TIL how to add math typesetting to Github Pages with KaTeX permalink

Since I’ve started Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning on Coursera, I’ve found myself with a new need on this blog: the ability to elegantly render formulas. This really showed in my last post on the identity matrix when I had to hack through displaying a simple matrix using code blocks and space-aligned columns and rows of characters. So, my quick win this morning is to find a way to work in LaTeX-like formula rendering for future blog posts and this post is going to serve as my testing ground for adding this capability!

I chose KaTex for no particular reason. I suppose I might have been influenced by the anecdotes and the Katex website claims of speed. I didn’t do any particular benchmarking though.

Adding this in seemed easy enough based on some StackOverflow posts I saw.

I needed to update my Jekyll _config.yml to add a math_engine to the Kramdown Markdown engine:

  math_engine: katex

(See the update below!)

And add some Jaascript and CSS to my Jekyll template:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/katex@0.11.1/dist/katex.min.css" integrity="sha384-zB1R0rpPzHqg7Kpt0Aljp8JPLqbXI3bhnPWROx27a9N0Ll6ZP/+DiW/UqRcLbRjq" crossorigin="anonymous">

<script defer src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/katex@0.11.1/dist/katex.min.js" integrity="sha384-y23I5Q6l+B6vatafAwxRu/0oK/79VlbSz7Q9aiSZUvyWYIYsd+qj+o24G5ZU2zJz" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>

<script defer src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/katex@0.11.1/dist/contrib/auto-render.min.js" integrity="sha384-kWPLUVMOks5AQFrykwIup5lo0m3iMkkHrD0uJ4H5cjeGihAutqP0yW0J6dpFiVkI" crossorigin="anonymous" onload="renderMathInElement(document.body);"></script>

KaTex recommended putting all of that in your <head></head> block, but I split them between there and the end of my HTML for page load speed reasons.

Now let’s see if this works!

\[\ LaTeX code \]

Look at that! KaTeX supports a decent set of TeX functions to try. And they keep an alphabetically sorted and complete list of functions to reference too.

I want to see if my 4x4 identity matrix example from yesterday is any easier first…

\[\ \begin{bmatrix} 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 1 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 \\ \end{bmatrix} \]

I like that it’s actually centered in the content where my example from yesterday wasn’t as responsive. Let me do a basic formula example using a linear algebra hypothesis from my class:

\[\ h_{\theta}(x)={\theta}_1 {\times} {\theta}_0 x \]

That one was a litle harder to get. It also is messing with my vim syntax highlighting for Markdown files. I’ll save writing about fixing that for another day!

UPDATE: Immediately after merging this and pushing to Github, I checked the actual running version of this and it clearly didn’t work. It turns out, Github doesn’t support the KaTeX math engine in Kramdown - only MathJax..

To make my local development server run more like what actually happens in Github pages, I actually set the following in my _config.yaml:

  math_engine: mathjax

It also means that I can’t use the $$\$ delimiters for math blocks and I have to use the following:

And I have to escape the leading \ in TeX newlines (\\) - meaning, here’s what I have to put in: \\\.

This isn’t ideal, but let’s see how it goes.

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