I had forgotten the challenges of doing more than the most basic mathematics expressions in ASCII art, and had completely forgotten there were tools that tried to make it a bit easier. Enteropia here’s put forth a script which ought to make it a bit easier to go from LaTeX into an ASCII representation, and I have the feeling I’m going to want to find this again later on, so I’d best make some kind of link I can locate when I do.

Many of computer algebra systems date back to the times when GUI machines were rare and expensive, if were present at all. Thus command line was a standard interface. Unfortunately text terminal doesn’t fit very well for displaying mathematical expressions which demand for rich typesetting. To represent math formulas CAS’s resorted to some kind of ASCII art:

inf 1 ==== / n n \ [ x log (x) > I ---------- dx / ] gamma(n x) ==== / n = 0…

That’s the output of Maxima. Some of the systems went further and don’t restrict themselves to plain ASCII. Axiom can produce such a nice output:

2 x - %A ┌──┐ ┌┐ %e \│%A │ ──────────── d%A └┘ tan(%A) + 2

Even now most CAS’s retain command line interface, for example Mathematica 8’s terminal session:

In[14]:= Pi*(a+b^2/(Exp[12]+3/2 ">2)) 2 b Out[14]= (a + -------) Pi 3 12 - + E…

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