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Technical Essays Examples

Technically, That's not Technical

The trashcan in my classroom caught on fire last week. I grabbed the fire extinguisher. Not being the most technical savvy professor  on campus, I didn't exactly know how to use it, so I resorted to reading the instructions. One of my students had replaced the instructions on the extinguisher with the following:

When a fire is burning hotter than bituminous coal in the belly of a furnace and it requires not a little water, you're in luck, for you have found the metaphorical Balm of Gilead to quench the flaming obstruction.

  1. Extract the metallic pin in the like manner Odysseus extracted the Wooden Horse plan from his mind.
  2. Think of the fire as a tree that you really need to chop down and the extinguisher as your ax. Aim accordingly.
  3. Much like a tender chicken must be roasted slowly, so must the fire extinguisher lever be pressed.
  4. Sweep the extinguisher from side to side much in the same way Emily Dickinson uses her many-colored broom.

Thanks for teaching me all these literary devices. I hope you find them as useful as I have.

As I ran out of the burning building, I realized I should have focused a little more on technical writing.

Hugues Hoppe   » DemosPublicationsTalksAcademicProfessionalMisc

Examples of technical papers written using Microsoft Word

Over the years, I have written research papers using LaTeX and Microsoft Word, switching back and forth repeatedly. Each system has benefits and drawbacks. On the whole, I slightly prefer Word but am often swayed to use LaTeX by coauthors. Here are some notes on using Word, together with some published papers as examples.

Using math in Microsoft Office

  I put together some quick reference notes (cheat sheet) on using math in Microsoft Office (PDF version).

Benefits of Microsoft Word

  • The what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing is wonderful. (The LyX graphical interface to LaTeX is nice but not as seamless.)
  • It is easy to copy/paste built-up math within the document, to/from HTML emails, and to/from PowerPoint.
  • There is no “build process”; the document is always ready.
  • All content (figures, images, tables, graphs, and even graph source data) is self-contained in one compact file.
  • This file is easy to exchange with others, for instance as an email attachment.
  • For simple version history, one can take periodic snapshots of the file.
  • Several people can insert comments, which can be made visible or invisible, without altering formatting and layout. (LaTeX comments or macros are not as convenient; often it's easiest to annotate a PDF, but this is then disjoint from the source text.)

Benefits of LaTeX

  • It is handy to organize text at the sentence level by starting each sentence on a new line.
  • The paper can be polished by selectively commenting/uncommenting text.
  • Macro definitions can factor out repeated content or functionality. In Word, styles enable shared formatting.
  • Collaborators can work simultaneously on the text using a version control system that supports merging. Word supports “formal co-authoring” using either SharePoint or OneDrive; I have not tried this.
  • Style files ( and ) and computed dimensions (e.g., ) make it easier to adapt a paper submission to a new venue, if it is rejected ☹. In Word, it is a bit more cumbersome to change styles and image sizes.
  • Text layout optimization is best in LaTeX, although it has improved in Word.


Wishes for improving Word

  • The Draft View is useful to edit a single-column view of a two-column paper. However, unlike the Print Layout View it does not show embedded images, which is unfortunate for graphics-rich papers.
  • It is convenient to use PowerPoint to create figure diagrams (so that the presentation slides are also nearly done ☺). Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way to copy these diagrams into Word as vector graphics without bloating the file and/or introducing PDF rendering artifacts. For now I take high-resolution screenshots and insert these as raster images ☹.
  • Optimized text layout in Word has improved (see Fonts → Advanced → Kerning for fonts), but vertical layout is still not as nice as that produced by LaTeX.

Sample Word papers

(For the older papers, I converted the original files into the modern containers and also converted equations to the modern Office math.)

Optimizing continuity in multiscale imagery.

Charles Han, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM Trans. Graphics (SIGGRAPH Asia), 29(6), 2010.

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Random-access rendering of general vector graphics.

Diego Nehab, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM Trans. Graphics (SIGGRAPH Asia), 27(5), 2008.

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Factoring repeated content within and among images.

Huamin Wang, Yonatan Wexler, Eyal Ofek, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM Trans. Graphics (SIGGRAPH), 27(3), 2008.

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Compressed random-access trees for spatially coherent data.

Sylvain Lefebvre, Hugues Hoppe.

Symposium on Rendering 2007.

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Perfect spatial hashing.

Sylvain Lefebvre, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM Trans. Graphics (SIGGRAPH), 25(3), 2006.

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Appearance-space texture synthesis.

Sylvain Lefebvre, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM Trans. Graphics (SIGGRAPH), 25(3), 2006.

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Parallel controllable texture synthesis.

Sylvain Lefebvre, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM Trans. Graphics (SIGGRAPH), 24(3), 2005.

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Geometry clipmaps: Terrain rendering using nested regular grids.

Frank Losasso, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM Trans. Graphics (SIGGRAPH), 23(3), 2004.

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Digital photography with flash and no-flash image pairs.

Georg Petschnigg, Maneesh Agrawala, Hugues Hoppe. Richard Szeliski, Michael Cohen, Kentaro Toyama.

ACM Trans. Graphics (SIGGRAPH), 23(3), 2004.

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Inter-surface mapping.

John Schreiner, Arul Asirvatham, Emil Praun, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM Trans. Graphics (SIGGRAPH), 23(3), 2004.

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Spherical parametrization and remeshing.

Emil Praun, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM Trans. Graphics (SIGGRAPH), 22(3), 2003.

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Multi-chart geometry images.

Pedro Sander, Zoë Wood, Steven Gortler, John Snyder, Hugues Hoppe.

Symposium on Geometry Processing 2003, 146-155.

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Signal-specialized parametrization.

Pedro Sander, Steven Gortler, John Snyder, Hugues Hoppe.

Eurographics Workshop on Rendering 2002, 87-100.

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Texture mapping progressive meshes.

Pedro Sander, John Snyder, Steven Gortler, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM SIGGRAPH 2001 Proceedings, 409-416.

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Real-time fur over arbitrary surfaces.

Jed Lengyel, Emil Praun, Adam Finkelstein, Hugues Hoppe.

Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics 2001, 227-232.

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Displaced subdivision surfaces.

Aaron Lee, Henry Moreton, Hugues Hoppe.

ACM SIGGRAPH 2000 Proceedings, 85-94.

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