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The feature that makes LaTeX the right edition tool for scientific documents is the ability to render complex mathematical expressions. This article explains the basic commands to display equations.


[edit] Introduction

Basic equations in LaTeX can be easily "programmed", for example:

The well known Pythagorean theorem \(x^2 + y^2 = z^2\) was 
proved to be invalid for other exponents. 
Meaning the next equation has no integer solutions:
\[ x^n + y^n = z^n \]


As you see, the way the equations are displayed depends on the delimiter, in this case \[ \] and \( \).

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[edit] Mathematical modes

LaTeX allows two writing modes for mathematical expressions: the inline mode and the display mode. The first one is used to write formulas that are part of a text. The second one is used to write expressions that are not part of a text or paragraph, and are therefore put on separate lines.

Let's see an example of the inline mode:

In physics, the mass-energy equivalence is stated 
by the equation $E=mc^2$, discovered in 1905 by Albert Einstein.


To put your equations in inline mode use one of these delimiters: \( \), $ $ or \begin{math} \end{math}. They all work and the choice is a matter of taste.

The displayed mode has two versions: numbered and unnumbered.

The mass-energy equivalence is described by the famous equation
discovered in 1905 by Albert Einstein. 
In natural units ($c$ = 1), the formula expresses the identity


To print your equations in display mode use one of these delimiters: \[ \], $$ $$, \begin{displaymath} \end{displaymath} or \begin{equation} \end{equation}

Important Note: equation* environment is provided by an external package, consult the amsmath article.

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[edit] Reference guide

Below is a table with some common maths symbols. For a more complete list see the List of Greek letters and math symbols:

description code examples
Greek letters \alpha \beta \gamma \rho \sigma \delta \epsilon \alpha \ \beta \ \gamma \ \rho \ \sigma \ \delta \ \epsilon
Binary operators \times \otimes \oplus \cup \cap \times \ \otimes \ \oplus \ \cup \ \cap
Relation operators < > \subset \supset \subseteq \supseteq < \ > \subset \ \supset \ \subseteq \ \supseteq
Others \int \oint \sum \prod \int \ \oint \ \sum \ \prod

Different classes of mathematical symbols are characterized by different formatting (for example, variables are itzlized, but operators are not) and different spacing.

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[edit] Further Reading

The mathematics mode in LaTeX is very flexible and powerful, there is much more that can be done with it: