Posts Tagged ‘TeX’

Reimagining the Implementation of TeX (and the Luxury of Modern Programming Methods)

January 24, 2015

Glenn Vanderburg, Engineering Director for Architecture at LivingSocial (@glvhttp://vanderburg.org), has a personal project underway to implement TeX’s algorithms in the Clojure programming language. His work was recently described in an article published on InfoQ. Glenn also presented his work at the Clojure/conj conference last year in 2014, his excellent talk is posted on YouTube.

The InfoQ article and YouTube presentation provide a high-level summary of the state of technology and software development capabilities available in the early 1980’s which influenced (really restricted and confined) the creativity and results of a programmer at the time. By implementing TeX in Clojure, a functional programming language with capabilities for multi-threaded processing, Glenn applies modern methods, and makes several now-and-then observations along the way, to the implementation of a large-scale programming masterwork created by Professor Knuth more than 30 years ago.

“The ways we can program today are luxuries made possible by decades of small advances.”

Glenn also describes the potential benefits for reuse that would be available with a modern implementation giving several examples of how Web publishing and eBook readers might take advantage of using TeX’s excellent typesetting algorithms creating beautiful page layouts and more natural reading experiences.

References