From: Luis Alvarez <ma6la@bath.ac.uk>

Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 15:01:16 +0100 (BST)

To: www-math@w3.org

Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.04.10004141500400.27495-100000@mary.bath.ac.uk>

Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 15:01:16 +0100 (BST)

To: www-math@w3.org

Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.04.10004141500400.27495-100000@mary.bath.ac.uk>

Dear Thomas Cool, "You are probably under the impression that MathML is a good idea." MathML is an attempt to standardize mathematics in a medium where protocols and standards are fundamental in order to join the millions of machines and users around the world. The Internet is a connection between so many different computers and systems that if we want two random machines to communicate we need a common interface. MathML is a good idea because it proposes a solution taylored specifically for the web. It was inspired by OpenMath's ability to allow communication between computer algebra systems, and adds a presentation component which is aesthetically pleasant to the user. Especially on the Internet where good presentation goes hand in hand with success. "It is Byzantinely complex, unintuitive, unesthetic, highly undocumented, it requires complex software support, etcetera." As was mentioned before, the verbosity of MathML might seem at first decouraging for any user. But MathML was not designed to be handwritten directly by a human. This is why there has been a boom in different MathML compliant applications which intend to edit and produce MathML, read-in MathML, display and render MathML. All of this without the user needing to directly deal with the verbosity of the MathML notation. However Mathematics are complex and do not lend themselves easily to representation. Developing a representation which englobes semantic meaning in a way computers can understand is as Pankaj Kamthan states a non trivial task. Furthermore the boom of MathML compliant applications is just the proof of the communities' approval of the MathML idea. I have been involved in the development of MathML applications for REDUCE, and believe that MathML has helped push down many barriers. Mainly it has enabled communication between different systems, just as other standards have done in the past for other purposes (ie TCP/IP). It has imposed a common representation between so many applications. REDUCE, just as other computer algebra systems, can now benefit of the sharing of mathematics, and thanks to the applications, it imposes no heavy burden on the user. Finally your proposed <mathematics use="..."> ... </mathematics> tag is a curious idea but for it to work, it would need a browser or a computer algebra package to have interfaces with all the different computer languages. This would be problematic when new computer algebra packages would appear or when existing ones would modify their languages as they evolve in time. Not all browsers and computer algebra systems would be able to posses the large amount of interfaces and finally only the most used languages would succeed, leading perhaps to the adoption of a few as standards. Simply a long path to where we are now. I believe a few of your comments do have a constructive value, but many others need revising and a better understanding of the history of mathematics publishing on the web, OpenMath and MathML. Luis Alvarez ____________________________________________________ Final Year Student in Computer Software Technology. Bath University.Received on Friday, 14 April 2000 10:01:20 GMT

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