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Re: Math and MathML [input syntax]

From: Patrick Ion <ion@ams.org>
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2006 15:24:20 -0400
Message-Id: <7D069C97-0A96-497F-AA1E-CA966CE89E68@ams.org>
Cc: <www-math@w3.org>
To: "<juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com>" <juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com>

Dear Juan,

In another place, you castigate MathML for
2) lack of an adequate input syntax (see original CanonMath program)

A universal input syntax  is something that early math markup  
thought would be a very good idea, and many imagined would be rather
easy to specify.  They were quite wrong, of course.

The W3C Math WG  did consider input syntax questions, but decided it did
not have enough resources to specify such a thing when there was such
clear disagreement amongst WG participants as to what the syntax  
should be.

The fact is that there have been many (semi)-formal syntaxes suggested
for math input ranging from that of Peano to TeX and CA systems' (e.g,
Macsyma, REDUCE, AXIOM, Maple, Mathematica et al.)---just to mention  
from the last century).  It is my impression that many coming to the  
of computer handling of math enjoy the initial impression that they know
all the math necessary and just need to handle the machine part.  That
turns out to be hubris.

An individual  who is a scholar of the stature and genius of Knuth  
may end up
making a system that catches on and is hailed as widely useful.   I  
all the other systems that are now in wide use benefitted from the  
of view of a number of people on what math is and how it can be encoded.

I think the new Math WG should revisit the question of input syntaxes.
In my own present opinion, there should probably be a recognition that
locally preferred input syntaxes are useful to their special  
It could be that the WG may be able to endorse, or at least describe
clearly in a note, some commonly requested input syntaxes for math
and their natural relationships with the markup of MathML.

Received on Saturday, 15 July 2006 19:24:32 UTC

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