviour of the mass.

Check out Scott Aaronson’s reply to a recent comment I made on his blog:

My comment:

What do you think of this discussion on the real reason for requiring LaTeX submissions in academia?

To which Scott replies:

Amir Michail #4: You’re on to our secret.

(I say “our” even though after 25 years, I still haven’t learned LaTeX very well, and continue to use Scientific Workplace as a front end…)

Using LyX, Scientific Workplace, TeXmacs, etc. is fine as long as you export to LaTeX and fix any issues that arise before submission. So LaTeX remains as a filter to discourage non-serious submissions.

What is the problem? If your PDF fails to render in a PDF viewer who has to fix the issue?

Let me say a little bit in this discussion. I use Latex since 1994 (around this year). After many years of working with latex, it is very easy for me to make everything that I need. About TexMacs. As for me, it is a very useful package. The problem, in my opinion, is Scheme as the basis of it. It will be very great if we can get the GUI of TexMacs in the present form, but the file created will be exactly Latex, without Scheme. This idea was realized in the Bakoma package In this package, you write text as in TexMacs without knowledge of tex code but the file created in Latex. But Bakoma is not free and I see it is a dying package (for sale). There is another new project SwiftLatex with the same idea, but in the present form it is very slow and useless for work.

TeXmacs doesn’t use TeX. It has its own WYSIWYG typesetting engine that yields similar but not identical results to TeX/LaTeX. Although it can export to LaTeX, the result isn’t the same.

@JoePass I’m not sure I understand correctly your point. Scheme is a language used in TeXmacs to define and program the user interface. It can be also used to perform certain manipulations of the documents when the macro language (which is different) is not versatile enough. The document itself does not contain any scheme usually, and especially if you convert the document in LaTeX there is no scheme there. So I do not understand what you mean with

If you write your document in TeXmacs and then export to LaTeX there is no scheme code there.
Many of us used LaTeX since long time (for me it started around 1996 when I was a student in physics) and many of us know to use LaTeX well. The point is not this, is the fact that TeXmacs allows to concentrate on what is important (I wrote a short article explaining this point of view here: ) and still produce a LaTeX file at the end, to send to editors or to put on arXiv. As far as I know no other software give me the same quality and smooth workflow and in particular avoid me to split my window in two parts and wait for the compilation of the file every time I make a change. In the past there were systems capable of some of these features: TeXtures on Mac and BaKoMa TeX on Windows (but I never tried any of them) and both based on TeX. However both disappeared so I cannot draw a conclusive comparison of them with TeXmacs.