How do I do a matrix in WordPress LaTeX?


I wanted to walk through the calculation that Atlas the Mental Giant did in that installment of Barnaby which I shared on Monday. I’ve been stymied, though. To have anything comprehensible, I need a matrix. (To be precise, I need the determinant of a matrix.) It needs to be typeset in a particular way.

In normal mathematics communications this is easy. We can use the LaTeX typesetting standard, and I would write something like this:

\left(U - TS\right)\left|\begin{tabular}{cc} -dT^2 & S \\ e^{\imath \pi} & \zeta(0) L \end{tabular} \right|

I haven’t checked that I have the syntax precisely right, but it’s something like that.

WordPress includes a bit of support for LaTeX expressions. Here I mean the standard free account that I have; I can write in some line like

\int_0^M \sum_{j=1}^{N} a_j x^j dx

and it will get displayed neat and clean as

\int_0^M \sum_{j=1}^{N} a_j x^j dx


Thing is, the standard installation only has a subset of LaTeX’s commands. This is fair enough. It’s ridiculous to bring the entire workshop out when all you need is one hammer. What I can’t find, though, is a description of what LaTeX tools are available to the standard default WordPress free-account user. My experiments in my own comments suggest that the tabular, and the table, structures aren’t supported. But I can’t find a reference that says what’s allowed and what isn’t. I might, after all, be making a silly error in syntax, over and over. When you make an error in WordPress LaTeX you get a sulky note that the formula does not parse. There’s no hint given to what went wrong, or where. You have to remove symbols until the error disappears, and then reverse-engineer what should have been there.

(And the new WordPress editor does not help either. There is not a single point in the new editor where I am fully sure what clicking the mouse will do, or why. Whether it’ll pop up a toolbar I don’t need, or open a new section I don’t want, or pop up a menu where items have moved around from the last time, or whether it’ll jump back to the start of my post and challenge me to remember what I was doing. I realize it is always popular to complain about a web site change, but usually the changes make at least one thing better than it used to be. I can’t find the thing this has made at all better.)

So I’m hoping to attract information. Does anyone have a list of what LaTeX commands WordPress can use? And how the set of what’s available differs between the original post and the comments on the post? And what, for a basic subscription, you can use to represent a matrix?

Incidentally, here’s how to make WordPress print a line of LaTeX larger. Put a &s=N just before the closing $ of your symbol. That N can be 1, 2, 3, or 4. The bigger the N, the bigger the print. You can also put in 0 or negative numbers, if you want the expression to be smaller. I can’t imagine wanting that, but it’s out there.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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