W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-math@w3.org > July 2006

Re: Math on the web without MathML (CSS 2.1 rendering for HTML and XML)

From: Mark P. Line <mark@polymathix.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2006 11:01:18 -0500 (CDT)
Message-ID: <8471.>
To: www-math@w3.org

juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com wrote:
> Mark P. Line wrote:
>>> Of course, you can disagree and then add lot of fields were MathML is
>>> successful for you. That would be great for all of us here. Maybe we
>>> would first begin to analize that “sucesfull” mean.
>> I tried earlier to get you to explain what you meant by successful (in
>> my question about your implied popularity metric), but you declined and
>> said you'd covered that ground already on this list many times over.
> Successful means winning, doing well, triumphant...

Like Microsoft Windows, then. Okay. That corresponds fairly closely to my
meaning of 'successful' here.

>> Now, you're saying we should first analyze the meaning of "successful"
>> before we go further.
>> Where I come from, you can't have it both ways.
> Above I was asking what you understand by "sucesfull" because I believe
> that you are mixing "successful" with "working".

Not at all.

Although I think Microsoft Windows is successful, I don't think it works.
In fact, I only use it for games that won't run on any other system.

I think Betamax worked, but it wasn't successful.

I think MathML works, and I think it's successful in the areas it's useful
for. That success is demonstrable in terms of market penetration, just
like the success of Windows.

>> A brief glance at the SBML website is all it takes to convince any
>> reasonable person that SBML is a very successful standard (in the sense
>> of
>> being almost ubiquitously deployed throughout its intended domain of
>> application). MathML is an essential part of SBML. SBML has nothing
>> significant to do with off-line publishing of math. QED.
> Fortunately, not all people has so great views on MathML like you; just
> some thougts from the SBML community:

My views of MathML are not that favorable. If you look back at what I
wrote originally, you'll see that I said that I use MathML because it *IS*
the standard and that, if left to my own devices, I could have easily
created a language that would suit my purposes better than MathML2 (but
not necessarily the purposes of others at the same time -- there's the

It's not surprising that people in the SBML community would say the same
thing. Great minds think alike, after all.

> And MathML is so succesfull in the SBML community that last years was
> launched a thread in the SBML site called "Complementary Alternative to
> MathML Needed". I do not believe that mathematics done at the SBML
> community was extensive or advanced still they are claiming for
> alternatives.

I think you need to look up "complementary" in your favorite English

>> Have you been ignoring the posts here about market penetration of
>> MathML, or do they not meet your undefined criterion of "successful"?
> Successful because fabulous spec? Because heritance from being a XML
> application? Or do you mean "successful" (i.e. I would call "working")
> because many marketing around the only current spec?

I'm in fairly good company when I define success of a product (even a
public, community-created product like a W3C REC) in terms of market
penetration: how many sites are using it vs. how many sites are using an

Success of a product doesn't mean that I like it particularly well, that I
don't think it could or should be improved, or that there are no
conceivable alternatives that would better serve my purposes. My opinions
about a product have absolutely nothing to do with objective measures of
that product's success. It's those objective measures about MathML that I
think you're in denial about.

I thought Betamax was a better system than VHS, but the market wasn't able
to support two competing systems for long. As it happens, the worse system
became more successful.

The same thing happened with Windows vs. Mac and Windows vs. Unix/Linux in
the obvious areas of high penetration.

> I think that MathML specification is very far from being remarkable.

So what? Have I ever said I thought the MathML spec was remarkable? I said
it was successful, by which I meant that it has become *the* standard and
that it enjoys high market penetration in some of its targeted domains. It
would be even more successful if it had higher penetration in other
domains, but that doesn't mean it's not successful.

>>> Maybe I would remember you that MathML is about communicating
>>> something:
>>> mathematics. Presentation MathML is about visual rendering, whereas
>>> content MathML would be about transfer of precise mathematical content
>>> (not meaning).
>> What do you mean by "content" and "meaning" such that content MathML is
>> about the one but not about the other? I don't think these words mean
>> what you think they mean.
> Then you already know the reply better than me.

If I did, I wouldn't have asked. So your answer is that you don't know
what difference there is between "content" and "meaning" with respect to
content MatML. That's why I don't understand why you think content MathML
is about "content" but not about "meaning". But never mind, you've already
answered as best you can.

>> I'll assume that's a challenge to the whole list, since almost anybody
>> here will have more experience in MathML coding than I. Surely you don't
>> expect me to have time do it myself unless you provide a billing
>> address.
> Wait, first you claim that MathML is sucesfull and apparently your basic
> evidence is because MathML is included in SBML or something but now you
> cannot encode those simple examples.

"Or something"? Have I been unclear about what I think about MathML and why?

> Time? Do not you have time enough for encoding examples 1), 2), or 3) in
> content MathML; that sound rare.
> Well, I can provide you a billing address if that is your only problem.
> Could you encode above examples for this week please?

I was being facetious.

If you don't know how to encode your examples, there are lots of people
here who would be much better able to teach you than I. If you have
examples that cannot be encoded correctly in content MathML by anybody
because the language is inadequate, then I'm certainly not the person you
need to talk to.

> Also if you have time I would be glad to know what are the strong points
> of MathML for you and for what you claim it is working (or in your words
> "it is successful")

"Working" is your word, not mine.

I've already stated my position. We don't repeat ourselves here, remember?
Go back through the archives and remind yourself.

>>>> Why would I be interested in CSS rendering, or any other kind of
>>>> rendering?
>>> Why not? In fact, without rendering how can you read my message here?
>>> The
>>> 100% of math books in the University’s library are rendering math on
>>> paper...
>> As you know, my question in context was about why you were telling me
>> about CSS rendering of math in a discussion about whether or not MathML
>> had any good use outside of STM publishing.
>> In that context, you haven't answered my question. You have, however,
>> answered the unrelated and unasked question about how rhetorically
>> sophisticated you think the people on this list are. Right?
> 1) Have you read the title of this thread?

Yes, more times than I would have cared to.

> 2) You appears to unknow that rendering is a critical issue in
> mathematics and that design of content MathML markup is related to how
> sucesfull the rendering can be.

I think that the careful and exhaustive distinction between notation and
meaning is a fundamental necessity in all but the most trivial uses of
mathematics. I disagree that content (meaning) markup of math must be
related to rendering issues.

Should RDF and OWL be considered inadequate because no consideration has
been given to rendering issues?

> It is not how you think that one can design a content markup for people
> who is not interested in rendering issues and next one design a
> presentational layer for rendering.

How do you know? Have you ever tried to design a content markup scheme for
math without regard for of rendering issues?

-- Mark

Mark P. Line
San Antonio, TX
Received on Monday, 24 July 2006 16:01:40 UTC

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