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[whatwg] Mathematics in HTML5

From: Michel Fortin <michel.fortin@michelf.com>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2006 15:21:29 -0400
Message-ID: <BF83DEFF-CCD8-4018-A48D-ADCAA308AFA0@michelf.com>
Le 7 juin 2006 ? 20:28, Ian Hickson a ?crit :

> For something as big as Mathematics, we want to simply re-use an  
> existing language, not invent a new one. Inventing a new language  
> for encoding content with as wide a problem-space as mathematics  
> would require months, as well as the time of domain experts, etc.

Defining everything unambiguously is what would take long. If someone  
wants to define unambiguously everything in a formula, I'd suggest he  
use MathML, or something else if MathML cannot do the job properly.

But most people don't need machine-readable formulas: they need to  
comunicate mathematics to other *people*. If you take a look at how  
HTML handles prose, you find that it doesn't try to determine what is  
a sentence, what is a noun, or what is a verb. But it provides what  
we need the most: paragraphs, headers, lists, emphasis, etc. I think  
it should be the same for math content.

In my view, HTML should only provide the most needed building blocks  
for mathematical representation and let authors define semantics  
beyond the specifications as required. The idea behind the "type"  
attribute on <var>, <matrix>, and <fence> in my draft proposal, which  
could also be extended to other elements, is to allow author-defined  
semantics to be bound to them, semantics which can then be used as  
hooks for style sheets. Default styles could exist for predefined  
semantics (<var type="vector"> could put a little arrow over the  
variable for instance) while authors could create new types and  
styles for their own purposes when needed.

For now, I think creating an inventory of formulas showcasing  
everything we want to support would be a good first step toward  
creating, refining, and adopting a formal mathematical markup  
solution, as well as creating implementations. So I think I'll look  
into that.


Michel Fortin
michel.fortin at michelf.com
http://www.michelf.com/
Received on Thursday, 8 June 2006 12:21:29 UTC

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