Author interview with Alex Halperin, Assistant Professor at Salisbury University's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Overleaf is perhaps the best professional thing that's happened to me. I use your website for every single set of (skeletal) notes, exams, and quizzes for all my classes. I also type all my research papers up in Overleaf. I love the instant compilation and split-screen view. I also love the tag system, so I don't have to sort files by folders. Lastly, I like the different templates offered, which I use for letters of recommendation. In short, if I TeX it, then I use Overleaf.
Eventually, when I teach an upper-level class that requires LaTeX, I will teach them using Overleaf. In fact, my colleague has already done so, after the school computers were reformatted and the pathways between MiKTeX and TeXnicCenter got messed up. She begrudgingly tried Overleaf, which she had never used, and her students loved it.
The whole site works seamlessly. I can't thank you enough for introducing this intuitive, wonderful, and free service...I love your website and will be using Overleaf for the near future.
– Alexander Halperin, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Salisbury University.
After receiving such a kind email – it means a lot to everyone at Overleaf, and to me personally when we receive messages like this – we asked Alex some follow up questions as part of our Author Interview blog series. This is what he had to say:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I am an Assistant Professor at Salisbury University's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. So far at SU, I've taught calculus, discrete math, and baseball statistics. My research areas are extremal graph theory and rainbow Ramsey theory.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
It's been difficult balancing teaching with research.
How did you first find out about Overleaf?
While discussing an essay assignment with a colleague at Georgia Southern University, he told me that he used Overleaf to teach his students LaTeX. I figured I'd give the website a shot and instantly became hooked.
Could you give an example or two of how you've used Overleaf in your work / collaborations?
I use Overleaf for all of my current research and teaching materials. I write all of my papers and talks on Overleaf. Most recently, I've begun research with an undergraduate student who is learning LaTeX. Thanks to Overleaf, we're able to work on different sections of the same paper simultaneously. My student doesn't know how easy he has it--things weren't like this when I was in college...
As for teaching, I write skeletal notes, typed outlines that we fill in during class. This works both for lectures but also for interactive classes where students work in groups. This requires LaTeX, and nothing is more convenient than being able to instantly see the finished product without compiling. I also enjoy the ability to quickly scroll between different lectures on the PDF files and click the page to get to the corresponding code.
What's next for you and your work?
As far as research goes, I'm spending the summer working with an undergraduate student on a problem in rainbow Ramsey theory. For teaching, I'm gradually shifting my notes from being lecture-based to being more interactive/inquiry-based learning. I also hope to create and teach an introductory graph theory course at SU next spring semester.
In summary, how would you describe Overleaf in one sentence?
Overleaf gives users instant LaTeX, in the cloud, for FREE.
Since speaking with us, Alex has now joined our advisors programme, and is continuing to use Overleaf in his teaching and research collaborations.