Keeping track of math courses with LaTeX

July 6, 2020

I have really bad handwriting. In fact, sometimes when I write something by hand I have trouble deciphering it later. Here, have a look at an actual example:

The above snippet is from a history class I took. I once even flunked a test in secondary school because I couldn't read my own writing and proceeded with a wrong intermediate result. (My teacher couldn't even give me part of the score as he couldn't read anything either...)

Having bad handwriting is kind of annoying for taking math classes, as here in Bern you're supposed to do a lot of handwriting by taking notes of what gets written on the blackboard.

Furthermore, I don't like to read my own handwriting, because it's just no fun to constantly having to decode formulas and variables and not having a clear overview. Some classmates solved this by re-writing all of their class notes afterwards, again by hand, but took some more time to do it.

LaTeX to the rescue

For some math classes, I decided to take notes in LaTeX. LaTeX is amazing for math and provides beautifully typed formulae, and it came in handy for taking notes.

One sessions looked could be 5 to 10 pages and looked like this:

PDF Script Linear Algebra 19.03.2012

In this time, I learned a lot about LaTeX, especially how to write fast. Both scripts together are over 10'000 lines of LaTeX!

Sometimes I took the time to layout a fancy graph with TikZ like in the following section:

I still enjoy looking at those figures and formulas, especially as they're arbitrary scalable.

Sharing notes

I then got asked to share my notes and made a little website, and also got some feedback for corrections and typos. I even put up the notes after each class, so if you missed one, you could just download the appropriate section:

You can also download the PDFs here directly:

PDF Lineare Algebra 1 (168 pages)

PDF Lineare Algebra 2 (123 pages)

You can also have a look at the .tex source code, they're in separate Github repos for Linear Algebra I and Linear Algebra II.

Happy typesetting!