Who is Luc Devroye, briefly ?
You may consult my web
page for more biographical information. Since 1977, I am a professor
of computer science and mathematics at McGill University in Montreal.
I left my native Belgium in 1972 to study first at the University of
Osaka in Japan, and then at the University of Texas at Austin, where
I obtained a doctoral degree in 1976. The principal reason for leaving
Belgium was to avoid the military service (legally, of course).
Why this passion for typography ?
Yes, you are right, I am nuts about typography.
One of my early dreams was to develop a system for writing and typesetting
mathematical texts in a style that the greatest mathematical minds use
when they explain theorems on a blackboard. In this respect, the arrival
of software like Word and PowerPoint was a catastrophy.
Please note that the text embraces the figures with its arrows and balloons. This style of exposition is necessary in a math course, and as of today, no software permits us to typeset like this. I am thus interested in everything that can be helpful in this project, which started in 1993.
the meantime, I learned a lot about typography. For example, I developed
a family of typefaces for connected handwriting with over 1600 glyphs
(letters, pairs of letters and even triples). Thus, the entire text
becomes one long string of adjacent ligatures. An imperfect example
Your link pages are the most complete on the subject. How did you conceive the idea?
the beginning, my pages were just for my own perusal: I wanted to organize
my ideas and my data. I learned very quickly that it is useless to have
simple passive links: I felt a need to explain and to place each link
in the right context. It is the old principle of the "added value".
Thus, I had to learn about the history of type and about its major milestones.
I obtain my information from many sources:
People ask me how I can manage over 170 pages simultaneously. The secret is that I just have one humongous file with all the information. I wrote some software to generate all my web pages automatically from that master file. The automated refreshment of all my pages takes just a couple of minutes.
Do you also write articles about typography, or is it just for the fun of it ?
Yes, from time to time, I write articles. My first manuscript was entitled "Random fonts for the simulation of handwriting" (1995). Three students have written a thesis with me on the subject of typography.
See, for example, MetamorFont,
a randomized font made by Bernard Desruisseaux: every character has
been programmed with extreme care, at the speed of about three characters
per week. And yes, it’s for the fun of it .
What is ATypI and what are you doing there ?
The ATypI ? That is the Association Typographique Internationale,
which was founded in 1957 by a famous Frenchman, Charles Peignot! Each
year, the association organizes a conference, a veritable typographical
feast. I am not a member of ATypI, but despite that, I try to participate
in each meeting, although that is not always possible with my course
commitments at McGill. I attend the conferences like an eager-beaver
student, seated in the first row, hypnotized, scribbling notes, and