Training video: MOEAFramework GUI

In the next few weeks, we’ll be adding blog posts relating to our MOEAframework training.  They are a little bit out of order now, but we may rearrange them as things move forward.

The following video deals with using the GUI for MOEAFramework.  The GUI is best suited for those beginning their MOEA training.  The following video shows how to download and operate the GUI as well as two simple problems:

  1. Running two different problems with the same algorithm (DTLZ1-2D and DTLZ1-2D-Rotated with eNSGAII)
  2. Running two different algorithms on the same problem. (DTLZ1-2D-Rotated with eNSGAII and eMOEA)

Beginner’s LaTeX Guide

What are TeX and LaTeX?

TeX is a low-level markup and programming language used to typeset documents, created by Donald Knuth. TeX is a powerful typesetting tool, but can be difficult to use because of the time it takes to create custom text formatting macros.  To get around this difficulty, there are programs, like LaTeX, that come with pre-built macros. LaTeX is more user-friendly, but lacks the flexibility of TeX.

Installing a TeX System: MiKTeX

MiKTeX is an implementation of Knuth’s TeX system. You’ll need a TeX system on your computer so the LaTeX commands are recognized by your machine. My decision to personally use MiKTeX is based on its compatibility with the WinEdt software we use in the Reed group, you can also use TeX Live as your TeX system, but I have no experience with that software.  Once you have a TeX system installed on your computer, you can compile LaTeX documents using a command line and text files (saved with the proper file extension). Most people find this difficult, which is why many people use a TeX editing software.

Installing a TeX Editor: WinEdt

The software that we have a license for in the Reed group is WinEdt. There are other free options such as TeXnicCenter and many, many others. For a whole discussion on pros and cons of different editors see Wikipedia’s article comparing different TeX editors. Once you’ve installed WinEdt, you can go to Documents -> Current Work (Samples) within the program to compile one of the sample documents included in the program to ensure your software is properly installed/configured.

(Reed Members: Talk to Josh for license information. I believe the Reed license is only valid for WinEdt 5.5, which is not the latest version.)

Learning some Basic Commands

Luckily, there are MANY MANY sources for learning LaTeX commands. A good place to start is Wikipedia’s LaTeX Wikibook. Starting under the tab “Absolute Beginners” will walk you through very simple document creation. Another good place to start is Andre Heck‘s short course in LaTeX called Learning LaTeX by Doing. Within this course, there are 24 exercises designed to get you familiar with commands, and typing your own LaTeX documents. If you’re just interested in trying out these exercises without installing software, you can use Latexlabs.org to compile your LaTeX documents online. Once you become familiar with the commands, a good place to start with a unique document is putting together a LaTeX resume/CV.  This will get you familiar with simple document commands such as tables and lists.

Some Resources

Winston Chang has written a comprehensive document that compresses most of the major LaTeX commands to two pages: http://www.stdout.org/~winston/latex/latexsheet.pdf.

If you’re interested in using LaTeX to write a Penn State thesis/dissertation, Gary L. Gray and Francesco Costanzo have written a thesis template to use: http://www.esm.psu.edu/psuthesis/

There’s even a LaTeX template that makes your documents look like MS Word!

Web-based Free Options for Bibliography Management and LaTeX Editing

I often find myself switching between computers with different operating systems, so I try to use free tools on the web as often as I can. The purpose of this post is to make you aware of two free options that I’ve had success with.

Bibliography Management – Zotero.org

Zotero is a free bibliography management resource that works as a plug-in for Mozilla Firefox along with plug-ins that work with Microsoft Office and Open Office. You edit your citations within Firefox, and insert them into documents using the Office plug-ins. You can import and export BibTeX into or out of Zotero and it is compatible with the RIS format, so you can move your citations back and forth between Zotero and Endnote. When you sign up for Zotero, it will ask you to create a user account. Your web account serves as an online backup for your citations, as well as a collaborative space. You can create a profile based on your area of expertise, so you can search for users with similar research interests as you and share your citations with them. (Perhaps this would be a good way to create a Pat Reed Group citation database?)

If this piqued your interest, I recommend checking out the quick start guide which shows some of the cool stuff you can do with Zotero.

My only warning is make sure you’re running the latest version of Firefox or you might have some compatibility issues with the plug-ins, especially with Word and Open Office. According to the website, there is a beta release for standalone Zotero as well as plug-ins for Safari and Chrome, but I haven’t used any of those options. It is also important to note that there is a 100MB limit for free Zotero service. I have about 2,000 citations total stored online and I’m only using about 1.0MB according to the website, so I imagine that the free service will be sufficient for everyone. It is $20/year for 1GB of Zotero storage.

LaTeX – Latexlab.org

Latexlab.org is a Google Docs based LaTeX editor. You sign in using your Google Docs account, so all your files are stored on your Google profile.  Those familiar with WinEdt or other LaTeX editing software should have no trouble using the LaTeX Lab interface.  You can upload images to your Google-docs account to insert them into your LaTeX document. I’d recommend using this if you’re on the go and need to put together a LaTeX document quickly.

I’ve never tried to compile anything complicated within LaTeX Lab, but if you need to put together an equation-heavy document quickly, this is a good alternative. I certainly wouldn’t try to put your thesis together using LaTeX Lab. You can compile different documents together into a project, but I’ve never used that functionality. Again, I would shy away from trying to put together complicated documents in LaTeX Lab.