Re: Mathematics for the Web

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To: Ka-Ping Yee <kryee@novice.uwaterloo.ca>
Subject: Re: Mathematics for the Web
Date: Wed, 29 May 1996 17:39:42 -0400
From: "Dave Raggett" <dsr@w3.org>

Thanks for sending us a pointer to your work on a semantic notation for
math. I am also working in this area, but have taken a different tack.

Many people agree that to capture the semantics of math will require an
extensible notation. The approach we are considering is to provide a meta-
language for mathematical notations. This is akin to the way that SGML
provides a meta-language for document markup. This allows new notations to
be developed and extended without any changes being necessary to the browser.

This would allow authors to choose between a notation like MINSE:

        &integral; <from> 0 <to> &infinity; <of> f(x) &dd; x
        integral wrt x from 0 to infinity of f(x)

This last example can be handled by defining operators and names
for special symbols. An augmented operator precendence parser is used
to build a parse tree which is then transformed using template rules
into an internal semantic representation, and thence to a rendering
tree whose nodes correspond to presentation schema (TeX has 13 or so).

Authors want greater control over rendering than is possible from
a notation than focusses alone on semantics. To some extent this can
be addressed via style sheets. However, it seems like its worth seeing
whether we can allow authors to express some of this explicitly via
supporting alternative representations which render differently
although the semantics are identical.

As for timescales, we hope to get rough concensus and deployment within

- -- Dave Raggett <dsr@w3.org> tel: +1 (617) 258 5741 fax: +1 (617) 258 5999
   World Wide Web Consortium, 545 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139
   url = http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett

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