Archive for April, 2007

A comparison of some serifs

Serif Comparison (small)

I just spent a few minutes putting together this comparison of the new Arno Pro typeface with a few other serifed typefaces I favor. Click on the image for a larger version; it makes some of the differences a little clearer. I probably should have included Adobe's Garamond Premier Pro too. Palatino is nice too, but I don't really have a proper set.

All of them are at displayed at the 12pt optical size. Arno almost seems like it is perhaps a design somewhere in between Minion and Jenson, at least when considering the serifs and terminals. I am also somewhat surprised by how much more compact Arno appears at the same point size. It is a pre-release version, so it could be that it has not yet received some final tweaking. In any event, it should hopefully be obvious that the first three typefaces are more closely related than Warnock is to any of them, with its very sharp and angular serifs and terminals.

At the moment, I think I am leaning toward Jenson for my dissertation, but I'll probably change my mind several times until I compare a more completed product. I've been thinking a little more about the design of Gentzen lately. I'm going to try to find time to at least do an initial design for the turnstyle and perhaps the universal quantifier this weekend.

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Now I feel silly

I was wondering about Paul's comment on using Arno Pro, given that it is supposed to be a brand new typeface.  It turns out it is bundled with a number of new Adobe products.  Furthermore, a pre-release of the typeface version was included with the Photoshop CS3 beta.  So I opened up Fontbook on my iMac, and indeed, I have a version of Arno Pro to play with.  I'll have to prepare some comparisons in the near future.

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On the Law of Optical Volumes

Many people have probably already seen this, as I just saw it on Slashdot, but Wired has an article on the »math« behind their new logo. Basically, it is an introduction to the rule of thumb behind designing kerning pairs. It is amusing to note that Wired seems to have used a diagram from the Wikipedia article in their article.

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More typography linkage

Alan told me (presumably by way of Daring Fireball again) about Adobe's brand new geometric sans serif typeface Hypatia. However, I'll do both of them one better and note that the designer, Thomas Phinney, talks about it on his blog too. Phinney also mentions on his blog that there Adobe has also just released a new typeface by Slimbach called Arno. It looks pretty nice; it would be interesting to compare it with Minion Pro. I couldn't find any pricing information, but if it is anything like the pricing for the other »Pro Optical« typefaces it is out of my league for the moment.

While checking out more of Daring Fireball myself I saw an entry about photos of an 1923 American Type Foundry specimen book on Flickr. I'm not sure whether there are any copyright issues with that, but it is there for now.

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Filenames for publications

There is an unfortunate tendency for people to make papers available on their websites and give them highly descriptive names like types03.pdf or even the gem tr.pdf. I have a directory or two full of files with names like that and despite the promises of Beagle and Spotlight it is very hard to find certain documents.

I know this is something Joshua rightful complains about, and I'm admittedly guilty of this to some degree myself. So I put it on my to-do list a while back and finally decided to take a few minutes today and sort out the filenames I've assigned to my papers. However, when getting started I was faced with the dilemma of just what the naming convention should be. I did some poking around with Google, but couldn't really find any information on choices that other individuals or organizations have made.

Clearly the year and some approximation of the authors last names should be used, but there are a lot of trade-offs.

One system that I do know about is the one used by the Church Project at Boston University. If I remember correctly the filenames and pages are generated from the BibTeX entries. For example, consider the paper »Type inference, principal typings, and let-polymorphism for first-class mixin modules« by Henning Makholm and J. B. Wells. This paper gets a web page named http://types.bu.edu/reports/Mak+Wel:ICFP-2005.html and a PDF file with a very long name. So long that I will instead just describe the format: the last name of the authors separated by the plus symbol, a colon, title of the paper, a colon, conference venue, a dash, and year. While very descriptive this scheme has a few problems. Firstly, colon is a reserved character in at least a few operating systems. Secondly, is that it is just really long name. I can easily imagine one papers with several authors that the name would exceed the common 255 character filename limit that many filesystems have.

So if anyone has suggestions for developing a consistent naming convention, let me know. While more descriptive filenames would be useful, perhaps what is really needed is the metadata equivalent of »ls«. Then we would be in the position to simply complain about the fact that people don't fill in the metadata fields of their documents.

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Haskell window management has arrived

As a fan of lightweight tiling window managers, such as Ion, I was rather pleased to learn about the forthcoming xmonad window manager yesterday.  Its written in Haskell and aims to stay less than 400 lines of code.  While having such a minimal footprint isn't an absolute must for me, it will make it easy to add the extra things that it lacks if I like.

Now if it were only possible to write new window managers for MacOS X and Windows.

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Linkage equilibrium

The other day Alan (by way of Daring Fireball) sent me two great typography links.

  • 50 Years of Helvetica: An exhibit at the New York City Museum of Modern Art (2007/04/06 through 2008/03/31).  I'm not a big fan of Helvetica, but I should probably check this out regardless.  Apparently it is »the first typeface acquired for MoMA's collection«.  Among other things there is a showing of the Helvetica film I mentioned previously. Maybe I can get Brian to remind me how we got there last time for Pixar exhbit.
  • Iranian Typography Now: A nice introduction to calligraphy and typography in Farsi along with some history and a number of great images.

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Practical Foundations of Mathematics

While taking a break from hacking, I discovered that Taylor's Practical Foundations of Mathematics can be read online. However, it is all HTML so much of the nicely typeset mathematics did not translate over. I have to admit that this does influence me away from buying the book just yet, simply because I can be less worried about it becoming extremely difficult to find when it goes out of print.

It is also fairly amusing to note that this review says that Taylor's book is the book »of which [Linderholm's] Mathematics Made Difficult was a parody«.

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The state of InforML

Still slogging along on the development of InforML. I've finished modifying a good portion of the system to collect constraints over labels instead of trying to resolve them eagerly. However, my early tests of this lead me to notice a difficulty in generating constraints. This of course lead me to a rather interesting research problem that I can't explore just at the moment.

So instead, I am trying to make the best of my current design by being very careful about α-conversion. Specifically, I am moving the internals over to use de Bruijn indicies. (Interestingly, last time I checked Wikipedia they didn't have an article on de Bruijn indicies, but it would seem Kaustuv created one just last Wednesday.) This, of course, has required painful amounts of boilerplate code. I'm almost at the point where I can pretty-print the result of my global renaming pass to verify that it works correctly. Switching to de Bruijn indicies also resolves my previously sketchy treatment of internal versus external names in modules nicely.

In any event, I should get back to writing code.

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Technical reading

I learned this morning that the double negation interpretation of classical logic in intuitionistic logic originates with Kolmogorov, not Gödel. However, arguably this is mostly just a result of isolated research communities.

I came across this while browsing through Paul Taylor's Practical Foundations of Mathematics late last night/morning. The reviews of it on Amazon are pretty harsh, but I can see that his presentation of the material can be distracting to readers who are coming at it with less context. I suppose you could say that he has a rather chatty style. One example that jumped out at me was some discussion at the beginning of Chapter 2 paralleling math and programming, with a sudden parenthetical aside on the fruitfulness of linear logic. It makes perfect sense to me, and actually gives it a kind of personable feel. But I can definitely imagine the uninitiated getting annoyed because they don't know what linear logic is about and it isn't really covered anywhere in the book. Regardless, I am rather tempted to buy the book.

I finally decided I should learn about this Knuth-Bendix algorithm I'm always hearing about, so I visited the math/physics library this morning to pick up Computational Problems in Abstract Algebra, which contains the originating paper: »Simple word problems in universal algebras«.

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