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Re: A reply to Bruce Miller proposal for online math

From: Bruce Miller <bruce.miller@nist.gov>
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2006 08:44:50 -0400
Message-ID: <44BCD7C2.80302@nist.gov>
To: www-math@w3.org

juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com wrote:
> Bruce Miller wrote:
>> Exactly: Compare a properly installed MathML with a properly
>> installed CSS.
>> And then, you say, CSS is out? Well, you're welcome to your conclusion.
> 
> Well, since some people dislike installation of special fonts, since that
> installation of MathML fonts can be awkward in linux machines [*] and
> since current Mozilla engine is polluted by CM metrics and this will be
> problems when future STIX fonts was available, a more general comparison
> -with and without fonts- is desirable.
> 
> In so one way users can obtain an accurate idea of one would wait from the
> CSS side and from the MathML side with and without font assistance.
> Developers can also obtain a more accurate idea of posibilities of CSS for
> render math.

OK, sure; set up a 3-way comparison between a CSS approach and
a MathML both with & without fonts installed; fine with me.

>> In fact, as I recall, you were promising to develop one.
>> Clearly, as you imply, the input syntax itself must be trivial;
>> it must only be because MathML is so bad that keeps you from delivering.
> 
> Well, I explained reasons on why the _original_ CanonMath program for
> MathML was abandoned. Sorry to say this, the rest of your thoughts are a
> bit outdated. Take next p-MathML fragment
> 
> <mrow>
>   <mrow>
>     <mi>a</mi>
>     <mo>+</mo>
>     <mn>3</mn>
>   </mrow>
>   <mo>=</mo>
>   <mi>&beta;</mi>
> </mrow>
> 
> It can be directly _duplicated_ as
> 
> [::mrow
>   [::mrow
>     [::mi a]
>     [::mo +]
>     [::mn 3]]
>   [::mo =]
>   [::mi &beta;]]

That's interesting; it really isn't so much about MathML, but
an alternative shorthand syntax for XML itself, and would work
for _any_ xml format. I often use such syntax & structures
for preparing data for XML serialization.

Some would compare it to Lisp. And some feel the redundancy of
close tags (as opposed to a balancing "]" or ")") isn't necessary
for well-formed-ness; They'd say that's what emacs is for :>

Two questions: Why the "::" ? Is it a stand-in for namespaces?
Secondly: what do you do when you need attributes?
I'd suggest allowing an option something like
  [mi {mathvariant=normal} a]

Of course, while this form is a lot more typeable than
straight xml syntax, you're still using the MathML "language"
with whatever flaws it might have.

> in current approach i am working now. This approach presents some
> similarities with recent GLOSS input syntax by Richard Kaye:
> 
> mrow
>   mrow
>     mi[a]
>     mo[+]
>     mn[3]
>   mo[=]
>   mi[&amp;beta;]

I'm personally prefer lisp-like syntaxes to ones where
whitespace is significant, but the popularity of Python
puts me seemingly in a minority.

>> Here's a proposal:
>>   Develop your math input syntax along with conversions to
>> Good representations like XML-Maiden or span+CSS  w/ or w/o JS
>> or whatever. Then, put a clothespin on your nose if you must,
>> and develop the converter to horrible, nasty MathML.
>>
>> When you've done that, I'm sure the community will happy to
>> look at your work.  I'm looking forward to it.

> Once known your previous messages and replies, I would not wait a
> different proposal from you. I would be glad to accept it, but with below
> modifications along with a gentle plea for your active participation in
> the development of the proposal.

[snip]

I can't quite understand all your "modifications";
you seem to be saying that when you make the conversion
from your new input syntax to MathML that you want to
generate badly structured MathML.  I would have thought
that you would want to take the opportunity to generate
good MathML, but whatever --- you can do it that way, if you like.

In any case, I wouldn't think those modifications would apply
to the input syntax itself (unless it is just a mapping of MathML),
nor to the conversion to non-MathML formats.

-- 
bruce.miller@nist.gov
http://math.nist.gov/~BMiller/
Received on Tuesday, 18 July 2006 12:43:29 GMT

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