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The LaTeX project: A case study of open source software


  • Alex Gaudeul

    (University of East Anglia - Norwich)


The TeX typesetting software was developed by Donald E. Knuth in the late 1970s. It was released with an open source license and has become a reference in scientific publishing. TeX is now used to typeset and publish much of the world’s scientific literature in physics and mathematics. This case study serves as a critical examination of the stylized facts uncovered in previous studies of other open source software projects, such as GNU/Linux, an operating system, and Apache, a web server. It is sponsored by CNRS, a French research agency, and is supported by the University of Toulouse in France and the School of Information Management and Systems in Berkeley. The comparison centers on the historical development of the project, the organization, both formal and informal, that supports it, the motivations of the developers, and the various dynamics that are at work and influence the project. The case study explores the economic impact of the TeX software which is sold through TeX-based commercial applications and used in the typesetting industry and various institutions. It is an exploration of how the open source nature of the program made a di erence relative to what would have happened had it been commercial software.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Gaudeul, 2004. "The LaTeX project: A case study of open source software," Industrial Organization 0409010, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 20 Apr 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:0409010
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 14

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Josh Lerner, 2005. "The Scope of Open Source Licensing," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 20-56, April.
    2. Josh Lerner & Jean Triole, 2000. "The Simple Economics of Open Source," NBER Working Papers 7600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Alexandre Gaudeul, 2004. "The LaTeX project: A case study of open-source software," Industrial Organization 0409009, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Varian, Hal R, 1993. "Economic Incentives in Software Design," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 6(3-4), pages 201-217, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alexandre Gaudeul, 2004. "Open Source Software Development Patterns and License Terms," Industrial Organization 0409008, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Alexandre Gaudeul, 2004. "The LaTeX project: A case study of open-source software," Industrial Organization 0409009, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Alexia Gaudeul, 2008. "Consumer Welfare and Market Structure in a Model of Competition Between Open Source and Proprietary Software," Working Papers 08-31, Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia.
    4. Alex Gaudeul, 2005. "Public provision of a private good: What is the point of the BSD license?," Industrial Organization 0511002, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    TeX; open source; Tug; software; case study; innovation; knowledge production; licenses; intellectual property; open systems;

    JEL classification:

    • L - Industrial Organization


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