Re: www-html-d Digest V96 #224

Ka-Ping Yee (kpyee@aw.sgi.com)
Thu, 18 Jul 1996 15:20:53 +0900


Message-Id: <31EDD7C5.15FB@aw.sgi.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 15:20:53 +0900
From: Ka-Ping Yee <kpyee@aw.sgi.com>
To: Thomas Breuel <tmb@best.com>
Cc: www-html@w3.org
Subject: Re: www-html-d Digest V96 #224

Thomas Breuel wrote:
> 
>         and authors frequently make up new notation on the fly

That's what MINSE's extensibility is for.

>         (MINSE lacks even constructs necessary to typeset
>         the formula from the cover of my freshman year mathematics
>         textbook)

I highly doubt that.  I think what you mean is that the little context
definition i made up on short notice doesn't cover the semantics you
need for that formula.  Of course the context definition would be more
complete if i had spent the time.  Nonetheless, you can still add your
own definitions to suit the occasion.

So tell me, what's missing?

>         requiring structural markup
>         will force authors to do the typesetting themselves

That's akin to complaining that we force poets to write their poems
themselves.  Authors will author; they will not have to "typeset"
unless they want to have precise typesetting control.  Author says
"integral", you get an integral; author does not have to say "draw
a stretchy integral symbol from this symbol font, centered on this
line, vertical height matching this box, if in graphics mode; or
say "integral with respect to" etc., if in speech mode; or..."
 
>      -- large amounts of existing, on-line math is not in a
>         structural representation and cannot be converted
>         automatically

This is only the case if it doesn't contain sufficient information
for deployment on the Web in the first place.  If the original
source contains the information necessary to present it on the Web,
then it follows that it is unambiguous enough to convert.  If it
doesn't, then you would need human aid anyway to present the math
usefully in forms other than print.

And if you only wanted to present the math in print anyway and
don't care about presenting it on the Web, then you might as well
leave it in TeX or PostScript.

>      -- it's yet another notation people have to learn, a notation
>         with orders of magnitude more symbols

Orders of magnitude more than what?!  Why such FUD?
 
>      -- the premise that you need structural rendering in order
>         to represent mathematical notation in a text to speech system
>         is likely to be wrong

Maybe, maybe not.  This would be a key debatable issue.  I think that
structure would certainly make text-to-speech much *easier*.  But
whether or not it is necessary for "just" text-to-speech, i am fairly
convinced that you need structure to support multiple forms of
information presentation *in general*.

Think beyond text-to-speech; think screen, speech, print, tty,
symbolic package, how about an interactive presentation in an
educational environment where you can select the individual parts
of an expression, have their meaning explained to you (with
appropriate links to a glossary), and interact with them behaving
the way they are supposed to?

> I would like to see a standard, supported way of typesetting
> mathematics on the web.  Experiments with novel and unproven ways of
> structural markup are going to put standard mathematical markup for the
> web in jeopardy, because

> there is a strong risk that browser vendors
> won't implement it and that users won't or even can't use it.

Browser vendors haven't taken a stance yet.  And i honestly
can't imagine an HTML author who is incapable of writing

    <se> 'sin(2*A) = 2*'sin(A)*'cos(A) </se>

when she wants to express a trig identity.

> Unlike MINSE, I actually can typeset even
> the formula on the cover of my freshman year math textbook with it.

Like i said, i don't think this is true.  What's the formula?


Ping