Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Detexify Proves That Wonders Never Cease

My office-mate asked me today if I had ever seen "Detexify". I said no. Two minutes later I knew I had to post this on the blog for all to enjoy. I give you "Detexify". It's an online tool that lets you draw a math symbol with your mouse and then shows you the latex commands that produce that symbol.

Let's say, for example, that you wanted to get the latex symbol for real numbers (that funny R with an extra line on the left side), but being a physicist that doesn't think about abstract math all that much (in physics all numbers are complex, some just have zero imaginary part) you can't remember it off the top of your head. Instead of Googling it or searching through table after table of options, simply let Detexify figure it out for you. Check out the screen shot:
Note that I didn't even have to draw the symbol well for it to figure out what I wanted. Technology is wonderful!


  1. Wow, that's actually pretty slick! I can't tell you how many times I have had to look some crazy symbol up.

    When it gets bad enough I have to download the .tex source from to get it right. Maybe this will save me some time.

  2. Ooooooohh! That's so cool! And now I've confessed publicly what a nerd I am!

  3. It's a really great idea, except the first four things I tried weren't in there, and they are fairly common symbols in LaTeX. Hmmmm...

  4. That is cool. And, jmb275, it's ok, we're pretty well all nerds here.

  5. After some more digging it appears the they are using a neural network to match the drawings with LaTeX symbols, so if your drawings don't work you can help train the network by clicking on the symbol you were going for. Admittedly it's not a perfect system but it's pretty darn good (and getting better.

  6. I like it a whole lot. I just trained a few characters. Very cool!

  7. That is cool. Now if it only gave you the Unicode character...


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