An Example  Dissertation

Satisfying the University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Graduate School Requirements

/ Introduction / Obtaining the Example Dissertation / For Further Assistance /


The Graduate School requires consistency of style, correct grammar, and, to the extent possible, idiomatic English.  Additionally, the Graduate School enforces conformance to various style elements such as interline spacing, margin size, bold face and italics in titles, and consistency of references.  Fortunately, mathematicians and computer scientists have the TeX / LaTeX system available.  With LaTeX, the computer will automatically typeset formulas, tables, figures, text, and titles in a particular style.  Furthermore,  the University of Louisiana's LaTeX style file can be common to all theses typeset with LaTeX for the University of Louisiana, with material particular to one's dissertation in a generic plain-text form.  That generic material can be sent to any of the vast majority of mathematics journals, and the journal will be able to professionally typeset  the  material in the journal's style, with little or no  alteration (that is,  with much  less  work than otherwise), simply by substituting the journal's style file for the U.L. thesis style.

An extremely useful capability within the LaTeX system is BiBTeX.  With BibTeX, one obtains or creates a database of references.  This database is in a flexible order, and specifies the type of reference (book, journal article, etc.), title, author, and other information, along with a short key. One cites these references within the LaTeX file by inserting the key corresponding to the desired reference at the desired citation point.  BiBTeX then automatically typesets a list of references, in a specified order, and with a consistent style (e.g. book titles all italicized, all references with consistent capitalization and punctuation).  If you cite additional references later, BiBTeX renumbers the references for you, both where they are cited and in the reference list.  Furthermore, there are many BiBTeX databases on-line, and one can often use these directly, without having to actually type the references into a database.  Nelson Beebe maintains a large collection of BibTeX databases.

Although LaTeX is not hard to use to typeset an article or dissertation, modification of style files requires a bit more technical sophistication.

LaTeX is distributed under a free license, although not all "front end" text editors used to compose the material to be processed by LaTeX are free.  My favorite free editor is TexMaker, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux (eg. Ubuntu).  TeXShop is a popular front end editor for Macs.

The American Mathematical Society strongly recommends use of LaTeX.

(By the way, TeX, Tau-Epsilon-Chi, is pronounced "TeCh" as in "tech"nical, according to its creator Donald Knuth.  LaTeX, "lay-tek", is meant to be "layman's TeX".)

Obtaining the Example Dissertation

To comply with Graduate School Guidelines (click here to see these guidelines),  we produced a University of Louisiana at Lafayette style file.  Graduating Mathematics Ph.D. candidates have altered it in recent years to comply with changing  Graduate School Guidelines.  The most recent version has been posted on November 16, 2017, as modified by Dr. Lihong Zhao, who used it to typeset her dissertation using the most recent Graduate School guidelines.  Click here to get a *.zip file containing the LaTeX source files, to be used as a template, and UL thesis class, as well as the *.pdf document produced from these source files.  The idea is for you to  replace the humorous commentary by your dissertation material. To produce the PDF yourself, do the following:
  1. Extract the *.zip file.
  2. Run LaTeX.
  3. Run BiBTeX.
  4. Run LaTeX again, twice.
(Steps 2, 3, and 4 can often be done with one or two buttons on a front-end editor such as Texmaker.)

For Further Assistance

A comprehensive reference to LaTeX is available online here as a Wikibook.

There are pitfalls to use of LaTeX, and it takes longer to become expert in it than systems that do less for you and produce less professional results.  However, most problems are easily resolved, and people should feel free to ask.  Please email me (Ralph Baker Kearfott), or consult with your other favorite TeX guru, if you have questions.  Various faculty members in the Mathematics Department are well versed in LaTeX.  Also, be sure to contact me if there are errors or needs for clarification on this web page.