W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-math@w3.org > July 1999

Re: UMI Dissertation Abstracts

From: William F. Hammond <hammond@csc.albany.edu>
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 13:27:50 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <199907061727.NAA21457@hilbert.math.albany.edu>
To: emj@listserv.albany.edu, www-math@w3.org
Previously in www-math@w3.org:

>    http://wwwlib.umi.com/dissertations

A reply:

>  Yes, it looks like AAP Math to me

Let's call the SGML language X-Math for now.  I gather that these
translations to X-Math, which have superseded the TeX source, can only
be viewed by subscribers.  The question then is whether UMI will
provide subscribers either with viewers or with formatters that
produce DVI for viewing.

How is the translation from TeX to X-Math done?

Can reasonable TeX or, at least, reasonable DVI be recovered from the
X-Math?

I am not convinced that fully robust automatic translation from either
TeX or LaTeX into an SGML language that is essentially different from
an SGML version of Geoffrey Tobin's DTL (equivalent to DVI format) with
specials excluded -- or derivable from DTL -- is possible.

With article-by-article human intervention anything is possible
although error prone.

(Automatic translation to such a language by the method of Eitan
Gurari's "tex4ht" -- using the intelligence about TeX, the language,
of TeX, the Program, would probably give results that are "good enough
for government work" and that may even be very useful.)

Is it reasonable to assume that the TeX sources were created by
the dissertation authors?  If so, then I would be surprised if
there is not at least some loss of "content" in such a translation.

Ron Whitney <rwhitney@texterity.com> writes to www-math:

[snip]
> UMI may speak for its own policies.

Is there someone close to UMI reading either of these lists?

[snip]
>                        There were many years when AAP, then ISO 12083,
> math were the only SGML solutions available.  Given a perceived need
> to move archived documents to SGML (including whatever math might be
> involved) and a reluctance to change policy after embarking in a
> certain direction, Markup Inertia could bring this old technology to
> our wondering eyes today.

SGML languages are good for archives since they tend to admit many
translations to many other languages.  (This statement is inclusive of
XML languages.)  But archives need to be faithful records of content.

[snip]
> I'm only commenting that I think the markup may not seem so
> off-the-wall if one actually gets to know the history a bit.

The question of whether the markup is sensible is a separate question
from the question of how sensible the translation from TeX is.

>                                                           Then one
> can further ask about what was in the TeX source, what the target
> language is, and what resources were committed to the translation
> program.  You may be correct in suggesting the effort was not what it
> could have been (or what it should be now), but I know too little to
> agree at this point.

Optimal use of SGML archives require markups for authors that admit
fully robust translation into the SGML languages used by archives.

Such archiving languages need to be public in order to gain the
confidence of authors in the disciplines where TeX is used.

I would be very unhappy to see markup requirements imposed on
dissertation writers that do not have the acceptance of significant
numbers in the established authoring communities, discipline by
discipline.


William F. Hammond                   Dept. of Mathematics & Statistics
518-442-4625                                  The University at Albany
hammond@math.albany.edu                      Albany, NY 12222 (U.S.A.)
http://math.albany.edu:8000/~hammond/          Dept. FAX: 518-442-4731

Never trust an SGML/XML vendor whose web page is not valid HTML.
And always support affirmative action on behalf of the finite places.
Received on Tuesday, 6 July 1999 13:37:42 GMT

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