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Re: [www-math] <none>

From: David Carlisle <davidc@nag.co.uk>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 09:48:09 +0100
Message-Id: <200110250848.JAA08029@penguin.nag.co.uk>
To: pcbyers@yahoo.com
CC: www-math@w3c.org

   Perhaps someone will entertain an amateur question: Is MathML a
   programming language that uses the browser as a calculation engine,
   or is it only a markup language that puts ideas on paper? If it is
   the former, what are the implications (enormous, I take it) for
   browser support?

Neither. (Or Both:-)

There is no implication that "getting the browsers to support MathML"
means that internet explorer and Mozilla/Netscape are somehow to become
Mathematica/Maple clones. So as far as the browsers are concerned,
MathML is a layout language, that might be compared with the layout
rules of html tables, or SVG.

However MathML is designed (especially the content part, but also to
some extent, the presentation part) to also carry enough semantic
information about the mathematical content that it can also be used
with computational engines; symbolic engines such as mathematica/maple
but also numeric software (such as the NAG library to give a random

This might be as simple as "cut and paste" from the browser to your
symbolic algebra package (although currently, as for html, cut-and-paste
from the common browsers just copies the characters not the markup, but
you can use view source and then cut and paste the markup) or more
usefully the computational engines are beginning to implement reading
and writing whole worksheets/notebooks out as html+mathml so they can be
viewed on the web, and the later read back in to the system.

This is the "first stage" ie static display of mathematics. The "second
stage" to which lots of people are working is to have more dynamic
content where the mathml being displayed in the browser may be edited
using editing forms in the web page, and re-computed and re-displayed by
the browser dynamically linking to a mathematical server somewhere else
on the web (or somewhere else on your machine, depending on the

Hope this helps,


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Received on Thursday, 25 October 2001 04:48:29 UTC

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