Opinions on Texbook, metafontbook, tex the program etc. Knuth's video

Opinions on Texbook, metafontbook, tex the program etc. Knuth's video

Post by Walter Tau » Wed, 08 Feb 1995 08:10:15



: I am reading the TeXbook, and also slowly chewing the Metafont book. I am
: interesting in knowing how long should it take to read the TeXbook, and
: what is the best approach. I have heard that there are some videos by Knuth.
: If one hears a lecture, then the reading of a book by the same author becomes
: much more efficient. Do you know where to get the video?

: Even though I am not a computer scientist, I took a C class and had to
: write an Algebraic to RPN parser. I am fascinated by the parsing theory. I
: wonder if Anyone has read the book TeX the program, and tell me what one
: might expect to learn from it.

: What is the structure of TeX? Is it just a parser, that expands macros,
: and substitutes how to import fonts etc? Actually dvips does that. Can
: someone explain the big picture, of how tex, metafont, dvips/xdvi work
: to give the final document. I am wanting to understand the exact specifications
: of the .dvi and other file formats, via a simple, but fully worked example.
: Does Knuth's video talk about this? You may realize that what I am really
: asking is a small university type lecture on the fundamentals.

: Many Thanks
: Lily Liao

        Boxes, boxes,......boxes are the key!

Walter

 
 
 

Opinions on Texbook, metafontbook, tex the program etc. Knuth's video

Post by Steve Dunh » Wed, 08 Feb 1995 11:59:32


: I am reading the TeXbook, and also slowly chewing the Metafont
: book. I am interesting in knowing how long should it take to read
: the TeXbook, and what is the best approach. I have heard that there
: are some videos by Knuth.  If one hears a lecture, then the reading
: of a book by the same author becomes much more efficient. Do you
: know where to get the video?

: Even though I am not a computer scientist, I took a C class and had
: to write an Algebraic to RPN parser. I am fascinated by the parsing
: theory. I wonder if Anyone has read the book TeX the program, and
: tell me what one might expect to learn from it.

The TeXbook explains much of how TeX works (if you read all of it).

: What is the structure of TeX? Is it just a parser, that expands
: macros, and substitutes how to import fonts etc? Actually dvips does
: that. Can someone explain the big picture, of how tex, metafont,
: dvips/xdvi work to give the final document. I am wanting to
: understand the exact specifications of the .dvi and other file
: formats, via a simple, but fully worked example.  Does Knuth's video
: talk about this? You may realize that what I am really asking is a
: small university type lecture on the fundamentals.

Knuth describes TeX as having two stages, the `mouth' and the
`stomach,' to use his terms.  The former does tokenization and macro
expansion and the latter executes commands (playing around with lists
of boxes, internal registers, and miscellany, and invoking the output
routine when necessary).  Its explained rather well in the TeXbook (if
you read the `double dangerous bend' stuff) - you probably won't need
to read `TeX: The program'.

Put simply the dvi format is just a list of commands from the set:
 * insert character here and move forward
 * move to new postion
 * change fonts
 * new page
 * draw a horizontal or vertical rule

It's a rather efficient format.

dvips translates a dvi file to postscript.  (It appears to prepend a
dictionary that defines DVI-like commands and then does a one-to-one
translation)

metafont generates bitmaps from .mf files (which contain programs that
draw the characters in a font).

xdvi executes the commands in a dvi file to draw the document in a
window.

Steve


 
 
 

Opinions on Texbook, metafontbook, tex the program etc. Knuth's video

Post by James Chi » Thu, 02 Mar 1995 03:23:10


: I am reading the TeXbook, and also slowly chewing the Metafont book. I am
: interesting in knowing how long should it take to read the TeXbook, and
: what is the best approach. I have heard that there are some videos by Knuth.

To finish the TeXbook is simple, as it is written in a quite
easily-understood way.  But you might quite a longer time if you want to
fully understand the questions marked with 'ZZ' also.  You don't have to
read it in sequence, except for the first few chapters.  Actually this is
mentioned in the TeXbook also.

: If one hears a lecture, then the reading of a book by the same author becomes
: much more efficient. Do you know where to get the video?

Never heard of that.  But I wonder if the videos will give you such detail
informations as you mentioned in your question.

: Even though I am not a computer scientist, I took a C class and had to
: write an Algebraic to RPN parser. I am fascinated by the parsing theory. I
: wonder if Anyone has read the book TeX the program, and tell me what one
: might expect to learn from it.

Ha!  Sleep enough before you read it, especially if you don't want to read
it from the beginning!  Well, if you really go thru the whole book, you can
understand every single details that TeX uses in her program, from how TeX
pack its data to how TeX calculate spacings, break pages...  but not how to
use it.

: What is the structure of TeX? Is it just a parser, that expands macros,
: and substitutes how to import fonts etc? Actually dvips does that. Can
: someone explain the big picture, of how tex, metafont, dvips/xdvi work
:to give the final document. I am wanting to understand the exact specifications

Metafont is a font designed by Knuth that uses mathematical definitions to
make it capable of scaling to any specific size. (though not very pretty
to me)  Before you can use TeX/LaTeX, source metafont files must be compiled
to generate gf/pk fonts (bitmaps) and tfm files (specify the dimensions of
fonts).  TeX read tfm files to initialize its internal table for dimension
calculations and then write to .dvi files when it compiles the source
document.  Xdvi reads the .dvi file and pk fonts to display the document in
XWindow.  Dvips is another program that read .dvi file and convert it to
.ps format.

: of the .dvi and other file formats, via a simple, but fully worked example.
: Does Knuth's video talk about this? You may realize that what I am really
: asking is a small university type lecture on the fundamentals.

Is the video in distributed format?  If yes, I'd like have a look also.

--
James Ching        CSC 4/4
Department of Computer Science


 
 
 

1. 'fmt' like program with Knuth optimal line break algorithm

Hi, I am looking for a text formatter _with the same interface_ as fmt,
but with a slightly smarter engine: namely one which uses Knuth/XXXX
algorithm for optimal line breaks. Anyone heard of such a beast?

I imagine that TeX could be configured to do the job: use the \tt font,
few filters in, few filters out, awk scripts, perl, etc.  However, I
would really like to confine the search to a simple filter text
formatter that can be conveniently be used within a text editor.

--
Joseph (Yossi) Gil                 {alberta,uw-beaver,uunet}!ubc-cs!yogi

6356 Agricultural Road., Univ. of B.C.,             Tel: +1-604-822-8175
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z2, Canada.       Fax: +1-604-822-5485

2. T-Pascal graphics/sound routine HELF needed!!!

3. Knuth's books in hardcover (was: Re: Status of Knuth's books)

4. HP thinkjet

5. Typesetting bugs in The TeXbook and The METAFONTbook

6. FS: 2 A500s and GVP HD+ and more

7. the texbook, texbook.tex, et al (was re: tex semantics--reference ...)

8. MacApp R14d2 and CW Pro 5

9. METAFONTbook program question

10. 'C-program to latex/tex'-converter needed

11. ANNOUNCE: ascii text to TeX conversion 'as is'; two C programs

12. 'C-program to latex/tex'-converter needed

13. Accuracy of Knuth's Syntax for Tex