A while back, people asked about whether to include LaTeX formatting on PCG.SE. The answer was generally no, because people believed that the filesize was too big and had too much of an effect on loading time.

But then Puzzling.SE got LaTeX support added, which was a few months after that question was last updated. I'm wondering whether it would be a good idea to reconsider bringing LaTeX to PCG.SE, since a lot of the programming puzzles I've personally written would definitely benefit from LaTeX notation:

Note that some of these questions also use code notation that should stay code notation; however, there are significantly many bits and pieces that would be preferable to format in LaTeX.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Generally, when the developers decide whether it's worth putting MathJax on a site or not, a list of posts that would benefit from it helps prove your point. Could you compile a small list of challenges that you think would benefit from MathJax formatting (and why)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Dec 8, 2014 at 22:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll get to that in a moment; I'm in the middle of writing a puzzle right now that would (incidentally) benefit from it, actually. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe Z.
    Dec 8, 2014 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, done. How do they look? \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe Z.
    Dec 8, 2014 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looks great! Stack Exchange employees regularly patrol child metas, so this should be seen soon (if not, I'll ping someone in chat). \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Dec 9, 2014 at 0:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doorknob冰 Have they seen it yet? \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe Z.
    Dec 25, 2014 at 3:43
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I suppose not, seeing as nobody from SE has responded yet. I'll go ahead and poke somebody with a sharp stick now :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Dec 25, 2014 at 3:45

2 Answers 2


I've now enabled the MathJax setting here. Enjoy!


First off, your questions use the existing formatting tools expertly; they all seem to clearly describe the problem at hand. I can certainly picture how LaTeX would allow more mathematical explanations and nicer-looking matrices. However, I think MathJax is overkill for this site.

For one thing, it wouldn't be used much in answers.* Afterall, code golf answers are typically written in code, not mathematical notation. Contrast that to Puzzling where good answers might need to bring math into play even when the question shows no obvious indication it might be required.

While mathematics is the lingua franca of algorithms, among programmers pseudocode tends to be more commonly used. So it feels like MathJax is a poor fit for this topic. Are there algorithms that are difficult or impossible to express in pseudocode?

* I did see this fine answer as the exception that proves the rule.

  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm sorry, but this is just empirically false. Joe Z linked a bunch of examples, and I can add my own recent answer where I had to copy-paste in images of LaTeX math. And that's not counting examples where one would happily write math if the tools were available but instead had to get around it with an external link or a wordy explanation. I also want to mention fastest-algorithm challenges, which typically require mathematical proofs of asymptotics in Big-O notation. \$\endgroup\$
    – xnor
    Jan 27, 2015 at 23:14
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ Arguably, on PPCG, the presentation of questions is somewhat more important than the presentation of answers. Therefore, I think the benefit for the challenges should be given more weight. And I think there are a lot more such questions than listed in the above post. Furthermore, I have to agree with xnor, that if MathJax was available, mathematical notation would be used much more regularly than it currently is - 8 of our top 30 tags are maths-related. And if you want more "exceptions to the rule" check out some answers here: codegolf.stackexchange.com/q/37627/8478 \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2015 at 8:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ 1. Being used a lot in questions is a reason to have MathJax \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2015 at 9:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ 2. Being used less in answers is a reason the load time worry applies even less. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2015 at 9:07
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I would have used MathJax in at least 6 of my most recent 30 answers had it been available. Good answers on this site mix code with explanation, and when the stuff which needs explaining is mathematical it's useful to have better formatting options available than merely fixed-width text. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2015 at 9:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .