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Re: Formal query about WG role and MathML-FAQ

From: <juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com>
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2006 06:03:50 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <3191.217.124.88.245.1142345030.squirrel@webmail.canonicalscience.com>
To: <www-math@w3.org>


David Carlisle said:
>
>> [http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-math/2006Feb/0012.html]
>
>> Until now, i have received none reply from WG. I find just curioust to
>> read, for instance, David Carlishe[sic] replies to others MathML
>> topics surrounding my post of 17 February, whereas ignoring my own.
>
> Actually I didn't ignore your message (I followed the link to the
> website) but (unlike messages that do tend to get a quick reply) your
> message wasn't asking for any specific advice or describing any specific
> problem. You are proposing another XML syntax for mathematics and asking
> for comments. I didn't feel I had any comments to make.
>

What a good notice, but I find a bit strange this entire situation.

First, I sent personal mails to some members of the MathML group, I
received none reply. Second, I post the message here past month, I again
received none reply.

Perhaps it is a question of different education or similar but in the case
of zero availability of comments I wait some kindly reply as "Sorry, I
have no time, (or no interest) (or both) for your program". I find curious
I have received some replies such as "I have no time" or "your program is
very difficult for me" from people working in ASCIIMath and CML. This
obligates to me to think that other people was aware to read the *same*
message and understand I was "asking for any specific advice". Just
curious!

You claim that I was not asking for specific advice but my February post read

"I am developing the CanonML language (version 1.0) as a way to
generate, store, and publish canonical science documents on the
Internet. [...] We wait some technical advice and help in those issues.
[...] We wait the WG will provide some technical advice in the development
of
the CanonMath input syntax for MathML [www.w3.org/Math/mathml-faq.html].
[...] In fact, as cited above
[www.w3.org/Math/mathml-faq.html] even the W3C recognizes the need for
easy input-sintaxes for MathML. [...] I am doing a poll for choosing the
final notation of CanonMath for
introducing mathematical formulas in XML documents. [...] Comments, heavy
criticism, suggestions, and varied opinions are welcomed."

Is it not clear that I was doing, between others, a plea to assistance on
the development of an input syntax for MathML? Others understood that!

> The descriptions of MathML (and LaTeX) on the referenced web site seem
> rather strange

Difficult to know what exactly you are saying. That TeX/LaTeX does not fit
to general accessibility guidelines of the web or that does not encode
correctly the structure of mathematics needed for browsers is addressed in
the own MathML official W3C page.

That the TeX/LaTeX notation is not adequate for computational mathematics
can be read in Wolfram page on computational math. This is reason
Mathematica software does not use TeX/LateX as its input syntax
[http://www.stephenwolfram.com/publications/talks/mathml/mathml3.html].

That TeX/LaTeX syntax is erratic is easily seen from a Google Search by
"TeX/LaTeX syntax erratic". Look for example at oasis open list discussing
the use of LateX in Docbook (now the fourth result in the search)

That TeX/LaTeX syntax is difficult (for the it really provides) is the
basis that ASCIIMath was invented as alternative input syntax for MathML.

Et cetera.

> and given those descriptions it's not surprising that you
> choose to look for another syntax. Lots of systems use alternative
> shorter syntaxes (or menu/pallet systems) to ease authoring, there is no
> need to look to the MathML or LaTeX maintainers on the design for any
> system specific syntax,

Yes, there is not need if you know everything, but that is not my case. I
needed some help for choosing a better syntax; some people offered his
assistance and experience. Please do not forget the MathML FAQ:

{query}
Does the WG still intend to develop a short form input syntax as part of
MathML ?

{answer}
During the development of MathML it has become clear that the requirements
on input syntaxes vary so widely that no single syntax will satisfy all
users. Various members of the WG have developed input syntaxes for their
particular tools. The WG will provide technical advice to all those who
are involved in the development of input syntaxes for MathML-aware tools.
Input syntaxes do not form part of the core MathML recommendation.

