# Aligning equations in a cases environment

In my work, I am trying to typeset the following system of equations.

\begin{equation*}
\begin{cases}
\pi_n  (i) = {n^2}/{\vol(G_n)} \cr
\pi_n (j) =  {n}/{\vol(G_n)} \cr
q^{(n)}_{ij} = {1}/{n^2 } \cr
q^{(n)}_{ji} = {1}/{n}
\end{cases}
\end{equation*}

However, I would like to align the equal signs. If I do this by adding ampersands (see below), too much space is added before the equal signs, which makes the system of equations look worse than before. Is there any other non-manual way to align the equations?

\begin{equation*}
\begin{cases}
\pi_n  (i) &= {n^2}/{\vol(G_n)} \cr
\pi_n (j) &=  {n}/{\vol(G_n)} \cr
q^{(n)}_{ij} &= {1}/{n^2 } \cr
q^{(n)}_{ji} &= {1}/{n}
\end{cases}
\end{equation*}

• You could replace the cases environment with \left\{ \begin{aligned} ... \end{aligned}\right. Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 11:52

I think that you want to use \left\{...\right. around your equation. To be able to align your equations inside these you can use the split environment from the amsmath package.

EDIT

In the comments both above and below the consensus is that the aligned environment is superior to split in this situation. Perhaps I am missing it but I can't see the difference in this example, however, as people more knowledgeable than I are advocating using the aligned environment there must be cases where it does matter.

Here is a comparison of the two environments for this example:

This produces:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{amsmath}
\DeclareMathOperator\vol{\text{vol}}
\begin{document}
\left\{ \begin{aligned} \pi_n (i) &= {n^2}/{\vol(G_n)} \cr \pi_n (j) &= {n}/{\vol(G_n)} \cr q^{(n)}_{ij} &= {1}/{n^2 } \cr q^{(n)}_{ji} &= {1}/{n} \end{aligned}\right.\tag{\textbf{aligned}}

$\left\{ \begin{split} \pi_n (i) &= {n^2}/{\vol(G_n)} \cr \pi_n (j) &= {n}/{\vol(G_n)} \cr q^{(n)}_{ij} &= {1}/{n^2 } \cr q^{(n)}_{ji} &= {1}/{n} \end{split}\right.\tag{\textbf{split}}$

\end{document}
• I'd use aligned rather than split. Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 12:02
• @egreg I've edited my answer to use both aligned and split. In this example I can't see the difference but I assume that in some cases it does matter. What is the advantage in general?
– user30471
Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 12:14
• aligned allows several column pairs, while split just one. Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 12:18

Stab with empheq:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{empheq}
\DeclareMathOperator\vol{\text{vol}}
\begin{document}
\begin{empheq}[left=\empheqlbrace]{align*}
\pi_n  (i)   &= {n^2}/{\vol(G_n)} \cr
\pi_n (j)    &=  {n}/{\vol(G_n)} \cr
q^{(n)}_{ij} &= {1}/{n^2 } \cr
q^{(n)}_{ji} &= {1}/{n}
\end{empheq}
\end{document}

• Is this solution preferable to the solution above? Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 13:58
• @malin If you have more exploits of empheq, then yes.
– user11232
Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 14:01
• @malin also empheq allows you equation numbering of each line - something aligned won't do. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 1:55