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Re: Completing suggestion on the MathML issue

From: William F. Hammond <hammond@csc.albany.edu>
Date: Mon, 1 May 2000 10:09:22 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <200005011409.KAA07565@hilbert.math.albany.edu>
To: www-math@w3.org

> since the group is too pre-occupied with its apparent success.

I am also an outsider, and I do not see the pre-occupation of which
you speak.

If "success" is to be measured at least in part by extant use, MathML
not there yet.

> "MathML 2.0 is not to be seen as a standard for the use of mathematics
> on the computer and internet but rather as a discussion paper in the
> context of the development of such a standard. Currently there are
> various systems for doing mathematics with the computer, and this
> creates quite some confusion.

MathML is something like an "object" language to which "source" is
compiled.  There is no standard "source".  Whereas as an "object"
compiled from "C" leads to a program, an "object" in MathML does not.
It only provides description that is highly amenable for action by a
program.  The presentation markup is intended to please browsing
clients, while the content markup is for more sophisticated clients.
(A client is a program.)

> This confusion is increased by the issues of copyright and ownership
> of language since many such programs have a commercial basis. The
> advise should be that scientists co-operate into solving this
> confusion, and that they establish a clear standard for the use of
> mathematics on the computer and the internet.

Traditional authoring habits will need to change some.

While I think that the extent of such change is not so large as others
think, I do think that it will be quite difficult to bring authors
along at the level of journal articles.  It is important to reach that
level so that one does not wind up with a system that is K-13 bound.

There may be a period of interaction with authors during which we find
out what they are willing to create.

Given that the current process, dating from the time that math in the
HTML-3.0 draft was blown away in mid 1995, is about 5 years old, it is
reasonable to expect authoring practice to evolve over at least a
decade or two.

> Such a standard would be based on these principles: (1) that the
> language of mathematics cannot be copyright or owned, and (2) that
> there has been developing a practical and elegant standard in and by
> the way that people have been using mathematics over the centuries.

[  So you agree that the default meaning of symbol juxtaposition is
   composition of arrows?    :-)  ]

On this I think that there is agreement except that it would be a good
thing for dtd's and reference formatters to be copylefted
(cf. http://www.gnu.org/).


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://www.albany.edu/~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 Monday, 1 May 2000 10:10:21 GMT

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