Demystifying LaTeX: The future of online mathematics | HackMD Blog
December 7, 2023

Demystifying LaTeX: The future of online mathematics

Rachel Golden
Rachel Golden
Telling HackMD's story, building awareness, and meaningfully connecting with communities.

Mathematics is the language of the universe. It’s woven into everything we do. But its complex symbols and equations can often pose challenges in the digital world.

How do you type formulas, notations, symbols, to the power of, square roots, and the rest in a clear, concise way? It’s a time consuming venture that will probably leave you frustrated.

Enter LaTeX and MathJax.

Your comprehensive solution for all your documentation needs.

But what exactly are they, how do they work together, and how can you harness them for your documentation?

We’re glad you asked…

What is LaTeX and MathJax?

LaTeX is a high-quality typesetting system for anyone creating mathematical documentation on the internet. And MathJax is a tool that brings the power of LaTeX to your fingertips.

In plain speak: they allow you to write complex equations and symbols directly in your online documents. Authors can create a dynamic and visually appealing representation online that closely mirrors its traditional handwritten sibling.

AKA: Bringing blackboards to the web.

At its core, MathJax uses a combination of web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to transform LaTeX, MathML, and AsciiMath notation – two other mathematical markup languages --into high-quality, scalable, and accessible math expressions.

But from those three languages, LaTeX serves as the primary input format for MathJax.

Great. Now that we have that covered, let’s dive into the why.

Benefits of LaTeX

1. Enhanced online learning

LaTeX and MathJax significantly elevate the online educational experience.

For educators, it enables the creation of interactive learning materials, lecture notes, and digital textbooks with clear, beautifully rendered equations for not only math but also cryptography, physics, and even quantum mechanics.

Students then benefit from a more intuitive and visually comprehensible representation of these concepts, facilitating better understanding and retention.

2. Cross-browser compatibility and accessibility

And for those writing with MathJax for a far reaching audience, one of MathJax’s significant advantages is its compatibility across various web browsers and devices.

Whether it’s Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge, MathJax ensures a consistent and high-quality rendering of mathematical notation, making it accessible to many. It doesn’t require any additional plug-ins, fonts, or special setup for the reader.

3. Streamlined documentation and research

LaTeX and MathJax serve as powerful allies for authors, researchers, and scientists, offering a suite of tools to streamline the documentation and dissemination of mathematical content.

In the era of online research, academic blogging, and breakneck innovation LaTeX and MathJax play a crucial role in presenting content for math and the like with clarity and precision.

Whether it’s creating blog posts discussing complex theories for quantum mechanics, sharing physics research findings, or presenting the latest technical breakthrough in cryptography, authors can rely on LaTeX and MathJax to present equations and formulas in an elegant and professional manner.

This not only enhances the visual appeal of the content but also ensures that the intricacies of notation are accurately conveyed to the readers.

Collaborative writing platforms and academic publishing systems can also benefit from MathJax’s capabilities.

Using LaTeX and MathJax in HackMD

As we just hinted at, authors collaborating on mathematical content can easily share and edit equations within HackMD, ensuring consistency and accuracy across different contributors.

Equations retain their high-quality rendering, enhancing readability for collaborators.

Here are a few implementations of LaTeX and MathJax:

  • Enclosed formulas: Add two $ before and after your equation to create in-line notations.

\[ x = {-b \pm \sqrt{b^2-4ac} \over 2a} \]


x = {-b \pm \sqrt{b^2-4ac} \over 2a}
  • Superscripts and subscripts: Use ^ and _ to indicate super and subscript variations.

\[ y^2 = 2x+16 \]

  • Fractions: Write \over or \frac to create fractions.

You can explore the full list of uses here.

We recently upgraded MathJax capabilities in HackMD to further improve speed and stability. Elevate your documentation and knowledge sharing – start exploring LaTeX and MathJax on HackMD today.

We can’t wait to see what you create.