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Re: MathML to HTML+gif?

From: Robert Miner <rminer@geomtech.com>
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 10:25:43 -0600
Message-Id: <199811131625.KAA28006@wisdom.geomtech.com>
To: fiedorow@math.ohio-state.edu
CC: www-math@w3.org, fiedorow@math.ohio-state.edu

> In another vein how efficient is MathML as a transport mechanism over 
> networks? I was wondering whether its verbosity might make it too slow for
> those with narrow bandwidth to the Internet (sort of like Postscript).
> How does it compare with HTML+equations rendered as images.

To support Bill Hammond's assertion that even uncompressed MathML
beats bitmaps, here is a data point.  I just used WebEQ to translate 
    
    $x = \frac{-b \pm \sqrt{b^2 - 4ac}}{2a}$

to MathML, and then create a JPEG, and then standard tools to
hit a couple other formats.  The results:

LaTeX:                                              39 bytes
MathML with all whitespace stripped:               219 bytes
Indented MathML:                                   401 bytes
quad.gif (no antialiasing for best compression)   1801 bytes
quad.jpg (default quality)                        2066 bytes
quad.uu  (uuencoding of quad.gif for mail, etc)   2617 bytes
quad.jpg (highest quality)                        3201 bytes

> Also will might MathML's relative complexity lead to buggy implementations,
> tending to a babel of mutually incomprehensible dialects?

This is indeed a worry.  The Math WG is trying to pulling together a
test suite of MathML fragments (mostly contributed by the various
implementation projects around) that all renderers should be able to
handle -- not unlike TeX's trip test.  Of course, that won't stop
particular renderers from adding extra non-standard features, and
other people writing to those features.  

On the other hand, for once, I believe MathML's verbosity and
complexity work in our favor.  Since MathML will primarily be
generated by software tools, it is much, much easier to achieve a
pretty good level of compliance than it is with a mutable,
hand-authored language like TeX.  

In the reasonably near future, there should be a half dozen or so
other major MathML packages to benchmark against. If your new MathML
software is compatible with them, chances are it will be compatible
with the rest.  With software, the path of least resistance is towards
regularity, and algorithmic uniformity, as oppose to hand authoring,
where the path of least resistance is often toward quirky coding that
is short and easy to type, or that appeals to the author for whatever
whimsical reason.

--Robert

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Robert Miner                          http://www.webeq.com
Geometry Technologies, Inc.           email: rminer@geomtech.com
                                      phone: 651-223-2884
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Received on Friday, 13 November 1998 11:25:13 GMT

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