Ka-Ping Yee's response

This is a follow up to my message to Ka-Ping on MINSE.

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Date: Wed, 29 May 1996 21:37:18 -0400
From: Ka-Ping Yee <kryee@novice.uwaterloo.ca>
To: dsr@w3.org, kryee@novice.uwaterloo.ca
Subject: Re: Mathematics for the Web

Thank you very much for taking the time to look at my work!

> Many people agree that to capture the semantics of math will require an
> extensible notation.

I guess i arrived at the same conclusion.  Have you decided to leave
room for additional "contexts" for structured expression, such as
chemistry, linguistics, algorithms, and so on?  Extensibility was a
very big issue in my design.

> 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).

Yes, this actually sounds very similar to what i am doing.  First,
an operator parser handles precedence and associativity, and then
the semantic representation is treated as a macro language that          
generates the rendering tree.  

I have a hard time seeing how you can get new notations to be "developed
and extended without any changes being necessary to the browser", though.
In the case of MINSE the set of rendering primitives is pretty much
fixed; then, by programming in the macro language, we map the semantic
compounds to renderings, and can define new compounds this way.

> 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.

I have run into exactly this issue trying to decide whether to give a
new compound to the dot-bar-dot "divide" symbol as opposed to the
quotient bar, or to the f "prime" notation for differentiation as
opposed to the d/dx notation.

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

I have been working on this for a while now without much awareness of
other work.  Will your work make MINSE obsolete?  Could you provide me
with any sort of reference to what you are doing and who is working on it?
I'm rather curious.  This makes me wonder a little about the merit of
spending so much time on this; i wouldn't mind guidance on how to proceed.

My design has taken some pains to limit characters to those allowed
"safely" within URLs to allow for quick deployment via the "mediator"
mechanism.  What do you think of this scheme?  (As a separate issue
from the specification language itself.)


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