Typing out math is cumbersome, so why not input math the most natural way - hand-writing?

Why should we type this -

LaTeX code

to get this?

Outputted equation

As Math students, we hand-write countless math equations and proofs in our notes. When we want to upload or typeset our notes, we have to rewrite all of the equations in LaTeX code which takes far longer than just writing them by hand. In search of a way to make this process easier, ScribbleTeX was born.

What it does

ScribbleTeX is a document editor that allows you to easily create beautiful LaTeX documents without knowing LaTeX. Type out your text and then hand-write any mathematical equations or notation. Finally, generate the LaTeX code and view your formatted document as a PDF.

How we built it

ScribbleTeX is an iOS app written in Swift with a Node.js backend. It's hosted on Google Cloud Platform.

We captured raw pen input events as (x, y) coordinates and developed and algorithm to represent these as individual strokes. These strokes are then forwarded to the Node.js backend that calls assembles and compiles the corresponding Latex document from these strokes.

Challenges we ran into

One of the biggest challenges we ran into was figuring out how to detect handwritten strokes and classify them as mathematical symbols. Another challenge we faced was that we only had 1 iOS developer for this UI-heavy app. This was a big bottleneck for our iteration process.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We made a working and useful prototype of the technological solution we conceived, and we see our product being potentially invaluable for students and academics all across the world.

What we learned

We learned how different expectations can be from reality, in terms of the time and work involved to go from idea to product.

What's next for ScribbleTeX

We want to work on a more flexible way of sharing and persisting documents in the interest of making ScribbleTeX a full-fledged solution for document creation and editing. Also, we want to improve the robustness of our existing systems as ScribbleTeX scales to more users in the future.

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