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Re: [Moderator Action] email math

From: Max Froumentin <mf@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 26 May 2002 15:31:37 +0200
To: "Dick Farrell" <dick@cowtown.net>
Cc: <www-math@w3.org>
Message-ID: <86elfzrq6e.fsf@sophia.inria.fr>
"Dick Farrell" <dick@cowtown.net> writes:

> how can i send math symbols in email?

Hi Dick,

There are several ways to do this, depending on who you are sending
the email to. Of course, as long as you agree with the recipient what
the meaning of what you are sending is, you can create your own
encoding of math symbols, or attach images of the symbols or any way
you agree on.

However a few ways of encoding symbols, or more generally whole
formulas, are more standard than others, and you are more likely to
reach more people/systems if you use them. You could use TeX syntax,
for instance sending "\infty, \phi". The TeX syntax is well known in
the math community so there's a high probability of the recipient
knowing what this means.

The other way you might do it, more approporiate on the Web, is to use
Unicode [1], which is a set of character/number pairs, which uniquely
defines thousands of characters, including mathematical symbols. For
instance the example symbols above could be sent by email as "U+221E,
U+03C6" (or INFINITY, GREEK SMALL LETTER PHI). Even better, if your
email client understands unicode, it will display the symbols as you
expect them to appear. The whole unicode character repository is
available at [2].

Of course this is not very readable, but it is standard and when you
talk about "U+03C6", it uniquely represents a symbol, and is therefore
unambiguous. MathML [3] provides another way to describ symbols,
compatible with Unicode and specified in the "character entities" part
of the specification [4]: "&infinity;, "&phi;". Just like Unicode
numbers, these can be included in a MathML equation, such as,

<math>
  <mi>&phi</mi>     <!-- mi is for math identifier -->
  <mo> = </mo>      <!-- mo is for math operator -->
  <mm>&infiniy;<mn> <!-- mn is for math operator -->
</math>

Although this might seem a bit complex to represent just "phi equals
infinity", MathML has the advantage of being a widespread interchange
format used by a lot of mathematical software, as well as being
understood by Web browsers, which can display the equation in a much
nicer way.

I hope this helps, to know more about MathML, see [5] or subscribe
to the www-math@w3.org list, and just ask away.

Max.

[1] http://www.unicode.org/unicode/standard/WhatIsUnicode.html
[2] http://www.unicode.org/charts/
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/MathML2/
[4] http://www.w3.org/TR/MathML2/chapter6.html
[5] http://www.w3.org/Math
Received on Sunday, 26 May 2002 09:31:40 GMT

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