Information on File Formats

This page contains some information on the file formats Erik Demaine uses for posting his papers and talks.

Each file has a basic format that encodes the text, and may also be compressed in some way. There are three basic formats:

  1. PostScript is the most common format I use. You can send it directly to any PostScript-compatible printer. (On a Mac, you might want to use the freeware Drop*PS for this purpose.) You can process and view PostScript using GhostScript, the GV frontend for UNIX/X-Windows, the older Ghostview frontend for UNIX/X-Windows, or the GSview frontend for Windows, all of which are free.
  2. PDF (Portable Document Format) is not something I use often, but can be more convenient for some people. If you prefer PDF for a particular paper or talk, just send me email and I'll convert it. You can view PDF files on a variety of machines using the free Acrobat Reader.
  3. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the main language of the web. It can be viewed in any web browser. Conversion to HTML can be very tricky, but if you really can't support any other format, you can send me email and I'll do the best I can.
I tend not to compress files unless they are big (over a megabyte or so). Let me know if you prefer a compressed version for easier transfer.

If the file format only specifies one of the above, it is not compressed. If there is an adjective, it is compressed in some way. There are two compression formats I use:

  1. gzip (GNU zip) is the usual compression I use. If you need a gzip-compressed file, let me know. Most UNIX machines have gzip installed on them; to decompress, just type gunzip file.gz. You can download free decompressers for nearly any machine, including UNIX, Windows, and Mac.
  2. ZIP is the common compression format on PCs. If you need a ZIP-compressed file, let me know. A free unzip program is available for nearly any machine, including UNIX, Windows, and Mac. There are shareware decompressers called WinZip (for Windows) and PKZIP (for a variety of machines).

Last updated November 28, 2010 by Erik Demaine.