> so if you find that particular markup convenient
> to write, and you have tools to convert it to something more portable
> for a wider audience then fine.
>
> If you are asking if the proposed syntax could be used as a portable way
> of marking up mathematics as an alternative to mathml then I'd say that
> it was unlikely to succeed.

I thought I was clearly asking for an input syntax for MathML!

In the message posted in the MathML mail listing I said (emphasis mine)

"We wait the WG will provide some technical advice in the development of
the ***CanonMath input syntax for MathML***
[www.w3.org/Math/mathml-faq.html]."

Already in the second paragraph of the canonical blog website (emphasis
mine) one can read

"We wait the WG will provide some technical advice in the development of
the ***CanonMath input syntax for MathML*** ."

> The proposed markup mixes the markup between XML and inline character
> markup (for brackets, at least) in a rather alarming way, this would
> mean that even to do something as simple as extract subterms from an
> expression you'd need an dedicated canonicalxml parser, this means that
> it would be considerably harder than doing the equivalent in
> presentation or content mathml, or openmath, or even TeX.
>

Oops, many things to be said here.

i) In the canonical science blog I said

"It is still undecided if ^ will be a shorthand notation for the <sup/>
command since this shorthand breaks the XML structure of the documents."

It appears rather clear I am aware of that kind of "alarming way" (in your
own words). I believe that may be easy to understand I can expand above
criticism on non-XML notation to brackets too.

In fact, I did! I explicitly said that brackets do not reflect well
XML-structure and could be substituted by a special grouping tag. Which, I
then explicitly wrote in the web!

ii) About the difficulty to write a parser, I think that a DOM or other
based parser would be "simple" to write. I am not sure but I even think
that a XSLT transformation of brackets to <mrows> could be done in a few
lines (5 or so) of verbose code. I have not studied this in detail but a
simple substitution XSLT template would be easy to write. Note also that
this specific problem does not appear with a grouping tag [point i)
above].

iii) The extraction of subterms via parsering of XML would be "infinitely"
more easy that with TeX markup embebbeded into XML  la IteX.

iv) Moreover, let me say that it is not clear that additional non-XML
markup can offer us warnings. In fact, Jeni Tennison has stated a similar
point in her popular book on XSLT. She carefully states that non-XML
markup is good in some situations (she just talk about verbosity, which is
our point now) over XML markup, and this is the reason that XPath contains
certain explicit tools for manipulation of strings are *used* for
extracting data (i.e. subterms) from XML documents.

In fact, markup as

<author>
<surname>Carlisle</surname>
<firstname>David</firstname>
</author>

is so valid, structured, and good for a XSLT programmer as is

<author>Carlisle, David</author>

whereas latter is better from an users view.

In fact, there are several tokenizers of XML code containing non-XML
markup such as spaces, colons,... on the web.

Therefore, my proposal of using (*maybe*) brackets for grouping is not
very different from Jeny’s encouraging to use alternatives (e.g. commas)
to XML markup INTO XML documents. However, I repeat again I also suggested
the use of a special XML grouping tag in CanonMath.

I find really interesting that XPath language developed by w3C has NOT a
XML syntax.

Moreover, I also find interesting that members from MathML group have not
replied to my many questions on the website. For example, what about my
previous question [visit Canonical Science Today] on the nine point of the
CanonMath proposal?

"Would we wait for the spreading of Content MathML software or would we
search compatibility (i.e. automatic translation) with Mathematica or
Maple own syntaxes in the short run?"

I find rather significant that in the MathML mail list nobody of presents
found time or interest for explaining me for *what* was designed MathML or
what is their current implementation in software. Fortunately, Neil Soffer
has provided a reply. He explains in a recent work that Content MathML is
*not* really designed for computation. Therefore, at least this question
has been solved.

>
> David


Juan R.

Center for CANONICAL |SCIENCE)
Received on Tuesday, 14 March 2006 14:04:05 GMT

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