W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-math@w3.org > August 1998

Re: I don't understand

From: Stephane Dalmas <Stephane.Dalmas@sophia.inria.fr>
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 1998 15:41:42 +0200
Message-Id: <199808141341.PAA04200@krishna.inria.fr>
To: "Shailesh N. Humbad" <humbads@umich.edu>
Cc: www-math@w3.org
> I don't understand the purpose of MathML.  Why is it necessary to introduce
> and develop a whole new markup language to write up math when such
> languages already exist?  Instead of trying to recreate the wheel, the W3
> working group could extend and develop LaTex for the web.  

That should be a question for the MathML FAQ... 

The MathML working group has of course very deeply examined that sort of
simple solution. Of the three chairmen of the group responsible for the
MathML recommendation, two of them were from the AMS, an organization that
cannot be suspected to be hostile to TeX and LaTeX...

If we chose not to go with the LaTeX model it is because we thought that
there will be needs that will arise that would require a better solution.
The LaTeX syntax is not very appropriate if you want to recover the structure 
of your math formula. For example to cut and paste it to a computer algebra 
system or any system that is not primarily interested in how the formula is
displayed. 

Moreover, we believed that XML would gain a wide acceptance and that many
(most) technical documents will be stored as XML documents. Having a "native"
XML syntax for maths is thus very natural and will allow to use existing XML
searching or indexing applications to search and index pieces of
mathematics. In the example you gave, the whole structure of your math
document is completely hidden from the surrounding document and would thus
need special tools to be retrieved and manipulated.

On a more technical side, note that a direct "pure LaTeX" solution is not
that trivial (of course requiring that "browers support TeX" basically solve
the problem but it is not a cheap solution...). You should look at
Techexplorer from IBM for a very nice way of showing LaTeX over the Web (the 
URL should be http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/formula/techexplorer). 

             Ste'phane Dalmas.
Received on Friday, 14 August 1998 09:41:38 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Saturday, 20 February 2010 06:12:48 GMT